(This post was written by our contributor Nick McIlwain of ‘The Preston and Steve Show’ on 93.3 WMMR)
Opening Day has come and gone. The Home Opener has come and gone. The first few games haven’t exactly gone the way we’d like, but as everybody says every year when their team gets off to a bad start, “Hey. It’s early.” Of course, games in April count just as much as games in August in September. And we’re still a ways off from Charlie Manuel’s favorite time of year, “hitting season”. I won’t panic any time soon. Instead, I’ll focus on the positive. Once again, we have baseball in South Philly.
I was at xFinity Live! (exclamation point mandatory) 3 separate times this weekend. If God were to create a bar that He intended to make money, he would sculpt this place from the remains of deceased pubs, add an obscene amount of televisions, and drop it squarely between Citizens Bank Park, the Wells Fargo Center, and Lincoln Financial Field. On Saturday, I was there twice. The second time I went, from about midnight to closing, there were approximately 5,000 people there. That is not an exaggeration. When I came back for the Phils’ Home Opener on Monday, it wasn’t QUITE as crowded, but the place was still packed. My friend and co-worker Matt Cord asked, “Where were all these people last year?” A good question. They didn’t all fit in McFadden’s or watch the game at Chickie’s & Pete’s. These people left the ‘burbs and other parts of Philly to come to this newly crowned central fan location.
The beauty of xFinity Live is that it doesn’t even take away business from those other institutions in and around the sports complex. In fact, it adds to them; if one is too crowded, you’ll go to the other. If you’re tired of the people in one bar, guess what? You now have 8 more to choose from. And if you’re a Penguins fan during a Flyers game or a Mets fan during a Phils game, I advise you to keep your opinions to yourself. Root for your team, sure. Enjoy the experience of the bars. Drink. Carry on. Have fun. Enjoy what the newest addition to our fair city has to offer. But if you get loud, they’ll toss you out. Trust me.
Anyway, back to baseball. It occurred to me that going to your first game of the season is like hearing a song you love that you haven’t heard for a while. You’re not quite sure why, but almost unconsciously, it automatically brings a smile to your face. A great song can change your mood and make you happy. Baseball, and especially the pageantry and festivities surrounding Opening Day, can similarly brighten your mood. I had a friggin’ flat tire on Monday, but I was still happy because baseball is back.
I’m not one to go around quoting philosophers, because frankly, when it comes to philosophy, I’m a dilettante at best. However, I came across a great piece featuring Oliver Sacks, the famed neurologist, psychologist, and author. When it comes to the brain and music’s ability to heal, Sacks says “The philosopher Kant once called music ‘the quickening art’.” Sacks’ point in quoting Kant is that music quickens you; it brings you to life. Sometimes, patients who are in a coma or who live in a near-vegetative state will show signs of life when they listen to music from their past. Putting on a pair of headphones and listening to an iPod literally revitalizes the patient.
I’ll assume that by reading what I’m writing for this website, you’re just as much of a baseball fan as I am. Therefore, and please let me know if you disagree, baseball can bring you to life just like music does. There’s a reason why the phrase “making sweet music” can be applied to the execution of a particularly pretty play in sports.
Next time you hear a song you love, and you find yourself smiling and tapping your fingers, check to see if you experience a similar feeling of joy when attending a Phillies game. By the way, the same philosophy can be applied to a terrible song and a crappy Phillies game, so here’s to hoping we hear better songs and see better play. We’ll all be much happier.