I would like to say that the Phillies game on Wednesday was a microcosom of entire season, but that would assume that the Phils make the playoffs. Although they have a decent shot, nothing’s guaranteed, that’s for sure. What I can say about the game, though, is that it was a true showcase of heart of Phillies fans. Going into the night, the game was already slated as nationally televised because of the playoff implications; yet, the country received much more than a great and long game. They finally saw past all the trite ‘booing Santa Claus’ and ‘cheering spinal cord injuries’ references and experienced Philly fans at their finest.
I don’t know what was said on TV about the crowd that slowly but surely formed down the third baseline because I was too busy losing my voice among them. What I do recall is several phone calls to myself and fellow fans saying that we were on ESPN and CSN, and I know NBC10 was there filming there as well. I just hope television did justice to the passion exuded. I would like to say that I started the frenzy – but I didn’t. After attending Tuesday’s game and seeing the numerous but disperse Phillies fans in the audience, I thought about the visiting fans in European soccer matches. When visiting opposing stadiums, they are all huddled by police escort into a fenced off area as to prevent riots. This also helps to merge and amplify the cheers of the fans. This is precisely what happened last night when 200 Phillies fans came together and overpowered not only the Nationals fans but the public address announcer as well. Still though, the volume was not what was most impressive.
Philly fans, known for their booing, showed the nation that we’d much rather cheer. After dozens of “Let’s Go Phillies” chants between innings and after surrendering hits demonstrated that when push comes to shove, the fans are behind the team. The most notable example came in the 14th inning after Jeff Conine was unable to come up with a diving catch in right field. Normally, one would expect a rain of boos for extending an already late game, not to mention the fact that he was 0-8 at the plate; but not tonight. We cheered him as aloud as we did JRoll when he hit the game-winning triple. There was a sense of confidence in the air tonight – the same kind that I mentioned when the Phils were down 4-0 in Moyer’s last start.
The best part about this feeling is that you can be sure the players feed off it. After Chris Coste’s double to lead off the 14th, the section erupted, he looked over and pointed to us. Then after we got a little too rambunctious with a “Thank You, Jimmy” chant during the middle of the 14th, JRoll himself turned our way and kindly asked us to pump it down. When we retorted with a “3 More Outs” cheer, we brought out the classic JRoll grin. You were dead if you couldn’t feel the connection of mutual appreciation after that.
Sure the game was a typical roller coaster ride that only the Phillies can provide. There were four errors, two blown saves, and plenty of missed opportunities. I’ll be honest, on more than one occasion, I thought the Phils were going blow the game and hence the season. Of course though, I and my fellow Phillies fans didn’t give up. We stayed ‘til the end and only got louder as the game went longer. And as I write this, with Baseball Tonight on in the background, I just heard Karl Ravich sum up the night perfectly: “That is Philly pride, that is Philly pride.”
There’s only one thing that I can add to that statement, Go Phils!