Where will the Phillies be in 7 months? Robbie has a dream…
Dead baseball players emerge from a corn field to play baseball: it’s every baseball fans dream. The 1989 cinematic classic Field Of Dreams is more than a baseball fantasy for one man on an Iowa farm. Field of Dreams gives the characters from the movie something I wish, that Phillies fans wish we could have: A Second Chance.
We envy the fact that protagonist Ray Kinsella builds a baseball field on his farm and ghosts of baseball past appear out of the Iowa air like a Stephen King novel. I never heard voices while plowing my corn field; then again, I never have seen a tractor or a corn field other than on tv or the movie Signs. Yet, we all have had crazy notions which defy rational reasoning or effective explanation. We believe in this one, thing, so much that the means of accomplishment or the effects of failure are secondary to the belief that you can fulfill something so much greater than yourself. For me, that one thing is Phillies Baseball.
Patience is a virtue, or so I’ve been told. Being born in Philadelphia and being raised a Phillies fan has been rough. Patience is not in my DNA. I’ve been alive for little over two decades and during that time span the team I love has made the playoff once. Every year since that magical 1993 season, I sat in my blue plastic seat in two different stadiums waiting for my Shoeless Joe to run out from the outfield and give me what I’ve wanted: a second chance at a title.
Last year while attending a 12-2 thrashing by our arch rival Atlanta Braves, which featured Raul Mondesi and Brian Jordan hitting 2 home runs apiece, I realized I am a fan of the worst professional sports team in the history of America.
So why is it that I care so much? When I was eight years old my family went on vacation to North Carolina. I remember being poolside at a magnificent indoor pool at the hotel and I remember getting into an argument with another kid and his sister over the Phillies. I don’t recall the words exchanged, all I know is that I wound up pushing them both into the pool when they said the Braves were better than the Phillies. Later that year, the Phils proved me right by winning the National League title.
There are countless other memories of the Phils which are dear to my heart, including getting my hands on my first official ball during batting practice off the bat of Dale Murphy and catching my first foul ball from behind the plate by Jason Varitek (who later hit a Grand Slam to win the game). I’m reminded of numerous past birthdays when the Phanstormers threw countless handfuls of confetti in my eyes and devouring even more buckets of chicken fingers and crab fries from Chickie’s and Pete’s. Some of the best moments of my life began and ended at a Phillies game, though it wasn’t until a fateful January Sunday when I would realize why I care so much about this team.
Last year when the Eagles won the NFC championship and frantic jubilation ensued, I saw grown men crying in the streets during the "victory riot" at Cottman and Frankford Avenues in Northeast Philly. I looked at my friend and he said, "This would be so much better if it were the Phillies." For me, I can not agree with such a truer statement. If the Phils do make it to the playoffs for the first time since I was 8 years old, it would make the long suffering seem worth all the frustrating years of futile Phillies baseball.
So once again here we are Phils fans. A new season and new reasons to believe in something a young generation of fans have never experienced. Our eyes set on April with our hearts set in October. Though we know how it feels with our other teams, nothing would be sweeter than seeing the Phils represent the National League in the 2006 Fall Classic.
If that day comes we will be there cheering our team, oh yes we will. We’ll come for reasons that have eluded us since seasons played long ago. We will turn up 8 hours early and tailgate like only Philadelphians can. Beer and Steak for everyone. We’ll walk through the turnstile as innocent as children, longing for the past victories of such champions as Carlton and Schmidt. And who cares how much the playoff memorabilia is worth? It’s only $20 for a t-shirt. How many times will you get to use the words "Champions" and "Phillies" in the same sentence? We’ll pass over the money without even thinking about it. And we’ll walk out to the Ashburn Alley wearing gloves and scarves to watch batting practice in the cold and then reheat ourselves with more crab fries. After heckling the other team during their pregame drills, we will find our seats and endlessly cheer on our Phillies heroes in the same places we have all season long. And we will rock that game as if it was our last; leaving the memories of that night carved so thick into our minds we will never forget it.