Sunday, September 30, 2007

'Yo Adrian!' A Real-Life Cliché Story

By Jeff Glauser
The Phanatic Magazine

Karma comes in all shapes and sizes. Though there’s still quite a long way to go for cumulative retribution, the Phillies have certainly been finding some yangs to the yins of the past lately.

A generation before me endured the miseries of 1964 and Black Friday. A generation before that experienced 35 consecutive campaigns without a postseason – most of them featuring losing records.

Before this decade, I was privy to viewing one winning season out of 17. The one – 1993 – was, of course, an extremely memorable one, one that captured the city’s heart, one of the most captivating and endearing non-championship-winning squads in Philadelphia sports history.

It was also the last time we as Phightin Phans got to experience an extended October of not needing to create reasons to route for another team.

Until now.

Okay, this next statement is cliché, perhaps soon to be a hackneyed depiction expressed proudly at water coolers throughout the Delaware Valley over the next several days. But it fits, so here goes:

The 2007 Phillies are a real-life Rocky story.

Yes, maybe it was because I made a stop at the art museum today, but the metaphor really seems to apply. And here’s why: Like the Italian Stallion, this is a flawed team – make no mistake about that. From a coach whom the players love but makes maddening in-game moves to a pitching staff that can give you so much indigestion, they could be spokesmen for Alka Seltzer, juggernauts these Phils ain’t.

Also, like Mr. Balboa, their chance at glory appeared to have passed. Many of us seem to have conveniently forgotten about the Firesale of ’06, when we shipped away key contributors, including All-Star and alleged Gold Glover Bobby Abreu, for the equivalent of a pair of dirty socks. We forget about Pat Gillick’s plea for patience, to hold out til ’08 and maybe we’ll turn this around.

Furthermore, the Phillies, like our favorite southpaw, just kept getting knocked down, many fan – including some of us here at The Phanatic - resigned to throwing in the towel, only to bounce back up. No Ryan Howard for a month? No problem. Same deal with Chase Utley, Cole Hamels and a couple closers? We’ll find a way.

The pitching equivalent to Acid Reflux? We’ll just score more runs.

(Oh, and Rocky was from Philly. But you knew that.)

Before this season began, I wrote a column entitled, “Ten Reasons to Be-Leery,” a counterpoint to all the optimism from my colleagues that I just couldn’t understand. The ironic part is this: Many of my “reasons” to be skeptical came to fruition – and yet it still didn’t matter!

In the end, Rocky – like our last group of gritty warriors 14 years ago – lost the fight but won our hearts. Being that we’ve already overcome our version of Apollo Creed (The Amazin’ Mess –er, Mets), and being that this team has already defied common logic of what comprises a championship-caliber squad, there’s no reason not to assume that maybe we’re witnessing the makings of a Rocky II script, instead.

On the evening that Rock of Love’s Bret Michaels gets to decide which glorified groupie will become his “destiny,” perhaps Philadelphia’s latest version of just that will give us “Something to Believe In.”

(For those under 20, it’s a Poison song. Bret Michaels was in Poison. Look it up. It works.)
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