September 25, 2003

Bittersweet

I don't often write about baseball (although I still stand by my plan to improve the game), but among spectator sports, it's still my first and only love. The Phillies, my favorite team, have for the second time in three seasons stayed in the hunt until the final week of the season, only to come up short. I have a bit of the sick feeling that comes from knowing that the 162 game marathon ultimately was in vain, but truth be told, I'll take a season like this over one of the many I've lived through in which the Phils are out of it by May 1.

I remember talking to a fellow fan, a near contemporary, about how sweet it was to grow up rooting for the Phillies in the 1970s. Nearly every year, discernible improvement -- from 1973's last place finish, to 1976's division title, to 1980's World Series Championship (the only one in the franchises long and mostly futile history). Those were the teams of Mike Schmidt, Steve Carlton, Bob Boone, current manager Larry Bowa, Gary Maddux, Bake McBride, Greg Luzinski and, eventually, Pete Rose. We both agreed that our childhoods had spoiled us -- we got used to thinking that every summer there'd be a pennant race, a shot in the postseason, even the occasional World Series. I loved the 1993 team -- Kruk, Dykstra, Mitch Williams, Schilling, et al -- but those 70s teams will always be, to me, the Phillies.

In 1975, the year of the Big Red Machine, the Phils went down to the wire in the National League East with the Pittsburgh Pirates. I remember they were eliminated with just a few games to go. A reporter asked the manager, the brilliant Danny Ozark, how he felt about being mathematically eliminated. "Don't count us out yet," he reportedly responded (okay, maybe he wasn't all that brilliant). But in a way, he was right. Disappointed as I am tonight, I'm not willing to count the Phillies out yet.

There's always next year...

Posted by Ideofact at September 25, 2003 11:11 PM
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