The Philadelphia Phillies offer a Phantasy Baseball Camp from January 17- 21 in Clearwater. You get to spend time with Phillies Legends who, “coach you, get to know you and share stories of the glory days with you.”
The Phillies are very liberal with the term “legends.” When I think of sports legends names like Iverson, Clarke, Carlton, and Dr. J, come to mind. Not Chris Coste, Mickey Morandini, Kevin Stocker, Scott Eyre, Rheal Cormier and Randy Ready.
I guess when you are the losingest sports franchise – sorry – “phranchise” of all time the pickings are slim.
Aside from bringing a Springsteen song to life, you get to play ball and compete against the Legends at Bright House Field, the Phillies Spring Training Ballpark.
Some people’s fantasies obviously include ruptured rotator cuffs, torn labrums, tweaked hamstrings, and twisted ankles.
For me, this week came pretty close to my own sports fan fantasy.
It started on Saturday when the Eagles played the Falcons in the Divisional Round of the NFC Playoffs. As I’ve mentioned before, I am a die-hard Philadelphia sports fan, especially of the Eagles. I also embody some of the stereotypical worst traits of a Philadelphia fan. Mike Schmidt once said, “Philadelphia is the only city, where you can experience the thrill of victory and the agony of reading about it the next day.”
Unlike many of my Eagles fan brethren I didn’t fret with the common refrain of, “yeah, they won but..” when they won two of their last three regular season games after quarterback Carson Wentz down with a season ending knee injury.
I made my predication right after Wentz walked off the field in Los Angeles.
“He tore up his knee. He’s out for the year,” I said with the certainty of Rothman orthopedic surgeon.
My husband, Tom, already pale from what he just witnessed, glared at me. “You don’t know that!”
“That’s the luck of the Eagles but….”
There is always a “but” with Philadelphia fans…and it’s usually fatalistic.
“But Foles is going to take us to the Super Bowl…where we will lose.”
So on Saturday, seated next to my father, I had faith that the Eagles would escape with a win. But you wouldn’t have known if you were in earshot.
Only a few people can bear to watch an Eagles game with me. My comments are acerbic, rude, and Debbie Downers…until the Eagles do something good then I leap out of my seat and send anything not nailed down flying.
“Did Alshon Jeffrey dress today?”
“Can Nick Foles throw the ball more than five yards?”
“Why don’t they just give the trophy Tom Brady.”
“Even I know they are going to pass to Julio Jones…”
But…the thrill of the win was worth the four quarters of nail-biting agony.
On Thursday night, the Flyers honored my favorite Philadelphia athlete and all-time sports crush Eric Lindros. The Wells Fargo Center looked like they hired teenage Katie to decorate since it was wall-to-wall Lindros. When the team acquired him in 1992, I was on the verge of becoming a teenager and he was the sports hero I needed.
Devastatingly handsome. A generational player.
I invested heavily in all things Lindros from hockey cards, posters, magazines and Starting Lineup figures. I even based a college entrance essay that asked where I pictured myself in the year 2020 on him.
I detailed a morning in the life of a myself, a writer for Sports Illustrated, with my recently retired new husband Eric Lindros. Luckily, whoever was tasked with reading the piles of papers shared my affection for the “The Big E” or enjoyed the gumption it took to submit mild sports themed erotica to a Catholic university.
A few days later, I met the man in-person when he was signing autographs at the Oxford Valley Mall. Yes, the restraining order has expired (wink, wink). Tom, who isn’t threatened at all by my love of Lindros, got me tickets to the signing for Christmas.
“I won’t stand next to you when you meet him. I don’t want to ruin your chance,” he said, genuinely trying not to laugh.
Tom knows that my Lindros lust is pure fantasy.
It served as a welcome distraction as the NFC Championship drew less than 24 hours away. Wherever I went this week I saw everyone from grandmoms sporting Eagles hats to toddlers wearing their first Carson Wentz jersey.
“That kid’s going to learn what heartbreak is at a young age…” I thought but didn’t say.
Instead I wondered what it would be like if the Eagles did win. Not just on Sunday but the whole thing. The euphoria. The tears. The agony of having nothing to complain about the next day.
Maybe there is a better sports fantasy week not too far away.