Monday, September 19, 2011

On Success

We all know what success looks like or feels like.  The effusive warmth of accomplishment.  The buoyancy of being surrounded by well-wishers.  The energy of the celebration.

We all get a few such moments in our lives. Some of us get more moments than others.  Some of the moments are more ecstatic than others.  There's always a coming down after a success, a period of quiet, of withdrawal.  And, at least for me, of wondering.  Wondering when the next success will come or if that's it for a while.

Unless you're the Philadelphia Phillies of the last 5 years.

In which case, it's just one success after another, from winning the NL East 5 consecutive times, to having a parade, to signing the best rotation in baseball. 

image from www.flickr.com My baseball-crazy 11 year old son John wears #34 for his baseball team in honor of his favorite Phillie, Roy Halladay.  He got to witness in person the Phils clinching the NL East over the weekend.  It was his second time seeing it in person, the first being that magical Spetember 27th of 2008. 

I'm 41.  I've only seen them clinch in person once. 

Now thankfully the one I witnessed was with him in '08, but it led met to consider how my son thinks about the Phillies and approaches success in general.  In his memory, the Phillies have always been a winner.  There's always been Red October.  He's never known the disappointment of a baseball season that is over before the dog days of August.  I am not sure he's ever been to a Phils' game that wasn't sold out.

This run has almost ensured that John will be a Phillies fan for life.  The excitement, the passion of the city and region, the sheer joy of it all make it a certainty.  But what has it done to prepare him for the lean times that will most certainly come at some point? 

Since the stadium is packed every night and the streets of Philadelphia are flooded with red shirts and hats, it may not be for a while.  But one day this train will slow down.  A free agent will sign elsewhere.  One too many prospects will be traded away.  Reuben Amaro won't pull off the miracle trade deadline deal.  And Red October will fade.  How will this new generation of fans approach a team that is .500.  What will Citizens Bank Park feel like on a future September night when the home team is just playing out the string in front of 25,000 morose folks?

On a larger note, how has this unparalleled athletic success of the region's baseball team affected what young fans will accept as success in general.  Does it have to be straight A's, or is a C in the mix ok?  Does it have to be Ivy League, or is a state school ok?  Is rec league acceptable, or is it travel team or bust?

I'm just not sure.  But for now, it doesn't really matter.  The Phils are in the playoffs and (with the exception of the NBA season) Philly sports is in a pretty darn good place.  We can all live vicariously thought the exploits of men who make millions to play a game.  And for a few more weeks we can savor their success as our own.


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