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OK, I took it on the chin on my last time out in this space.
I said my Philadelphia Eagles were going to beat the Green Bay Packers in the NFL playoffs, and we all know how that one worked out.
So go ahead, let me have it. Get it out of your system.
But it's hard for me to feel bad too much longer. I mean, it's a good time to be a Philadelphian. The Flyers are at the top of the standings. The 76ers are returning to the playoffs. With spring training wrapping up, Vegas has tabbed the Phillies as the World Series favorite. And believe me, this ain't a year to pick the underdog.
The Phils didn't have much room for improvement after the 2010 season -- my boys won a league-leading 97 games, and even though we didn't get it done in the playoffs, the 2011 campaign was looking pretty good. But then, something happened -- something so nasty it could only happen in Yankee Stadium. During the ALCS playoffs, with Cliff Lee facing the Yankees, New York fans spat on the ace pitcher's wife, and doused her with beer to boot.
Two months later, when the former Cy Young Award winner had to choose between the Evil Empire and his beloved Phillies squad, is it really a surprise he decided to come back to Tastykake Town? And now that he's back, will anyone be surprised when the World Series trophy comes back to South Philly?
It doesn't take a Phanatic to see what we're packing. Our rotation is the best in history. Period. Lee is a playoff dynamo. Roy Halladay is a virtual lock for 20 wins now that Toronto is firmly in his rearview (the Canadian exchange rate has always sucked). Roy Oswalt is bringing country strong to the City of Brotherly Love. And Cole Hamels is a World Series MVP who has added a nasty cutter to go with his stunning smile. (What? Don't make this awkward.) Seriously though, you could plug me into that last rotation slot, and we'd still cruise to the playoffs.
But the Phils are more than just a four-headed pitching monster. We've got the bats to back it up.
Let's start with the big man: Ryan Howard. The dude is the best pure power hitter in the game. Last season, he clubbed 31 dingers and 108 RBIs -- and that was an off year. Now, with a fat contract and a skinny little Victoria's Secret model to come home to (Selita Ebanks, Google her), our clean-up guy is going to be capital-D Dirty.
Protecting Captain Big Bat are another pair of blue-collar studs, Chase Utley and Raul Ibanez. These guys grind it out everyday like their lives depend on it -- they fit right into the hustle mentality of our city. And they don't need steroids to get it done. Chase is battling knee problems, but give him some Tylenol and a cheesesteak (whiz wit', baby) and he'll be good to go by Opening Day. And Raul may have had a down season in 2010, but he'll take a cheek full of chaw over human growth hormone every day of the week.
Throw in a full year out of sneaky little J-Roll out at short, the Flyin' Hawaiian in center, and Placido Polanco at the hot corner, and you've got one of the stronger lineups in the National League.
In Philly, we like our star athletes to come in two breeds: crazy (see Iverson, Allen) and chip on their shoulder (see Vick, Michael). The 2011 Phils are a nice mishmash of both types. And we've got the perfect manager to keep them in check: the old country boy, Charlie Manuel. Despite the fact he sounds like Foghorn Leghorn, Cholly is a true pro -- the guy knows when to step in and manage, and when to let the players play. The odds he lets the Phillies down are about the same as the chances he joins Howard's girl in the next issue of Victoria's Secret.
By now it should be clear we've got the personnel to win it all. But what really makes this franchise special is the fans. The Philly phaithful are a special breed. There are the Center City lawyer types, who wear suits by day and red body paint by night. Then there are the people you might find encounter on the SEPTA mumbling to themselves and yelling at the driver about John Kruk and Greg Luzinski -- consider yours truly a part of this group.
We're the guys who bring the energy up at Citizens Bank, sending Mets fans running back to Queens with their tails between their legs. Us true fans subside on Schmitters and unshelled peanuts, and have been known to down multiple beers over the course of a single urination.
So come October, when Citizens Bank Park is rocking, the blue-collar boppers are raking, and the best foursome since the Beatles is mowing down the opposition, just remember: It all started with a loogie.
Comedic actor Jamie Kennedy is a Philadelphia native and is writing an occasional column for ESPN.com. His DVD, "Jamie Kennedy Uncomfortable," is available on amazon.com and iTunes.
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