By the skin of their teeth, the Phillies beat the Nationals tonight 4-3. Aaron Nola was brilliant for 7.2 innings, allowing just one run on five hits, with two walks and eight strikeouts. He had a few issues here and there, but he worked through them like an ace does. I watch him and I get butterflies, wondering how long he can pitch in a game and how he’ll do it. He’s the best, and watching him grow over these last few years has been such a joy.
Rhys Hoskins scored the difference-maker in this game. The first two runs were scored on a single and a sacrifice fly, but the real thrill came in the bottom of the seventh. With Cesar Hernandez on first base, Hoskins
I want to take a paragraph or two and talk about my Grandpop. He died peacefully this morning, one month shy of his 89th birthday. I don’t know much about his parents, other than they were both German immigrants. So I consider my Grandpop our family’s first Phillies fan. He grew up in Philadelphia, and told me he went to high school across the street from Connie Mack Stadium. He was the photographer for the football team, which practiced over at Connie Mack. He got to go over there and take pictures and see the players. He fought in Korea, and before he left to fight, he had just a week to teach my Grandmother how to drive.
It wasn’t until I was grown up that I realized what my very routine-loving grandparents sacrificed when me and my sisters visited every summer. During the three or four days we were there while my parents got some much-needed alone time, they never watched the Phillies. We weren’t into sports, and they didn’t force them on us. They let us watch TGIF and Snick, while we played with 1960s Barbies and looked at 80s wrestling magazines and old Wacky Packs.
My Grandpop suffered a stroke a few years ago. It robbed him of his ability to speak easily, but he was still active and sharp. He and my Grandmom still watched the Phillies every day, and at Christmas they’d gotten a brand new giant television to replace the old, tiny deal they’d had forever. But he’d been in the hospital after having sudden major surgery a few months ago. His major complaint? The hospital didn’t get NBCSPhilly, so he couldn’t watch the Phillies. He was moved into hospice a few weeks ago, and they got NBCSPhilly. The last game he saw was the series finale against the Yankees, and I’m glad that’s the last game he saw. And I’m glad they won tonight. It’s the kind of win he’d seen so many of during his lifetime. (Well, maybe not SO many. He was a Phillies fan, after all.) It was close, gritty, full of little frustrations, but all in the service of a victory.
I’ll miss him.