Saturday, November 01, 2008

Some Final Phillies Thoughts...

My sons and I were part of the crowd of about 2-million people who descended on Broad Street yesterday to celebrate the World Champion Philadelphia Phillies. An amazing time, and something I hope all of you get to experience at some point. I'm still somewhat in shock, realizing that the team I have cheered on for 46 years or so has won a championship. OK, so it's the second one I've seen, but this one means so much more. And I'm grateful that I was able to share this with my kids. So a few observations as we put this baseball season to rest.

First, I love the fact that this was a team, not just a group of individuals and prima donna superstars. No A-Rods or Jeters. No Mannys. Sure some of them have been MVPs, and you could argue that Jimmy Rollins is the catalyst for the team, but this was a true team effort. Every game produced a different hero, and sometimes that hero was a relatively unknown player coming off the bench. For all that I could see, this was a team that checked their respective egos at the door. As I watched interview with all of the players I was struck by the show of humility. More often than not the player being interviewed would deflect questions about their own contributions and talk about the contributions of the other players or the team as a whole.

Second, as we stood there for hours in a white and red crowd, I noticed something very interesting. Here we were, just four days prior to possibly one of the most hotly contested presidential races featuring boat loads of negativity from both sides, and yet this parade was truly a non-partisan event. As I looked around and marvelled at how we could probably take a serious chunk out of the national debt with the amount of money spent on Phillies gear, there was something I DIDN'T see: political signs/t-shirts/buttons. I specifically looked for signs of the campaign, and outside of a few signs in business windows, I saw no evidence of the campaign. How refreshing! I will be so glad when this election is over, and boy, we certainly could use more events like this championship and parade.

Third, I gained a greater appreciation for the man I consider to be among the greatest announcers in all of baseball, if not in all of sports: Harry Kalas. The coverage that Fox provided was pretty awful. Sure Tim McCarver used to play for the Phils, and at one time was even part of the Phillies' broadcast team, but wow, he sure is bad. Fortunately Joe Buck has a true appreciation for Harry Kalas and on a number of occasions made reference to the Hall of Fame broadcaster. Perhaps being the son of a legend himself, Buck really appreciates the history of the game. Kalas has the best pipes in the business, and is a broadcaster's broadcaster.

Several years ago I moderated a seminar at the Museum of Television & Radio on baseball on the radio. The panel consisted of several broadcasters including Harry Kalas of the Phils, John Sterling of the Yankees (don't even get me started on this guy...), Joe Castiglione of the Red Sox, and a few others. Most of the panelists deferred to Kalas several times during the conversation, but the most telling moment came after the seminar. Joe Castiglione's college aged son and his roommate tentatively walked up to Kalas with a tape recorder and asked him to record something they could use for their answering machine. The man is a legend. Sure he seems to be missing a beat or two these days, but he is still the best voice in the business.

So it's a wrap. The trophy resides in Philadelphia and I can't get this smile off of my face. A great thing to share with my sons, and I hope they can share the same thing with their kids some day. In the words of Charlie Manuel: "Christmas came two months early!"

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