Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Jamie Moyer and the Phillies

We were in Seattle this weekend. Well, part of the week, too. Wednesday night we went to the Palace Kitchen, one of our favorite restaurants that happens to have a nice central bar area and a TV, to watch the end of game 1. The bar was full, as it often is there, but a very nice woman let us know when she was about to finish up so we could have her place. In the course of talking to her about the game, which she was also watching, she asked, "Do you think they [the Phillies] will let Jamie pitch?"

"He's scheduled for game three," I said.

"I hope he does well," she said. "I'm rooting for the Phillies because of him."

I thought that was interesting. Then the next person I mentioned the Series to also said they were hoping Moyer did well. I knew Moyer'd pitched for Seattle in his prime, but I didn't know he was such a beloved local figure. It turns out he still has all his charities operating in the Seattle area. It turns out he left on very good terms, unlike some other stars (A-Rod is one whose name is always spoken with some scorn). It turns out that Seattle has very little to cheer for in the sports world right now. The Seahawks were 1-5 until this weekend, when they beat up on a weak Niners team. The Sonics are gone, "replaced" in the NBA fashion by the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Mariners finished in last place this year.

Jamie Moyer is the kind of athlete who's on a first-name basis with the city. Joe Posnanski has more on how amazing his performance this year has been from a purely baseball standpoint, but you have to have talked to a few people in Seattle to realize what his performance means to them, even for another team.

"I just want him to get a World Series appearance," the front desk clerk at our hotel said. "A win would be great, but just a couple good innings..."

Moyer had been lit up in the postseason. First the Brewers, then the Dodgers, teed off on his slow curves. The chances of him surviving more than a couple innings against the power-slugging Rays did not look good.

"I just hope he digs in and finds one more quality start," said one of my Seattle co-workers.

He did that, and more. The only thing he (and Seattle) could've hoped for would have been to get the W he deserved. But he pitched over six strong innings for his team, gave up only three runs, and helped lift the Phillies to a victory.

He's an inspiration, not only to Seattle, but also to me. You may have heard that he's 45. I think he's one of the few active baseball players who's older than I am. Sometime in the next couple years, there won't be any. So I'm holding on to this one, to the guy older than I am who pitched in the World Series and led his team to a 2-1 lead.

(I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that the Phillies are now up 3-1, but Jamie didn't really have anything to do with that, unless he was giving Joe Blanton a pep talk.)

The point of this all? Jamie Moyer is a pretty awesome guy all around. He kind of embodies what I love about the Phillies this year: apart from Jimmy Rollins, they aren't really a flashy bunch. They feel like the kind of guys who just play baseball for the heck of it, even J-Roll. They have fun, but they're smart and articulate (listen to Ryan Howard talk post-game sometime). They're the kind of team, in other words, that could've been tailor-made for Jamie Moyer to join.

Let's hope he gets a ring out of it, for the sake of two sports-hungry cities.