October 30, 2008
Each World Series champion produces its own set of feel-good, feel-happy-for-'em heroes. Here's a look at the top five that I'll remember from the '08 Phillies.
1. Jamie Moyer — The 45-year-old produced one of the most spontaneous moments of Wednesday night's celebration, searching out a shovel and trying to unearth the pitching rubber himself. When that proved unsuccessful, members of the grounds crew pooled their strength and, 10 minutes later, the relic belonged to Moyer who took every measure to make sure no one would steal it from him. After 22 years of never appearing in the World Series, Moyer played a vital role in his first appearance. His performance in Game Three paved the way for his hometown Phillies to sweep all three games at home and to see Moyer taking off with the pitching rubber like a little kid was to see exactly why he's hung around the game for so long.
2. Brad Lidge — It didn't look like the media was ever going to let Lidge forget about his 2005 playoff meltdowns so the stand-up reliever got rid of those persistent questions the only way he knew how — by having a season and postseason for the ages. The former Houston closer saved seven games in the playoffs and has converted all of his last 51 save opportunities to slam the book on that rocky period in his career. A genuine, thoughtful and accommodating ballplayer if there ever was one, Lidge has my permission to slug any reporter who dares bring up the names of Albert Pujols or Scott Podsednik in the future.
3. Charlie Manuel — It wasn't that long ago that Philadelphians were ready to buy Manuel a ticket on the next bus out of town. Yet he was able to persevere and become a Philadelphia folk hero alongside guys like Lenny Dykstra and Tug McGraw. All while turning even the most cynical of area fans onto a managing style that's much smarter than he comes off. Extra fuzzies for winning the World Series for his mother, who passed away early this month.
4. Jimmy Rollins and Pat Burrell —Yeah, Rollins called Phillies fans front-runners earlier this season and Burrell has had an up-and-down relationship with the hometown fans as well. But you always feel good for the most tenured guys who have gone through the best and worst times with a franchise — especially when that franchise is in Philadelphia.
5. Phillie Phanatics — Not only did they have to deal with 25 years without a major sports championship but Philadelphia sports fans have to put up with all the lines about booing Santa Claus, Michael Irvin's injury and what-have-you whenever their fanbase is discussed. Even though they can be a bit boorish at times — hey, a little bit of angry comes in every Philadelphian's blood — I've still yet to find a group of fans more passionate or knowledgeable about their teams (and, yes, that includes my Chicago). My beliefs were reinforced over the three games played at The Bank, when the placed rocked from beginning to end and the Phillie phaithful finally got the title they've wanted for so long. You always feels good for a group of fans when you know they're appreciating what they're getting.