So, I hate baseball, but I secretly love (and by love, I mean "if I have to") the Phillies. As a young girl, summer weekends always had the game as background noise, whether it was static-y on the TV or buzzing from the AM dial. I don't remember the 1980 season or victory, but I'm sure I listened to the game from somewhere in the house. I do remember team members, household names then and now: Mike Schmidt, Steve Carlton, Tug McGraw, Garry Maddox, Larry Bowa. These names are so vivid that just thinking of them brings up still-images of televised game coverage, the colors of the away uniforms seemingly remembered as a much more pleasant combination...
The Phillies became the team to love/hate and my only connection to baseball. I didn't care a lick about the Yankees, the Sox (White or Red), the Dodgers, the Royals, the Orioles, the Mets, or any of 'em. I avoided the Little League games of my siblings and wouldn't date a ball player in high school just so I didn't have game obligations. I mean, come on - the only thing stupider than baseball was tennis. (Except I've also seemed to develop a serious interest in tennis lately)
But, despite this aversion to baseball, I always knew where the Phils were in the standings, maybe not exactly, but relative. Winning? Losing? Middle of the road? If confronted in a sports bar, I could have held my ground enough so that I wouldn't be mistaken for a fan of the other team (and beaten to a pulp, some might say).
But recently, all of this has changed, and it's not just because we're the mother-effing 2008 World Series champions. No, not really, because I would have gone back to secretly enjoying my Phils if we'd stretched it out to 7 games and given up the go ahead run in the 9th of the final game. I do the same for the Eagles every year they disappoint. It's not a bandwagon'ing type of affection - it's more like the rocky relationship of two people forced together and maybe, just maybe 20 years after having to listen to the same thing again and again and again, until finally one or both give in and say, FINE, we're not getting any better or any worse, this is just how it is.
Anyway, maybe it's a sign of aging, maybe I've accepted that if I've liked (relatively) a team for this long (more than 30 years), it's ok to go public. Maybe it's something else, but over the last few years (since Bowa's last season in '04, for no particular reason), I've followed the Phils a little more closely and cheered a little less privately, and refrained from calling the Boys the Sillies, and instead have sought out 950 AM and have not argued when the TV's been tuned to the game. I've root, root, rooted for the home team, damn it, and I'm so proud of our Phillies that I had tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat last night.
We did it, now let's have a parade!!!