It's hard not to feel good for people when a team wins the World Series.
I bet even somewhere in our dark and uncaring hearts we Red Sox fans felt good for a player or two during the Yankees World Series titles.
(Or do you really have that much venom towards Mike Aldrete?)
So here are the people I feel best for with the Phillies World Series title...
1. CHARLIE MANUEL This is the baseball lifer you can't help but love. A career in baseball with a few years as a player but the rest of the time as a minor leaguer, in the Japanese league, managing and coaching in the minors. A stint in Cleveland and tons of people wanting his head in Philadelphia.
And all the while he was a calming force with that Southern voice and baseball brains... he is the real life Joe Riggins, the manager from Bull Durham. (You throw the ball, you hit the ball, you catch the ball.)
Guys like that should have a ring.
2. JAMIE MOYER When Jamie Moyer first broke into the major leagues, I was a 14 year old freshman in high school living in the suburbs of Boston.
I am now a 36 year old father of twin 3 1/2 year olds living near Los Angeles.
That's a long damn time.
Let me put it another way... when Jamie Moyer broke into the bigs, Cole Hamels was a 2 and 1/2 year old baby.
He now has a ring. Guys like Jamie Moyer deserve a ring.
He wasn't even a Phillie until August, but like Dave Roberts in Boston, he has permanently etched his name into the sports narrative in Philadelphia with his off the bench heroics in the League Championship Series.
Now he has a ring.
It's a good thing you didn't retire Matt!
4. BRAD LIDGE Maybe he'll never live down the Pujols homer completely. Hell, Eckersley clinched a World Series in 1989 but people always link him with Gibson.
And I maintain that the Pujols homer was a little overrated since the Cardinals lost the next day... but don't forget Lidge also lost games 2 and 4 of the World Series including a walk off to Scott Podsednik of all people.
Who could have guessed that Houston would be too tense a place for him to pitch but he'd be perfect in the pressure cooker of Philadelphia?
He has a clip for all time... clinching the second ever World Series title for the Phillies. (Not that that is a consolation for Astros fans.)
5. COLE HAMELS He's 24... he's about to become a millionaire many times over... he's impossibly handsome... he's now the darling of a passionate sports fan base... and tonight, despite the weather's best efforts to deprive him of the award, is the first MVP of both the LCS and World Series in the same year since Livan Hernandez in 1997.
And let's face it, Hernandez didn't deserve the World Series MVP. That should have gone to Moises Alou.
But the only ones to win the LCS and World Series MVPs in the same year have been Willie Stargell of the 1979 Pirates, Darrell Porter of the 1982 Cardinals, Orel Hershiser of the 1988 Dodgers and Hernandez.
Not bad company to be in.
6. SHANE VICTORINO We are not in a glory age for nicknames in baseball... we need more cool nicknames. So how's THE FLYING HAWAIIAN?!
That's a great nickname folks! And guess what, with a nickname like that and the hard nose play he gave in the World Series (not to mention the grand slam off of CC Sabathia) it doesn't matter if he stinks the rest of his career or never plays in another game.
He will get standing ovations in Philadelphia as long as he is alive.
Philadelphia fans love players who play hard, win titles and have great nicknames. Just ask Bake McBride!
7, 8 & 9. JIMMY ROLLINS, CHASE UTLEY and RYAN HOWARD All are under 30. Rollins and Howard each have an MVP on their mantle. Utley will probably have one soon enough.
They, along with Hamels, are the faces of a home grown Philadelphia team that has the chance to be one of the most loved teams in that city's history.
And none of them will EVER have the "He never won the big one" label that hung over Barkley, Lindros, Cunningham, Iverson and still hangs over McNabb.
Oh yeah... all three are millionaires who play baseball for a living.
10 and 11. SCOTT EYRE AND PEDRO FELIZ
They were members of the 2002 San Francisco Giants who came so close to winning against the Angels.
At least they got rings now... not that that is much consolation for Giants fans.
12. MILT THOMPSON
He had a fine career over 13 seasons but his only post season experience was with the 1993 Phillies, who lost to the Blue Jays in the World Series.
