I can’t believe it happened.
That’s the printable version of what I kept saying as I made my way from a house to City Hall a little after 9:58 p.m. last Wednesday.
The Philadelphia Phillies, the losingest team in the history of professional sports, won the World Series.
As I sit here a few days after reveling in the raucous mayhem of Center City last Wednesday and the unfathomably awesome parade last Friday, I still can’t believe it happened. I can’t get the smile off my face. I can’t shake this compulsive need to hug random strangers and joyously tackle people I know.
This all just feels too good. The wait to feel this kind of joy that only a major sports title can bring has been a long one — 25 years to be exact. Or, for most of us Philly sports fans at Temple, all our lives.
That’s why this title, in this town, with these fans, is so special.
We’ve been waiting a quarter century for it.
We’ve been saying “Wait ‘til next year” for more than 100 collective seasons.
We’ve been through Joe Carter’s home run, Scott Stevens’ hit, Ronde Barber’s interception, Ricky Manning Jr.’s three picks, Donovan McNabb’s vomit-laden rendition of the two-minute drill, a team from Tampa Bay winning the Stanley Cup, Allen Iverson skipping town and so many more depressing moments.
But without those moments, this World Series title wouldn’t even be as close to as special as it is.
For all the times we’ve asked “Why are we putting ourselves through this?”, for the all times we’ve lined up on the Ben Franklin Bridge ready to jump, last week was for that. Last week made it all worth it.
Now we know why we bombard Lehigh, Pa., for Eagles Training Camp and make the pilgrimage to Clearwater, Fla., for Phillies Spring Training, why we pack bars and tailgate in the dead of winter, why we taunt and fight with New Yorkers, Cowboys “fans” and everybody else. It all makes sense now.
It’s for this: the feeling of excitement, happiness, accomplishment and pride. It’s more than 1 million people flocking to South Broad Street or to Main Street in Manayunk or to Frankford and Cottman avenues in the Northeast on a Wednesday night to soak in an undisputed moment of bliss.
It’s a city of 1.5 million people and an area of more than 4 million people coming together as one. The only thing that counted was the Phillies and this city’s winning its first title in 25 years.
Everything else went away because of the Phillies. And no matter how much Commissioner Bud Selig ineptly tried to give the Tampa Bay Rays every chance in the world for the sake of television ratings, no matter how much Fox announcer Joe Buck blatantly rooted against the Phillies, they can’t take that title away from us.
The trophy is ours. It belongs to Philadelphia.
I still can’t believe it happened.
Todd Orodenker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.