Baseball is about moments. There’s no game clock. No seconds. No minutes. No shot clocks. There are pitches. There are hits. There are outs … all of them moments. In baseball, time doesn’t exist. The game doesn’t end until one team gets 27 outs … no matter how long it takes. And that’s exactly what makes the sport unique. That’s what makes it great.
Because baseball is an experience. It’s not about whether your team wins or loses. It’s about sitting next to someone who means something in your life and talking about – whatever. Baseball, more than any other sport, is a shared adventure.
I remember exactly where I was the moment Joe Carter hit that down-and-in Mitch Williams fastball. I remember exactly who I was when Matt Stairs hit that moon shot in L.A. and got his “ass hammered by guys.” I remember exactly how I felt the moment that strike-three Brad Lidge slider fell into Chooch’s glove giving Philadelphia its first championship in 25 years.
That’s why, as a Phillies fan, even though this feels like a punch in the face, you can’t look at this season as a failure. Was this Phillies team good enough to win it all? Sure. Are the Phillies a better team on paper than the Giants? Sure. But the Giants played better baseball for the better part of six games, and the 3-2 clincher Saturday was just the culmination of that.
The Giants – put together with a bona fide rotation and a duct-tape lineup – were a buzz saw in the NLCS. They got every big hit, they made every big pitch and turned every line-drive double play they needed to. And the Phillies? Well, they didn’t do any of that. So they’re going home.
Should Phillies fans be disappointed? Of course. You can’t be happy when you have the best team in baseball and you go home without a ring. But playoff baseball isn’t about who has the better team, it’s about who is playing baseball better.
The answer to that question this week was the Giants … emphatically.
And you know what? That’s OK, Phillies fans. Because if baseball is about moments … if baseball is about experiencing extraordinary things with the extraordinary people in our lives, then 2010 was a great season.
Think about it.
Where were you when Roy Halladay threw his perfect game? Who were you with? I’ll bet you know. You can be damn sure I know. And I’ll be telling my kids about it the rest of my life.
Where were you when the Phillies were down 9-2 at home in the bottom of the eighth inning, and wound up winning the game 10-9 on a Carlos Ruiz two-run double? I’ll bet you know. I damn sure know. And I’ll be telling my kids about it the rest of my life.
Where were you when Brad Lidge blew a save on a balk … a balk … in San Diego, and yet the Phillies somehow battled back from it to win the game in the 12th on a Jimmy Rollins “Houdini slide” at around 2:00am back in Philly? Probably asleep. But I was up … and you can be damn sure I’ll be telling my kids about it.
Where were you when Halladay threw the first playoff no-hitter since Don Larsen? I’ll bet you know. You can be damn sure I know. And I’ll be telling my kids about it the rest of my life.
There were dozens of moments this season that we will have forever. Games 2 and 5 of this NLCS were both full of moments Phillies fans will always treasure. Even Saturday … as painful as it was to watch Ryan Howard take that 3-2 pitch, as cruel as it was to end a season on Howard’s 30th strike out in his last 56 postseason at bats, we will remember it. We’ll remember exactly where we were, who we suffered through it with and who helped us cope (if even a little bit) with the disappointment.
Because when it comes to baseball, when we look back on the moments, we remember the plays but we relish the company. Sons immortalize fathers. Mothers smile about daughters. Friends reminisce with friends.
Is it a time for sadness for Phillies fans? Yes. But only because the memories these 2010 Phillies have brought us are over.
But all things end. And that team in the visiting dugout … those San Francisco Giants have had an incredible year. They have had incredible postseason. And they are about to make a few more memorable moments for their fans in the World Series.
Losing anything great hurts. When a dream dies, you can’t help but to be upset.
But buck up, Philadelphia.
Pitchers and catchers is only 111 days away … and 2011 is sure to be full of memorable moments we’ll have for the rest of our lives.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org; 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.