Friday, October 31, 2008

Wearing red

Well, this is not blog I expected to write next.

Me, writing about the Phillies? It boggles the mind.

Though I’m not much of a sports fan I do retain certain affection for baseball. My father was a baseball fan; my brothers are baseball fans; my husband is a baseball fan; even my daughter lays claim to it.

Out all those loved ones, not one is a Phillies fan.

My dad, born in Chicago, was a lifelong Cubs fan. One of the ways he bonded with my daughter was by passing along his love for his team. My brothers? Well, growing up in Guatemala means you don’t form regional preferences, so the youngest loves the Detroit Tigers, the oldest the Pittsburgh Pirates. And my husband, though born and bred in New York State, roots for the Minnesota Twins. Go figure.

The best explanation may be that baseball fans are a contrarian bunch. You have to be a contrarian to love the slow-paced, still mannerly game in which athletes as dissimilar as little Joe Morgan, Big Papi Ortiz and Mark “the Bird” Fidrych have excelled. The fact that sports historians now believe that baseball “was invented” in England rather than in the United States in the 18th century matters little. Is there anything more quintessentially American?

So, back to the Phillies.

This morning I caught the train into Philadelphia as usual.

Well, not exactly as usual. The platform was clogged with Phillies fans on their way into the city to celebrate the World Series win together. The station wasn’t twice, or thrice as full as normal. Try 50 or 100 times as full. And, let’s not talk about the parking lot.

Every train that zoomed by without stopping sounded its whistle, acknowledging the hundreds of fans gathered on the platform. When we got on the train – the second stop from its point of origin – it had to go express because it was already standing room only. We flew by stations packed with Phillies fans. Nobody paid for a ticket. People were convivial and warm. Conductors were upbeat.

People expressed sympathy that I was coming in to work rather than to play along with the rest of them, and in fact, the people in the front half of the car made a concerted effort to get me to ditch work altogether. It was without question, despite the crowded conditions, the most enjoyable ride I have ever taken on Septa regional rail.

It also made me think. Sometimes, when we are together and united in a single purpose – to celebrate what we share – we are a better people. We are kinder, friendlier, more forgiving. I only wish something besides sports could engender this reaction, this feeling of community in us. A presidential election, for example.

Of course, I reserve the right to change my opinion about all of this tomorrow. Despite my rave about the ride in to the city, I’m a little scared of the ride home.

1 comment:

  1. Great column, Sabrina! So true that sports often produces the best out of people, especially when they are winning the World Series!!!!!! Nice job!

    John Knebels


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