March 29, 2009

Stairs-way to Heaven

I bought this a week ago.

Some people might say it's silly, and it kind of is. Matt Stairs might not even make the 2009 Opening Day roster.

But to me, that's what makes it so special. For so many years, I bought Jim Thome jerseys, Jeremiah Trotter jerseys, Jeremy Roenick jerseys. I was anticipating the future, not embracing the present (which was understandable for a mid-90's Philadelphia sports fan, but still). I was hopping on the bandwagons of acquired superstars, hoping they'd be the ones to lead Philadelphia to a championship (I bought my Trotter during his second go-around in the city).

There's nothing wrong with this - JR was one of the most interesting, charismatic hockey players of the last 20 years, and Thome brought a much needed respectability back to Phillies baseball. I'm still proud to have their names and numbers on the back of my shirts.

But Matty Stairs is more than that - to borrow a line from Batman Begins, he's a symbol. I've been telling people that Lidge's winning strikeout in the World Series was the third best moment of my life, and the whole parade experience was the best (in between at no. 2 - my first sexual encounter. But who cares about that?). However, the truth of the matter is, the best moment of it all was Matt Stairs's home run.

It was the first time I realized they really could do it, that a Philadelphia team was getting all the breaks, coming through in the clutch, and playing with the swagger of a champion. At the time, on this very blog, I wrote, "Simply put, I'll never doubt this team again. I'll never doubt what they're capable of, and I especially won't doubt the inescapable thought that this is really something special." I was right.

Whether Matt Stairs makes the Opening Day roster or not, to me, is irrelevant. Whenever I pop on his jersey and take a look in the mirror, I'll see the gold trim around the name, the World Series Champions patch on the right sleeve, and the giant no. 12 on the back. I'll remember his monstrous homer, and I'll think that, after all the talk of Philadelphia's sports saviors, it was a 41-year-old Canadian with a beer gut who made all the difference.

Now that's something to celebrate.

1 comment:

Peter said...

Moving piece. As an A's fan it is kind of a heartbreaker though as the closest I've been to that feeling (also with the help of Mr. Matthew Stairs) was being up 2-0 on the Yanks in the ALDS before ultimately melting down and losing 3 straight.