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Why I’m not coming home until the Philadelphia Phillies win the World Series

Posted by Sean Blanda on Oct 22, 2008 in Commentary |

I was doomed from the start.

The byline of this post will read “Sean” but it almost wasn’t so. My mother, an ardent fan of all teams Philadelphia, nearly named me Reggie after a Flyers winger. She also considered naming me Seth after an Eagles defensive end. In the end, my father’s protests became too much and they settled with my current moniker. Although she lost the name game, my mother did make sure that I would bleed orange and black. Or midnight green. Or whatever Philadelphia team was in season. My first word was supposedly “hockey” as the Flyers were riding Ron Hextall all the way to losing to the Edmonton Oilers. Being a young sports fan, that was only one missed championship opportunity, surely there would be others, I would just have to wait.

So when Joe Carter hit a Mitch Williams pitch out of the park, I waited.

When the Flyers (on the back of the famed Legion of Doom line) got swept by the Detroit Red Wings, I still wore my Eric Lindross jersey with pride.

When Allen Iverson and the Sixers rolled into Los Angles and shocked the Lakers in game one, only to be beaten in five games, I grew impatient but waited some more.

The author on the Broad Street Line on the way to a game.  The phillies most likely ended up losing this game.

The author on the way to a Phillies game on the Broad Street Line. They probably ended up losing.

My freshman year of college the Eagles finally overcame their NFC championship hurdle and made the Super Bowl. But this championship run was different. I was actually living in Philadelphia instead of suburban South Jersey and could feel the excitement in the air. In a city famous for being grumpy, everyone seemed high on Terrell Owens and Donnovan McNabb. There were a few more smiles, everyone debated whether the Eagles could end the dynasty that was the seemingly unflappable New England Patiots. A championship trophy became more than something to end bar arguments, but it was a reason for an entire metropolitan area to come together as one. The city was buzzing like I had never known, and I could only imagine what an Eagles victory would be like. Unfortunately, my imagination was the only place a Philadelphia championship would reside as the Patriots bested the Eagles by three. A few drive way sit-ups and forth quarter vomit later, and we all know how things have been since.

This year hope has seemed to come from the most unlikely place: The Phillies. Since Joe Carter, I struggle to remember a successful Phillies season and the team in the late nineties was just something to pay attention to until the Eagles started training camp. And then something funny happened. Hope came from the least likely place, the place that casts a false shadow over the City of Brotherly Love: New York. When the Mets collapsed last year, it gave the Phillies their first playoff birth in a little over a decade and suddenly it seemed plausible. Despite being swept by the eventually NL champs, the city was filled with confidence and possibility. Suddenly it became apparent that they’re a sports team too, you know.

This season I went to more Phillies games than I have in the last five combined. I actually watched entire games on the edge of my seat instead of passively while reading or doing work. Shane Victorino, Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Pat Burrell and Jimmy Rollins were now the patron saints of my existence. The team had that uncanny ability to prove that destiny was on their side by winning many games in the last inning. Help came off of the bench, from the super stars, and the role players. The Phillies had a swagger and consistency of a championship team. It was the first time in recent memory that I honestly believed that they could beat every team in Major League Baseball.

In the closing weeks of the season, the Phillies came out of a three team battle for the playoffs on top. And suddenly the city was buzzing again. It was almost blasphemy to utter the words that everyone was thinking: “they can do this.” This wasn’t the improbable run of last year, or the result of a few lucky bounces. They could do this.

And it was under that unfamiliar wave of optimism that I left they city to embark on this journey. I winced at the thought of missing the playoffs, but my battle scars had taught me never to have hope for a Philly team. They’ll just let you down.

And then they kept winning. I would check ESPN every morning on my trip and be wowed at the headlines: Brett Myers has three hits, Shane Victorino hits game winning Grand Slam. I kept getting emails and Facebook messages from my friends telling me to not dare consider coming home before the World Series. It was as if Sean Christopher Blanda was singlehandedly responsible for the misery of Philadelphia baseball until this year. My own mother even suggested that if I arrived home, she’d consider not picking me up from the airport (she was kidding … I think). On the occasion we met someone from our area on this trip (which has happened much more than you would think), we’d giggle like school girls as the thought of a championship Phillies team. I found myself ignoring the futility of the situation while attempting to describe to Swiss, Brits, and Germans the significance of the whole scenario.

