November 2008

Ah, so this is what all the fuss is about?

Utley, edited: World [Series] champions!

PHILADELPHIA — In a scripted family movie or at Disney World, Chase Utley would have said it differently.

But this was the culmination of more than four hours of celebration on the streets of Philadelphia, on a beautiful blue-sky day in South Philly, at the loudest place on Earth, in front of fans who’d waited for a moment like this for more than two decades. His uneditable words on Friday afternoon, heard by all in real time, evoked the passion of the people who pack the sports bars and work in the city where he plays.

Vince Vaughn had a line in a film called “Old School,” one where he instructed his young son to cover his ears when the language would not be appropriate for kids. That might have come in handy on Friday. Didn’t happen. And in the spotlight of spontanaeity and the roar of an adoring audience, Utley let it fly.

The eighth player to take the microphone during the Citizens Bank Park celebration to honor the 2008 World Series champions, Utley opened with the declaration: “World champions!”

Pausing, he turned to some teammates, then, showing a sense of awe and an out-of-body cheesesteak grin, he added: “World [Phlippin’] champions!” Inserted in the middle was a term previously reserved for long-suffering Red Sox fans when they’d assign a middle name to hated Yankees Aaron Boone or Bucky Dent.

Many in the crowd gave thunderous approval, putting aside the live TV, Internet and radio challenges. It was immediately apparent that we had a toothpaste-out-of-the-tube moment. There was no rewind button. Players doubled-over in laughter and clapped their hands, knowing this was a time where cutting up might not result in detention. Jayson Werth stood and raised his arms in jubilation.

The boys were being boys. “They said they wanted short and sweet,” Utley said. “That was short and sweet.”

Well, short at least.

One of the team’s most popular players, Utley, albeit in a choice of words more fitting for National Lampoon than a world champion National Leaguer, expressed his delight to undeniable approval. What he belted out, leading to various network apologies, represented what somehow was not only OK, but mood-capturing and unforgettable. It was a season that saw this team go 24-6 in its final 30 games, including 11-3 in the postseason. They did it. They stinkin’ did it. See?

Even Jimmy Rollins, who can crystallize any situation, was at a loss for words.

“Honestly, I don’t know how to follow up Chase,” he said. “I wasn’t stunned. I didn’t expect it, not in this environment. Everybody knows Chase’s personality. Chase finds a way to steal the show.”

“He may be a man of few words, but in those few words, he has a knack for getting his point across,” Greg Dobbs said. “As brash as it seems, it was fitting. That’s how we all felt. He just kind of let that out.”

Manager Charlie Manuel played down Utley’s comment.

“Chase is good, real good,” Manuel said. “That’s a common word anymore. … That’s not that bad, is it?”

Uh, he said that knowing Utley had overstepped somewhat.

Cole Hamels acknowledged some may want some kind of apology, but he said it is what it is, a party atmosphere line. Hamels was glad for his teammate’s expression of pure emotion.

“Pardon his French,” Hamels said. “And we are world champions.”

That’s two words: world champions. (H/T Phillies.com)

And Chase shows that he’s human after all. Okay folks, a show of hands, how many of you have never used the f-word for any reason? I didn’t think so. Let just get over it please, thank you.

And yet even more on the parade via Phillies.com.

Phillies fans pack parade route

World Series heroes the center of attention in Philadelphia

When there was no more room, Phillies fans clustered onto staircases, balanced themselves on top of trash cans and even perched on tree limbs.

Complete Coverage

The youngest among them had never seen anything quite like this. The older fans had witnessed it once, but received no assurance that it would grace this town again.

Their ecstatic cheers melded with the rumbling trucks, blaring horns and clomping of horses hooves for two glorious hours on Friday afternoon. The attention of an entire city zeroed in on the 2008 Phillies, as they marched from 20th and Market Streets to the South Philadelphia Sports Complex for the second time, and the first time since 1980.

“There’s Blanton!” screamed an overjoyed young fan, pointing toward the truck that carried Phillies pitcher Joe Blanton, a July trade acquisition. “Blannnntonnnnn!”

In the middle of Passyunk Avenue, another fan squeezed a cell phone against his ear, yelling as loud as he could the name of each player he saw pass by: “Jamie Moyer, Greg Dobbs, Jimmy Rollins.”

Robert Grant, a 21-year-old college student, leaned up against a tree to get a better view as the parade neared his spot at the corner of Broad and Wharton Streets. A student at Philadelphia University, Grant was scheduled to be in Japanese class Friday afternoon.

So much for that. Class was canceled.

“That was all the motivation I needed,” he said. “I don’t think anybody was going to show up today. So I said, ‘Forget it.’ I might as well be down here. It’s 28 years since this happened. Might as well come on down.”

Police officers manned metal barricades, turning around with bright smiles and misty eyes when the parade neared their respective spots. Some even pulled out cameras to capture the occasion.

Mike Kean, a Delaware County resident, ducked out of work early as a 23-year-old to see the Phillies’ World Series championship parade in 1980. Now 51, Kean did the exact same thing on Friday afternoon to attend this year’s parade with his wife.

“This is better,” Kean said, standing on a staircase on Broad Street. “It’s more crowded, for one thing. It’s just amazing. It’s an amazing outpouring of love by the city.”

Perfect strangers exchanged high-fives, hugs and excited cheers. Fans sprayed miles of silly string into the air, while others shot champagne off balconies.

No one seemed to mind.

