Monday, March 31, 2008

Go Phightin Phils!

I'm not the baseball fan I once was. Those days died when the Phillies team I grew up with – Mike Schmidt, Steve Carlton, Bob Boone, Greg Luzinski, Garry Maddox, Bake McBride and, most importantly, Larry Bowa – was dismantled after the team won the 1980 World Series.

By the time the Phils reached the Series again in 1983 – where they lost to my current hometown hopefuls, the Baltimore Orioles – the team featured aging ex-Reds in place of my beloved Phils and things were never really the same.

I've casually followed baseball since then, largely due to the influence of my Dad, a lifelong baseball fan and Phillie fanatic. I was born when Dad was nearly 50 so we didn't see eye-to-eye on lots of things. But sports, especially the national pastime, was something we could always bond over. Even when our relationship in other areas was at its nadir.

Times have changed. Dad's gone. And baseball is even further removed from the game I grew up watching, playing and loving. But a new season officially starts today and when 3 PM rolls around I'll grab my daughter, pop on her Phils hat and we'll settle in to watch the Phils battle the Washington Nationals.

It has been nearly 25 years since a major Philadelphia sports team has won a championship. Twenty-five years. Do I think the Phils can reverse that trend, defy the odds, repeat their success of last year and maybe even win a World Series? Not really. But that's the beauty of sports, especially one with a grinding season like baseball. On March 31, the possibilities are endless.

Unless, of course, you're an Orioles fan.

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