Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Philadelphia: Home of Great Beer and Great Baseball (this one's about the Baseball)

Other than occasional notes about running, traveling, and sports, I don't bother you with a whole lot else about me outside of beer. I figure, more often than not, that this is okay with you. Sometimes, I think it would be fair for you to know more about the person that's giving you all of this wonderful Brew Lounge material to sate your taste for great beer. Therein lies the motivation to tell you a little about me and my baseball ponderings as the World Series gets set to kickoff tonight. For all of you concerned as well, get ready for some late nights and lost sleep in the time zones of Philadelphia and to the East. (All of you Left Coasters and lucky you are!) I am happier than I was last year around this time. Now don't get me wrong; I was ecstatic to see the Phillies break our city's long drought of championship years. But, c'mon it was the (Devil) Rays of Tampa. Seriously? How can we be taken seriously if we beat Tampa? (I realize that many of you are now screaming something like 'who cares?' at your computer.) I have this thing about beating the best, who are playing their best at the time, to be considered the best. The Rays got there last year and deserved a little pat on the back for their achievements, but really? Who were they and how much respect did we really get for beating them from the sporting community? We may be listed in the record books as World Series winners for 2008, but who really referred to us as undisputed champions? Even Game 5 needs an asterisk to explain how the Series-clinching game was won. I felt the same way a few years back when I didn't think the Eagles exactly had the regular season performance deserving of a championship. Sure, if they'd beat the Patriots, they'd have a Lombardi in the Trophy Case today. But (trust me, I know this makes me odd), I would rather win convincingly in the playoffs and championship after a championship-level season than sloppily back into winning a championship either by attritional luck or by the other team playing more poorly than ours. I know, I know...a lot of kvetching, but I seem to do that fairly well. Where does that leave me? Screaming "bring on the Yanks!" Allow me to throw out another mental twister for you: I don't hate the Yankees the way most of you do. I don't even really dislike them all that much. Sure, I can understand how you might be able to hate them the way you do; I'm just not with you on that side. During the years when baseball, and professional sports for that matter, mattered the most to me (my youth, that'd be) Major League Baseball was organized into 4 divisions and I had one favorite team in each. Of course, the Phillies ruled as my favorite team over and above all. In the NL West, it was the Braves (of Atlanta....c'mon, I'm not that old!), the AL West it was the A's of Oakland (not KC or Philly), and in the AL East it was...yes...the Yankees. I admired their ability to attract the best talent to a team steeped in talented history to play in a city as magnificent as New York City. Their play got even bigger in the postseason and even more recently when Curt Schilling made reference to 'aura' and 'mystique' not being dancers in the Bronx, he couldn't have been more correct. But, you'd have to be a jingoistic homer not to see the Yankees for what they are---one of professional sports most dominant and successful teams/brands, with some of the game's most talented players ever to have put on the uniform. Perhaps, though, it's not the team and the players you hate so much as the city and the fans. Eh, once again I'm nonplussed; but, maybe that's just me. I happen to think that the City of New York is one of the world's best and the people not that much different than those of Philly (I'll bet that analogy goes over well in NYC). It's a well-conceived statement to make that Philly has everything that New York has, just on a smaller scale. Then again, is that really something to criticize? Some of the ridiculous comments made in the New York media this week really seem like a baseless stretch. It sounds more like an inferiority complex that points to other issues when you think merely size is a measure of greatness. When it comes to arrogance, I personally have seen it worse coming out of Boston and don't think that Philly can even begin to compare to. How about those deep Yankee pockets that everyone likes to criticize? Who cares? I'll bet if it's the owner of your team, wouldn't you also be happy that they'd have the ability to attract the best talent money can buy? We do realize that this is just another business, do we not? But maybe all of this hatred coming in and out of New York is really about their recent history. I was at Game 3 of the 2001 World Series in New York. What an amazing game and time in baseball history. After that World Series homestand, the Yankees went on to lose to the very young Arizona Diamondbacks, barely show up in 2003 against the Florida Marlins, and since then bow out early in successive years from 2005 to 2007. The New York fans and media will do well to remember that it is they that are facing the Defending World *** Champions. The onus is on the Yankees to beat the Phillies, the first team to reach consecutive World Series since...wait, who was that??? In 1993, when the Phillies overcame the Braves to reach the World Series, I couldn't have been more overjoyed...partying our way down from Manayunk (back in its heyday) to Center City after Mitch (y Poo) Williams finished off the game. (Pitchers Pub was where I was, by the way, for that memorable game.) And, I'll have no trouble reveling in the Phillies success this time against another of my all-time favorite teams, the Yankees. Trust me, though, when I say that this is no conflict of interest and that this sort of thing can be put aside in the spirit of the Phillies winning the trophy for a second year in a row...this time in six games. You heard it here. Oh, where will I watch the games? Unfortunately, a beery rendezvous tonight at Nodding Head appears to be falling through as this day slips by, Game 3 could either be at Victory or South Philly Tap Room, and the rest at home...unless this one potential ticket source comes through for any of the Philly games. We shall see... In the meantime, here is a quick sampling of some interesting reading related to Philly, New York, and the World Series. CBS Sports NY Post Bugs and Cranks Phila. Inquirer

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