As the anniversary of the Phillies’ 2008 World Series championship comes and goes, we’ve all got a lot of feelings. The Good Phight staff has put together some of favorite memories about the win and the immediate aftermath.
Tell us what you can remember about 2008 in the comments!
Justin Klugh: While still in Citizens Bank, post-win, listening to Harry Kalas talk from very far away, a cop started walking along the warning track, catching people rally towels, rubbing them in the dirt, and handing them back. I walked out of the stadium and to my left stood a legion of policemen on horseback as though the city were going to war. Somehow I wound up in Center City, where my girlfriend at the time was waiting. She called me out for reaching into the twelve-pack of beer she was holding before I even greeted her. And then, I’m pretty sure, but not totally sure, that I was nearby when that guy who climbed the traffic light took a glass bottle to the head from a throw that was a greater athletic achievement than anything that had happened during the actual World Series. I think about that man a lot, and would love to interview him, assuming he still has full control over his faculties.
Cole: My excitement for a study abroad opportunity was equal to the absolute heartbreak I felt while watching the Phillies win the World Series while I was living in London. My family still jokes about it, claiming that I have to leave the country again in order for the Phillies to win (Is it worth pointing out that I came back from living in Greece & the Flyers almost immediately lost the 2010 Stanley Cup finals? I digress).
When the wifi of our student house worked, I was able to email my parents and check scores but even if I had had the MLB.tv subscription, I can say with absolute certainty that it would have not have functioned properly. My room was in the basement of the house and I was lucky that the wifi reached it at all. For the NLCS, my brother tried just video-chatting with me on Skype and then turning his laptop towards the television. The quality was terrible and since my brother was 22 at the time, he would frequently just stick his head in front of the screen, defeating the entire purpose. <reminder for me to ask brother if I can insert screenshot of him doing this>
Then I got lucky. Somehow, I had traveled 3500 miles to live in a London basement with a girl who happened to be from Fox Chase. I quickly found out that she grew up barely five minutes from my own family in Bustleton. It was fate. She was just as, if not more, excited as I was. Then, we both lucked out. We heard a rumor from one of the upperclassman who lived in the house. “I think BBC2 is airing some of the games.” The TV we had in the basement only managed five channels but thank god BBC2 was standard and were able to watch the split Game 5.
Our logic, besides the both of us having class in the mornings and me not really ever enjoying bars, was that if we stayed in the house to watch the games, we’d be able to use our laptops to find a way to listen to Harry Kalas calling the game while watching the video feed on the TV. That didn’t happen though-- neither of us wanted to take our eyes off the television long enough to figure out which website had a radio feed.
Then it happened. Lidge was on his knees and so were the two of us. We screamed and woke up the whole house-- all thirty-some odd students that lived there. If you were a student living in that London house in the fall of 2008, I’m...actually not sorry at all. I ran upstairs and out of the basement to make sure I had a strong wifi signal. I called my brother, dad, and best friend on Skype, crying and holding my laptop to my chest. “Why did I pick THIS semester?” I remember just being ecstatic and furious all at once.
(It’s worth noting that fellow Good Phight contributor & former classmate of mine, TGK, decided to go to London for the spring semester instead of the fall. Clearly he knew what was up.)
There’s a screenshot still saved on my computer that’s timed 2:18 AM GMT and it’s just the ESPN homepage with ‘Phillies Reign’ as the headline. It was the background on my laptop for weeks after the game. My parents sent me a care package right away with Peanut Chews and a long sleeve 2008 Phillies World Series shirt that I don’t plan on ever throwing away. Sure, I wasn’t in the city for the game or the parade but hey, that means they’ll just have to win again while I’m here. Right? RIGHT??
dajafi: Game Three was emotionally draining: a multi-hour weather delay leading to a start time around 10pm, Jamie Moyer brilliantly dancing through the raindrops against a lineup better prepared to hit high-90s heat than 70s-80s precision slop, a blown bullpen lead, and Chooch’s massive 40 foot dribbler to win it shortly before 2am. Game Four--or at least the day around it--was physically draining, though arguably the best day of my life that didn’t involve a marriage or a child being born.
