I used to consider myself an athlete.
I used to think that I was capable of achieving any of the plays I saw on TV; that I was a guy who, after enough winded jogs around the block or embarrassingly tangled misadventures through the blaster, would be an all-star at something.
Thanks to a variety of blows to the head, there are now only a few things I actually remember about high school football, one of them being a phrase ol’ coach burned into our heads (even those of us he looked at with indifference rather than respect or even pity):
“A good team wins the close ones.”
It was the phrase that repeated through my head tonight as we grasped the lead with both hands, only to watch it slip away. It was all I heard when Jason God Damn Giambi crossed the plate in the 8th. And it was echoing throughout the corridors of my decently sized West Philly apartment at the close of the 9th.
People are already complaining that it took us so long to take out the Rockies that we can’t really have a chance facing better teams.
But we provided the world with the only series that was worth watching in the end. We were the only series that required a team to fight and get their shit together when it was really necessary.
And, surprisingly, we did.
The 9th inning playoff rally is something I’ve come so accustomed to seeing pulled off by another team, I failed to believe it could happen for us. I thought the game’s magic moments belonged to the Rockies, their “inspired” rally towel-waving fans, and their stupid bullshit mascot.
And then, as always, by the end of the game, I felt like an asshole .
Madson almost blew it, and Lidge picked up the save. Bizarro world?!
In a series made up almost entirely of close ones, we won when we needed to.
So, according to Coach, the Phillies are good. Now let’s go to LA and get “great.”