“It’s all right here,” said Matthew Schuh, a fan who lives on Broad Street. “All morning, it’s been great — ever since they started playing in the playoffs, Broad Street has been a fun place to be.”

Many fans thought of creative ways to show their support — there was a homemade World Series trophy, a gigantic cardboard Phillies “P,” colorful wigs, face-paint and capes.

Standing in front of a funeral home owned by her brother, Annamarie Stolfo pointed toward a sign in the window that read: “R.I.P Rays.” In front of her was a bouquet of red and white flowers that she intended to present to manager Charlie Manuel and the rest of the team.

“Red and white is for the Phillies,” Stolfo explained. “And Charlie is the man!”

Even a non-Phillies fan, 26-year-old Jason Solinsky, was able to appreciate the scene.

Solinsky grew up in Connecticut, then Vermont, and donned a Buffalo Bills cap as he stood perched on top of a railing, watching the parade.

When Solinsky saw the players pass by and heard the symphony of blaring horns, clomping hooves and cheering Phillies fans, however, he cracked a wide smile.

“It’s cool to see so many people united over one thing,” he said. “They needed something to appreciate.” (H/T Phillies.com)

Don’t you just wish that this would never end?

And even more on the parade, courtesy of Phillies.com.

Phillies ‘amazed’ by scene at parade

Free-agent-to-be Burrell leads spirited ride down Broad Street

The cargo, Pat Burrell, his wife Michelle and Elvis, the 125-pound English bulldog, who has become the team’s unofficial mascot (Sorry, Phanatic), rumbled through a red sea of euphoric Phillies fans.

Complete Coverage

With hair slicked back and dressed in jeans, black shoes, a black coat and sunglasses, Burrell appeared as cool as his on-field persona.

Except for his constant state of smile.

“We did it! We finally did it, didn’t we?” Burrell told an appreciative Citizens Bank Park crowd. “None of this would have been possible without you guys, and I want to thank you guys so much for the support over the years. You made this whole thing possible. I think you guys know how important this was for me, being here as long as I have.”

Fans who lined the streets chanted “Stay, Pat, Stay!”, “Re-Sign Pat!” and “Pat the Bat!” every chance they got. Up front and up high next to the reins, he must have stood up to acknowledge the crowd at least 200 times during the four-mile parade route that took nearly 3 1/2 hours to complete.

Symbolically, Burrell’s appearance at the front of the processional meant plenty to Burrell, the team’s longest-tenured player. He arrived during the 2000 season.

“I’m sure he was elated by the way the Phillies, the way the city handled everything,” starter Brett Myers said. “That was unbelievable. [But he was up front] because of his dog. Somebody said he was going to ride with Elvis because he was at every home game, and we didn’t lose at home in the playoffs. A lot of credit goes to Elvis for slobbering on us. He was our good-luck charm.”

While it’s possible that Burrell has played his final game with the Phillies — meaning the free-agent-to-be’s last hit was a seventh-inning double that set up the winning run in Game 5 — Burrell didn’t speak after the celebration, leaving Friday to be about the party.

And it was quite a party, from the moment Burrell’s carriage rolled from City Hall.

“The greatest thing I ever seen in my life, and I’ll always remember it,” said manager Charlie Manuel, who was dressed in a navy blue, pinstripe suit.

Earlier, he hoisted the World Series trophy, and later he waved to fans from one of the team’s eight flatbed trucks. The city’s first sports title parade in 25 years — 28 years for the Phillies — was a constant wall of sound.

Harry Kalas’ call of the final out could be heard throughout, as well as Queen’s “We Are the Champions,” Elton John’s “Philadelphia Freedom,” and Bobby Burnett’s “Goin’ Back to Philadelphia, PA.”

People were everywhere, in windows, trees and rooftops, and no one got tired of yelling, screaming or waving. Center fielder Shane Victorino tossed soft pretzels to the crowd while shortstop Jimmy Rollins turned his hand-held video camera on the crowd.

“I was amazed,” Rollins said. “There were people on [Route] 76 just hanging out, I’m like, ‘This is dangerous.’ People acting like Spider-Man climbing on light pole. I saw a guy stretched on the side of the building, with a beer in his hand. They’ve been wanting this for a long time. You know when your ears start hurting because you’re trying to think about what to do, but you can’t think because your ears hurt? That’s what it was like. I wasn’t even yelling, I was just barely talking [to teammates on the float] and my voice is gone.”

When his voice got hoarse, Rollins’ mother, Gigi Rollins, suggested simply waving, but Rollins said his “shoulders were tired. It was great. It was an ocean of people and there was never a dull moment. People just kept giving you energy, so you couldn’t stop smiling and you couldn’t stop waving.”

Rollins didn’t and neither did any of his teammates.

World Series MVP Cole Hamels tried to fist-bump a fan dressed like Philly’s favorite fictional boxer, Rocky Balboa, but authorities intervened before they finished. Victorino enjoyed “encouraging” fans to climb poles. The surging crowds flooded the streets at some points, leaving barely enough room for trucks and their police escorts.

“Everybody is celebrating for the right cause and that’s good that a city can do that together,” said veteran pitcher Jamie Moyer, who attended the 1980 World Series parade as a fan. “This time, I took it all in. Seeing this parade from start to finish brought tears to my eyes.” (Phillies.com)

Thanks for the parade, guys, and glad to hear that you’d enjoyed it as much as we, the fans, did. And Pat, do everything you can to stay here.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.