Here's a portion:
The clock had ticked to the edge of midnight on the Night the Phillies Won the World Series. The clubhouse of the champs had finally grown quiet. The champagne-soaked plastic sheets had been ripped off the lockers, and the emptied bottles of Domaine Ste. Michelle had been tossed into America's most overloaded recycling bins.
And Jimmy Rollins, the visionary who had once imagined this scene in his brain long before the rest of civilization, was getting ready to burst out into the night, the craziest Philadelphia night of his lifetime. Except before he could slip out the locker-room door, he ran headlong into … me.
I'd known him longer than just about any player in that room. I'd known him since he first showed up in Philadelphia -- all 5'8", 165 pounds of him -- in September 2000, at age 21, for the final weeks of another lost journey to the bottom of the standings.We'd shared a thousand conversations and a thousand baseball moments over those last eight years, but we'd never shared this. The Phillies -- his Phillies -- were heading for the parade floats. And Jimmy Rollins, a man never at a loss for words, was still trying to grasp the life-changing immensity of what had just happened.
"I can't even understand it right now," he said. "I can't do it."
So I tried to help.We began to talk about what was already happening beyond those ballpark walls, in this town he played baseball in, in this town I'd lived in most of my life. For years, for decades, these people had been so consumed by the accumulation of all this frustration that kept swallowing them whole, it was almost as if they woke up every morning and thought, Who can I boo today? And now, already, they were different: transformed, liberated. After a quarter-century of waiting for a team like this to end their torment, that team had finally arrived. This team. Jimmy Rollins' team.
"You realize," I told him, "you've set all these people free."
"Prison break, huh?" he quipped.
Right; prison break. After 25 years of heartbreak, 25 years of neverending misery inflicted by four star-crossed teams in four professional sports, these people had finally tunneled their way out of their excruciating sports torture chamber. This was their first chance to bask in a title -- any kind of title, in any of those sports -- since Moses Malone's 1982-83 76ers, a team that existed 25 years and more than 9,000 games deep in their rearview mirror.And leading the way to that title was -- how did this happen? -- the local baseball team. The losingest team in North American sports history. The team whose claim to fame was dragging about 87 generations of Philadelphians through one agonizing season after another. This, for years, had been the team these people had the least faith in. So how amazing was it that this was the team that had finally set them free?