Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Why You Should Root For Philly

With the World Series looming, and the Red Sox eliminated, baseball fans are now turning their attention to the World Series. But, if you have been cheering for the Red Sox all season, who should you support in the World Series? This is not always an easy question. You may have a secondary reason to support one of these teams. Maybe you have a friend who is a big supporter of one team and you now want to join in (or take the other side just to be a pain in the ass). Maybe you went to college in or near Philadelphia and have sympathy to them, or have an affinity to a player on one of the teams.

But, if you have no such secondary ties, and are wondering what to do, I am here to help.

My advise, is to simply root for the Phillies! I heard that. You just muttered, "another bitter Red Sox fan can't stand to see the team they lost to have more success than they did", or something to that effect, right? Well, I can see why you'd think that, but it is not true. As I have said before, the Rays were good all season, and deserve to be where they are. I harbor no ill will towards them (unlike our mortal enemies, the 'you-know-who' from 'you-know-where').

My reasons are more historic in nature, and lesson-building. Sometimes what is painful in the short term (like having a tooth pulled) is the best thing for the long term. If you are a parent, you'll understand the concept of not wanted to spoil your kids and make things too easy on them. Life is a struggle, and without struggling, we never learn how to succeed in life. When your child wants a new bicycle, do you run out and buy them one? When I was a teen in this situation, I was told that I could have a new ten-speed bike. All I had to do was earn the money and buy it. See what I am getting at?

Now, how does this relate to baseball? Being called "Champion" comes with struggle. Being a solid baseball community with undying support and loyalty to the home town nine takes years of work, hardship, and struggle. The Red Sox fan base understands this. The Red Sox have been in business since 1901 (as the Boston Americans who became the Red Sox in 1908). We endured 86 years of struggle starting after 1918, occasionally reaching the World Series, only to be denied the final victory. We had decades to grow, evolve and become part of the very fabric of the Red Sox. Our history has been built on generation after generation. The Red Sox, in part, defines who we are, and who we have been.

This is also true for the Philadelphia Phillies, who have been a team since 1883! They are also woven into the lives of generations of baseball fans. They also know the emptiness of forsaken years, and the frustration of years where the ultimate goal was within reach but slipped away unattained. They are now built on a foundation of rock. They have paid the price, and are due the reward. The Phillies have reached the World Series 5 times prior to this year, and have come away victorious only once, in 1980 when they defeated the Kansas City Royals. They are due.

The Rays, in contrast, were founded in 1998, over a century AFTER the Phillies. This is the very first generation that has been exposed to baseball in the Tampa Bay area. For many of them, they did not realize they had a team until this very October. They have not experienced any heartbreak whatsoever. "But, they have been a dismal team for 10 years, never winning more than 70 games prior to this year. How can you say they have not experienced heartbreak?", I hear you say.

It is true, they have experienced failure. But failure is not necessarily heartbreak. If I walk up to Cameron Diaz (presuming the restraining order had been removed) and ask her on a date, and she said no, that would not be heartbreak. That would be the expected result. On the other hand, if my wife of 16 years walked out on me, that would be true heartbreak. On the one hand, success was never a real possibility, an the other, success had seemed like it was a sure thing, and proven with the test of time.

The Rays, in the scheme of Baseball, are just children. They are cute, energetic, and bright. They make us proud, and show lots of promise. Like most children, they are idyllic and see the world as a wonderful place where good things are sure to come to them. They have not yet been beaten down by reality. Giving them the ultimate goal, so soon in their development, with so little effort, will only spoil them and avoid teaching them life's real lessons. This is like buying them a new car on their 16th birthday.

If we want to help the Rays, the best thing is to let them experience the hardship of life. Let them learn how elusive true success really is. Pull their fan base in and make them unite through trying times. The United States was never more close and united than after a tragedy, such as 9/11. Supporting each other and uniting in the face of tragedy may be necessary to build a strong nation. This could be the beginning of generations of Rays fans bonded in baseball.

Or, it could be short lived. An easy win over the Phillies could spoil them. They'll wander away, wondering why everyone else gets so worked up over these things. That wasn't so hard. Then, when the Rays have a bad season, no one will show. They will know this is not one of "those years", but those years will come. They will think baseball is about only showing up for the occasional "good year", and reveling in an easily attained title.

The Phillies need to correct that thinking. Let the Rays learn and grow and become ingrained in baseball, ingrained in their team. Let them grow into a true baseball town!

Convinced? Okay, let's go Phillies! Your nation's time is at hand. To battle!


Suldog said...

And The Rays have a hideous ballpark :-)

Rooster said...

How did I miss that point? lol

Anonymous said...

What's miss the point?