Wednesday, May 29, 2002

I wonder to myself why I spend time watching the Phillies.

Are the Phillies good? No. Have they been good historically? No. Is there a reasonable prospect they will be good in the near future? Maybe, but probably not. Do they have any superstars? No. Does the management make sufficient efforts to cause the team to win or to generate fan support? No. Are they in such a large media market that, sooner or later, someone will buy the team and make them good? No. Are they the team of my youth, such that my baseball dreams have always risen and fallen with them? No. Do they play either in a state-of-the art "retro" field or in a venerable old park? No!! They play in a concrete tomb with plastic grass - Yuk!

Alright then, repeat after me, why do I follow them?

There is no clear answer to this question, so I will try to break my answer down into component parts. The first reason I watch is that, although they are not particularly good right now, they do have good, young players who offer the prospect of future, perhaps even near-term, success. The second is they are local, I root for the uniform - I would probably watch a bunch of middle aged balding men play if they wore Phillies uniforms and ran onto the field at the appropriate time. Of course, I am exaggerating, but I am sure you know what I mean and, besides, their uniforms are nice.

These reasons, however, standing alone, do not fully account for my support. There's more. Perhaps it's my eight year old son, who follows his beloved Phillies as closely as I did the Mets when I was a boy (to this day, if I haven't seen someone in twenty years, the first thing they'll say to me is "Do you still love the Mets?"). There's little in life more heartwarming than watching your son at a baseball game, especially when he gets an autograph or watches his team score. Also, when I watch a game with my boy I relive some of my most cherished moments with my own father, who is long since deceased, but whose love of this game and its mythology has been passed through me to his grandson. Indeed, there are times when I am watching a game with my eldest that I can feel my father's presence and envision his reactions and commentary. I know he approves.

There are other reasons that I am attracted, perhaps subconsciously, to this generally atrocious team. The Phillies resemble the human condition. They strive for perfection, but almost always fall short of their goal. They are often bad, but are never without hope. They are booed incessantly, but they never stop trying. They are us and, as such, on the rare occasions when the succeed, victory is especially sweet.

So ends my philosophical Phillies discussion. Soon, I hope to add anecdotes and observations about the team.

All the best.