I don't know if there is a good way to sum up an event like this. I probably should not even try. A lot of things have gone through my head as to what to write, and suffice to say I'm not a terribly poetic writer. I got to watch quite a few of the Phillies' players come through the minors, including Chase Utley, Cole Hamels and Ryan Howard.
Frankly, I am shocked it came about so easily. The only other year the Phillies won the World Series was 1980. In that season, the Phils won the division by one game, coming back from behind to win three times in the last week, including the clincher. They won a best of five series 3-2 against the Astros, trailing all three times before they won, and seeing four of those five games go extra innings. They won the World Series 4-2 against the Royals, and they came from behind to win three times. Twice they had to beat Dan Quisenberry to do it. The only game they won in the playoffs but never trailed was the clincher, game six. This time they went 11-3 in the postseason. They were never a loss away from elimination. The only game the Rays even led at any point was their game two victory.
Cole Hamels established himself as a Phillies postseason legend, going 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA in five starts. Brad Lidge rocketed up the postseason saves list. He has now saved more postseason games than all but two pitchers, Dennis Eckersley and Mariano Rivera. Ryan Howard hit three home runs. I think credit is due to the Rays though, who enjoyed a fine season. They lost fighting, with the tying run at second base and losing out only when a line drive stayed in the air too long. Baseball is truly a game of inches, hits turning into outs and vice versa by the smallest of margins. A couple of breaks and the championship easily could have gone the other way.
Was it a boring postseason? More or less, yes. I was thankful for that from a Phillies' perspective but disappointed in the other series. The game five ALCS comeback from the Red Sox will live as a classic. Game five of the World Series was very good as a whole (it will hopefully live in one piece on the dvd), as was game three. Little was memorable about the Fall Classic though. I think we can lay blame on Fox, the weather, MLB as much as we want. The fact remains however that if the games are lacking, there is little you can do to dress them up. Baseball needs exciting games, and then needs to market them properly.
It bears repeating. If you long for the days that your children could enjoy baseball, take them to a minor league game. The lower, the better. You get cheaper tickets, cheaper parking, cheaper concessions, and the players are much more accessable.
It amazes me how much merchandise MLB will attempt to sell in the wake of a World's championship. Within an hour, the Phillies' website proudly displayed a couple hundred items for sale, all proclaiming the Phillies "2008 World Champions." Hats, shirts and dvd sets are customary. Here are some other fun items you might purchase.
* Wincraft Philadelphia Phillies 2008 World Series Champions Galvanized Pail ($29.99)
* Seven different 2008 World Series Bobbleheads, including the Phillie Phanatic, all holding the trophy ($24.99 each)
* Mr. Potato Head, Complete with Phillies hat and trophy ($19.99)
* 2008 World Champions Snow Globe ($34.99)
* Cole Hamels Autographed World Series Baseball ($217.99)
I can just imagine someone in the process of redecorating their den.
A final note on the parade. Chase Utley has raised a bit of a stir by declaring the Phillies, "World F'n Champions!" That is not the most distressing thing on its face, but it is a bit disheartening how this type of language has seemingly become acceptable at Philadelphia sporting events. It makes it difficult to introduce non-fans into the sport or to a sporting venue. Winning is not a ticket to act like a jackass.
In summation, this is really the first championship win I was alive to witness. I don't think anything in the future will measure to this. Thank you Phillies!