Monday, July 09, 2007

Winning and Losing

The Phillies have received more goodwill for their collective effort on behalf of the Coors Field ground crew yesterday than perhaps at any time in team history. In the wake of their unprecedented effort to help a beleaguered and endangered ground crew they may even have received a smattering of sympathy as they approach franchise loss number 10,000...but not much. Ten thousand is too round a number and Philadelphia-bashing by the media too popular a blood sport to deflect the unwanted spotlight for very long. Indeed, both events -- Ground Aid and Countdown To 10,000 -- shared space in every retelling no matter the venue. There is no getting around it: chronic losing sells, but don't mention it to the current generation of players in red pinstripes who, to a man, are not interested and don't feel a scintilla of guilt. And who can blame them for the legions of lousy owners, players and managers who have passed through the City of Brotherly Love lo these many decades? Undaunted, reporters continue to pursue the story, asking Chase Utley or Ryan Howard or Charlie Manuel at every opportunity how they view the impending milestone. Utley said he wasn't interested. Howard had nothing to add as well. Manuel said he had nothing to do with it, somewhat disingenuous, but in the main an appropriate response. The 2007 Phillies aren't about to get swept up in something as dubious as 10,000 losses when all they are trying to do is keep their own heads above sea level, which, by the way, the reached again for about the fifteenth time this season.

As for Ground Aid, it was an extraordinary spontaneous display that will long linger in the mind. The sixth inning had just concluded under threatening skies with lighting strikes beyond the bleachers when the sky opened up. The ground crew rushed to preserve the playing surface as the players and umpires rushed to preserve themselves. As the ground crew began to unfold the tarp a sudden gust of swing swept across the field and violently folded the tarp over itself, trapping some crew members beneath and dragging others who hung on for dear life. As the drama [un]folded, the Phillies rushed en masse onto the field to lend a collective helping hand. Everyone -- starters, bench players, coaches and trainers -- pitched in, pulling on the tarp, throwing sand bags onto it to keep the edges from doubling over again, lending their own weight to secure the recalcitrant cover and rescuing individuals trapped beneath. Even some of the umpires joined in the effort. The only ones missing were the Colorado Rockies, who apparently retired to their locker room unaware of the drama taking place. When the tarp finally was secured and every member of the ground crew accounted for, the soaked Phillies retreated to the locker room to a standing ovation from the local faithful.

It's safe to say that through the ages with its countless wins and especially losses that sort of response on the road or, for that matter, at home has never happened before and you could look it up.


David said...

Just watched the footage for the first time. It moved Harry Kalas to tears!

No doubt the Phillies will offset the unofficial 'ceremonies' next weekend by awarding medals of valour for the rain delay heroism in a stirring, two-hour pre-game affair, complete with Jim Bunning, Robin Roberts taking victory laps around the warning track in vintage convertibles.

Tom Goodman said...

...complete with Jim Bunning, Robin Roberts taking victory laps around the warning track in vintage convertibles.

You left out the following:

...that will spring leaks from their radiators on cue.