Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Series

As a Phillies fan, I see big problems in this World Series. It looks like good sportsmanship will be mandatory.

As much as I may want the Phils to win (which is plenty, by the way), summoning up the former hometown's traditional hostility towards the opposition is just impossible. Only a natural-born churl could resent the Rays. Everything they've accomplished this season is wholly praiseworthy, especially winning the ALCS. I doubt that many Red Sox fans are mad at them. They took a knockout punch, shrugged it off, and won anyway. About all that's left to the loser in that situation is to jump the net and shake hands with the winner.

Nor can I summon up my former hometown's even-more-traditional hostility towards its own teams. Should the worst come to pass, and the Phils get swept, it will be disappointing. But it'll only be embarrassing for the team itself. I am more than pleased with their accomplishments this season. Given their flaws, the Phillies are also an admirable bunch. They're fun to root for. Pitching wins, but pulling for a team that's never out of a game because of its power is a better deal for fans. You never give up, because you never know.

So all that's left is to root, and hopefully, to watch a better Series than the dull sweeps we've seen in recent years. The Rays have better starters, the Phils the better bullpen, and it beats me who I'd pick to win if forced to choose.

All that's left is pleasure. There are times when I miss my old job desperately. Postseason baseball isn't one of them. That's a mind, body, and soul-crushing experience for sportswriters (imagine writing about Game Five of the ALCS, then heading home to catch a wakeup call for your 6:30 a.m. flight to Tampa for the offday press conferences). It is the one time when the good seat isn't worth the price and plain old fans have more fun.

I can't be a plain fan, but I'm pretty good at being an old one.


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