29 days ago, Sally and I were sitting in a beer garden in Center City Philadelphia, having a drink, and watching the Phillies get swept by the 88-loss Cubs for the second time in the season. It was their fifth loss in a row, and I was thoroughly convinced that they were going to experience their fourth consecutive late September nosedive and painfully miss out on the postseason yet again. At the time, I felt like that even if they awkwardly stumbled into the postseason, they would be lucky to win one game.
Then, it was if a light-switch had been turned on. With the exception the last two rather meaningless games of the regular season, they got hot and started winning like a team possessed. When the playoffs started, I repeatedly stated that I hated the fact that MLB’s playoffs gave third place teams the opportunity to win a World Series. Even after everything that’s happened over the past four weeks, I still feel that way, but these are the playoffs we now have. So, I have experienced an awesome ironic episode of cognitive dissonance as I root for my favorite team while still feeling as though they’re not even supposed to be here.
It’s like it’s been Opposite Dante Hicks Day for a solid month.
Rooting for your favorite team when you are they are considered the least likely to win it all makes for a far less stressful experience. Having been on the opposite end of that spectrum (the 2011 Phillies,) I would rather my team be the underdog every single time. They are riding a hot streak while playing with house money – what’s not to enjoy?
If that hot streak should happen to suddenly end in the next few games, I am still going to cherish everything about this postseason. A few days back on Facebook, I stated that I had so many different thoughts concerning the Phillies over the past month that I should just compile them all in one blog post. Well, that time has finally come:
- By far and without question, the biggest and most important moment in this postseason thus far, and the one I cherish most, has been watching the Phillies clinch the pennant with Brandon at a nearby sports pub. A few years back, I got to watch the Eagles win the Super Bowl with him and his mom, but that paled in comparison to being the only two Phillies fans in a bar cheering, hollering, and jumping around in unfettered joy when Harper hit the winning home run in the bottom of the 8th, and then doing it all over again when Castellanos caught the final out of the game.
- The only thing about this run that I wish could have been a little different is that I’ve mostly watched it without any other Phillies fans. Brandon is off at college (he made a special trip out here for the NLCS-clinching game,) and while Sally has been amazing about accommodating me, she’s not a fan. If I lived much closer to the Philadelphia area, I would almost certainly be going out to a local sports bar to watch the World Series with other fans.
- Having said that, the way we’ve watched many of the games thus far is likely to be my new default setting for all future Phillies playoff runs: living room party lighting on, the game on the TV with the sound off, party music playing on the stereo, and enough alcohol to dull any anxiety that the game might cause (I said it was much less stressful, not stress-free.) I’m not a fan of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (mostly not my kind of humor,) but I absolutely feel a kind of disconcerting kinship with Mac and Dennis at the end of the Riot Juice scene from the “The World Series Defense” episode.
- Just before the start of the playoffs, I began writing a blog post talking about my complicated set of feelings regarding the Phillies and the way they qualified for them. I got about 600 words into it, but laziness took over. I’m reasonably certain finishing it won’t be difficult, and it will likely happen at some point in the indeterminate future. However, some time and distance from this postseason will be needed to properly recapture the state mind necessary for completing it.
- I’ve always known that I have a ridiculous number of Phillies jerseys (over two dozen,) but this postseason has managed to put it in further perspective. I’ve worn a different one on each game day thus far, and I’ll be able to continue doing so for the entirety of the World Series, even if it goes seven games. Having said that, despite the fact I swore before the 2020 season that I would never buy any Phillies jersey with the Nike swoosh prominently displayed on the chest, I may have to purchase one so I could have an official jersey with the 2022 World Series patch on the sleeve.
- I swore off baseball card collecting back in 2015, and it was one of the best decisions I ever made. However, if the Phillies win the World Series, I am going to be the first person in line to purchase the “limited edition” box set celebrating that victory.
- It’s more a highly unlikely idea than anything else at this moment, but if this does go seven games, I may decide to get a hotel room, go up to Philly to watch the game from a Center City sports bar. The seventh game is on a Saturday night, so the plan is doable. The only constraints are cost, and, frankly, how eager I am to do that much driving in two days. We shall see.