Phillies, Then Everything Else
Many find it hard to believe that in my sports world, Penn State does not come first, the Phillies do. And it’s not even all that close. I think people feel that way because 1) many of them are Penn Staters themselves, we don’t agree on other sports, especially if they came from Pittsburgh, 2) the baseball regular season is 162 games long, if there were only 12 baseball games each season, there would be a lot more excitement for each game, and 3) they didn’t know me before Penn State, even before high school, when nothing came before baseball.
I’ve been a Phillies fan much longer than Penn State. I’m pretty sure a Phillies game was the first professional sporting event I ever went to. I was probably around six, but I no idea for sure. There weren’t a lot of moments in those days to really remember to pinpoint a specific time. The first big, memorable event was when they made the World Series in 1993 and then we had our hearts broken. I already loved them, but heartbreak like that tends to attach you to a team even more. I know that doesn’t make any sense, but it’s true. Prior to 1993, the last postseason appearance was in 1983. I don’t remember much of that series, since I hadn’t yet turned 1. Our next playoff appearance would not come until 2007 and we would not get to another World Series until right now, in 2008.
I remember watching Penn State games when I was younger. Neither of my parents went to Penn State but the games were always on TV. If you were a sports fan, they were hard to miss. I remember being corrected when I shortened the name of the school to Penn (dropping the State) only to be corrected because Penn was a different school. I must have been pretty young since I wasn’t aware of Penn. The 1994 team went undefeated and won the Rose Bowl, but not the official national championship. That is when I really got hooked. It’s still my favorite team and Kerry Collins is my favorite college football player. I don’t remember any Penn State related heartbreak until the 1999 season when they were 9-0. they lost a game they had control of to Minnesota and would up losing 3 straight to end the regular season. While I loved Penn State football I still tried to focus on the actual school when deciding on a college. It came down to near the end of high school that I finally decided to go to Penn State. Once there, the bond to the team grew and grew. Plenty of people go to Penn State not really having had paid attention to the team beforehand, maybe not even really caring about any sports team. I was already hooked before I even went to my first game my freshman year (my first time seeing Penn State play). Sadly, I was there for the four worst seasons in the JoePa era. It didn’t diminish my connection to the team. I still went to and watched every game. The year after graduating we returned to our dominant ways and I was able to go to almost every home game (all but the first 2 because the first game I was going to see the Phillies play the Nationals in DC and the second game because I had tickets to a Phillies home game), the Michigan away game, and the Orange Bowl (one of the greatest trips ever).
I went to a ton of Phillies games. Philly isn’t far away and I knew a few people with tickets when I was little. I easily went to 10-20 games per year. I think that is why I was so sad to see the Vet go. Who knows how many games I saw there. Big ones: 1993 NLCS Game 6 and the 1996 Home Run Derby and All-Star Game (all in amazing seats about 10 rows behind the visiting dugout). I was there for the bad times to. Games toward the end of the season when our loss total was in the 90s wereÂ particularlyÂ solemn. It was the only place I’d seen the Phillies play, they belonged there, no matter how terrible the stadium actually was.
Growing up I played baseball, never football. I think that ties you to a sport a lot. I wanted to be a major league player. I was a little on the small side so everyone knew that would never happen, even though I was pretty good. Still, I think most people thought I should have been an announcer. They probably still think I should be. Playing and having the game be such a big part of your life for so long, you can’t help but be attached to your favorite team.
I love numbers and stats. Baseball has more stats and more people keeping track of them than any other sport. I had a bunch of old stat books when I was little, never the most recent ones, but I still read through all the Bill James books. I had tons and tons of baseball cards. My mom claims I learned how to read because of baseball cards and all the unique names. Plus, reading the sports page helped too.
Baseball is better than football. Just my personal opinion. It’s anÂ argumentÂ that could go on forever and no one would ever win, so we’ll leave it at that.
You can’t top a big Penn State game, with tailgating and the huge crowd, which is even more amazing in night white out games. As I said before, if there were only 12 Phillies games per year the atmosphere would be just as crazy. I just grew up with the baseball and the Phillies as a bigger part of my life than football and Penn State did. Good thing I have enough sports love to go around. Well, almost. It’s going to be a feat to watch the Penn State/Ohio State and Game 3 of the World Series on Saturday night, at the same time. Two TVs will help accomplish that. The question is, which game gets the larger screen?