Bryan Joiner

Why then I

Tag: philadelphia phillies

True Phillies and Fake Yankees

I missed the baseball game yesterday (just saw the highlights. Yikes). Oh, the Yankees lost? Splendid. Lest I spew any pessimistic garbage about how they’re probably going to win anyway—which is true, even if only according to TEH PROBABILITIES—let’s ride this ALCS out to another game. 2004 did wonderful, wonderful things, my friends, and one of those is keep hope alive for the little guy against the Yankees. Sure, the little guy spends a ton of money, but don’t let facts get in the way. Anyone’s little next to the Yanks, like Conan O’Brien standing next to Shaq.

Whoever wins the series—and it will be the Yankees—will play the Phillies. Wild note about the Phillies: they’re the first team since the 2001 Yanks to make the World Series in consecutive years. A little mind-blowing, no? In basketball and hockey, it’s happened within the last two titles (hockey had a str8 up rematch last year). In football, it hasn’t happened since The Trits® threw down on the Iggles in 2004 and, as a result of their victory, I threw up in a bucket on camera, which was subsequently broadcast on Manhattan Public Access TV. Some things are better left unseen, though I feel bad for the alien spaceship cruising Orion’s belt that only gets MNN and is destined to pick up the signal in 400 million years. Not as bad as they’ll feel for me, I’m sure.

(One thing that should be noted about these aliens—or ones with a full array of channels—is that the switch to digital cable is going to seriously impact their ability to watch TV. Or will they be able to see even more channels with the rise of satellite TV? Or will they not see because the satellites are pointed at Earth, whereas old-fashioned signals broadcasted out from Earth? Is it that simple? And if not, how much bullshit is it that these future aliens can get the NFL package and I can’t?)

An… y… how… this Philies team has the possibility of becoming an iconic team, the type of which that even your mom knows who Chase Utley and Ryan Howard are. The Yankees, it should be noted, are like this every year. Given their outsized payroll and ego, the Yankees are always the self-fancied cock of the walk, each one trying to get their “true Yankee” cred. When people say player such-and-such “couldn’t make it in New York,” they usually mean that the player was unable to deal with the garbage of being booed mercilessly in the hazing process of becoming a “true Yankee,” the title of which, once bestowed, allows you not to be booed right up until the fans decide to yank it away. Which can be at any time. My boss, without a shred of irony, told me yesterday that A-Rod had finally become a “true Yankee” in this postseason. In his sixth year on the team. It’s not just that my boss is wrong in principle (he is), he’s also wrong on the facts. By trying to be Jeter Junior, A-Rod wore himself out, physically and emotionally, to the point where he corkscrewed himself into oblivion come playoff time. It was only after disowning that nonsense that he’s managed to absolutely rip it in October. A-Rod hasn’t become a true Yankee—he’s transcended it.

Of course, the label is silly and self-gratifying to begin with. The thing about the Phillies is that the fans have unconditionally loved them since April, and embraced newcomers along the way (Pedro Martinez and Cliff Lee) like new members of the family. That’s true love, in the best sports sense. The Phillies may not win the World Series, but they know a good thing when they see it.


Booze, Baseball and True Love

You’re not going to believe this, but after yesterday’s blotto football-and-supermarket session, I’ve been in a lot of pain today (I’m writing this Monday night instead of Tuesday morning). I did however, interview a major league baseball player at work today, so I had that going, which is nice. Now I’m full of vegetable samosas that I apparently bought yesterday.

And now some words on the baseball playoffs, I guess.

The only thing I do not want to happen this year is for the Yankees to sweep through the ALCS and World Series without much competition, stomping to a 1998-2000-style championship. I obviously don’t mean “sweep” in the traditional sports sense here, but one win does not a series make for the Angels, or, far more importantly, for me.

In the National League, I avoided paying attention until about thirty minutes ago. I’ve followed the action until now but haven’t really watched it, for fear of gorging myself on meaningless baseball. It was just: if the Yankees were going to romp whomever they played, the NL playoffs were something of a Bataan Death March. Given that I’m increasingly interested in Game 4, I guess that the Yankees loss has at least given me hope. Audacious, I know.

The Red Sox lost eight days ago, and during game two of the Yankees/Angels series—the so-called “classic” that lasted 13 innings—I turned it off after 11, realizing that I knew the outcome ahead of time, and that I hated both teams. But that realization was also a result of a day of booziness, and I realize that when I’ve had a couple and watch the Yankees, I’m immediately transported back to their glory years, expecting the worst. It’s a terrible way to live. In the light of day, it’s not so bad. My liver is excited for more of these “days” of not pounding back whatever’s put in front of me, as is my brain, my stomach, and everyone but my readers, really. You guys love some drunk posts, don’t you?

While we’re talking NL playoffs, a quick note on these Phillies. I’ve never seen a fanbase so dead-set on a repeat title that they have basically disowned their championship. I mean, they haven’t really, but they’re not using it as a hammer. They want this. For all the deserved teasing of Philly sports fans, there isn’t a much healthier attitude to have than to seize the moment. The only Boston team of the decade that inspired this attitude was last year’s Celtics, who were derailed by Kevin Garnett’s injury from what now appears to have been a very winnable title. Even when the Patriots did win back-to-back Super Bowls, they seemed inevitable, and the Sox’ 2007 campaign fell flat… but the Yankees won the playoffs. We don’t even need to discuss the hangover from 2004.

Like Celtics fans last year, Phillies fans are embracing the idea that the windows to win titles are small, especially in a sport as fickle as baseball. It’s one thing to put together good players, and it’s another to have championship teams. The alchemy between the two is mysterious and possibly apocryphal, but Philadelphians know they’ve got something good. Hell, they’ve waited long enough, they ought to know it when they see it. It’s kind of like true love, I guess.

UPDATE: Jimmy Rollins.