Now, as a coach, he finally got a ring.
13. PAT GILLICK
Talk about knowing when to fold em!
His third ring as a GM (albeit using a lot of Ed Wade's pieces). I wonder if this merits Hall of Fame discussion.
14. PHILLIES FANS LUCKY ENOUGH TO BE LISTENING TO HARRY KALAS' RADIO CALL OF THE GAME
Joe Buck's call on TV was flat and disinterested. Kalas? Full of passion and is no doubt the ring tone of many Phillies fans starting today.
15 and 16. TAMPA SUPER FANS PAT AND CHRISTIN I'm sure there are a lot of bandwagon, cow bell buying, mohawk getting Rays fans wandering around Tampa these days.
But Pat and Christin have been Rays fans since they were the Devil Rays. (OK, that only goes back to 2007... but how many die hard Devil Rays fans do YOU know?)
And yes, their team didn't win the World Series, but going into this season the goal was a 71-91 record (which would have been the best in team history.)
If the Rays have indeed put together a powerhouse team for the future, you know Pat and Christin will enjoy every inning. They've earned it!
17. JOHN OATES
With fellow Philadelphia native Darryl Hall out with the flu, John finally got a solo!
My wife Lisa and I watched the end of tonight's game at Mike and Anne's, the restaurant down the street.
I saw the baseball season end the way it was meant to be enjoyed... eating mussels at a bar and sipping a cranberry juice next to my wife as I listened to smooth jazz.
The Phillies got to within two strikes of the World Series title when Tampa pinch hitter (and old friend from the 2007 World Champion Red Sox) Eric Hinske had strike two called on him when he tried to check his swing.
It looked to me like he did. It looked to Eric like he did too.
The next pitch he feebly swung at and the Phillies were World Champs.
And my wife suddenly became a commentator.
"He was still mad about the previous pitch." She said. "What do you mean?" "He didn't have that fire... that sense of don't you try to throw a pitch past me you son of a bitch or I'll hit the sh*t out of it. He didn't have that killer look the way Big Papi did where you knew he was going to win. He was unnerved." "Maybe it was a good pitch." "No, he wasn't ready. He wasn't ready and now he's a shmuck. I feel bad for the shmuck, but he wasn't ready to hit."
I just looked at my wife... suddenly possessed by a bitter Tampa Bay fan.
She proceeded to breakdown the psychology of Eric Hinske and declared him unready to play.
"You saw it!"
Yes I did.
It's the offseason and it's my wife whose providing the commentary that Tim McCarver and Joe Buck just couldn't pull off.
(Or why the Tampa Bay Rays were not in danger of any pre Game 5 hijinx!)
I've been to Wilmington enough to know you can do the following things there:
1. Set up a PO Box for a corporation. 2. Have someone explain why it is "The First State" and nod politely during the explanation. 3. Visit the Rockwood Museum at 610 Shipley Road 4. Ask someone why everything is named "DuPont" in Wilmington and nod politely during the explanation. 5. Find that place in Wilmington that mails you all the credit card applications and egg it. 6. Keep driving on 95 and be amazed how quickly you pass through Delaware on the way to Maryland. 7. Grab a drink at the Washington Street Ale House 8. Visit my Uncle Don, Aunt Martha and my Cousin Bill. I'm sure they'd love to host the Tampa Bay Rays. 9. Go to a Sullivan family wedding and get trashed. 10. Play a drinking game where everytime you meet someone who has met Joe Biden, you do a shot.
Well there's no Sullivan wedding this week and you can do the Joe Biden drinking game in the hotel bar.
It's bad enough that they tried to play in worse weather than Bishop Pickering had when he was struck by lightning*.
It's bad enough that the stupid decision to play the game, have the Phillies waste their best pitcher and then have the grounds crew pull the tarp out as the tying run was scoring...
But now it turns out they had the same luck as Mary and Joseph finding a hotel room in Philly. So off they go to Wilmington Delaware and the Hotel Du Pont. Now it looks like a sweet hotel... but this was the October we were going to be comparing the Green Monster of Fenway to the Ivy Covered walls of Wrigley... not write the new chapter in the Wilmington Michelin Guide!
