One away

Every year — for the past 15 years — Phillies fans have been asking themselves one question: “When is it going to be OUR turn?”

As a fan, you wait through every season for what seems like an eternity. If you’re a Phillies fan, it seemed like an eternity was all you’d ever be offered. But now, after all this time, the day you’ve been waiting for is here. Ok, so we’re not talking (yet) about the day the Phils win a world championship. However, we ARE talking about the deciding, clinching game that’s going to get them to the big stage.

How confident am I that Cole Hamels can get the job done? Confident enough that I’ve already been trying to figure out what potential dates the victory parade may be held on. But am I looking a gift horse in the mouth? No. Today is also the day that everything could fall apart. The Dodgers are not going to go quietly. The only thing for certain is that the Phillies have a 50/50 shot tonight of making their first trip to the World Series since a whole lot of Phillies fans were barely old enough to remember 1993.

If there’s one thing I’ve noticed about the crowds that fill Citizens Bank Park — and about the crowds you see gathered in bar rooms and beer halls across Philadelphia — it’s that the Phillies youth movement is on the rise. Sure, the Phillies (like any major league team) have fans of all ages. It’s still astonishing to me that there are season ticket holders out there who haven’t missed a Phillies game in more than 30 or 40 years. But at the same time, the Phillies are reeling in the young fans who will look back at this team 30 years from now and say “Remember when?….”

So to that I say, I hope every fan savors every pitch. Every hit. Every out. Every stolen base. Every boo, every cheer, every ‘just missed it’ call at the plate that should have been a strike but wasn’t. Every towel wave, every edge-of-your-seat 3-2 pitch, and every wave of euphoria that sweeps through you when a guy in red and white pinstripes passes over home plate.

Phils fans, we’re ONE away. Let’s hope this team can take us to “Remember when”. Because who knows when this is going to happen again.

As the champagne flows…

Somewhere in Milwaukee — where the thundersticks have been deflated and tossed in the trash bins outside of Miller Park — the Phillies are downing the last remnants of champagne and getting ready to head back to the friendly confines of a home field that doesn’t need blow-up plastic sticks to be loud. Doesn’t need the ‘Commish’ of baseball to toss out the first pitch to feel ceremonial. Doesn’t need national broadcast crew members to ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ over their lineup to know they have what it takes to get the job done.

The Phillies are coming home as one of the top four teams in baseball, and one of the top two teams in the National League. Who would have thought that Joe Blanton would not only look solid today, but would look another team’s momentum in the face and refuse to blink? Who would have thought that the offense would suddenly come alive after — let’s be honest, here — three straight games of being mostly quiet and not entirely impressive.

But this team is giving this city something to cheer about right now. Let’s stop talking about 1993. I think everyone is tired of hearing it. This team is more than capable of making huge memories of their own — ones that people in this city will remember and look back on 15 years from now if these guys live up to their full potential. Burrell, Rollins and Werth stepped in today and led this team (along with Blanton), but Utley and Howard MUST start hitting against L.A. Utley’s batting average in the regular season against the Dodgers was impressive, so let’s hope he regains his stride. And let’s hope someone flips the calendar back and shows Howard that it’s still September.

And about Jamie Moyer: let’s remember that the guy still has the know-how, the patience, and the experience to be one of the guys on the mound that takes this team all the way. While it’s great to see someone like Blanton come out and surprise everyone, Moyer’s guidance is what has propelled the rest of this pitching staff. He’s the one who has allowed Hamels to focus, has been the voice of reason for guys like Myers, and who had faith in Blanton that he could get the job done today.

On a final note, let’s remember that L.A. is more than just Manny. One man does not make a team. This 25-man roster wearing red and white pinstripes can more than attest to that. Contributions have come — and must continue to come — from the unlikeliest places, but also from the superstar faces. It’s going to take something from everyone to get the job done and advance to the World Series. I know the Phillies fans have been ready for the last 15 years. Now we only have to hope this team can follow suit. It better be LOUD in CPB this Thursday and Friday!

Let your enthusiasm show

Enthusiasm costs you absolutely nothing and requires no special skills. It is yours the moment you choose to embrace it.

When you do, your world changes. The problems turn into opportunities and the challenges become fields upon which you can create new value.

Enthusiasm infuses you with a heightened sense of purpose. Enthusiasm provides you with a beneficial immunity against any setbacks that may come.

Enthusiasm is contagious and it draws other people to you. Because when you’re wrapped up in enthusiasm, it feels great.

Somewhere inside you there is an authentic sense of enthusiasm, eager to come to life. Let it out and let it show.

Allow enthusiasm to infect your attitude, and spread it to those around you. Delight in the feeling as it pushes you forward.

Ralph Marston

The power of positive thinking…

Just a few thoughts from having been at the ballpark this past Saturday for the clinch, and then again on Wednesday for Game 1…

You can always tell when every fan in the stands is holding their collective breath, waiting for this team — or any one player on the mound — to fail. On Saturday in the 9th, and then again on Wednesday in the 9th, you got the feeling that all of the air was being sucked out of CPB , and that 45,000+ didn’t just anticipate, but clearly expected Brad Lidge to fail. There were high-fives and cheers all around when he didn’t, and everyone could breathe a little easier. But for a few moments, it was as if Lidge failed, the naysayers would be vindicated. I told you so. I knew he wouldn’t be perfect forever. Why did he have to wait until the biggest game(s) of the year to blow his first save? As if Phillies fans are so jaded from the wounds of the past, they were licking their wounds of the future before the pain could even be inflicted. Maybe next time Lidge is on the mound, how about we don’t jack up the tension in the stadium about 45,000 times before we let him do his thing?

As I sit watching Game 2, it was like deja vu all over again watching the reaction of the fans during the first inning. Myers makes a few bad pitches — ok ,I admit he couldn’t find the plate — and suddenly it’s like doom and gloom had settled right over the place. Maybe all of the hype surrounding big CC was getting to everyone, but how sad is it that Myers is the only one who DIDN’T look worried? We’ve all seen Myers’ eyes when he’s not on his game, when he is worried about his performance….tonight was not that night. Fans gave him a rousing ovation for his lengthy at-bat in the 2nd inning that started a five-run outburst, but it would have been nice to have heard some confidence in Myers even before tonight’s game started. So he didn’t have his best stuff his last 2 starts of the regular season. Let’s not have him beat before he even steps on the mound next time. Let’s not think “Oh, Brett has to face CC Sabathia.” Let’s think “The other team has to face Brett.” Then let’s take that attitude to the ballpark with us.

This team needs the fans behind them more than ever right now. Let’s bring the power of positive thinking to the ballpark from now on…it’s going to be important in the NLCS.