I was eight years old when the Philadelphia Phillies last made it to the World Series. I was so excited as I anxiously waited for the first pitch of the first game of the series.
I will never forget my dad telling me to enjoy the moment now. “It doesn’t happen every year,” he said.
Since I was so young, I thought, “Yeah right! This team is great! They’re going to be in the World Series every year.”
That was 1993. Fifteen years later, I will finally get to experience that anticipation and joy once again when the Phillies play the Tampa Bay Rays.
But my dad could not have been more right. I was naïve to think that championships were easy to come by. As is the case with many Millersville students who are also Philadelphia sports fans, I have never experienced a championship. The last time a team won a title was the 1983, 76ers.
After being hopeful as a kid, I have grown up like many Philly fans as someone that thinks a championship will never come. So many teams have gotten this close before in my life, and they have all come up short. The ‘96 Flyers, the 2001 Sixers, and the 2004 Eagles. Forgive me if I have lost hope at this point, but I have not been given any reason to be optimistic in the past.
Being a Philly sports fan is like being in a bad relationship. Every team has broken my heart. Common sense would say I should have given up by now, but I keep coming back. I hold onto the good times and try to forget about the bad. But they always seem to disappoint me every time I get my hopes up.
I can only hope the Phillies will be different. They have the lineup to put up big runs. Three of the Rays’ four starting pitchers are right-handed, which should be an advantage against a left-handed heavy lineup. All of the potential that Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, and Jimmy Rollins, have should come out when the lights are at their brightest. But what if they don’t? What if this week off affects the whole lineup’s timing and they can not straighten it out in time?
The Rays are inexperienced. They have never been this far before, so they should be complacent with just getting to the World Series. But what if they aren’t? They have passed so many tests during this long season and postseason that it is hard to play the inexperience card anymore.
Our bullpen is the strongest out of the two. Brad Lidge and Ryan Madson have been dominant in September and October. If the Phillies have the lead after seven innings, a win should be a guarantee. But what if Lidge finally blows a save? He has to eventually, right? Isn’t it possible that Madson reverts to the player he was a couple years ago?
Forgive me if I sound negative. I root as hard as anyone for these teams. When they lose, it can ruin the rest of my day. I am just trying to prevent myself from getting let down once again. I truly want the Phillies to win and I am pretty confident that they have the talent to match up with the Rays and win the World Series. If they don’t, it will take me a while to recover.
But I will never escape this abusive relationship. I will still come back for more heartache next year.