One thing MLB doesn't have to worry about is a Ray Lewis-esque night club shooting during the down time in Wilmington. It's not exactly a den of temptation.
You don't hear a lot of newly single men saying "Let's go to Wilmington and forget about her!"
I'm guessing a lot of the guys stayed in their room and watched Iron Man on Pay Per View.
* If you find a more obscure Caddyshack reference on a blog, drop me an e mail
I watched a few innings of the Monday Night travesty and the monsoon was continuing...
All the while the Phillies had the lead. And I started thinking of how starved Philadelphia fans are for a title and I imagined how appropriate it would have been to see them win the World Series... in front of an empty house at 3AM.
Baseball would have found a way to give Philadelphia a title without any joy.
You couldn't read the weather report? You are really going to have the World Series decided first in the slush and muck of the rain and then could have a short 3 inning mini game to determine the World Champion.
Just when Fox felt this World Series couldn't suck for them more
- The Rays are pulling out their hairs because their Cinderella season is a Cole Hamels win away from being over.
- FOX Sports is pulling out their hair that more than likely the World Series for the 5th straight year won't go to a 6th game.
- FOX Sports also is pulling out clumps because the last game of the Series might be against Monday Night Football.
- Mets fans are pulling out their hair knowing that Phillies fans are one Cole Hamels win away from having a LOT of ammo.
- The Yankees are pulling out their hair knowing that the combined payrolls of the Rays and Phillies is well below their 2008 total... which will be cheap compared to the 2009 payroll.
- The Red Sox and their fans are pulling out their hair thinking "Why couldn't WE smack the Tampa pitchers around like that in game 7?" Seriously... J.D. Drew can't get a hit off of David Price but Eric Bruntlett can hit a home run.
- Cubs fans are pulling out their hair because the see they could have beaten this Tampa team.
- Philadelphia fans are pulling out their hair because... well... they aren't familiar with this emotion called happiness.
Man! Talk about a bad place to be... to be the guy who wandered off and squashed a potential World Series game winning rally. At least Matt Holliday knew he had tons of good will in the bank with Denver fans... and he also knew during the World Series most Denver fans were saying "Are the Broncos on?"
But Philly fans... let's just say they don't forget a goat.
So when Ruiz dribbled that ball and Longoria threw it to a fan in the upper deck, the biggest sigh of relief came from Werth. I'm guessing you already forgot he was picked off of second.
Two one run games and a two run game. One great pitched ball game by the latest big game stud and now a wild game 3 complete with guys scoring on steal attempts, fly balls to the warning track that make a fan base gasp, a 45 year old pitcher making his first World Series appearance, and the Phillies relying on the long ball but winning on a hit that couldn't have travelled 50 feet.
Do you know what this is called? A potentially great World Series!
Three of the last four World Series have been sweeps. The one that wasn't had all the markings of a potential 7 game series.
The Cardinals were underdogs to the Tigers in 2006, but the Tigers pitching imploded in game 1. The two teams split the next 2 games and game 4 was an underrated back and forth game that St Louis pulled out. And then the Cardinals won game 5 and that was it. No game 6 or 7. No showdown. I bet you 100% forgot that series even existed.
So sometimes when your team is out of it, you root for the longer series. I did the same thing in 2005... I wanted the White Sox to win but I rooted for the Astros in the marathon game 3. I didn't want a sweep, but that's what I got.
So if the Phillies win tonight, they'll have Cole Hamels on the mound with a chance to make this a 5 and out series. And I don't want that.
I want seven games. And so does Fox... the longer this series lasts the more intense game 7 will be and the more eyes will be on the TV.
Which brings me to reason 2. 2. I've got a long night at work tomorrow
Yeah I know it's a selfish reason but HEY!
I want to watch the game! And I won't be able to if the last game is tomorrow night!
I know it's sexier to watch hitters smack the ball around in the post season... but for me there is nothing that tops a pitcher that takes the playoffs on his back and yells "Follow me!"
