Clap Clap ClapClapClap: Today Your Love, Tomorrow The World Series
Posted by Andrew Unterberger on October 16, 2008
People all over the world
I know I’ve been egregious with the Judaism references in this blog recently, especially considering the lack of attention I pay to my religion most of the year (not to mention the fact that I apparently misused the term “goy” in one of my previous entries–whoops), but when thinking of the Phillies this season, I keep going back to the dayenu prayer we learned in Hebrew School, a Passover standard. Dayenu, roughly translated, means “It would have been enough,” and the prayer consists of listing the tremendous things that God did for the Jewish people during their eventual exodus from slavery in Egypt, concluding that if he had done just that one thing, it would have been enough. As the Phillies fought their way back into the NL East Race, won the division, shelled the best pitcher in baseball, won the DS, achieved one of the most unexpected late-game comeback wins in recent playoff memory, and now claimed the NL Pennant as their own, at each step, I told myself that it would be enough. But the team kept exceeding my expectations, and now here they stand, four wins away from giving Philadelphia its first major championship in two and a half decades.
The real story of this particular series, for myself and most of the fans I’ve heard from, is how just about everyone on the team contributed to the win in some prominent, key fashion. The big heroes are obvious–Shane Victorino, who only hit .222 but had six RBIs (including four in Game Two) and had the catch of the post-season by robbing Casey Blake of a potential game-tier in the same game, Chase Utley, who not only hit over .350 with a big dinger in Game One, but had huge line-drive grabs in both Games Four and Five, Brad Lidge for shutting down the ninth inning in all four wins, and of course, NLCS MVP Cole Hamels, who pitched 14 innings of three-run ball, winning both the series opener and closer. But you also can’t overlook J-Roll’s stadium-killing opening home run tonight, Ryan Madson’s solid sixth to eighth-inning work throughout, Greg Dobbs’s rally-starting hits in Game Two and even Carlos fucking Ruiz’s rally-continuing hits in Game Four. Maybe it’s not quite all 25 guys–my beloved Jamie Moyer couldn’t make it through two innings of his start in Game Three, and So Taguchi continues to be So Useless, but when even Matt Stairs is hitting game-winning longballs, you know something special is probably happening.
The game itself tonight was so unsuspenseful that I had almost stopped paying attention by Lights Out time in the ninth. Once J-Roll hit that opening blast, it seemed only a matter of time before this thing was put to bed for good, and when Dodger shortstop Rafael Furcal suddenly turned into ’83-era Steve Sax in the fifth, you knew that L.A. was on the ropes. The anti-climax of Game Five is fairly appropriate, given the anti-climax that this series has probably been for all the league–MLB wanted Manny, Derek and Nomar to head back to Boston so bad that you’d think no one remembered that two ideal major finals never happen in the same year, and we already had the Celtics and Lakers once this year. But I don’t think anyone could begrudge the Phils for their party-crashing–seems like most major-market sports fans realize that 25 years is a pretty long time for a city to be titleless. Phils-Rays doesn’t exactly have the right angles, but some years, breathing life into morbiund cities and franchises should be a good enough Series angle in itself. Plus, with franchise cornerstones like Rollins, Howard, Utley, Hamels and Victorino leading the way, even Met fans seem to acknowledge that the Phils are generally a pretty OK group of guys.
I don’t have much of a prevailing memory from the 1993 playoffs, when I was a seven-year-old kid for whom sports was pretty much the whole world. I remember the heartbreak that would forever be associated with the name Mitch Williams, and I remember thinking that the SkyDome looked kind of pretty (especially compared to the Vet), but that’s about it–I’ve had to read up recently to learn about the Kim Batiste extra inning game-winner in the NLCS, or Schilling’s precedent-setting staff-ace dominance throughout the post-season, or the 15-14 heartbreaker the Phils ended up losing in Game 3 (which there’s nearly an entire article on in ESPN Magazine this week, incredibly). It sounds great, but it’s clearly the Phils team of a different generation. For Philly sports fans my age–and especially for the ones who, unlike me, came of age through the fifteen years of suffering between then and now–this’ll be the team that they’ll eventually define their fandom by. And they’ll be thrilled to do so.
If the pennant was as far as they went…well, dayenu. But hey, they’ve come this far–maybe they’ll be able to part the Red Sea this time, too. Bring it on, AL.