I went into the game thinking that I was going to make a joke of it. It's actually kind of ridiculous to keep track of this kind of thing, and I am not the least bit surprised that it was first mentioned (as far as I know) in the New York Times. What do you do when the Yankees are 9 games behind in their division and 6 games under .500 with only a few weeks to go before the All-Star Break? Why, pick on somebody else, of course. Schadenfreude, and all that rot.
So I packed a bag and went to the game with a notebook that I was prepared to fill with all these pithy little observations about how bad the game was and how terrible the Phils are. Things like:
"4:49 PM - The parking lot is full but there was no traffic - is everyone in Philly here already? Will there still be crab fries for me? Can't lose a game like this without proper nourishment."
"6:00 PM - Starting lineups are announced. It will never stop being fun to boo Scott Rolen."
"6:02 PM - Batting third for the Phillies, second baseman (and my future stepfather) Chase Utley!"
"7:01 PM - Overheard: 'Everyone's numbers are better than Pat Burrell's. Adam Eaton's numbers are better than Pat Burrell's.'"
There's more, even stupider shit than this. Baseball is a very hard sport to blog because, well, when you sit deep in right field right by the bullpens in Citizens Bank Park, it's not like you can actually see much of what's happening. I saw a lot of Shane Victorino's back, and I noticed that Juan Encarnacion's name is so long that the letters on his jersey go down to his waist. Otherwise, the game is what it is, and while I love it, it's definitely one of those "you-had-to-be-there" kind of things.
Anyway, I wanted to treat the whole thing like a joke - whoo hoo, look at us, we really suck! - but the problem is, we don't. The Phillies are playing some really good baseball this year, and while sometimes leading the NL East is like winning the Special Olympics, this year it's actually a competitive division. Jimmy Rollins, Victorino, Chase Utley, and Aaron Rowand are playing some of the best ball that I've seen in Philadelphia in years.
So as much as I want to pretend that this loss doesn't matter, it kind of does. But not for the reasons it should: I am tired of Philly fans being - well, Philly fans. We're obnoxious, cranky, and completely bipolar. Remember the Eagles, how they did so well for so many seasons in a row? We expected them to lose and win at the same time, which ... how do you do that, anyway? How can you cheer for a team when you almost want them to choke, just so you can say "I told you so"?
My feelings about the Phillies are further complicated by my being a Red Sox fan. Philadelphia teams haven't won "anything," they say, since 1983. Melodramatic much? The record shows otherwise, and anyway, twenty-four years is a blink. Some teams have never won at all. The Rockies, Mariners, Rangers, Nationals/Expos, and the poor hapless Tampa Bay Devil Rays have never even gone to the World Series. Ask those fans how they feel. Or a Cubs fan, or a White Sox fan, or a Red Sox fan. 86 years is a long time to wait for something you want - 24 years is nothing.
So for me, this loss is just a minor bump in the road. The Phillies have a way to go, but they've come a long way, too. I'm going to keep cheering for them, and I'm going to hope that they feel like this particular event is just a stray bad night in a long string of good things to come, just as I do. I am no stranger to keeping the faith - I did it for the Sox in 2004, and I can do it for the Phils this year. And I will, even if everybody else wants to be so damned Philadelphian about it.
In the meantime, on the way home from the game, it rained. It was like a message from the Heavens, the same way that rain on your wedding day gives you a fresh start. Let the past soak into the dirt; learn from the experience, but don't let it define you. 10,000 losses. Big whoop. Game over. Reset. Full steam ahead.
Cross-posted at MySpace.