That's what Cole Hamels is doing right now. I mean the guy has 4 starts this October... he's 4-0 with a 1.55 ERA, he is throwing a little bit over 7 innings per start, has struck out 27 in 29 innings...
And he is one win away from cementing a legacy. Maybe its early for Hall of Fame talk, but coming up big in October relatively early in their career meant pitchers like Ron Guidry, Fernando Valenzuela, Bret Saberhagen, John Smoltz, Josh Beckett and Frank Viola all got the "Big Game Pitcher" label.
And if he compiles some big career numbers to go with it, he can sit as pretty as Old King Cole for his call to Cooperstown.
Just make sure there's nothing illegal in that pipe and his bowl while he calls for his Fiddlers Three
(Sully wanders onto the ledge of a building where a Fox Sports executive is looking down.)
SULLY: Hey man.
EXEC: Don't come near me... I'm going to do it.
SULLY: Let's talk this through.
EXEC: There's no use. This was going to be a bonanza World Series! We were going to have the Mets... or Boston... or the Dodgers... or maybe even a Cubs World Series! We had Manny, or Big Papi... we had Wrigley, Fenway or Chavez Ravine. And look at we we're stuck with.
SULLY: I know. Tampa Bay and Philly isn't the sexiest match up.
EXEC: Sexy? Jesus. We had superstars at the Dodger games. We had Ben Affleck and Marky Mark at the Red Sox games. Who are we going to have in Philly? "HEY LOOK! It's David Brenner." Screw it, I'm going to jump now.
SULLY: All is not lost!
EXEC: The hell it is! How are we going to sell House or American Idol knowing we've only cornered the Gulf Coast and South Jersey. We might as well just show episodes of Do Not Disturb.
SULLY: Don't say that. Not even as a joke.
EXEC: What's the use?
SULLY: I'll tell you what the use is! Yeah you don't have the usual suspects in the Series...but you could be ahead of the curve in promoting the future of baseball. Think of the storyline. You like stories where the underdog goes through a sudden transformation into something beautiful, right?
SULLY: Exactly. Well the Rays are the swan of baseball. And they have cool young players like David Price and B. J. Upton. Plus Evan Longoria... whose name sounds like Eva... and maybe you can trick some of the Desperate Housewife crowd!
EXEC: Oh come on. ABC had Longoria sitting courtside for those Spurs NBA finals and nobody watched.
SULLY: What about Rocky? You get that rough and tumble lovable underdog from Philly... play the music... have Tim McCarver run up the steps. Maybe have Sly, Carl Weathers, Mr. T and Dolph Lungren throw out the first pitch!
EXEC: Oh quit selling to the older crowd. Did you notice TBS only showed ads for Viagra and Flomax. The only people watching the game are flacid men who can't pee! We need NEW viewers!
SULLY: Well... this is the first time in a while that baseball can recapture the African American market.
EXEC: Tell me more without sounding racist or condescending.
SULLY: OK, I'll do my best. The number of prominent black players in baseball is shrinking. Baseball has the latin market down and has a huge Asian population. But more and more young African Americans turn away from baseball to football and basketball.
EXEC: So what's different?
SULLY: The Phillies have former MVPs Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins. The Rays have B. J. Upton, Carl Crawford and David Price. You have some of the best young African American talent on display and they can help sell the sport to a lot of kids who have become apathetic.
EXEC: But how can we SELL IT?
SULLY: Simple. Say "Hey! You sick of New York and Boston teams dominating? You sick of teams buying all their stars? Well guess what? Here's a World Series with young and hungry teams, built from their farm system and smart trades... no clear favorite and nothing is predictable except for the fact that it will be hard fought. Maybe even 7 games. Want to watch great baseball? It's here!"
The 2001 Diamondbacks were filled with veterans getting their first (and for some) their only rings, including Randy Johnson, Luis Gonzalez, Matt Williams, Mark Grace, Jay Bell, Mike Morgan, Steve Finley, Greg Swindell, Tony Womack, Reggie Sanders and Bobby Witt.
