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Chester County Press

Editorial: Dancing on our own

10/25/2022 11:45AM ● By Richard Gaw

Given the editorial mission of this newspaper – to provide the news of southern Chester County -- it is customary for us to glean the content of our weekly editorials from the hyper-local immediacy of matters having to do with politics, schools, events and people.

But when Bryce Harper cracked his game-winning two-run home run in the eighth inning of Sunday’s 4-3 victory over the San Diego Padres to send the Philadelphia Phillies to the 2022 World Series, we decided to extend our coverage area slightly a bit north of Chester County, just for this edition.

If it is true that being a devoted sports fan is conceding to the guttural pain of defeat and disappointment, then the pain that Philadelphia Phillies’ fans have shared over the past 13 seasons has been nearly unbearable. From the time reliever Brad Lidge sunk to his knees immediately following the Phils’ 2008 World Series victory, Phillies fans have witnessed a 2009 World Series loss, frustrating defeats in subsequent playoff series, and then the tortuous vanishing act of its favorite players, some to injury and some to trades.

They have lived through the turnstile click of rotating managers – some lethargic, some slightly off-kilter – endured the illogical decisions of the team’s ownership and sat through dozens of lineups that seem to have been pieced together by duct tape. Collectively and privately, their seething anger has grown to the point where it has become an extremity, and then as Spring Training broke in March in Clearwater and as we emerged from the two-year fog of COVID-19 there was hope again. The team had acquired a few veterans over the winter, shored up its pitching staff to respectability and tossed in a child care collection of rookies. Phillies fans, however, have come to know the tumbledown of great expectations, and when their manager was fired in early June after mechanically button-pushing his club to a 22-29 record, every Phillies follower from Oxford to Trenton sounded the sad refrain that their parents, their aunts and uncles and their grandparents have turned into a long symphony of hurt.

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To be a Philadelphia sports fan – no matter the affiliation – is to be born into the lingering mindset that while disaster is a near-constant companion, hope lives in the form of resilience and newness. The Phillies’ season was soon saved by the most unlikely of men – a soft-spoken Canadian and baseball lifer who had never managed on the Major League level before. Suddenly, all of the tension in the clubhouse subsided, and the team reeled off win after win and all of it was accompanied by a country song that became the team’s adopted anthem. Despite a September swoon, they earned both a playoff spot and respectability, but the baseball experts gave them little chance in October. Their commentary was answered by come-from-behind wins, the defeat of their Wild Card foe, then the glorious takedown of the current World Champions, and this past Sunday, their victory over a talented roster of players.

Now, through their resiliency and on the backs of their well-deserved army of fans, the Philadelphia Phillies have captivated the entire Delaware Valley, and carry that motivation into the World Series against the best team in Major League Baseball.

The allotted space of an editorial is often the only place where a newspaper can place its heart. For the next week or so, our heart – and likely yours – will be transfixed on an unlikely team that has far exceeded our greatest expectations – a team that is blessed with talent, camaraderie and yes, miles and miles and miles of heart.

Four more, Topper.