PHANATICISM: Being There

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PhilliesIggyCROPPED.jpgBY CHRIS ZAKORCHEMNY As I was biking down Broad in my Phillies-red pinstripes last night, someone pointed at me and smiled. It took me at least 10 seconds to realize that it was a gesture of familial pride, probably a commonplace happening had I been here for the World Series run last year. Just my luck, after 10 years of diehard Phillies fandom, I was studying abroad in London when they finally went all the way. More specifically, I was at a Sigur Ros concert for the first half of game five and celebrated Brad Lidge’s incredible third strike in a Brit dorm room with several other Temple ex-pats. As I found my seat Citizens Bank Park last night, I watched the Phillies warm up and thought: Nothing has really changed.

For the second straight game, the Phillies proved why they were the WFC of 2008, and the team that makes you say FML in 2009. Okay, it’s only two games into a 162-game season, but our lineup is flat-out cold right now —  as cold as the low 40s weather last night. But that is, I suppose, the nature of the game: Even great teams go through lulls. The Phils have a couple terrible games where they need a pitcher like Cole Hamels to dominate, but eventually they strike back like one of the best offenses in baseball should. So let’s not panic just yet.

Jamie Moyer proved me wrong again tonight with five innings of decent work – which should probably be the length of the leash for him. Moyer can only be effective through about five innings of work, and only gets worse against guys the more they see him. Especially guys who wait on the ball like Brian McCann, and specifically, Chipper Jones. It’s like watching Obi Wan Kenobi go up against Darth Vader. Obi Wan may be the wiser one, but Darth has been around the block more than a few times and can still outslug the wise guys —  2-4 with a double and a home run say as much. I’m telling you now, with their infield, catcher included, the Braves will be better than the Mets.

The wind probably took away a couple two-run home runs from Matt Stairs and Carlos Ruiz, and Ryan Howard only seems a tweak away from a hot streak (most of his outs have been on grounders straight up the middle). I trust everyone else to get close to their career averages eventually. Really. Some nights the baseball gods just aren’t on your side, and moving forward, logic is as simple as trust. Besides, it wouldn’t be Philadelphia sports if it wasn’t heartbreaking. Feel free to prove me wrong, guys, by winning a championship while I’m back on home turf. If you do that, I promise to never step off American soil during baseball season ever again. Please God, I don’t ask for much.

[Photo by CHRIS ZAKORCHEMNY]

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