(Curt Schilling would go on to win 2 more... I can't remember with whom.)
Sometimes it's fun to see that superstar get the "He never won a ring" stigma before going on to pile up more good numbers.
Pudge Rodriguez, Albert Pujols, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz all won their rings and kept putting up the numbers.
Well this year seems devoid of the ringless Hall of Fame calliber veterans (unless you feel that Jamie Moyer or Matt Stairs belong in the Hall.)
And there are no entrenched superstars either.
But there is a galaxy of rising stars... potential superstars... and people who could be the face of baseball going into the second decade of the 21st Century.
And one group of young stars are going to get the "He never won a Ring" label removed very early and get into the "Pile up big career numbers category" for Hall of Fame consideration.
For the B.J. Uptons, Evan Longorias, Scott Kazmirs, Matt Garzas and David Prices of the world... it's early to call them superstars. But shine on this stage and win, and not only will you have the aura of a champion for the rest of your career... but you'll be the ones who won one of the most unlikely championships in the history of American sport.
Put up the career numbers and then rehearse your Cooperstown speech... you are 4 wins from getting the "intangibles" part down.
As for the slightly more established Phillies... Hey Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard. You already have the MVP on your mantle. Put a ring on your finger, put up the career numbers and don't get hurt. You're already putting together a great resume.
As for Cole Hamels or Chase Utley, win in Philly and they may stop booing you for a month!
Who knows if any of these young stars are going to become Hall of Famers? Who knows if the likes of Miguel Cabrera, Bobby Jenks, Jonathan Papelbon and Dustin Pedroia, all young stars with World Series rings, will have Hall worthy careers?
Being an electric young superstar with a ring could mean you are on the road to the Hall or you could break down like Valenzuela and Saberhagen...
Or flame out like Gooden and Strawberry.
But take note of the route enshrined players like Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Tom Seaver, Nolan Ryan and Cal Ripken took.
Each of them won their only World Series ring very early in their career. And none of them had the "He never won a ring" yoke to carry around.
Think that's fun to deal with? Ask A-Rod. Ask Griffey Jr. Ask any Chicago Cub for the last 100 years!
Just remember young stars... it's never too early to start padding your Cooperstown Resume.
Sometimes it's fun to watch a World Series when you have no real emotional attachment to either team... You get to adopt a team for a week or so and cheer them on without the pesky "loyalty" and "invested emotion."
So the staff at Sully Baseball have given this year's eagerly anticipated ratings bonanza of Tampa Bay and Philadelphia some thought.
It would make sense for me to root for the Rays.
1. They Beat The Red Sox
If the Red Sox lost to the team that beat them, then that means they lost to the World Champion. No shame in that.
2. It's really one of the most remarkable stories in baseball history
Really! A team that has never won 71 games in its first 10 years suddenly becomes the World Champions? That's insane!
The 1969 Mets were amazing, but they didn't have to deal with free agency! 3. They have the lowest payroll in the AL
Conventional wisdom says a team with a low payroll has no chance to have a winning record, let alone win the division over the big bad Red Sox and Yankees.
But as I said before, conventional wisdom is sometimes dead wrong. And a Rays title might shut up a lot of Salary Cap proponents.
But in the end, I've decided to root against the Rays and for the Phillies,
My reasons for Rooting for the Phillies
1. I don't like the Rays.
Not just because they beat my team. The Indians beat my team and the White Sox beat my team in the post season... and then I went on to root for them.
No, I sense a real rivalry is brewing here... and you don't cheer for rivals.
2. Phillies fans need a hug
Yeah they are mean. Yeah they are ornery.
But they also booed Sarah Palin, so how bad can they be?
3. Philadelphia Fans need a great player to be a champ...
A lot of great players have come and gone through Philadelphia since the 1983 76ers won the NBA Title. Charles Barkley Allen Iverson Randall Cunningham Reggie White Curt Schilling Eric Lindros Ron Hextall Terrell Owens
And that's just off the top of my head. They all represented Philadelphia and none of them won a title in Philly. Looks like Donovan McNabb will be the next one.
