My wife is not a sports fan. This is a feature of our relationship and not a bug; it’s her job to make sure I don’t acquire too many sneakers or watch too many sports. My job is to make sure our house is not so full of plants it becomes The Little Shop of Horrors. And, obviously, our interests have slowly merged. She can now name multiple NFL quarterbacks whereas I know the name of the restaurant in Vanderpump Rules (SUR, which stands for Sexy Unique Restaurant).
But my wife does like to watch one sport: Baseball. She’s not scoring the game in the stands, but she can get pretty into it. On our third date she told me her favorite player as a child was Bobby Estalella. I knew him, too, as a Phillies player and one of the lesser players named in the Mitchell Report. That date went really well, though if she was a fan of Bobby Estalella I figured I should probably get back to the gym if I wanted things to work out.
Let’s not talk about how often I’ve been to the gym over the course of our relationship. Obviously it didn’t matter. And we have continued to enjoy baseball as a couple. We have attended many Phillies games together (they usually lose). We have been to multiple Reading Phillies games together (the Crazy Hot Dog Vendor is a highlight). On vacation this year, we went to the Giants opener (sadly I forgot my Darin Ruf Phillies shirsey). And honestly, it is in our blood. My uncle snuck into games at Veterans Stadium for years (you just paid a crooked usher a buck or two); her aunt snuck into Richie Ashburn’s funeral (I have the program).
Unfortunately, for most of our relationship the Phillies have been pretty bad. Even the wild highlights were just blips in seasons that were, in the end, relatively unsuccessful. As a Phillies fan the last few years, things just didn’t work out. The team didn’t even write me back when I emailed them worried about the kitten I saw outside their stadium. In my darkest moments watching this season, I may have accused the Phillies of killing that cat.
This year, we finally got to watch the Phillies in the postseason. I figured it might be a short run, but I was excited nonetheless. She got home from work just in time to watch the Phillies score six runs in the ninth to beat the Cardinals in the first wild card game. Things have gone pretty well from there; we’ve seen the Phillies lose just twice in the last two weeks. Now they’re in the World Series. When Bryce Harper homered to give the Phillies the win yesterday, we yelled so loudly our cat went sprinting up the stairs. Or maybe it was just me who yelled loudly.
I had the magic of being 18 and screaming at the Sixers in my parents’ basement and being 25 and living downtown when the Phillies won the World Series. I was at the Eagles’ Super Bowl win. Not to out myself as a big wife guy, but being 39 and watching with my wife is even better. Yesterday, she kept asking me what the latest news on a possible weather delay was. I didn’t even know she had the capacity to care about sports as much as a maniac like me. She has the Sports Fan Gene! This is like when I found out she also played Monkey Island as a kid.
And we’ve gotten to share our fandom with the ones we love, too, in the ways we best know how. My mom has already asked what celebratory merchandise we’d like. My dad and I were celebrating over both saying the Phillies were getting two runs in the eighth; you can thank us. Our friends got engaged on Saturday and the party turned into a celebration of the Phillies’ win, too—and they were OK with it! When we walked around last night to celebrate, we high-fived strangers on their porches and in the bars on Main Street. Some kids kept driving up and down the street in a pick-up truck beeping their horn. It was apparently even rowdier at the Dunkin’ Donuts. If only we’d thought to party there!
This is all very silly, of course. Almost as silly as caring about Jax lying to Stassi about what he did in Las Vegas. But it has been really, really fun. These idiots hit the ball with a bat and make me feel closer to the people in my life. I can only hope this keeps going.