Spring is my favorite part the of year.
In school, Welsh Valley Junior High and Harriton High School, baseball practice started on March 1, in the gymnasium. Usually, after the first or second week in March, we'd move outside and freeze our asses off — but could at least hit (didn't have inside hitting cages back then.)
Harriton's coach usually let me throw batting practice because I could get the ball — most times — near the plate, which in wicked wind and cold conditions, not to mention a soggy field — was huge. The kids standing around freezing appreciated that.
Which reminds me. At Harriton, we had a right handed pitcher who had some giddy up on his fastball, but could never find the plate, especially in spring. He'd pitch a no hitter and we'd lose 16 to 15. He pitched on the Hill American Legion team, too, but by then he had a little control.
Which led to the greatest high school reunion comment ever, by my good buddy Pete, probably Harriton's best all around left handed hitter. Pete played third for Temple, too.
"Russo, my doctor told me I have bad knees from standing at third in freezing weather, watching you walk 20 kids a game."
Well, maybe you had to be there.
On the Hill, we took to the field on weekends and played in mud, cold, wind, rain — it didn't matter. If you lived on the Hill, and it was March, you started playing baseball.
And, of course, spring brought home the Phillies.
Historically speaking, from the time I first became aware of the Phillies — let's say 1954, when I was six — through high school graduation, 1967, in how many springs did I realistically have high hopes?
All of them.
I had high hopes every spring. Call it blind faith, call it stupidity, call it extreme optimism, call it what you want. But every spring, I thought the Phillies would win it all. I never questioned it, just felt it. Maybe you were like that.
Every damn spring.
Lookit, here's the thing. Some of you have been reading my blog since it's beginning. In 2012, you may recall, it was entitled, Follow the Fightin' Phils. I had a ticking clock up in the upper left corner counting the time down to the July 31st deadline. Because, in 2012, I wanted Junior to gut the team and rebuild.
So let me ask you. If, in 2012, I saw the need to gut and rebuild, why didn't the general manager of the Philadelphia Phillies?
Was he asleep at the wheel? Is he still asleep at the wheel?
Hello, Junior, are you there?
Okay, enough with the negativity. It's spring. Utley is still Utley, at least until August. We have some exciting new players, like Odubel Herrera and any day now Junior will trade Cole for two or three can't miss superstars. And I'm excited about opening day.
Then why am I so depressed thinking about the Phillies?
Happy Easter! (Wait, are you still allowed to say Easter on a public blog?)
The heck with that: Happy Easter!
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