Last year I wrote a series of posts chronicling 2007’s 20 greatest moments in Phillies Phandom. Each game had a special “wow” factor, whether it was an insane comeback, an awesome feat or a trademark moment. And each game was a Phillies win, of course.
For this year, clearly, you know the top moment. But ranking the rest was very difficult. Do I rank the NLCS second just because? Is the NL East clinching victory as important as other postseason moments? I used some heavy discretion, but I believe I came up with a pretty solid list.
Each moment has an attached video link, if you’d like to go back and reminisce.
Like the 100 Greatest Phillies countdown, I’ll be posting one per day. I swear, you won’t get any more countdowns this offseason.
3. Victorino takes CC to school
Date: October 2, 2008
I have attended hundreds of Phillies games in my 24 years on Earth. Many played like company picnics — a couple thousand people hanging out in the multi-colored seats of Veterans Stadium, shirtless fathers, bumbling children, cigarette-smoking mothers in skimpy t-shirts. A lot of haze. Not a lot of drama.
A few games had the trappings of stunners. Most of those games occurred at Citizens Bank Park, with newly minted crowds, crab-fry-munching families, red-clad newbies from La Salle or St. Joe’s. While I knew I was maybe the biggest fan of the 42,000 in attendance, it was nice to see 42,000 in attendance.
On October 2, 2008, I arrived at Citizens Bank Park after an arduous early afternoon drive on Interstate 95. I drank. And drank. And played cornhole. And drank. The sky grew a weird tint of violet. My brothers all had tickets for different areas of the ballpark. And I drank. And I entered the park, excited for my first taste of playoff baseball in 15 years, and saw a sea of red at Citizens Bank Park. A glorious, biblical sea of red.
That sea caused a tidal wave unheard in a Philadelphia ballpark in decades. The wave picked up steam in the second, with a runner at third, a run across, and pitcher Brett Myers hankering in for an at bat against the invincible CC Sabathia. It grew with each pitch. A foul. A ball. A foul. A ball. A foul. A ball. A foul. With each pitch, the wave grew in complexity — at first, applause, then cheers, then disbelief, then laughter. The at bat became comical, as if Sabathia was scored to the Benny Hill theme song. And when Sabathia unfurled that final pitch, a low fastball that Myers didn’t bite, the wave crested, rolling toward the shore. It was something I’d never experienced in Philadelphia.
The wave rolled on high, chanting “CC sucks!” as Jimmy Rollins stepped in. Patient as ever, he walked on four pitches. Suddenly the bases were loaded, Shane Victorino stepped in, and the wave was nearing the shore, ready to crash and topple the 300-pound Sabathia from the mound, as if he was Charlie Brown. And like Snoopy, most of us were laughing hysterically. CC Sabathia? Pitching this poorly? Haha!
If the Phillies didn’t win the World Series, this moment would’ve topped the list. But they did, and maybe, they don’t win if this moment doesn’t happen. This moment, this very moment, is one of those moments that is key in comprising legend. It’s a premonition, a prologue — the first giant wave before the tsunami that would occur less than a month later.
Victorino, after rattling off a foul and finding himself in a small hole, licked his chops. Sabathia needed to eliminate Victorino, but these are why these moments exist. Sometimes things don’t go as they’re planned. And all the while, the wave rode, the fans stood, cheering, howling, hoping for something — a ball, a wild pitch, a single, a blooper. Something.
Sabathia unfurled a changeup that played inside. Victorino pulled it, and the ball flew through the violet sky, into the sea of red, causing the wave to swallow Sabathia whole. We were drunk with adulation. I had a headache, a lost voice, and a red face. Red as the sea. With a 5-1 lead off the invincible Sabathia, there was almost no reason to complete the game. It was inevitable.
The game ended at 5-2. Victorino’s grand slam was the difference, and then some. In small context, it won the game and slayed the beast. But in the larger context, it represented the moment the Phillies became a legal threat. Now they could do anything, and at any time, and against any man. The team meant business.
When the game ended, I emerged in the parking lot, a voice hoarse, a head aching. But all ill feelings were exalted from my system — for now, I had seen a team committed to the goal, and a city committed to its team. For now, we were all the biggest fans, a sea of red that never broke.
The video: Victorino hits the granny
From the comments:
CT: The crowd is loving Brett making contact here… beat that ball Brett!
SJ Mike: That was the greatest at bat EVER! This tops Myers bases loaded at bat vs. the Mets.
Manny: HOLY SHIT WE ARE GONNA BRING THIS BIG BEAR DOWN !!
Jamie: FLYING F**KIN’ HAWAIIAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!