The Phillies are back in the World Series.
I’m not really sure what to make of this. Of all the major and minor sports out there, baseball isn’t one that I follow very much – certainly not as much as I once did. If you tell me I have to watch a midseason game between two reasonably good teams who aren’t my team in some random sport, baseball wouldn’t be in my top three choices. On the other hand, I’ve been a Phillies fan since the Nixon administration and if there is a baseball team I’m going to watch and cheer for it would be that one.
This year’s Phillies are a lot of fun, it turns out.
They snuck into the playoffs as the six-seed in a newly expanded playoff format, an 87-win team with an interim manager that finished fourteen games behind the two other teams in the NL East that made it in and qualified for the postseason on the last weekend of the season. Then they wiped out the 93-win Cardinals and the 101-win defending champion Braves before rolling through the Padres, who had pretty much the same record they did, and they looked like they were enjoying themselves immensely the whole time.
You have to love that. I get tired of the grim professionalism that has become the standard these days. It’s a game, folks. You’re supposed to have fun.
They now face the Houston Astros, a team that should have been stripped of their title and banned from the postseason for a decade for cheating their way to a championship a few years ago. The Astros were one of the best teams in the league this year but the stench of corruption follows them like a wet puppy even if this year’s group was (probably) on the up and up. The fact remains they shouldn’t be there at all.
But so it goes.
This year’s World Series will be the classic matchup between a team that is Good versus a team that is Hot. The Astros are by pretty much all statistical measures the better team, but the better team does not always win.
That’s why they play the game.
So I’ve been wearing my battered old Phillies cap around town – I figure I should rep the home team if they’re playing for it all – and just as when the Eagles met the Patriots in the Super Bowl back in 2018 I am getting a lot of support from the “Anybody But Those Damned Cheaters” demographic. The Astros may think they’ve put it all behind them, but nobody else seems to think so. They come up to me at random to let me know.
I’m not really used to getting support for my teams outside of Philadelphia – we’re just that way, I suppose. But I’ll take it.
I still have my sweatshirt from the 2008 World Series that they won – only the second time since 1883 that that happened, both times in my lifetime – and it’s getting cool enough here that I’ll probably wear it on Friday when the Series starts.
My grandfather was a hardcore Philllies fan who finally got to see them win it all in 1980. My dad was more of an Eagles fan but still cheered for the Phillies and took me to see more than a few games down at the Vet when I was a kid. He had a matching sweatshirt from 2008 as well. Maybe there’ll be one more year to cheer about soon.
Why can’t us, man?
Why can’t us.