Friday, October 10, 2008

Game One.

As regular readers know, my face was in the place last night as the Phillies started the National League Championship series against the Dodgers.
After the initial build-up and pomp, the Dodgers jumped to a 2-0 lead and the usually boisterous crowd fell silent, awaiting what we all felt was grim defeat.
But like a flash of lightning, Chase Utley hit a 2-run homer to right field to tie the game in the bottom of the sixth and Pat Burrell followed with a solo shot to give the Phils a 3-2 lead that they would carry to the end. I sent a friend a text message that said, 46,000 people just woke up.
When Burrell came out to his position in left field to start the seventh, the crowd in the left field seats (which included me) stood and cheered. He has been here his entire 9-year career and to say it's been a roller coaster ride would be an understatement. However, once the post-season starts, it's a fresh beginning for everyone. He homered on Sunday to help the Phils get to this series, and the standing ovation was in part for that, and in part for his feat last night.
What ran across my mind as we were cheering was, how could someone not be affected by such a thing? Emotionally, it has to be a moving experience to be part of such a large outpouring of love from people you otherwise don't know.
There are televisions in the rafters over our seats because we cannot see the scoreboard. The Fox broadcast was running all night. What struck me about that was that while all this with Burrell was going on and while those of us in the crowd were high-fiving each other and cheering, the home audience was watching a tire commercial.
Television does a great job of bringing games into our homes, but they are restricted by several things out of their control, like advertising and earning money. It's the part of the experience that makes going to games worth the effort. Watching at home is great, but even high-definition can't replicate the emotion of being there, but you probably didn't need me to tell you that.
Brad Lidge came in for another save and 46,000 people wandered into the night. There wasn't the usual traffic jam because most of them stayed around to revel in the victory. There is one more home game on Friday afternoon, and then the Phils go on the road where they could conceivably win the best-of-seven series in Los Angeles, so most of them wanted to squeeze the sensation as long as they could.
They can't put that on TV either.

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