The second week of February can only mean one thing to Philadelphians. Of course, couples throughout the City of Brotherly Love will bolster their love for each other on the 14th celebrating Valentine’s Day with gifts of flowers and chocolates.
For the rest of us, it’s the rekindling of our love affair with the Phillies as pitchers and catchers start reporting to spring training this Sunday. Another winter has passed and now it’s time to heat up with the four-time defending National League East champions.
The team that brought the city its first title in 25 years will begin its journey back to the Promised Land. And when the Phillies shocked the baseball community with the signing of Cliff Lee, the talk around the city quickly turned to the possibility of returning to the fall classic. Never before has the city anticipated the start of a Phillies season as they have this up coming season.
With baseball’s best starting pitching, some South Philly residents have already begun placing their lawn chairs along Broad Street, o.k. that might be so they can reserve their parking spot due to all the snow, but they will most likely be keeping them there in hopes of another World Championship parade.
The Fightins’ have made believers of a city known for its cynical, downtrodden sports past. With sell-out crowds, every home game the Phillies have felt the love from their fans and have responded with the best baseball this city has ever seen.
Fans are even flocking to Bright House field, the site of the Phillies spring training complex in Clearwater, Florida, to catch their first glimpse of the Fightins before the start of the regular season.
And like every new romance, you need to find out some of those hidden facets of that person before you take that next all important step, or in this case the umpire screams, “Play Ball,” for real.
You need the answers to specific questions, like their favorite movie or their political ideology or even something much more important, like who’s going to be in right-field and bat behind Ryan Howard?
A true love will reveal themselves as time passes, taking the small steps that leads to a budding relationship. Phillies manager Charlie Manuel has plenty of time during spring training to see what develops, whether it’s from within the organization or General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. making a deal that brings solace to our concerns.
Since their inception in 1883 the Phillies have disappointed far more than they gave reason to cheer but a new era of baseball has blessed this city and for better or worse they have given us a season of hope.
Poet Anthony Halat in the poem, Love Springs Eternal, may have sensed our feelings, “…Felt by both, ‘Love springs eternal.’ A life of bliss, spirits entwined,
Love that is pure in spirit and mind.
Lifemates forever, happiness found in the lands…”
In sports love doesn’t last but a few short seasons and nobody knows that better than Philadelphia fans.