(Hopefully) good sports essays and observations for good sports by a guy who tries (and can sometimes fail) to be a good sport.


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Friday, April 01, 2011

Inspiration from Your Local Baseball Team: The Phillies

I was off today, and, no, I didn't go AWOL to watch the Phillies, although about 45,000 people did, watching a game in a mist, wind and temperatures below 40 degrees, only to see Phillies' alum and all-time goofball Brett Myers of the Astros outpitch Roy Halladay, get two hits and lay down a perfect sacrifice bunt to advance an Astros' rally. Going into the bottom of the ninth, it was 4-2 Astros, and I was ready to chalk the day up to just yet another bad opener for a franchise that has had more than its fair share. Fair enough, I thought. They're not going to win them all, and I then reasoned that after going 0-1 they'd rattle off 13 in a row to take a comfortable lead in the NL East. Why I thought that I had no idea, but my original thought -- that the game was over -- was flat out wrong. Because someone forgot to tell the hometown nine that after playing most of the afternoon half-frozen, it was time to thaw out, time to hit the gas pedal a little harder, and, yes, win the game on a walk-off hit by John Mayberry, Jr., because that's precisely what happened. The scriptwriter also forgot to tell underestimated catcher Carlos Ruiz and superutility second baseman Wilson Valdez that they were supposed to ground out weakly, head to the dugout and then watch the end of the game. Both got key hits, with Valdez's scoring the tying run. Mayberry then drove in the game-winnner. And that's the thing about the Phillies during the Charlie Manuel/Jimmy Rollins years. A game has 27 outs, and, doggone it, the team will play through all 27, just like the sprinter who runs as hard through the tape as he did out of the blocks. Sure, the statisticians would have posted that the Astros would have had an 88% or so chance to win the game after eight full, but those numbers guys would have forgotten the one thing that we Phillies fans have come to cherish -- this team just doesn't have "quit" in its dictionary. What made the day extra special was that my son was just arriving home from school when the ninth inning was unfolding. He rushed into our family room wearing his Phillies' jacket and Phillies' hat, with a Ryan Howard jersey underneath. (It was "celebrate the Phillies on Opening Day" at school today). And then we watched all of the hits happen, and the day just got a lot brighter. Sure, they did their math, writing and reading today, but the kids who watched also learned a good lesson about trying your best no matter what the circumstances. That's the mantra of this team, and it's inspiring to watch. Finish hard, no matter what. Keep coming, no matter what. Rise to the occasion when the chips are down. It was a crappy day out there, and Brett Myers pitched well, and, well, you're not going to win them all. That said, you'll win even less if you take the "not going to win them all" attitude to an extreme. Someone forgot to tell this team today that they're not going to win them all. Because they believe -- in every single game -- that's precisely what they can do.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi-- Just found the link to your blog on, of all places, the NY Times.
I could not agree more with the lesson taught by Opening Day. I was there and watched people leave and couldn't believe it. The Phillies never give up and while I was not counting on an Opening Day win, I knew the game wasn't over, despite the score.
I enjoyed your post and will look forward to reading it again.


1:08 PM  

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