The first Philadelphia Phillies game I would ever attend ended with a meaningless 4-3 victory of the New York Mets. The best one also ended in a 4-3 victory, but this one made history.
The idea of turning down a chance to go to any baseball game sickens me. Seeing the ball skip across the soft-green infield grass into the brown leather on the short stop’s hand and then flipped to the second baseman running diagonally to the bag to start a double play gives me an unmatched feeling of sports joy. When a friend of mine told me he obtained two tickets from his boss to Game Five of the 2008 World Series between my Philadelphia Phillies and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays I wanted to kiss him. I decided not to because that would have made things awkward.
We arrived at Citizen’s Bank Ballpark early, him driving the whole way from Central New Jersey to South Philadelphia. Free World Series tickets and a chauffeur to take me there; I cashed in my karma bank account that day.
The game got under way, the skies already leaking. None of it seemed to bother Phillies starting pitcher Cole Hamels. The lanky left-handed pitcher had no problems taking care of the Tampa Bay offense.
The rain grew heavier. I was interested to see how much rain my empty soda cup could collect. It was only a half-inning before the heavens had given me a full refill.
A delay was called with the score tied at two. Somewhere Bud Selig was shrugging like he did at the 2002 All-Star game, clueless as to how a tie in baseball could be solved. It was decided that play would resume once the weather cleared up. For now, we were sent home.
Play resumed two days later after a wintry mix delayed the game’s continuation. The first batter this time around for Phillies was a pinch hitter, Geoff Jenkins. Jenkins had struggled for most of the season. He made up for the disappointing play with a long double. He slapped his hands together after reaching second base and the fanatical Phillies fans did the same.
The Phillies took the lead then handed it back in the top of the inning. It would eventually be a Pedro Feliz single knocking in a pinch-running Eric Bruntlett that would be the game winning run.
The ninth inning had closer Brad “Lights Out” Lidge enter from the bullpen. Before I knew it, Lidge was on his knees in front of the pitcher’s mound as catcher Carlos Ruiz barreled into him. The Phillies had won the World Series.
I wanted to cry. More than half my life spent rooting for a team and finally I got to see them succeed to the fullest extent. My fandom had paid off. I saw my baseball team win the World Series.