I’ve tried to extract significance from the outcome of every Phillies series this year. Somehow, I’m hoping each piece will fit into one, big mosaic that illustrates wider meaning.
I’m beginning to realize the next month could erase all preconceived notions. The pieces I’ve created will eventually fade to gray, subdued by brighter, more significant parts painted during these last weeks.
April and May produced nothing but loose ends, yet it was somehow easier to write while stabbing at the dark. All along, I reminded myself "This is a long season," and ignored that voice with hair-splitting venom and scribbling retort.
Now, with hundreds of posts to trace my steps and a season of data circulating my head, there’s an uneasy sensation like I’m treading on thin ice.
It’s the feeling players with championship rings know well, recognizing that a .212 average or 19 errors forged during the regular season could be forgiven with a bang-bang throw in the broad daylight of a pennant race.
There’s no hiding from the light at the end of the tunnel. You just see it and go, and leave the baggage in the shadows.
Baseball starts in broad darkness and whittles down to a pinpoint of light. A nickel-sized blood stain on a brilliant white sock.
Perhaps it was this latest series, the first of a long road trip considered the start of the official home stretch, when the muddy framework finally solidified into a yellow brick road. I finally saw the big picture.
Minor casting aside, we know the characters of this drama. If the Phillies are to make the playoffs, this is the team that will take them there.
One of those players is David Bell, who emerged from the black once before, finding a shimmering 180-foot path to home plate during the 2002 National League Championship Series.
It took seven big-league seasons to reach that point and he’s spent the last three grinding out a chance to relive it.
It’s been a season of attrition for Bell and others like Jimmy Rollins and Mike Lieberthal, hoping only to survive long enough to play baseball in October, receive forgiveness, and become immaculate.
Early on, the team recognized a dirty fight to the bitter end. They’ve reminded us there’s no use in getting too up or too down. All they asked was room to breathe when they swam in search of piercing light. Here, the air is crisp and different.