Hockey Meg wound up in my kitchen again tonight. The Philadelphia sports enthusiast and kryptonite to Drew Forrester’s hatred of the City of Brotherly Love, was pacing the floor.
“The last time they won a playoff game I had just gotten my driver’s license. I’m 32. In 1980, I was 4 years old my dad dragged me into the basement. Said take a look at this as Tug McGraw got the final out. He said, ‘You’ll probably never see this again.’ My brother and I we laughed about it for years. We STILL laugh about it.”
It was 15 years ago this week. The World Series between the Phillies and the Blue Jays. God, how I hated the Blue Jays after their years of torturing the Orioles. I covered every game of the Series. I got written about in the Philadelphia Daily News and thought that was pretty cool, even though I had written for a newspaper for nine years at that point.
Meg and I unwittingly were at the same concert at the Spectrum. The night of Game 4 of the 1993 World Series I was on the field doing a radio show, grabbing Mitch Williams, Curt Schilling, John Vuckovich and others to do my show back in Baltimore. It rained all during batting practice and Madonna was playing across the street.
When the game went into a rain delay that certainly appeared to be one of the 90-minute variety, I went across the street and scored a cheap ticket when a bunch of girls jumped out of a limo and their girlfriend was grounded. They had an extra ticket. I went to see Madonna. Meg, who was also at the concert that night (“she said, ‘F–k Toronto!’ on stage and bore a Phillies jersey and denim shorts” that night as Meg recalls), picked up a World Series program for her brother after the concert. The game went all night and ended like, 18-16. It was a crazy week. I went to every game. Drove back and forth to Toronto all night. I had tickets to the games, took my friends, took a girl, made friends. It was a magical time in my life.
Ah, memories. Forty will do that to ya.
Tonight, I’m on my couch with Hockey Meg and Agent Orange and my wife watching the game in high def.
Meg is absolutely stoked. She’s bouncing all over the place, nervous. Screaming at Tim McCarver and Joe Buck.
This is good.
“They all look so happy just to be there. The fans of both teams, the players. It’s like such a shock.” – Hockey Meg
Meg to my wife: “Where did the cowbells come from?”
My wife: “What a f-ing nuisance. F-ing annoying.”
I admit I have no idea why they’re ringing the damned things. It occurred to me to ask the other night, but I didn’t.
Me to group, random observation: “Any team that has the Backstreet Boys sing the National Anthem for Game 1 of a World Series doesn’t deserve to win a World Series.”
Meg is wearing her baby blue bubble maroon P hat tonight. I had a similar hat back during my decade or two of Phillies’ mania. If any of you read my book, you know that I went to Philadelphia during the summer of 1981 with my paternal father when he paid a surprise visit from Venezuela when I was 12. The Phillies had won the World Series the year before and I had never been to a National League park or seen a National League game.
I was absolutely INTOXICATED with fake green Astroturf, the bubble P, Pete Rose, Michael “Jack” Schmidt, Steve Carlton (and later, Steve Carlson, who was in Slap Shot), and the Phillie Phantic. They became my favorite team that afternoon at The Vet. I was torn during the 1983 World Series.
Chase Utley just hit a home run.
Meg is stirring on the coach, shaking, spastically yelling, “Chhhhaaaaaaaaa-ssseee Utley!” She says she should be listening to Harry Kalas call this game. I wholeheartedly agree.
She just asked me if I knew that Matt Stairs was Canadian and liked hockey. I told her, Hockey Meg, that I’ve interviewed Stairs many times and I know of his love for the puck. (BTW: Shameless plug. Puck bus is now on sale! Click on the red tab at the bottom.)
Matt Stairs was a great guy and always a great guest. One reason for me to pull for the Phillies.
