As some of you may have seen, I’ve been away from the site for a week. And during the week absence I came to some conclusions about my future; in prioritizing my life, I have realized writing at Phillies Nation can no longer be a priority.
So this is my farewell.
My very first post at Phillies Nation came Dec. 17, 2007. In the post, I wrote about how the Phillies needed to take charge in the 2008 season:
The Phils are rumored to be close to signing Geoff Jenkins. That’s a start. There are still pitching holes to solve. They must grab another starter and a back-end reliever. If it takes Carlos Carrasco and Josh Outman, so be it. Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins are in their absolute primes. Cole Hamels is a stud. Brett Myers will likely put up good numbers. There’s enough of a supporting cast to carry these guys to 85 wins again, but they need the three pieces left to get them to 95.
Ownership frugality aside, there’s potential for the Phillies to run away with the city’s heart. Now is the time. Front office — you’re the best team in the city. You won. Now go for the jugular.
Who knew my fist-out proclamation would show true less than a year later? I had written at a previous blog that the 2008 Phillies had the opportunity to accomplish special goals, but did I really believe it then? Did any of us really believe that team’s capabilities? Heck, I didn’t completely believe it in September 2008. Deep inside, we’re all skeptics.
After that initial post I struggled to find a voice. I bashed the team’s signing of So Taguchi (in retrospect, kudos to me) and wrote a horrible breakdown of the Durbin signing. It took some time, but I found a groove that I rode for quite a while. I visited Clearwater for the first time, really immersing myself in my love of the Phillies.
Then tragedy struck.
I’ll never forget the outpouring of well wishes and thoughts I received after losing my home to an apartment fire in April 2008. During that trying time, the Phillies were my crutch, and you all were my eyes and ears. That’s when I learned the true value of Phillies Nation — that no matter what, people were behind you, looking out for you. That feeling rose as the Phillies made their annual late-season run, accentuated by our bus trip during Labor Day 2008. The Nation was growing, both literally and figuratively. And in a whirl, the Phils were division champions, then league champions. Then world champions.
Often I scroll back at the posts I wrote during that cherished run of October 2008. I poured a lot into my writing then, trying desperately to summarize my feelings — and the feelings of the Nation — in small swatches of text. I’d like to believe I had some success bridging words to emotions, and I hope you readers felt what I was attempting to convey.
I remember my nerves during the two parts of game five: Telling everyone “This is the night” on Oct. 29, 2008 was difficult — even when the Phillies were 3.5 innings from a championship, I struggled to be certain. As always, I felt skeptical. But I knew, for the Nation, I had to put on my game face. There were many times I put on my game face, just for the Nation.
I remember the victory itself, leaping and shrieking, calling my father and crying loudly. There was no feeling quite like that in my life. And I bet that if I didn’t follow the team urgently throughout the 2008 season, I wouldn’t have felt that incredible. Sure I would’ve leaped and shrieked, but I wouldn’t have felt a part of something bigger, of a cause that meant more than just sheer fandom.
I remember the parade — the culmination of our work as fans. I most remember the perfectly beautiful weather — 73 degrees, sunshine without a cloud in the sky. People as far as the eye could see clad in red. Smiles on everyone’s faces. Bells, applause, whistles, screams. I trekked on foot from 30th Street Station to the sports complex, absorbing every smiling face and wide eye. Some of these people had been fans for five minutes. Some had been fans for 50 years. And I felt like a part of each one — truly, it was a Phillies Nation.
Since that parade we’ve gone through the same annual emotions: Hope, determination, pride, anger, resentment, disappointment. We question a team that has already proven its mettle, merely because we can, merely because we are fans. As long as they make millions, we can say whatever we will. And that’s the freedom of the fan; it’s what makes Philadelphians a cut aside the rest. We’re brash, we’re direct, we’re furiously passionate.
Since Dec. 17, 2007 I’ve played the role of passionate fan very seriously. In a way, I’ve represented the fan. That came to fruition with a television appearance on a Mets pregame show. But since that moment, my thoughts have led me to this script.
Is there a future in sports blogging? Sure, and hundreds of scribes have cashed their independent blogging efforts into full glory. But that’s not my future. And I have come to grips with that reality.
But I will always be a Phillies fan. I will always root loudly for the team that has gripped my hand since I was a very small child. I will attend games and opine about the state of the team, and I will lurk and possibly comment once in a while. I will always be a Phillies fan.
So thank you. Thank you for giving — your eyes, your time and your fandom to my words. I appreciate it more than you’ll ever know. Keep reading Phillies Nation, keep rooting for the Phils and keep being the best fans in baseball.