It feels sort of like the calm before the storm. Like a strange witching hour when chaos is just over the horizon. Philadelphians have always been superstitious in moments like this, when relief is so close.
There’s so much said about the woes of the Philadelphia fan. Twenty-eight-year baseball championship drought. No major title since 1983. Etc. Etc. Earlier this year there was the “frontrunner” scandal. (When Jimmy Rollins was quoted calling fans “frontrunners” and the whole city — urged by the media — got in a huff.) Now that we’re at the front, was he right?
Throughout the season there were always the neighborhood guys gathered on the corner lamenting the Phils’ three-straight losses, taking turns blaming Myers faulty pitching, Utley’s slump or Rollins not being able to create a spark. Or the woman sitting on the third-base line shaking her head everytime Howard struck out, muttering something about “10-million-dollar dud” (true story, though she’s probably eating her words now).
But each one of them went home and watched every inning of the next game. That’s the difference.
Frontrunners? Hardly. This town has been there at the very bottom. Even if we weren’t happy about it, we were there. And it turns out climbing a mountain that steep means our pinnacle is just a little higher than the rest.
You could say those who boo and criticize are non-believers — frontrunners, if you will. But they’re not. They’re scared. They’re scared of what believing in something that comes up short will feel like.
Even now, one game away from the ultimate prize, people are scared to have faith. I’ve had more than a few conversations lately where people finish by saying “of course, the job’s not done” or “but I’m not getting my hopes up.”
If not now, when?
Jimmy Rollins was never scared to have high hopes. He put his face and reputation on the line for this franchise more than a year ago and he’s been trying tirelessly since to defend it.
So what, then, do you make of the magic the Phillies have found this October? What do you make of Joe Blanton hitting his first and only major league home run in the World Series?
Perhaps all it takes is a little bit of faith.