Pat Gillick was a bit of a turd from time to time. So, I can’t really root for him. Didn’t dislike him but we had our differences. I respect him immensely and think he’s brilliant, but he never made me “pull for him.” I’m indifferent, but I think it’s great fodder that he might be holding the trophy in another clubhouse champagne shower in October while Angelos pads his pockets with MASN money and the team sucks for the 11th year in a row.
Dare I say the “ghost of Pat Gillick”…
Jayson Werth was a great guy. He was an O’s first round draft pick, all around decent guy. One more reason for me to pull for the Phillies.
Joe Maddon is a guy who I’ve had several encounters with and all of them extremely positive. Maddon’s a right guy. This makes me pull for the Rays.
Rick Vaughn, who is the Rays P.R. guy, is probably my closest association to the World Series and I’m honestly pulling for them more because of him than anything else. I’m honestly kinda rooting for the Rays, deep down.
Like I said, I LOVED the Phillies from 1981 til the late 1990’s when my closeness to the Orioles brought back my childhood and I just never got into them once they sucked and Schilling got dealt to Arizona. And they changed their jerseys, which has been a recurring theme of my sports fandom: laundry. The Capitals did it and kinda chased me away. Probably same stupid reason for the Phillies as well.
But I’ll also say that I’d be happier for the people of Philadelphia to have a big party than for the fine folks of Tampa to get yet ANOTHER World Championship that no one there really cares all that much about.
The Buccaneers were a sick, civic joke for two decades. They were the butt of any legitimate sports joke of my childhood. If you wikipedia “sucks” I’m sure a creamsickle Bucs logo pops up.
And the Tampa Bay Lightning (if you’ve heard of them) actually won the Stanley Cup two years ago. They beat the Flyers, incidentally.
Tampa doesn’t need another championship. And certainly not for the Rays, anyway. It’s the worst supported franchise in the league. The team probably shouldn’t exist, truth be told. And I got a pair of tickets for Game 7 the other night for $40.
Who’s going to argue that Tampa even deserves a TEAM, let alone a championship.
So, much like Hockey Meg’s comment about everyone being “happy to be there” – I guess I’m happy to be sitting on my couch blogging, watching and thinking about how much fun baseball can be when it’s done right.
I’m having a fun night. I’m having MORE fun than I had in Tampa the other night, really.
And I’m not going to cry either way with this World Series.
I’ll honestly feel good for whoever wins, but probably better for the Philadelphia people who’ve waited since 1980 to win. I remember where I was that night, too. In my living room with my Pop watching the final out. Tug McGraw, George Brett (my favorite player), hemorrhoids, water fountains, Astroturf — how can you not remember that stuff?
Hockey Meg to me: “Does the fake grass in Tampa really look that bad in person?”
Me (who went to Game 7 of ALCS on Sunday night): “Kinda dingy. Like it came from a lot outside the Home Depot.”
Hockey Meg: “Look at how bad that looks. All patchy and discolored and crappy. We all have good TVs now and if it looks that bad in high def I figure it probably looks bad in person.”
We all admit we’re having fun.
Agent Orange says: “It’s always a lot more fun watching the game with friends!”
I say, “Why do you think I make the goofy videos. It’s more fun to share your experience with people.”
Being at Game 7 the other night was made more fun by sending goofy text pictures to my son and my baseball buddies.
Baseball is about friends and bringing people together.
Free The Birds.
Incidentally, I’m wearing my “I have delusions of grandeur” shirt tonight.
I think it’s fitting while watching the Tampa Bay Rays host a World Series game in St. Peterburg.
I wonder if Peter Angelos even watches the World Series, or whether he even cares about baseball.
It’s sickening watching all of these fake Tampa Bay Rays fans. The people who’ve been on the bandwagon for about four weeks now.
With hundreds of people sporting “Ray hawk” mohawk haircuts in Marge Simpson blue, it’s almost comical. In July, they didn’t even know their name wasn’t the Devil Rays anymore.
The Phils are up 1-0.
Another loss by the Rays tonight could make this a short-lived series.