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Who’s ready to get hurt again?

It’s time to move past the heartbreak and enjoy another season

MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at St. Louis Cardinals
We shall endure times both good and bad
Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

I am a fan of both the Philadelphia Phillies and Philadelphia Eagles, and if you had told me a year ago that those teams would play in the World Series and Super Bowl, I would have probably been really excited. The Phillies hadn’t made the playoffs in ten years, so to not only get to the postseason, but to make it all the way to the final round? Sounds amazing! As for the Eagles, yes, they were coming off a playoff season, but there were still a lot of questions about the quarterback, and as of March 2022, the roster didn’t look like it was championship caliber. To hear that they’d make the Super Bowl, I’d think I was in for a magical ride.

I don’t want to say it wasn’t great to have both the Phillies and Eagles play for championships. I’ll always take a season in which my team plays for the championship over one in which it doesn’t. But it was considerably less great to watch them both fall short in the final round. (I do not follow the Union, but I sympathize with their fans who got a bonus serving of championship disappointment)

For whatever its worth, I’d rate the World Series loss as less soul crushing than the Super Bowl. After the Phillies beat the Cardinals in the Wild Card series, there was a sense of “playing with house money” (or Dayenu for my Jewish readers about to celebrate Passover) in that the season was already a success. While that feeling diminished somewhat once they got two wins away from a parade, it’s hard to be too crushed by the loss considering the Astros were probably the better team. On the other hand, the Eagles were favored and probably should have won their game.

As a fan, how do you rebound from that? How do you bring yourself to get excited about a new season when you’ve just had your hopes of a championship snatched away not once, but twice?

For me, it definitely makes it a little harder to care about the regular season, because let’s face it: After losing the World Series, there’s really only one outcome for the 2023 Phillies that wouldn’t be viewed as disappointing at some level. I realize I shouldn’t take a playoff berth for granted considering how long the Phillies went between them, but I can’t help but feel like this team is too talented not to at least capture a Wild Card berth. A division title would be swell and all, but as the 2022 playoffs showed us, seeding isn’t nearly as important as simply making the field.

I will assuredly change my tune if it’s July and the Phillies are struggling, and a playoff berth looks anything but assured. And really, I shouldn’t have this mindset at all. I’ve seen so few championship seasons in my life as a sports fan, that if that’s the only way that a season can be a success, that means almost the entirety of my existence as a sports fan has been a failure.

For those who are fans of Stephen King, I think about what he wrote before the final chapter of the Dark Tower series. He said that if the readers were too focused on what would happen at the end of the book, then they missed the true magic which was the journey to get there.

Celebrities Visit Univision’s “Despierta America”
For both the Gunslinger and sports fans, the journey never truly ends
Photo by Alexander Tamargo/WireImage

That book actually serves as a good metaphor for life as a sports fan. (Spoiler alert for a book that’s almost 20 years old) The Gunslinger completes his harrowing journey only to find himself back at the start of it, forced to carry out the process on an endless loop. And isn’t that kind of how life as a sports fan goes? One season ends, and shortly enough, a new one begins, full of challenges and obstacles that may be similar to the previous one, but will have its own unique challenges, triumphs, and failures.

I’ve gotten far off track here, so I’ll conclude with this: Yes, the Phillies are talented enough to win a World Series. But it’s still an unlikely outcome. So instead of worrying too much about what’s going to happen at the end, and guarding against the inevitable heartbreak, I’m going to try to enjoy this talented team as they embark on what should be a fun season.