Last Monday was my birthday. I had a very simple plan. I would drive to Philadelphia Sunday night, watch my hometown team win a world series on TV, and spend some time with my family, then drive to New York to recruit from Tuesday to Thursday, and return to Boston Thursday night to begin my Halloween celebrations. That all changed when my Father bought 3 tickets to game 5 of the World Series. Monday night. On my 24th birthday, with Cole Hamels on the mound, and on the verge of clinching the first championship in the city of brotherly love since the 76ers won it all the year before I was born. It was the best birthday present I have ever received. I knew it was going to be a great experience. Little did I know at the time that it would be historic.
It was cold, really cold, but clear at the start of the game. Everything was going according to plan, with the Phillies scoring early, and Hamels looking dominant. It began drizzling during the 3rd inning. Then the light drizzle changed to a heavy slurpee-like half frozen rain. There I was sitting in the upper deck, exposed to the wind, and freezing my ass off despite my brand new Phillies hat with the fleece ear flaps.
Here we are, my father (who saw the Phils lose to the Blue Jays in ’93,) my older brother, and myself, sitting there wondering if the gods just didn’t want Philly to win a championship. The game continues despite an infield resembling fudge. The game reaches the end of the 5th inning, after multiple cups of $6 hot chocolate, with the Phillies leading 2-1. It’s an official game, and we are all wondering if they will call it, and end the World Series for the first time ever, with a rain shortened clinching game. We begin to realize that it would be an empty, tainted, and ultimately unfulfilling way to win a championship. For this reason, we actually aren’t all that upset when Tampa scores in the top of the 6th, and they decide to enter a rain delay.
Usually, when a game has a rain delay, you leave your seat, grab a beer and a hot dog, and wait for 45 minutes to an hour while the fast moving summer shower passes. This rain delay was a little different. First of all, it lasted 46 ½ hours. Yeah, almost two days went by while the rain/snow/snot continued to fall. During this time, I drove to new York, worked two full days, went out in NYC, drove back to Philly, and went to ¾ of the 76ers season opening game against the Raptors (Sammy D and Elton Brand looked great by the way.)
With 6:32 remaining in the 4th quarter of that game, which started at 6:00 PM Wednesday night, we left the cozy confines of our 5th row floor seats, and headed back to Citizens Bank Park, where the game picked up right where it left off. The teams had some interesting questions to answer. Who would lead off the game for the Phillies with Hamels’ spot due up? Who would pitch for either team? Did the record long rain delay hurt or help either team’s momentum? In the end it was an exciting game. The teams traded runs for 2 ½ innings until it was the top of the 9th, with the Phillies up by 1 and Brad ‘Lights out’ Lidge on the mound. As much as I love Cole Hamels, I really think that Lidge’s perfection in the closers role makes him the team’s playoff MVP. But I digress. The point of the story is that Lidge continued his perfect season to its ultimate conclusion with a strikeout of Eric Hinske to end the World Series. As Ryan Howard tackled Lidge, and Chase Utley joined the pile along with the rest of the team, a wave of euphoria settled in. For all of you Sox fans reading this, remember what it felt like in ’04 when Boston won its first ring (they clinched on my birthday that year coincidentally). Now imagine if game 4 of that series had lasted FORTY EIGHT HOURS. Just think what a sweet feeling of relief and elation everyone in that stadium felt.
Since last Wednesday I have been asked several times what I did to celebrate after the game. Instead of hanging out amidst the rioting streets of downtown Philly like I did in Kenmore square a few years ago, I hopped in my car and drove 2 hours back to the hotel I was staying in just north of New York City. There I proceeded to drink scotch at the hotel bar, hit on the hot bartender while I watched sportscenter highlights of the game, and make friends with some Phillies fans that happened to be staying at the same hotel. After taking several free shots, bought by said Phillies fans upon hearing where I had just driven from, I proceeded to crash heavily in my hotel room. I woke up the next day on 4 hours sleep, visited 3 high schools, recruited lacrosse players and students, then drove back to Boston.
Hopefully, this story can help to erase some of the indifference that Red Sox fans have been expressing with regards to the World Series. If you ask me, you are all just spoiled, and sour that the Sox didn’t win again. Wake up baseball fans, an historic and entertaining series just took place. An AL East rival, who knocked your beloved Red Sox out of the playoffs, just lost. Time to man up, and admit that baseball is a great sport, even when a city other than Boston is having championship parades.
Take it easy,