In the same breath, I always remember discussing with people why the 2008 Phillies are so loved and revered in Philadelphia - no matter what.
I went to Saint Joseph's University and, despite it's location (Philadelphia), Hawk Hill boasts more than its fair share of fans from New York, Boston, and elsewhere. I arrived on campus as a freshman during Labor Day weekend 2008 so my first real bonding session with my roommates and friends at St. Joe's was the Phillies playoff run.
Over subsequent years, it became easier to decipher the die-hard fans from the ones who just enjoy the postseason. Obviously over the next four years, all four Philadelphia teams came close to parades - the Eagles lost in the NFC Championship game in January 2009, the Phillies again in the World Series later that year, the Flyers in the Stanley Cup Finals in 2010, and the Sixers run against the Celtics in 2012.
I will never forget a conversation I had with a friend of mine, a New York fan (I know, I don't like admitting it but hey, he's a good dude), after the Flyers were eliminated by the Devils in the Eastern Conference Semifinals in May 2012.
He's a Yankees fan when it comes to baseball and a Giants fan when it comes to football so, at the age of 22 (at the time), he had witnessed his fair share of championships.
We got talking about how I can, year in and year out, lay it all out there for the Philadelphia teams only to be let down seemingly ever year. I couldn't really explain it except for the fact that I love the teams with all my being and each year I am 100% committed to their success. Live and die by each win - as unhealthy as that can be.
I explained that it is deflating but I grew up like this so I have gotten used to the fact that (most likely) at four separate points in the year, I'm going to be upset with the season ending and no championship.
That's when we started talking about the 2008 Phillies. I explained that team made it all worth it. They made every loss, heartbreaking season, and boneheaded trade worth it in one Cinderella season. The moment that Eric Hinske swung over that nasty Brad Lidge slider, it all went away. The torment. The heartbreak. All of it. Gone.
That feeling of euphoria that swept over Citizens Bank Park and Phillies fans everywhere is something I can't accurately describe in words. Up until that point, for 18+ years of my life I endured losing season after losing season (for the most part) with nothing to show for it. No Championship. No Parade. Nada.
That 2008 team gave me my first glimpse of why I was a fan and why I stick with my team through thick and thin. I can't say how sweet the victory was for someone who jumped on the bandwagon in August. Heck, for all I know it was sweet for them too.
All I know is that euphoric feeling from 2008 is the reason it is so easy to root for my teams now. The possibility of that feeling returning is enough for me to tune in to watch every inning, quarter, or period I possibly can.
That's the best way I could convey to him what it is like for a die-hard Philadelphia fan. He turned to me and said something I never expected to hear from a die-hard New York fan such as himself.
He looked at me and said, "Ya know, Steve. I hate the Philly teams. I really do but I gotta say I respect the hell outta you for sticking with them through everything."
I responded simply, "Jimmy, I'm not alone in this. Most of us stick with them through thick and thin. Remember that... and not the snow balls, would ya?"
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