Phillies, Eagles gave us a classic fall sports week
Rhys Hoskins spiking that bat.
It’s the newest entry in my top 25 Phillies moments of all time.
What resonates with the fan base is the fact that Kyle Schwarber was intentionally walked to get to Hoskins. Philadelphia fans, who have a perpetual chip on their shoulder about, well, everything—they could relate. When Hoskins crushed that three-run homer and spiked that bat, the fans erupted.
You know what they were thinking?
They were thinking: That’s right, Rhys. Make him pay.
Moments like that in sports and in life are few are far between indeed. When they happen, they aren’t just celebrated. They are seared into our collective memory.
Remember when the ball bounced out of Bob Boone’s glove and into Pete “Charlie Hustle” Rose’s glove for the second-to-last out of the 1980 World Series?
Do you remember what Rose did right after he caught that ball?
He bounced it on the hard turf of Veterans Stadium back to himself, then tossed it to the late, great Tug McGraw.
Like I said, moments like that are seared on a Philly sports fan’s brain.
These Phillies of today are a buzzsaw, tearing through teams like the Atlanta Braves, a team that had a much lustier regular-season record. It didn’t matter. Now the Phillies are in the NLCS, facing a Padres team that is chasing a destiny of its own.
There are plenty of on-the-field reasons to like the Phils. Look in the dugout and the clubhouse for the intangibles. They’re loose because the manager, Rob Thomson, has them that way. It’s telling that people barely speak of former manager Joe Girardi. If you took a poll of the roster today, I don’t think many players would question the managerial change from earlier this season.
Like I said, they’re loose. In baseball, perhaps more than any other sport, that’s so important. Phillies teams that sing along with a certain song do well. The 1980 team had that Philadelphia sound courtesy of McFadden and Whitehead: “Ain’t No Stoppin Us Now.” The 1993 Phils had the Spin Doctors: “Two Princes.” I don’t remember if 2008 had a song, but they won it all, so who cares?
The 2022 Phillies celebrate to the tune of “Dancing On My Own” in the locker room. Commentators on television have questioned whether the song fits. It kind of does, if you figure the Phillies aren’t the team anyone picked to do this well in the postseason.
But again, who cares if the song fits or not, if they keep winning? As far as I’m concerned, the players can sing the “Scooby Doo” theme song in the locker room after each win, just so it leads to a championship.
As for the Eagles, who came into “Dallas Week” 5-0 and left it 6-0, what can we say except the excitement this season has already brought us is making the team the perfect complement to the Phillies. Add in the Flyers, Sixers and Union and it’s not just a Red October—Philadelphia has a whole fleet of teams in the sports ocean—and the Phillies and Eagles are the flagships of the fleet.
Across the Delaware Valley, including southern New Jersey, southeastern Pennsylvania and all of Delaware, the televisions and radios and tablets and cell phones are all playing the games of the latest generation of Philly athletes. These are the stars of today, with names like Harper, Hurts, Embiid, Hart and Blake. The fans of today have more teams than ever to follow, but they follow them with the same passion as the decades of fans before them.
You’ll see them in the bars in South Philly, at house parties in Hammonton, tailgating in the parking lots before the games at Citizens Bank Park and Lincoln Financial Field. They’ll have the gear on: the midnight green or the Kelly green of the Birds, the red pinstripes or the powder blue of the Phils, the black and orange of the Flyers, the red, white and blue of the Sixers and the navy blue, gold and signal blue of the Union.
As the Fightins’ discovered, Phillies fans “showed out” in a big way. They say the crowd was deafening while J.T. Realmuto rounded the bases for that inside-the-park homerun in Game 4 of the NLDS. You could hear it through the TV screen at home. Everyone’s having fun with the local major league sports teams this fall.
This is your moment, Philly teams and fans.
Savor it, because it feels like there ain’t no stopping us now.
Gabriel J. Donio is the publisher of The Hammonton Gazette.