This has happened before. It happened in 1980, the year after the team finished fourth and all hope appeared to be lost. It happened in 1983 when they had a team of players so old they were nicknamed "The Wheeze Kids." It happened again in 1993 with a team that went from worst to first. What is it? It’s the sudden popularity of the Philadelphia Phillies.
Now I know how Beatles fans felt in 1963. They used to go see them at the Cavern Club or some little dive in Liverpool “before they was what they was.” Then, they signed a big record deal and made the trip across the pond. By then, you needed a shoehorn to wedge your way into a Beatles show and if you got in you couldn’t hear them for all the screaming girls. The people who loved them before they were popular got shoved aside in the name of big marketing and popularity.
For those of us who have been with this baseball team for the better part of 5 decades, this sudden popularity is a sight to behold. Winning brings it out, because nobody wants to admit that they liked something when it wasn’t popular. Now that the Phillies are winning, you can’t swing a dead squirrel without hitting a red hat, shirt or something that somebody wants to sell you to commemorate their extraordinary success. The gravy train has boarded.
Every other page of the newspaper is strewn with ads for everything from autographed baseballs (for as little as $159) to commemorative newspaper pages, framed for your convenience. Winning makes you want to frame your newspaper, I guess.
I'm anxious for the games to start so we can talk about actual baseball and stop talking about all the stupid superstitions people have when they watch the game and their fascinating back stories.
There are background stories galore, with such thought-provoking stuff as why we should hate Tampa and the fact that Las Vegas odds makers are giving 1 to 5 odds that one of the games in Philadelphia will be delayed because a fan threw something on the field. Really, you can bet on that. 3 to 1 odds in Tampa. We have better throwing arms here.
At the Majestic Clubhouse - the Phillies' souvenir emporium at the ballpark - their ritual is playing The Beatles 1, a compendium of the quartet's greatest hits. The Fightin' Phils won 11 of their last 12 games as the Beatles CD blared from the shop's speakers. "We didn't play the Beatles and they lost the first playoff game," said Roe Rush, a supervisor at the gift shop.
Ugh. It sounds as though they need a new supervisor over there. Hey Roe, how would you feel if your doctor broke out the leaches and did a voodoo dance?
The local news is all Phillied Up, with the usual “ph” banners like Phantastic Phillies and Phillies Phever. Clever. Monday, the local Fox TV affiliate started running a countdown clock on the lower left side of the screen. 2 days 6 hours 15 minutes 34 seconds till game time. Thanks. As though we would have forgotten entirely if they weren’t there to remind us.
Here's another nut-job checking into the Crazy Hotel:
Terry McGovern of Mount Laurel wears the same Phillies home jersey (Chase Utley) and red-and-blue cap every time the team plays. He has spent $600 on new Phils apparel, but says he won't wear any of it during the World Series. The one game during the playoffs when he was not dressed in his lucky garb, the Phillies were behind, he said. Then he realized he didn't have his jersey or hat on. "I was watching in my pajamas on the couch," he said. "I ran upstairs and put my hat and shirt on, and literally within minutes, Victorino scored the first home run."
Dumbass. Don’t you listen to The Beatles when the game is on? Get with the program, dude. Hey - maybe you put the hat and shirt on because Victorino was going to hit a home run? Woooooo ** fingers outstretched and waving ** Freaky, huh?
What did he wear in 2000 when they were 65 and 97? You’re one brick short of a load, bud.
[FYI, I’m attending Sunday's game in my pajamas]
Don’t you just want to grab people and shake them sometimes? Not me, them.
Estelle Nightswander of South Philadelphia keeps herself and her husband planted on their South Philly sofa whenever they take in a game. "We only get up if we have to," Nightswander said. Her superstitions extend to other fans, too. The Nightswander’s attended World Series games in the 1980s. "We wouldn't let the two girls sitting next to us leave their seats either," she said.
What a crackpot. I’m guessing Estelle plants herself on the sofa for a lot of stuff. Hey Estelle, you’d better hope you’re not sitting next to me on Sunday. If you don’t let me get up, I’ll pee all over my seat. Then, nobody wins.
Hey wait a minute – I was wearing a Phillies cap the day the Beatles broke up.
Sons of bitches.