Sure, it hurts to lose, especially when your team can’t manage a single, measly run in nine innings.
But here’s why I can handle the Phils’ loss:
1. We didn’t lose to the stinkin’ Yankees.
2. What I want from my home team is competitive, meaningful games to watch all summer, and this team has given us that for five years now. Remember what it was like on a Wednesday night in the ’90s, when you didn’t bother to check in on the Phils, or even know who they were playing? The beauty of the game is the game—the tension of a two-out, two-on, two strike pitch, when the outcome counts. If you forget that and think that only an October championship matters, you need to go watch some little league and re-discover the joy of baseball.
3. This team is plenty strong enough to be competitive next year, all summer long.
4. I never liked fielding a team stocked with top-tier free agents. As likeable as Halladay, Lee, and Pence are, we created an expectation that only a championship will do. And championships are almost always a function of which upper-tier team is healthy and hot at the end of September, like San Francisco last year.
5. This was not a choke-a-delphia fold. This team won championships in 2008 and 2009. (I count ’09 as a win because I don’t recognize the Yankees as a legitimate team.) The Phils had nothing to prove. They didn’t get psyched out or quit on us. They just got beat.
Here’s what I am sad about—the era of watching Rollins, Utley, Howard, and Victorino healthy and in their primes, playing like champs and being great citizens is approaching an end. Change is a part of life and baseball. But this crew has been special, and I’ll miss their glory days.