When a team wins a championship, they pass out of the moment and into the ages.
Everything takes on a glow: the great players, their greatest moments. This year came with so many of them that we'll never forget--from the mad rally late against the Nationals to record their first win of the season, ending with a Jayson Werth walkoff walk, to the last evil Brad Lidge slider on a frigid October night: the freeze-frame shot that will stay with us forever.
Tonight was for redemptions large and small. Geoff Jenkins, in the last at-bat of a lamentable season, smashed a double off the top of the wall to bring a stadium back to life after two days of suspended animation. After Jimmy Rollins--whose face tonight bore the determination to end the team's 28-year title drought--bunted him over, Jayson Werth, another player looking to redeem himself after some series mistakes, knocked him in with a bloop fly to shallow center as Citizens Bank Park went nuts.
After the Rays tied it in the 7th--and nearly went ahead but for a spectacular play at the plate turned by Chase Utley and Carlos Ruiz--Pat Burrell, already redeemed from disappointing years earlier in his career, came up in the 8th looking for one hit in a World Series which he'd started 0-for-13. In perhaps his last at-bat with the team, Burrell blasted a double to left-center as the crowd roared again. Two batters later, pinch-runner Eric Bruntlett--one of the more unlikely World Series heroes--scored what turned out to be his second game-winning run of the Series, driven in by yet another redeemed player, Pedro Feliz.
J.C. Romero and Brad Lidge finished the job, Romero inducing a double-play ball from B.J. Upton to short-circuit a potential Tampa rally in the 8th. And Lidge, showing his filthy stuff, put the last touch on one of the greatest relief ace seasons ever with a scoreless ninth that ended when he struck out Eric Hinske, and started a Philadelphia party a quarter-century in the making. Cole Hamels, 4-0 in five postseason starts, is the World Series Most Valuable Player.
Perhaps the ultimate redemption is that of manager Charlie Manuel. Initially pilloried as an inarticulate fool who couldn't even call a double-switch, the 64 year-old West Virginia native proved himself an exceptional leader of men--and a canny late-game strategist whose every move paid off tonight. Good on you, Charlie. And thank you.
On behalf of my Good Phight compatriots, thank you for taking this incredible journey with us. We're deeply honored that you chose to spend this unforgettable night, this unforgettable season, with us.