Unlike the other Phillies fans who were at Citizens Bank Park on the night of Oct. 29, I wasn’t going to get caught up in the moment. I wasn’t going to allow myself to be swept into the delirium of a World Series Championship or monstrous cheer at the moment of Game 5’s final out.
No, I had a selfish little plan. I was going to remember this piece of Philly sports history a different way.
I did obsess over two days with everyone else when Game 5 of the 2008 World Series was suspended on Oct. 27 due to rain, only to be resumed Oct. 29.
But I was obsessing for a different reason. Oct. 29 was the 76ers home and season opener across the street at the then-Wachovia Center against the Toronto Raptors. I had to reconcile that little conflict.
It took a little pre-planning on my part, and a little help from the NBA, so that I could be in the ballpark to hatch my narcissistic scheme for the game’s final inning. Thankfully, the NBA would allow a small concession for those who wanted to experience both events: a 6 p.m. tip-off instead of the usual 7 p.m. Sure, I’d still miss some of the World Series, but if I planned ahead, I could minimize how much I missed.
And so the 76ers game tipped off on Comcast SportsNet a little past 6 p.m. with yours truly at the mic and an announced crowd of 15,750 at the then-Wachovia Center. The Sixers played like they had one eye on the World Series, shooting 34.5 percent in a 95-84 drubbing at the hands of Chris Bosh and the Toronto Raptors. And seconds after my broadcast duties were over, I began the sprint to Citizens Bank Park to see a game that had already started.
Sitting neatly on my desk at the arena were my clothes for the game, including the requisite thermal underwear and sweats to guard against the frigid night, along with my Ryan Howard Phillies jersey that would go on top. I arrived as the score was tied 4-4, just as Chase Utley was faking a throw to first and nailing someone at the plate. I did get to see Pat Burrell’s double that would lead to the Series-clinching run.
And as the game got to the ninth inning, I went about remembering the night in my own unique way.
The first in the two-part plan was a timely photo before the start of the fateful ninth. I had a fan take a picture of me and two of my besties, Rob Grossman and Chuck Meyers, with me holding up three fingers to indicate how many outs remained in order to win the World Series.
Then, with two outs and Erick Hinske representing the Rays’ last chance against reliever Brad Lidge … and an 0-2 count on the batter … and everyone in the place standing … wildly anticipating a moment that would be etched in their memories forever … and as Lidge prepared to go “lights out”….
I closed my eyes, and just listened …