97: Number of years before they won their first title.
28: Number of years before they won their second title.
10,162: Number of losses.
Yes, I have been fortunate enough to have witnessed BOTH of my team's only two World Series titles in 127 years. But in-between 1980 and 2008, there was the losing.
Lots of losing. Oh yeah, I remember Mike Schmidt and Pete Rose and Steve Carlton. But I also remember Rick Schu and Scott Servais and Andy Ashby. I've seen a franchise let the talents of Curt Schilling and Scott Rolen waste away, only to be traded for Omar Daal, Travis Lee, and a sack of magic beans. Oh sure, there was that one brief magical summer of '93; where for one moment anyway, my team was America's Team. A bunch of misfits and throwbacks fighting battle against those invading Canadians.
But they are what they are, the losingest team in the history of major professional sports. And dammit, they're my team.
You have no idea what loss is unless you're from around here. You have no idea to pine for something, something as important to say, if only for one year, that your city and your team is the best.
I come from a unique place. At one time we were the second most important city in the English-speaking world -- the largest in the Western Hemisphere. We were the political, cultural, and financial capital of the New World. We gave you both the Declaration of Independence AND the Constitution.
Ben Franklin lived here.
The political capital moved south to a rancid cesspool of a city that I can not wait to escape from. Chestnut Street was replaced by Wall Street. We now look to a plastic city in the middle of a desert for our culture. All along the Boston-New York-Washington Power Axis, we've been forgotten. (How many sitcoms have been set in Philadelphia? How many in New York?)
So on a night when my team re-acquired the Ace we should have never let go in the first place, and has assembled greatest starting rotation in decades, I think we've earned the right to stick out our chests and gloat a little bit. And if you don't like it, you can all shove it straight up your $2500-a-box-seat asses.
Oh, and Welcome Back Cliff!