When I was five years old, I cried. Inconsolably bawled. However, not for the normal reasons a five year old would cry. My parents didn't stop me from doing something. My sister didn't break my favorite toy. It was October of 1993, and Mitch Williams had just taken his gas can out to the mound and given up a walk-off home run to Joe Carter to lose the World Series.
That '93 team was my identity. My dad's friends would ask me (a newly-minted kindergartner) any questions they had about baseball in general, but the Phillies specifically. From Inky to Eisenreich, all the way up to Schilling and Dykstra. I knew and loved it all. And it had ended in devastation.
For most of my sports life, that's what being a Philly fan was to me: getting your hopes up with the promise of a championship, and then devastation.
The Flyers were always good enough to make the playoffs with the Leclair & Lindros teams, but they ran into the buzzsaw that was the Red Wings, or the headhunting prick that was Scott Stevens.
The Sixers were bad until they were lucky enough to find The Answer (the pound-for-pound best basketball player I have ever seen). He could carry that 2001 team of 6th men and a past-his-prime Mutumbo only so far before falling in the Finals.
The Eagles had Randall and then guys like Brister and Hoying and Peete and Pederson (no offense) before they got McNabb and continued the trend of my fandom heartache. So much promise with no championship.
After that team in '93, the Philles entered MLB purgatory for years. They were able to use that failure to stock the farm system with guys named Rollins, Utley, Hamels and Howard.
They ended my unending heartache in 2008.
I cried again, this time tears of joy, when Lidge threw that brilliant slider and fell to his knees in celebration. I will never forget watching with my dad while HK said those magical words... “Swing and a miss! Struck him out! The Philadelphia Phillies are 2008 World Champions of baseball!”
I truly believe we are entering a golden era in Philly sports. The Birds finally got their Super Bowl, with an innovative coach who loves to go for it, and Wentz is hungry to get one without the help of BDN. The Process is over (Hinkie died for our sins) and the Sixers have a shot with the most dominant and charismatic player in the league. The Phillies have Rhys and Nola and that Harper guy locked in for the next decade plus. The Flyers (finally) have a goalie with the 20 year-old phenom, and a promising group of young blue-liners.
I'm excited to be able to share my views on this platform. We all we got, we all we need.
Let's get it, Philly!
Ben Longenecker / Contributor
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