Okay, so maybe I've been distracted for the past 18 years by the Atlanta Braves, but it's tough when you're a kid and you move south to one of the sorriest baseball cities in America only to have the team turn it completely around the following year and win 14 straight division titles. I never gave up on the Phils, though. You can never really give up on the team that your Dad listened to on that ancient dusty, paint-spattered radio while varnishing Ikea shelves over the sawhorses in the garage or sitting in his threadbare and duct-taped old red recliner on the back porch while the lightning bugs flashed on the other side of the screen. The same lightning bugs you were at that very moment chasing around with a faux-wooden bat that came from Texaco promotional bat night at Veteran's Stadium. I remember being confused and amazed upon hearing a play called on that radio involving a Phillies player in the '80s named Michael Jackson. When you're a kid you just accept some things and I just thought that not only could the guy do the moonwalk, but now he could apparently pitch, too. Some people just get a little more than the rest of us.
I called my grandmother, who watches every Phillies game, last night because that's what you do when your team wins one, you call somebody. She reminded me that I have my grandfather's replica championship ring that they gave out to the fans after their 1980 title. Every sports team's fans have their own version of monumental suck, and it's notable that, until last night, the Phils had been around for 126 years and had earned exactly one championship. Over that span they've lost more games than any other professional sports franchise, a record they will probably always hold.
I only wish I could be in Philadelphia for the celebration. In the city that used to have a jail and a judge on duty in the stadium on football game days and, in two separate incidents, famously booed Santa Claus and threw snow balls at him, you gotta know they can let their emotions swing to the high end with just as much intensity.
And today they're on top.
So tomorrow I can finally put on a clean shirt. I reserve my superstitions for baseball only, and I only have one Phillies tee, so I've been wearing it since Sunday. It obviously worked.