World Champion Philadelphia Phillies.
Still to this day it sounds unbelievable…like I’m living in a dream…and just a year ago seemed as unlikely as President Barack Obama.
In late October of 2008, the newly crystallized reality of the former and the hope of the latter were all that the city of Philadelphia had to hold onto in the wake of Wall Street slitting its throat and flooding the streets of America with blood. But Philly’s streets were proud to run red, and in early November it turned out American’s hearts beat blue once again as Obama swept into the White House. My most lasting memory from that time period was walking the quiet autumn painted streets of Society Hill in the swell of Philadelphia’s rising tide towards victory in the playoffs and seeing on every other window in the neighborhood an Obama sign next to a Phillies’ sticker. The feeling of impending triumph was palpable. Pardon the cliche, but you could almost taste it.
And now to the victors go the spoils, at least for a short while. Sure, I probably paid way too much for my ticket to the Phillies’ Home Opener, but it was worth it. Let’s face it, they’ve only won two World Series titles in their 126 year history as a franchise, so to say you attended Opening Night of the defending World Champion Philadelphia Phillies is probably a once in a lifetime exclamation. Enjoy it while you can, Philly…unless…dare I say it…they repeat?
Before the game we strolled through South Street, where I hadn’t traipsed for years. With much of the neighborhood surrounding the always trendy Philly destination having been gentrified in the last ten to fifteen years, the famous street is a shadow of its former seedy self, though I am happy to say we still witnessed a drug deal go down along the curb. Even though Bruce Springsteen no longer wanders up and down the sidewalks singing about AIDS, South Street is still that same old mess of tattoo parlors, pubs and tourist traps that seemed so appealing to me as a teenager but struck me as annoying today. By happy accident, we happened upon The Reef Caribbean Lounge just off South Street on 3rd, and it was the perfect “chill” location to grab a drink and a bite to eat before heading out to the ballpark.
As stoked at the fans were, the Phillies let everyone down, and Brett Myers proved once again he is not a big game pitcher. The 4-1 loss to the Atlanta Braves reminds baseball fans of one true thing…it’s going to be a long season.
Written and (partially) photographed by David H. Schleicher