Then, sometime in Zurich, I awoke and checked ESPN like I do every morning. On the front page was Jayson Werth drenched in champagne. The headline was some awful pun, but the gist was that the Phils had done the impossible and plowed through the Los Angles Dodgers and made the big show. All I could think was that I had to get home. An irrational panic came over me as I researched flights from Zurich, pulled up the World Series schedule, and considered whether it would be better to get home around game five of game six. WInk and I has a serious debate over we could attend the parade and still see Berlin. I had even considered leaving a few days left on my Eurail pass. Images of a parade down Broad Street filled my brain, and any museum I saw, fondue I ate, or wine we tried could not shake the morbid thought of a witnessing a championship from a continent away. As they say about trees and forests, if your team wins it all and you’re not there to see it, did it really happen? Do you really feel that weight lifted off of your shoulders? Is the Philadelphia you left the Philadelphia you return to? All of this buzzed around in my head until I realized there was only one thing I could do.

I had to do my duty, and stay the hell away from Philadelphia. I don’t know what sort of God would ever let a championship happen when I am not there, but I realized that every fan has some sort of role in a championship run. Some lead random cheers in subway cars. Others deck their homes in team paraphernalia. Some rally their fellow fans when times look dark. I believe my role as bad luck charm is something I can no longer avoid, I must use my powers of bad luck for good, not for ill. So allow me to state here, for the record, that I will not not be returning home until the conclusion of the Major League Baseball postseason. In fact, if I even so much as smell a cheesesteak, I am running in the other direction. My only interaction with city will be answering when people ask where I’m from. I am doing this service to for you Philadelphia, but I do ask for something in return.

Make this happen. Wear your Phillies gear, cheer the team even if they have a bad game. Lift the city out of the pessimistic funk it has been in since the War of 1812. Shed the title of “America’s Next Great City” and make it “America’s Greatest City.” Give a cheer anytime you see someone in a Cole Hamles jersey. Never mention Scott Rolen, Terrel Owens, or Joe Carter ever again. But most importantly, live in this moment and hold on to it. When the Phillies win a game I want media from other cities to think “These guys are nuts” and then get hit with snowballs and batteries. Because no one should take this away from us, not Boston, not Tampa Bay, not the media, not the past, not a 22-year-old bad luck charm. Because, Philadelphia … they can do this.

And when they do, an entire street in Prague will wonder what a group of Americans are doing yelling in the streets at 5 a.m. Until that day comes, I can only promise that the earliest I will set foot in North America will be mid-November. In the mean time I have to find some sand to stick my head in.

GO PHILLIES!

7 Comments

Robert Blanda
Oct 22, 2008 at 12:13 pm

Hey Sean! I’ve been following your blog - this is great stuff! I read your articles because i have a Google alert set up for “Blanda.” Keep up the good work and GO PHILS!


 
Colin
Oct 22, 2008 at 12:27 pm

Dude… i dunno… i think we need you here to party down broad street


 
Mom Blanda
Oct 22, 2008 at 8:49 pm

Sean,
Do it for the Phillies and STAY Away!! Utley just hit a two man homerun in game 1 first inning. Love you, Mom


 
Sheila
Oct 22, 2008 at 9:34 pm

I’m in a quandry. I have always loved the Phillies, way back when even when Mike Schmidt, Tug McGraw and Steve Carlton were playing! But living in Tampa Bay and having watched the Rays struggle in the league; not being really taken seriously until now. I’m kinda routing for these underdogs. i was in Philly in 1980 when the Phillies splattered KC all over the field. It was a great time for the City. But Tampa does deserve it, but so does Philly. I’ll be happy who ever takes it though!


 
Foos
Oct 26, 2008 at 7:28 pm

I shed a tear just reading that.

Go Phils.


 
About the Forex Market
Nov 21, 2008 at 4:47 pm

Since you’re likely working the Eagles off (if you’re not, you should be. So yeah, recent memory are to be used by those who know what they’re doing. This sounds like the excitement come true doesn’t it? Wrong.


 
dissertation help
Jan 23, 2012 at 7:20 am

I think it is a good idea indeed! I fully agree with your point of view!


 

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