Philadelphia and Boston Have Shared Experiences

In this day and age of self-help, you would think there would be a twelve step program for fans of sports teams that simply can't do the right things to win championships... or even get far enough to be competing for a championship. We need help. We have an illness. We cannot seem to convince ourselves to give up and stop hurting ourselves. Ladies and gentlemen, I have just described the fine people of Boston and fans of the Red Sox and their close east coast counterparts in Philadelphia.

While we are at the mercy of the mighty Atlanta Braves year after year, the Red Sox have it worse. They find themselves having to work to beat out the almighty New York Yankees. Though we as Phillies fans can commiserate over the endless reign of the Braves in our respective league we can at least say that we have gotten to watch them drop the ball countless times after taking the division. In all of their playoffs appearances in the last twelve years they have only one World Championship ring to show for it. But the Yankees, of course, are the best baseball team in history with 26 World Championship wins, 39 pennants, and 43 playoff appearances in ninety years. Of course, the Red Sox can at least say they have four World Series wins; the Phillies have one. But then again you could say we have it better in that department, since the Phillies last won a World Series in 1980. The Red Sox have of course suffered through the curse of The Bambino and last won in 1918. Both teams have had their share of "we were this close" moments; the names of Mitch Williams and Pedro Martinez should come to mind. It's hard to pin down definitively who has it the worst. We have both suffered and the parallels are certainly there.

The rich, unique history in both Boston and Philadelphia creates a kind of bond between the two cities. There is that shared east coast sensibility that somehow defines you if you are from either place. New York being the more celebrated city with its great American baseball team and all of its glorious success, is different than either Boston or Philadelphia. While there is no great glory in saying that you are a Red Sox or Phillies fan, it does say something about your ability to be loyal and tough. We share the experience of our beloved baseball teams always falling short and we prove the depths of our love for those teams by never, ever giving up. We don't root for these teams because they are histories finest. We root for them because they are a part of our hearts, for better or worse. There are no grounds for divorce.

Every year I wait for the season to start for my beloved Phillies. I crazily search every paper for any little bit of information on how their spring training is going. I listen for the word on player's progress and keep an eye on their record, regardless of the fact that the games don't truly count. The only other team I care to hear about is the Red Sox. As the season progresses and the Phillies begin to fall on hard times, as they have for my entire adult life, I start to perk my ears up more and more for the status of the Red Sox. I get absolutely giddy when a Yankees/Red Sox game is televised. The only time I don't want them to win of course is when they play us.

Well this year folks, we know the path of the Phillies and where we will end up in a few weeks. If we are lucky, the Phils will finish strong and finish just a few games out of first, to prove that we could have done a lot more had this team been healthy. Yes, I know the Bowa argument; I got it. But right now the most celebrated baseball rivalry in history is heating up to a fiery degree and there is a feeling that this Red Sox team has a shot at actually beating the Yankees in the American League East. There is still that pesky and hugely famous curse that always makes people raise their eyebrows when anyone says they think the Red Sox year to dethrone the Yankees has finally come. Again, I certainly won't say it's the same, but Phillies fans understand a little something about that. We have been waiting since the end of 1993 when Darren Daulton said with certainty that the Phillies would be back to win the World Series the following year. We have been waiting since then just to see them in the playoffs. 2001 was supposed to be the year we took the Braves down and in 2003, playoffs tickets were even announced to go on sale. And oh boy 2004 was really, really going to be it. Remember spring Phillies fans? Ahhh…what hope we carried in our hearts. Hope is a Phillies and Red Sox fan's middle name.

Like the Phillies though, the Red Sox started the season in a position to do some damage. Both of our teams looked extremely capable of making waves early on and the Red Sox have managed to carry that wave when it counts. Currently playing .607 baseball and breathing down the neck of the Yankees who have seen some tough times of late. Pitcher Kevin Brown literally knocked himself out of the season when the Yanks starting pitching had already become an issue with a 4.70 ERA for the season. And superstar shortstop Derek Jeter who has been the leader of the Yankees club for sometime now has had what is for him a tough year, batting .288 down from .324 last year.

But the Red Sox, managed by Terry Francona (Philadelphia, do you remember how much this city wanted him fired? Classic) have been strong all year long. Manny Ramirez, silly mistakes for the highlight reels aside, and pitching god Curt Schilling, who just picked up his Major League leading 20th win and carries a 3.40 ERA, have led this Red Sox ball club with consistency and excellence in the fundamentals of baseball. Phillies fans wish they knew what that was right now. Batting coach Ron Jackson has been credited for helping the Red Sox with their patience at the plate and it has paid off tremendously. The Red Sox are leading the league in pitches seen. In other words, no swinging at the first pitch and regretting it over and over (Phillies? Don't make us laugh). Curt Schilling by the way left Philadelphia in 1999 with a 3.54 ERA and has maintained that level of consistency through his time with Arizona where he would see his team win a World Series and now, coming to Boston has not slowed his pace. Gee, you can really see why Philadelphia's higher ups wouldn't want to bring Schill back when he was extremely interested in returning. I'm rooting for the Red Sox if for no other reason than I want to see Curt Schilling go to another World Series. Good luck Schill - you deserve it.

And so knowing what misery the Red Sox fans have had to endure, we Phillies fans empathize. Red Sox fans, I salute you. You have the same iron will (and stomach) that we Phillies fans do. This is one die hard Phillies fan that will be hoping and praying for your Red Sox miracle.

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