Thing of Beauty
“Some kids are always chasing rainbows, but baseball is a world where you can catch them.” — Johnny Vander Meer
You wake up today, and the first thing you think, “Wait, that really happened?”
Baseball has a way of making you feel like a little kid again, but this is ridiculous.
A night like that, and we’re supposed to pull it together, go to work and act all grown up?
Sorry, but the artistry of Mr. Halladay that was on display at the ballpark last night is today still too magical to process.[SIGNUP]
The other night I went to an event to hear the announcement that a national foundation would be giving away nine million smacks for new ideas that will contribute to the arts scene in the city.
The possibility of scoring even a fraction of this kind of loot comes as giddy news in the artistic and nonprofit world, where dollars are as tight as Democratic faces when someone brings up Glen Beck or the midterm elections.
Funny, though, despite the artistic bent of the crowd, when the Mayor took the microphone to talk up our bourgeoning arts scene and thank the foundation for its generosity on behalf of the city, it was his mention of the Phillies that elicited the biggest reaction.
Smiles and applause filled the room.
That’s because, right now, in Philadelphia—however grim the everyday news surrounding us may be—the artistry of the Phillies provide the antidote.
Their playoff march to the World Series, though still in its infancy, is already making us forget our woes, turning the clock backward to childhood, uniting us all in ways no politician ever could.
Winning teams do that, but there’s something about this particular Phillies team that seriously amps up the happiness quotient.
There’s a collective artistry in the makeup of the team.
It begins with general manager Ruben Amaro, who played for the Phillies, whose dad played for the Phillies, whose grandfather was a star in the Mexican Leagues, who made a trade nobody liked, took the heat silently and then made up for it by making a great trade when the heat was the hottest.
We don’t know what manager Charlie Manuel is talking about half the time, but the beauty is we don’t care. The players like him because he lets them play and when there’s a problem he handles it when nobody’s looking. What wouldn’t we do for a boss like that?
J-Roll is us. Of all the Phillies, you just know he’s going to be here when his playing days are over. He gets Philly, like Charles Barkley gets Philly, and though the two couldn’t be more different, Rollins, like the Round Mound, just belongs here.
Love for Ryan Howard runs deep, not because he swats the ball to kingdom come, but because he made himself a slick fielder. It was on his to-do list. Respect.
Utley’s the guy in the office you turn to in a crisis. He gets it done, and when you go to thank him, you find out he’s already left for the day.
Carlos Ruiz—“Chooch”—may be the team’s biggest heartthrob (for proof, check with Philadelphia magazine staffer Lauren McCutcheon), but not because he’s cute. That alone doesn’t work here. His inner toughness is the turn-on. You can’t lose with tough here.
It’s a mistake, we’ve learned, to ever give up on Jayson Werth, because just when you do he’ll make you look the fool.
Brad Lidge, despite filling local emergency rooms with faux heart attacks every summer, same deal.
Halladay, Oswalt and Hamels.
Words elude. We bow to their abilities and determination and can only hope to someday be as good at our jobs as they are at theirs.
This is a special team, an artistic collective, one for the ages. Moments like this don’t come around much.
Still, perspective must be kept. The Phillies are not more important than our city’s artists and nonprofit arts organizations.
They are a baseball team.
But right now, at this very moment, only a fool would not count them among the greatest group of artists our city has ever seen.