While “Phillies fever” may be taking Philadelphia by storm, it seems that it has only infected part of Villanova University’s largely northeastern student body.
There are more than just a handful of local fans, though, who are optimistic about Philadelphia’s championship aspirations, despite the 14-year lay off between postseason experiences for the Phillies, and Wednesday’s loss in their playoff opener to the Colorado Rockies.
Even Krista Vitola, a senior English major and self-proclaimed Yankees fan, thinks the Phillies have “a good shot” at winning the World Series. She’s also taken first-hand notice of the amount of enthusiasm taking hold on Villanova’s campus.
“I think people really care,” Vitola said. “At least one person in every one of my classes is sporting Phillies gear.”
Some care so much, in fact, that they will not let academic obligations get in the way of seeing this afternoon’s game, set to take place at 3 at Citizens Bank Park.
“I have tickets to the game tonight, and I’m skipping class to make sure I get there in plenty of time,” senior Ed Phillips said.
Even professors aren’t feeling the normal call to pedantic duty these days. Frank Pryor, who teaches in the political science department, felt that a day off to help support the local team in its quest for the World Series wouldn’t hurt his class.
“First he asked how many Phillies fans were in the class,” says Siobhan D’Angelo, one of Pryor’s students. “The majority of students raised their hands.”
Some observers, however, would diagnose the supposed “Phillies fever” as nothing more than a slight cold.
“I think there are some fans on campus, but a lot more that have recently jumped on the bandwagon,” sophomore electrical engineering Travis Carrero said.
Carrero, who works in the dining room in Dougherty Hall, has been attending games since he was a child and the Phillies’ loss in their eagerly anticipated return to the postseason was a huge disappointment.
“I didn’t have class yesterday so I watched the game, but I turned it off because I was so mad they were losing,” Carrero said.
The Phillies capped one of the most improbable comebacks in Major League Baseball history by winning the National League’s East Division. The New York Mets held a seven-game lead in the East with just 17 games remaining on the schedule. It was at that point in the schedule when the Phillies traveled to New York and swept the Mets in a three-game series, sending the division’s frontrunners into a tailspin.
The Phils, who won 13 of their final 17 games, finally took the lead in the East by one game on Sept. 28, but a loss the following day and a Mets win dropped Philadelphia back into a tie with New York for the division lead. On the season’s final day, the Mets, led by 300-game winner Tom Glavine, floundered against the Florida Marlins, while the Phillies won a 6-1 decision over the Nationals to capture the division crown.
It took such a historic comeback (or collapse, depending on one’s view) to help the Phillies reach the postseason for the first time since 1993. It was 14 years ago when the Phillies advanced to the World Series, but were memorably defeated when a walk-off home run by Blue Jays slugger Joe Carter off of Phillies’ reliever Mitch Williams lifted Toronto to their second consecutive world championship.
This year also marks the first time the Phillies have qualified for the playoffs since 1994’s division realignment and playoff restructuring, which split both the American and National leagues into three divisions and added a wild card spot to the postseason mix, increasing the number of playoff qualifiers from two to four in each league.
Both the Phillies organization and its fans have been eager to reclaim a spot in the postseason since their iconic downfall in 1993.
Given the regional makeup of Villanova’s student body, however, one is just as, if not more likely to see fans sporting Boston Red Sox or New York Yankees apparel during baseball’s postseason.
Plus, it wouldn’t be Philadelphia if even some of the local fans weren’t a little down on their favorite team’s chances.
Sophomore mechanical engineering major Bryce Moore, one of the few Rockies fans on campus, offered a gloomy forecast to those who think the Phillies will roll over his favorite team in the divisional round.
“It wouldn’t be the Phillies if they didn’t let you down,” Moore said. “Last night was the start of the let down.”
This story was created by the Journalism Practices class (Com-3361) on Thursday, October 4, 2007. It was written by Kyle Scudilla. It was reported by Lauren DiSpirito, Casey Dolan, Denis Dwyer, Marissa Miraval, Daniel Scully, Monique N. Stewart, Caitlin Taylor and Amanda Wendlinger.