We had tickets, thanks to a Mets-fan friend who’d entered the playoff ticket lottery (I think at the point when he figured the Mets might be in it too; no dice, but he sold them to me at face), and in a fit of enthusiasm I bought us Eagles tickets for the 1pm game, figuring to make a Philly sports day of it. My wife and I borrowed the same friend’s car, left Brooklyn around 10am… and saw the car die on the Turnpike in South Jersey around noon. We arranged for it to be towed, made our way into town, and got to Lincoln Field around the end of the first quarter. The Eagles won, in one of Brian Westbrook’s last great games (167 rush yards, two TDs), and we went to Ralph’s for dinner with my family. We headed back to CBP, found our seats, and enjoyed the loudest live baseball I’ve ever experienced. The Phils, who had been abysmal with RISP all Series, finally broke through with a Feliz RBI single in the 3rd and a three-run Ryan Howard bomb, his first of two on the night, that gave them a 5-1 cushion in the fourth.
An inning later came what remains the single most unlikely baseball event I’ve ever witnessed: Joe Blanton’s solo homer. (I wrote more about this here.) From then on it was just a party, with my wife and my brother--at least until we found ourselves at the Greyhound station off Market Street, around 1am on Monday morning, waiting to head back to New York. All this effort somehow made it easier to wait out the multi-day Game Five experience still to come.
John Stolnis: I have been a Phillies fan, a devout Phillies fan, since 1985. That was just two years after they went to the World Series in 1983, but I didn’t know anything about that. I was just 8 years old, and that ‘85 team was my introduction to Philadelphia baseball. And despite the team being mediocre and the stadium being awful, I loved it. But until 1993, I had never experienced anything good. That summer, and watching my team in the postseason, was a dream come true. But ultimately, it ended with Paul Molitor and Joe Carter ripping our hearts out.
Which brings me to 2008. After getting burned like I did in 1993, and having only two Phillies teams ever make it to the postseason during my sports consciousness, I should not have been confident heading into the ‘08 playoffs. But from the very beginning things felt different.
After the Phils handled the Dodgers in the NLCS, and more importantly, after watching the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Boston Red Sox in the ALCS, I felt an unreal sense of calm and confidence heading into the World Series. I have never been, nor will I ever be again, as confident heading into a Philadelphia sports team’s championship round as I was when the Phillies were set to play the Rays. I had seen so many other Philly teams reach the finals and fail to come through. But when the Phillies got Tampa instead of Boston in the World Series that year, I KNEW they were going to win.
Everyone will remember Game 4, the Ryan Howard Game (a.k.a. The Joe Blanton Game) as well as the rain-split, multi-day clincher of Game 5. I’ll never forget watching that game with my wife in northern Virginia, on the phone with my buddies from Phily and ruining it for them when they heard me screaming for joy (apparently my feed was about 7 seconds ahead of theirs).
But it was Game 3 that turned the series. It had been really annoying to watch the Phillies struggle to hit with runners in scoring position in the first two games in Tampa. It seemed like every inning they had they Rays on the ropes but couldn’t deliver a knockout blow. Game 3 is always the most pivotal in a series that is tied at 1-1, and despite the continued struggles to hit with RISP, you just knew things were going to go their way when Jimmy Rollins was called safe at 3B after Evan Longoria clearly tagged him out in the 1st inning (instant replay wasn’t around then thank goodness).
The Phils scratched out a 2-1 lead. Jamie Moyer was pitching the game of his life. And then Chase Utley and Ryan Howard went back-to-back. Of course, Tampa crawled their way back into the game and eventually tied it in the 8th when B.J. Upton almost single-handedly got them their 4th run. It seemed like a miracle when, in the bottom of the 9th, J.P. Howell hit Eric freaking Bruntlett of all people to lead off the inning. Then the Phillies tried to GIVE the Rays an out with a sacrifice bunt, but Grant Balfour throws a wild pitch that sends Bruntlett to 2nd, and then Bruntlett gets to 3rd with no outs as the catcher threw the ball into center field to try and get him out.
The ball caromed so quickly off the backstop that Dioner Navarro actually thought he had a shot at Bruntlett. Now, the Rays had essentially handed the game to the Phillies. After two intentional walks loaded the bases with no outs, and the Rays brought in 5 infielders to go for the out at the plate, Carlos Ruiz hits the slowest little dribbler in the world and Evan Longoria botches the throw home to allow the Phillies to win Game 3.
