There are puddles in the parking lot, a wind whipping against my window and the temperature is about 20 degrees lower than it was in St. Petersburg.
Still, it's good to be in Philadelphia.
Oh, I enjoyed the first two games at Tropicana Field. The Rays fans were (mostly) loud and the stadium was better than I thought it would be. It was interesting to see an area finally discover the magic of World Series baseball. I felt good for the folks that have been supporting the team from the beginning, even if it could only date back to 1998.
But as I stepped off the plane Friday afternoon in Philly and saw Phillies balloons dotting each desk, I thought to myself: "This is what a World Series atmosphere is supposed to be like."
As I walked toward the baggage claim, a porter buzzed by pushing an elderly woman in a wheelchair. Both of them were wearing Phillies hats.
As I stood and waited for my bag, a fellow passenger not-so-subtly suggested I should ditch the Cubs hat I was wearing and go straight to a store for a Phillies cap with the World Series seal. ("Might be your only chance to ever wear one of those," he joked.)
As I drove toward the stadium complex, I saw one of the downtown buildings was lit up with the Phillies logo. On the radio, the hosts were breaking down Saturday's pitching matchup, a welcome analysis after listening to all the non-stop complaining and hand-wringing over bandwagon fans by the Tampa Bay talkers I listened to earlier in the day.
For me, this is what the World Series is supposed to be like — an entire city entranced by a seven-game series and the possible prize that lies at the end. Throw in the long-suffering storyline of Philadelphia sports fans and it gets even better.
Nothing against Tampa Bay, but the entire time I was in Florida, I felt like the World Series was nothing more than a two-week novelty and an excuse to get a Rayhawk for most of the fans.
Here in Philly, it's clear they understand it's something much, much more.