YA GOTTA BELIEVE: Us Are The Champions


YES US CAN: The Fans, Citizen’s Park, 10:25 PM Last Night [Photo by TIFFANY YOON]

BY JOE WARMINSKY During the Atlanta Braves’ ridiculously long run of division titles, it was said that a savvy baseball franchise doesn’t just want to “beat the Braves,” it wants to “be the Braves.” At face value, it meant, “do what it takes to win every year.” But it really was a call to operate with consistency and intelligence — play well in the short term, while never ignoring the long-term consequences of personnel decisions.

Well, in Philly, the Eagles got there first, at least in the sense of building a Braves-like franchise. There’s no Super Bowl trophy yet, but the Birds have no trouble finding, attracting and keeping good players, for the right price, year after year. The world champion Phils, meanwhile, still give the impression that they’re at the beginning of that process: The minor leagues are a little thin, the slate of starting pitchers is far from solid, and Pat Burrell still hasn’t won me over. This particular team is still building its image.

But hey, the last time I had this feeling, I was still knee deep in Legos. And at the same time, though, I see the 2008 Phils more with grown-up admiration than youthful exuberance. This World Series victory hasn’t turned me into a kid. Instead, it’s reaffirmed things I’ve learned to appreciate over the years, but haven’t always been able to put into practice, because I can be short on patience and vision. That is, Utley, Rollins, Howard, Hamels, Moyer, Lidge, Victorino and many of the other players are true pros, people who approach their jobs with measured intensity, good cheer and an unflappable work ethic. They just get results.

They’re not really lunch-bucket or beer-hall or hard-rock guys, like that beloved 1993 team, which was like the last gasp of the ’80s. And yet they’re also not weirdly out of tune with the fan base, like the Schmidt/Carlton/Bowa team than won in 1980. That year, we had Tug McGraw, and Tug was enough. This time around, I’m simply savoring it. This is what it feels like to be good, and to know you’re good. [via POPCESSPOOL]


[Photo by SCOTT COLAN]

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