The past three weeks have been a whirlwind of emotion for Philadelphia sports. First the Philadelphia Eagles won, then lost Michael Vick, then lost, then got Vick back, then lost Vick again, then lost again, got Vick back again, but still lost. Fans have turned their attention away from the preseason Super Bowl favorites with the 1-3 record, to the favorites of October, the Philadelphia Phillies.
Unfortunately, the Phillies also induced many uneasy stomachs over the past few weeks, as they clinched the National League East in record time, then in turn, lost eight games in a row, causing wide spread panic throughout the city. The three weeks of fear seemed to conclude with the Phillies winning the most regular season games in franchise history. Unfortunately the panic was not over.
All week fans debated on whether or not knocking the Atlanta Braves out of the playoffs was a wise move. Some believe the red-hot St. Louis Cardinals may have too much momentum entering the first round. All this panic, anticipation, and excitement cumulated late Saturday afternoon as Lance Berkman sent a first pitch offering from Roy Halladay into the right field stands.
I myself began wondering two things. First why are Lance Berkman's pants so tight? (Seriously, I can't think of anything more unpleasant than watching Berkman ruin my Saturday afternoon, with size medium pants, and a mullet.) And finally what would be the ramifications if the Phillies dropped game 1.
An alternate future began unraveling with Cliff Lee in a must win Game 2. The thought of Chris Carpenter and Jaime Garcia stifling our hitters became unbearable. Out after out these thoughts grew more and more abundant...All of them a result of panic.
Ten years ago if you told me I'd be panicking watching the Phillies, IN THE POST SEASON, I'd have said you were crazy. But in the 5th inning of last night's contest, that is exactly what I did.
Panic is a funny thing...Although you think you have control over a situation, in reality you have zero influence. So you compensate...A special spot on the couch, a lucky hat, a dirty jersey...anything to make yourself believe you have some sort of impact on the game, all while nervously watching and praying for a positive result.
That however, is what separates the folks on the field, from those in the stands. The ability to handle the pressure, not panic, and produce.
On cue with doubt creeping into the minds of nearly every Philadelphia fan, Ryan Howard launched a three run homerun, giving the Phillies the lead.
Raul Ibanez followed two batters later with a two run homerun of his own, as the Phillies tacked on 10 runs, to once again restore calm to the city.
But how long will this tranquility last? One game? One series? Unfortunately, after the third Eagles loss in a row, the only thing that could prevent a panic attack is another Phillies win. Unless the Eagles completely turn around this season, or the Phillies go undefeated throughout, there will always be a sense of urgency and uneasiness.
Leading up to September, nothing short of two parades this fall/winter would do. These are the expectations the teams, coaches, and fans have set. Panic will always ensue, unless these expectations are met. As the Phillies get set for game 2, we as fans can only brace ourselves and hope for the best. Everything else is out of our hands.