Folks, THAT is when the series was won right there. Sure, Game 4’s party essentially sealed the deal, but I’ll always remember that Game 3 victory as the turning point of the 2008 World Series.
Smarty Jones: The first part of game five was an exercise in conflicting feelings. As the rain came down harder, part of me wanted them to postpone the game before the Rays inevitably scored. Part of me wanted the game to continue because if the game was postponed, that meant Cole Hamels would be out of the game, and I didn’t have that much confidence in any of the other starters.
I also wondered what would happen if the game was called. I was so desperate to watch a champion team that I would have accepted a rain-shortened default victory. On the other hand, I didn’t think it would really feel right if that long-desired championship came after hours of waiting, with Bud Selig finally throwing up his hands and saying, “I guess that’s it, you guys are the champs!”
When the game finally resumed on Wednesday, I could barely even think straight. The paranoid fan in me thought that this season was leading to Brad Lidge (who was perfect in save opportunities that year in case you hadn’t heard) blowing a save in the potential final game of the season. When Ben Zobrist hit a line drive to right field, I thought for sure that the game was tied. (It wasn’t.)
When Lidge got two strikes on Eric Hinske, I stood up and started clapping much like I always do in two out/two strike situations in the ninth. I don’t think anyone has ever clapped as nervously as I did then. I think I mumbled some desperate pleas for Lidge to just throw one more strike. I may have even prayed for just one more strike.
And then that strike came.
David S. Cohen: Games 5A and 5B of the World Series will forever be written in stone in my memory. It was a bizarre end to an incredible year, and I had the pleasure/luck of being at CBP for both of those nights.
But probably even more memorable than the actual game was what I did after game 5B. I live in South Philly, so the quickest way for me to get to/from the stadium complex is by bike. It takes less than 15 minutes to get from my front door to being in line waiting to get into the stadium. Just because this was the night that the Phillies were hopefully going to win the World Series for the first time in almost three decades didn’t change that, so I biked to the stadium as usual.
Going home was anything but usual. Rather than take my normal route north on 9th or 7th Street after the game, I decided I’d go into the thick of the celebration, so I biked home on Broad Street. That ride was incredible. I was biking into the belly of the Philly beast, but it was a glorious, happy, thrilling beast. There were many high fives, lots of screaming, crazy loads of people on cars (both driving and parked), dancing on the sidewalks, fires in trash cans, people covered in Phillies gear and without clothes, people marching through the middle of the street, cops letting everyone have fun. The energy was intensely positive, and riding north on Broad felt like it was all happening right around me. That night was Philadelphia at its best.
I did the same thing earlier this year after the Eagles beat the Vikings to advance to the Super Bowl. That ride up Broad Street was even crazier than after the Phillies win. But the Phillies post-win bike ride was the first, and I’ll never forget that night.
Phrozen: As many of you know, I live somewhat far from Philadelphia, and in 2008, it had been probably twelve years since I’d been there at all, let a lone a game. So naturally it was high time I went--and within ten minutes of the last out in the NLCS, I was booking a trip. Plan was to be there for Games Three, Four and Five, flying home the following day.
Game Three I watched from McFadden’s, which was excellent--I hadn’t been able to find a game ticket in time. By probably the sixth inning, the bartenders stopped asking for money. When Eric Bruntlett scored the final run, the building roared and shook a full few seconds before Fox showed the run itself. It was eerie.
For Game Four I had an actual seat. It was the first time I’d been to CBP, obviously, and it was great. Joe Blanton’s home run remains probably my favorite individual play I’ve ever seen live.
For Game Five I also had a seat---I think it was about $700 on Stubhub. I sat in the rain for four and a half innings and then for another hour or so before they made me leave. The 50% of the game I saw was great, but I needed more. As soon as it was called, I went to try and change my trip. No flights for like a week. No hotel rooms at all. WTF. I didn’t really know anyone in the City by this point; my family had nearly all left and I was mostly a lurker online.
So I went home, and watched the game on Fox with WPHT audio. And the silver lining is that I got to hear Harry Kalas call the final outs live. But at least I was there for part of it.