"Two down in the ninth inning, and two strikes to Hinske. Perez at second. Lidge to the plate, SLIDER -- struck him out swinging! The Philadelphia Phillies have won the World Series!"
PHILADELPHIA -- On the big day after the big day, the sun finally came out and it shined brightly and warmly on a city that felt brotherly love. It's almost as if it had gone away to let this city figure out how to win a major sports championship all by itself, without any help, and once it did that, it came out to shine.
Shine on, Philly, shine on.
Fans listened to that call by Jon Miller on ESPN Radio over and over again on the local 950-AM affiliate, played before every commercial break. Fans bought every possible copy of newspapers with their boys on the cover, and the papers printed more as they started showing up on eBay for collectors. Fans told their stories to perfect strangers, where they were when Brad Lidge threw the slider, how they sang "We Are The Champions" together, what they did in the streets and at homes, how long they had waited, what the 46-hour rain delay had been like, what excuse they are going to use to get out of work or school on Friday for the parade.
Yes, a parade. That comes next, and that's what it's all about here. They have waited for the parade forever, pretty much. Fan after fan after fan said on radio talk shows and out in the streets and at their offices that it was the "greatest moment" they could remember. Many of them had sudden memory loss about the birth of their children, of the sweet wedding ceremonies, of their first kisses and their graduations. You can take all that perspective and do a Chase Utley and make that unbelievable play up the middle and have the presence of mind to throw it home to Carlos Ruiz -- just throw it.
"It's all sunshine and rainbows now," said a caller named "J.D. in Weeksboro" on a radio show. "Last night I was spraying champagne on complete strangers and we were all loving it. It was on the main street in Weeksboro. You have to worry more about bumping into cornstalks than anyone else, but we had a great party nevertheless."
A PERFECT HOME RUN
Since the LCS began in 1969, nine teams have gone undefeated at home in the postseason.
"I just can't believe it's real," said "Marcus in Philly." "I'm watching Lidge strike [Eric Hinske] out. With everything going on, the economy, the city really needed that. Just to witness it, after so many letdowns. To see it happen before your eyes, it's just a shock. It's like: Is this real? I keep waiting to wake up from a dream."
There is no waking up now, no turning back to a time of more than 9,000 consecutive games of four major sports teams between championships. There is a parade starting at noon ET on Friday at 20th and Market Streets. It will proceed to City Hall to South Broad Street to the Stadium Complex. Complimentary tickets were made available starting at 3 p.m. on Phillies.com for seating at Citizens Bank Park and the adjacent Lincoln Financial Stadium, with the alcohol-free, parade-ending live event scheduled for the Phillies' ballpark and also shown on the giant screen (with live player participation) at the Eagles' stadium. Those tickets no longer were available by 4:30 p.m.
Plenty of opportunity will exist for everyone in Philadelphia to enjoy the parade. It promises to be a dramatic turnout, a long-awaited thrill ride. The World Series champs will ride on flatbed trucks being converted into floats. You can just picture seeing the Phillie Phanatic aboard, and the Commissioner's Trophy, and Ryan Howard and Cole Hamels and Jimmy Rollins, and mega-popular manager Charlie Manuel, and the Phillies Ballgirls, and all those people who made the wait worth it.
"I think it'll be a wonderful celebration," Phillies president Dave Montgomery said. "We're going to get our players to -- not literally, but figuratively -- touch as many fans as we can. They did that with the crowd after the game, and this is a great opportunity for players and fans to all share the celebration together. If winning 103 ballgames this year can create this much joy, it's marvelous."
It's like sunshine.
The Daily News printed 350,000 copies and it wasn't enough. A company spokesman said they were printing another 350,000 and delivering them today. The hostess at McFadden's, a restaurant and saloon that fronts Citizens Bank Park for 365-day business, said she collected a paper from each day this postseason and "now I am finally ready to create the greatest scrapbook ever."
Fans will have to pick and choose where to watch, bottom line. There will be an estimated one million fans participating in this greatly anticipated parade, and city officials urged everyone to use mass transit. They also emphasized that only so many people will fit into public transportation at one time, and Mayor Michael Nutter even suggested that people "take your patience pills." Hey, these people know all about patience. They waited since 1980 to win the World Series, waited 25 years for a major sports title, waited those remarkable 46 hours during the unprecedented game suspension due to horrible weather that intervened.
During the news conference Thursday, Nutter was told that this World Series would be remembered for that unprecedented delay and was asked if it actually helped the city plan for the parade and what this parade meant in the big picture. His response was a terse correction that brought applause from some in the news conference:
"I thought the Series was going to be known for the Phillies winning in five."
Home sweep home
The Phillies became just the fifth team in World Series history to clinch the Series by winning three games at home after a 1-1 start:
In other words, who cares how it happened? What was a little rain and wind? So what if Rollins couldn't even see that fly ball that dropped somewhere near him. So what if Hamels had to step aside and watch his teammates come through in the final three innings of the clincher. The sun came out again the next day.
For Phillies fans, talking about the big moment never gets old now. Each time, you could close your eyes and picture Lidge dropping to his knees, Ruiz coming out to hug him, and Howard bearing down like a Mack truck about to create an official dog pile. You wonder how Lidge is breathing down under that pile.
On the day after, it was like sunshine.
Mike Schmidt was talking about this celebration scene, remembering how it was when he and his Phillies teammates celebrated in 1980.
"I think it's all about love," Schmidt said. "All these men. When men are hugging men. You travel together, suffer together, conquer together, you reach the top of the mountain, you surely have some serious love for one another."
On the day after, you giggle to yourself at the thought of Utley, that professional model of consistency and even-keeled stoicism, circling around the clubhouse time after time, a couple of beers stuffed into his left rear pocket, sneaking up on teammates and spraying them with champagne, just loving the moment. He was like the playmaker in the champagne scene, in a sneaky way.
On the day after, you think about Howard's words: "Starve no more."
He said that to the whole Phillies fan base. It is their time now. It was their wave of humanity that consumed Broad Street into the postgame wildness, and the biggest crowd hasn't even started to form yet.
"It was the greatest night of my life," said a caller named Randy. "After the clincher, we heard all these people from Penn and Drexel come running down Market Street. We went down to Broad Street, and it was just great, strangers hugging strangers. I even saw a blind man with his cane walking down the street, and I gave him a hug."
There's a lot of love here. It's just starting to show now, because the sun finally came out, the Rays went home, and the warm feeling of a World Series championship made you even prouder to be a Phillies fan.
Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.