When I first subscribed to MLB Extra Innings in 2003, there were four teams whose telecasts were never made available: the Expos, the Blue Jays, the Padres and the Phillies. I assumed the first two had something to do with them being from Canada while the other two were a mystery. The Expos moved to Washington and that took care of their video. The other three teams until this season had to be watched via opponent feed or not at all. Then early in '07, the occasional Jaycast popped up (with Canadian commercials and everything). A couple of months ago I saw what a Padre game looked like through the eyes of a San Diegan (about what it always looks like to me: bleary). That left only the Phillies at large.
Until Friday night, when their game with the Marlins was beamed into my living room via not a Floridian cable, but one emanating from Pennsylvania. It was my first look at Phillies TV since I peeked up at a Citizens Bank monitor in June. I could tell it wasn't the Marlins' crew calling the game by the way Miguel Olivo's fourth-inning home run was greeted with television silence.
Between innings there was a commercial urging all good Delaware Valleyans to leave a deposit on 2008 season tickets if you want a guaranteed shot at buying tickets for Phillies home playoff games in 2007.
OK, every team remotely alive in September pulls this scam every year, including us, and they're still in the Wild Card scrum, so I'm not going to snicker at the offer per se (at least not for the record), but what got me about this spot was that to cap off the montage of inspiring Phillie highlights that will have me going straight for my credit card they showed the play at the plate that ended the 11-10 game of August 30. You know, the one we lost and they won.
I had never seen any footage of it because I was en route to Milwaukee that day and, as I explained when I got home, I decided to take a vacation from my team, or at least my mania for them. Two things struck me:
1) I'm glad I didn't see it live. It was bad enough following it through the refresh button on my Sprint phone. I'm glad I didn't watch SportsCenter that night. I'm glad I didn't read more about it the next day beyond the perfunctory accounts that appeared in USA Today and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Except for Jason's post and what those who commented wrote in the course of that likely nonfateful day, I'm glad I did not go back and delve into my usual regimen of blogs except for the headlines that implied tragedy had transpired. I'm glad I didn't have to be immersed in my e-mail group's take of doom and gloom while the wounds were fresh. I'm glad I was nowhere near WFAN.
I wasn't kidding about taking a vacation from your team. As bizarre as it will sound come November when I'll wish I could watch Pat Burrell launch home runs for the sheer baseball entertainment of it, a day without the Mets isn't the worst thing in the world. Not a day like that anyway.
2) That 11-10 win's place in Phillies history appears destined to be obscured by their failure to follow up on it if in fact they don't straighten out over the next three weeks starting immediately. Natch, it is not in our interest for them to straighten out. But I can imagine the future Phillies blogger who has already enshrined this game as one of the greatest ever played. If the Phillies do not go to the 2007 playoffs (and depending on what they do in 2008 and beyond), that hypothetical fan will cherish what he will call “the 11-10 game” and tell every Phillies fan he meets later in life about what he was doing that great day at the end of August “when we beat the Mets.”
For a while his fellow fans will remember instantly. Then later they'll need more of a reminder. 2007? Didn't we suck in 2007? The future Phillies blogger will maintain that, no, we didn't suck. We just didn't win. We came real close. We had a great season. Don't you remember? Don't you? Then he will write heartfelt paeans to it and wonder why every other Phillies fan developed amnesia five minutes after the events of August 30, 2007 were history.
On some distant level, I feel for that future Phillies blogger. And with continued luck, I look forward to not being the Mets version of him for this particular season that ends in a 7.
PS: The Braves' pitch to have their fans buy tickets for their in-progress postseason run is, by dint of its existence, outright hilarious. The details — essentially management congratulating itself for not throwing in the towel at the trade deadline — make it even more so. Sometimes Extra Innings is a bargain.
PPS: If you're going to take at least part of a vacation with your team, you could do worse than taking it with the incomparable Metstradamus, especially if it's anything like the Cincinnati-Chicago jaunt he just tackled. (Note the unphotographed shirt sighting he mentions in the state of Ohio.)