Sunday, July 29, 2018

Philly Dilly

There's a huge part of me that doesn't want to jinx this, but I'm going to write about it anyway.

Here it is: When I summoned up the National League East standings this morning, there were my Philadelphia Phillies still in first place, 2 1/2 games in front of Atlanta.

Whoa. It's now the end of July. The Phillies have 58 games left in the regular season, so now it's a race against time to see if they can hold on long enough to clinch a division title.

It's oh-so unexpected. The Phillies are generally regarded to be one of the youngest – if not the youngest – team in major league baseball. They were not picked by most experts to do this well this soon. And, indeed, there's still enough time for the bottom to fall out.

Most of us Phillies fans still remember – vividly – the collapse of 1964. The Phillies held a 6 1/2 game lead with 12 games left to play.

And lost 10 straight. St. Louis won the pennant that year.

These old hats of mine are not a prediction, but rather, just a predilection...
 Believe it or not, 1964 was the year I became a Phillies fan. We'd just moved back down to Bethlehem, PA, after a four-year residency in New Hampshire and Connecticut. I was 13 years old and baseball was a big part of my summer tapestry. The Phillies were an hour away and in first place. I became a fan. Jim Bunning. Chris Short. Tony Taylor. Cookie Rojas. Clay Dalrymple. Richie Allen. Johnny Callison. They're still like family members to me.

In fact, I know the 1964 roster better than I know the 2018 roster. After Rhys Hoskins, Ceasar Hernandez and Carlos Santana, I'm pretty much lost. Go Phillies.

Although I must say, since the team has been doing relatively well this year, I've followed them with more than passing interest. I actually check the standings most mornings now.

Something is going on in Philadelphia, though. I mean, first the Eagles win the Super Bowl. And then Villanova, a smallish Catholic school in the suburbs, wins the NCAA championship. And now the Phillies? It's too good to be true.

Time for a cheese steak.

I do have a back-up plan in case the Phillies falter. I still follow the Boston Red Sox. This is a love affair that's actually deeper than my fandom of the Phillies. Because, you know, we lived in New England during my formative baseball years. Ted Williams. Pumpsie Green. Vic Wertz. Frank Malzone. Tracy Stallard. Bill Monbouquette.

I've always been fascinated with Fenway Park, and no doubt, that's part of the Boston allure for me. Old School. Green Monster. Bunker Hill.

This year, the Red Sox might be the best team in baseball. They are 40 games over .500 with a wowzer 73-33 record and showing no signs of stopping. They are 5 1/2 games ahead of the New York Yankees, but anything can happen as we make the turn into the stretch drive.

But for now, I think I'll just sit back and enjoy seeing my two favorite teams playing good baseball at the same time. How often does that happen?

Not often enough.

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