The Big Three-Oh: #1

Welcome to “The Big Three-Oh!” I’m turning 30 at the end of July and to celebrate, I am counting down my best/favorite sports moments in my lifetime. If you missed the kickoff post, check it out for the background for the seriesThe final entry. If you read the #2 post, you knew this was coming…

#1 — Phillies Win 2008 World Series

Or if you want the full playoff run…

My favorite sports memory is the Phillies winning the World Series. I wrote about my experience on the night the Phillies won right before Super Bowl LII and I’ll share an excerpt from that blog:

Longtime readers know that I went to a boarding school in Massachusetts: Berkshire School. At Berkshire, we had study hall six nights a week in which we had to stay in our dorm rooms at our desks doing homework. I “watched” almost every game of the 2008 playoff run on ESPN Gamecast and being allowed to go up to Greg “The Prophet” Piatelli’s house to watch a couple games as his mom worked at Berkshire. With the Phillies up three games to one, I watched the first half of Game Five at Greg’s house on Monday, October 27th only for rain to hit South Philadelphia suspending the game for two nights tied at 2 in the top of the 6th.

Which brings us to Wednesday, October 29th, 2008. Greg was on a college visit and unable to host me for the second half of Game Five so I had relegated back to “watching” the game on Gamecast. The Phillies quickly took a 3-2 lead only for the Rays to tie it the top of the 7th. In his last at-bat for the Phillies, Pat “The Bat” Burrell doubled and was pinch-ran for Eric Bruntlett. Bruntlett scores on a Pedro Feliz single–4 to 3 Phillies. The 8th flies through, my has been homework long-since thrown aside. My heart racing out of my chest. We move to the top of the 9th inning, Lights Out Lidge time. Brad Lidge, who had been signed in the offseason from Houston, had been a perfect 40 for 40 in save situations, including the playoffs, let up and single and stolen base to put the tying run on 2nd with one out. Ben Zobrist lined out to right field, one out to go. I can’t believe what I’m seeing, the closest I had ever gotten to this point was a last-ditch McNabb drive three years earlier against the Patriots.

Eric Hinske to the plate for Tampa. My eyes glued to Gamecast and my mind racing. Strike one. Oh my god. Strike two. Holy shit, I can’t believe this. Gamecast gives a long pause normally reserved for home runs and third outs. GOOD LORD, HE BLEW THE LEAD. I CAN’T BELIEVE LIDGE BLEW THIS. WE GOTTA RALLY IN THE NINTH INN–Strike Three. Out Three. Game, Series, Championship: Phillies.

I jump what feels like 100 feet into the air and run out into the hall in a full sprint screaming. I remember running down to the first floor to a Mets fans’ room to brag and needing to calmly walk by the teacher on study hall duty, Dr. K. As I walk by, Dr. K looks up at me with a smirk. “World Series is over, huh?”

As incredible as that night was, I was one of a handful of Berkshire students from the Philadelphia area–the rest were all Boston and New York fans. In fact, during Spring Training the following year, a Yankee fan told me the Phillies win was “illegitimate” because the Red Sox lost to the Rays in the ALCS. A Yankee fan advocating for the Red Sox, imagine that! Since that World Series, we’ve had two more shots at a major sports title: the 2009 Phillies and the 2010 Flyers during my freshman year at Lehigh. Since then, we’ve had dream teams and tankers but here we sit on the cusp of finally grabbing the Lombardi trophy. I’ve wanted to have that feeling I had on October 29th, 2008 since October 30th, 2008. Not that the rest of the city hasn’t, but experiencing it four hours away left me immediately needing more. This time, I get to be in the City of Brotherly Love to experience the moment win or lose. If by chance, our Birds deliver and give us that moment, I won’t hesitate to take it all in.

I don’t mean to take up most of the space for this final post using an old blog but I wrote it perfectly then and it would’ve been much of the same if I tried to write something completely from scratch.

Thinking about the 2008 team now that the Eagles have won a Super Bowl, that team still sticks out as my favorite. I’m not sure if it is because I was at Berkshire and was one of very few Phillies fans so all smack talk about the Phils came my way or because they’re simply my favorite of Philly’s four major sports teams. While the Philly Special will be the most iconic play/moment in Philly sports history, Chase Utley’s fake throw to first, Shane Victorino’s Grand Slam off of CC, Matt Stairs hitting “into the night,” and Brad Lidge’s 48th save with Harry Kalas on the call will all forever be what I think of when I see their names. It’s probably why Greg and I got into such a heated argument about Chase Utley on the podcast last week–other’s think of Chase’s slide in 2015, I (and most Phillies fans for that matter) immediately think of that play or “WORLD FUCKING CHAMPS” when Utley comes to mind. That night at Berkshire may have been much tamer than the night the Eagles won the Super Bowl, but you never forget the first time.

Today’s Instagram Athlete

Mike Scott comes in as the athlete to accompany my favorite sports moment. In 2011, it was Bernie Parent and it felt like the right pick at the time. Parent is a Flyers legend. Mike Scott has only been on the Sixers for about a year and a half but has quickly become a fan favorite. Emily and I met him at a Sixers event shortly after he joined the team and Scott could not have been nicer to us. The event was ending and we were towards the end of the line to meet him. Despite what the Sixers security wanting to cut off the line, Scott let everyone come through to get an autograph and get 30 seconds of small talk. He was a real standup guy and I’m glad he’s enjoyed his time here so much despite those Eagles fans who tried to fight him last fall.  

One Last Thing!

Thank you so much for supporting this list! I had been racking my brain trying to find some way to celebrate my 30th birthday in a similar way to “25 for 25” and when I originally thought of this list, I wasn’t sure how it would go. While there were some days I needed to play catch up on and some moments I may have missed, the reaction from you all has been great! If you like this sort of thing or have any other ideas for series, podcast topics/segments, please tweet at me or leave a comment below!  

(cover photo via)

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