Knowing Is Half the Battle

by | October 27, 2008 at 5:13 PM | General, MLB, Philadelphia, Sports

It took the Matt Stairs home run for the ’08 Phillies to know this was it. And now, Philadelphia finally knows it too.

This feels different. This doesn’t feel like the past 100 seasons where we hoped. This feels like it’s it.

This time we know.

Game 4’s romp was bliss. There was no anxiety. No stress. No fear.

Just fun.

Even when the Phillies got just one run in the first inning and left the bases loaded, the fear that they were wasting too many opportunities was gone. That fear was replaced with the certainty that this team will get more opportunities. And that over nine innings, the Phillies were going to come through.

45,903 Philadelphians stood in Citizens Bank Park and just knew. The energy was incredible. The atmosphere was palpable…Broad Street was bursting from Pattison to Allegheny.

Game 3 was a different story. That one was agonizing. Watching the Phils squander a three-run lead on a bad call, two groundouts, and a terrible error brought back memories of every other painful loss of the past quarter century.

The city still had its doubts. Everything was happening again. The demons had returned. Ivan DeJesus was back.

But then something amazing happened.

The Phillies caught a break. And then another break. And then another break. And then ANOTHER BREAK.

Bruntlett got hit by a pitch. And then Balfour threw a wild pitch. And then Navarro threw the ball into centerfield. And then Ruiz Jake Taylor’d a ball down the third baseline.

And just like that, the Phils won a World Series game they shouldn’t have. Just like that, Ivan was on the ropes.

Four breaks in a row.

In the bottom of the ninth of a tie game.

On the biggest stage on Earth.

That stuff doesn’t happen to a cursed city. A cursed city watches the other team get those breaks.

But it happened here.

And the people of Philadelphia finally could believe. The clouds of 100 failed seasons cleared and the city could actually see the top of the mountain.

What once seemed impossible suddenly felt probable. At long last, Philadelphia had a legitimate opportunity to call itself a world champion.
And we believed.

The karma spread across the street to the Linc on Sunday. The Eagles, about to blow another game they had no business losing, got one of those breaks other cities always get.

Up just six points late in the fourth quarter, the Birds were poised to give Matt Ryan and the Falcons the ball in great field position, with a chance to win the game.

But Sav Rocca’s punt fluttered, Atlanta’s returner stumbled, and the referees blundered…and the Eagles won a game they needed.

What’s going on? This stuff doesn’t happen to us.

Back at the Bank, the breaks kept coming in Game 4. Jimmy Rollins was caught in a rundown and called safe when he shouldn’t have been…The sure-handed Rays kicked ball after ball all over the infield…Joe Blanton hit a home run.

Joe Blanton.

Something is happening here. Something special. Something this city hasn’t seen in 25 years.

Pitchers hitting home runs. Umps missing calls. Phillies chants at Eagles games.

And tonight may finally be the night Philadelphia rises from the ashes again.

Cole Hamels is on the mound. Ryan Howard is hot. Chase Utley is hitting.

Jimmy Rollins is getting on base. Carlos Ruiz is everywhere. Jason Werth is getting picked off.

Pat Burrell is walking. Charlie Manuel is “strategizing.” Matt Stairs is hammering people in the dugout.

Just a few days ago, before Saturday night’s South Philly miracle, I would have been afraid to write this article. I would have been petrified of the consequences of putting myself out there again. I would have been constantly looking down, waiting for the rug to get pulled out from under Philadelphia’s feet.

But something has changed here. I’m as certain of it as I am of anything in life.

This time it’s going to be different. This time Philadelphia is finally going to get that parade down Broad Street.

This time I believe it.

No…

This time I know it.

 

Email me at russakoffrules@comcast.net; follow me on Twitter at twitter.com/leerussakoff.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.