I don't want to see Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard, Cole Hamels and Chase Utley on that list.
4. There's already been enough winning in Tampa Bay
The Buccaneers won the Superbowl in 2003. The Lightning won the Stanley Cup the next year.
Meanwhile Philadelphia is a quarter century without any title.
I wonder how cities like Cleveland and Seattle think about the fact that while their teams have gone longer than Philly without a title that Tampa will be piling them up!
5. Can baseball survive another Florida World Series title?
The Marlins won two World Series titles... and still don't have a fan base. It's going to be different in Tampa Bay because.....?
6. I know a lot of Phillies fans
My friend, the great comic Tami Vernekoff? She's a Philly girl who worked behind the scenes for Phillies broadcasts.
Several of my cousins including Bill Sullivan, loyal Phillies fans.
Mark Mayer, one of the executive producers at the company I work for? A dedicated Phillies fan.
A bunch of comics, filmmakers, TV producers and crew members I've met over the years have been from Philadelphia. I like my friends to be happy.
When was the last time you met a transplanted Rays fan?
7. LESS COWBELL!
The Cowbell ringing is the most contrived and forced attempt to create atmosphere at a game since the Rally Monkey. I am all for a sincere fan tradition.
(Few fan traditions are cooler to watch than the Yankee Stadium Bleacher Roll Call)
But ringing cowbells and having to instruct the fans when to ring them smacks of desperation.
Phillies fans have a tradition that came naturally. It's called bile.
8. The Matt Stairs Factor There's not a lot of star veterans without a World Series ring to root for, a la Paul Molitor in 1993. But it is impossible not to root for Matt Stairs to get his World Series ring.
9. Charlie Manuel is a baseball lifer
Look at this guy!
That's what a manager is supposed to look like! Out of shape, countrified, and who has been in the game forever.
Unlike Joe Maddon, who won a ring as a coach with the 2002 Angels... Manuel is ringless despite being in the game since the late 1960s.
Plus his mother just passed away. I guess that is irrelevant in terms of baseball... but it made me sympathetic.
10. FINALLY... I was a Phillie!
Look at that windup by Right Handed Starting Pitcher Paul Sullivan... The pride of the Weston Massachusetts Little League Phillies.
Look at second baseman R.K. Russell waiting in attention behind me.
So as a former Phillie, I must stay loyal to my old team and yell
LET'S GO PHILLIES!!!!!
Win the World Series and do the 4th place (out of 5) Weston Phillies proud!
So before you jump to your death thinking of the tens of millions of dollars of ad revenue lost my not having Boston, Los Angeles or Chicago (not to mention New York) in the World Series, you can console yourself with the knowledge that there were 3 match ups that were actually WORSE!
That's right, it could have been the Angels vs. the Brewers... or the worst one for rating, the White Sox vs. the Brewers or the Rays vs. the Brewers.
(Man, it's a good think the Phillies beat the Brewers in the first round... we might have had #16!)
When the Yankees were winning in the 9th inning of game 4 of the 2004 ALCS with Rivera on the mound and A-Rod looking like the next great New York champion... imagine if someone whispered into your ear at that moment the following fact:
In the first 5 years of the A-Rod era in New York, Tampa Bay will have won more post season series and make it to the World Series before the Yankees.
You would have been committed.
But here we are!
Should be fun times in Tampa right now as the Yankees brass meets in the city that is actually HOSTING the World Series.
The Cubs haven't been to the World Series since 1945. They are now entering their second century without a World Series title.
Meanwhile 4 expansion teams have been created since the start of the 1993 season. The Marlins have won two World Series. The Diamondbacks won the 2001 World Series. The Rockies won the 2007 pennant. And now the Rays have won the 2008 pennant and are being picked to win the World Series... this World Series that was the Cubs to lose!
And this doesn't even include the pennant winning expansion teams of the 1960s and 1970s (Astros, Mets, Angels, Padres, Brewers, Blue Jays and Royals).
As I wrote for Dennis Miller... "At this point even Ike Turner would say to Cubs fans 'You've got to get out of this relationship... it's no good for you!'"