I’ll remember this moment for the rest of my life.

I haven’t said much about baseball lately. I’ve been afraid to curse the game. (We Philadelphia fans have been known to be a little superstitious.)

I don’t have to worry about that right now.

I’ve known the names Schmidt, Rose, Carlton, and Bowa for as long as I’ve known the names of my own family… and in some cases, I’ve probably known them better. I can remember my father whooping and yelling when the Philadelphia Phillies won the World Series in 1980. I’m not sure that, at the ripe old age of four and a quarter years, I really understood what was happening, but I knew that baseball was magic, and it was important, and that the World Series was all of that magic and importance wrapped into one package.

Over the last twenty eight years, there have been times that I have called them bums. There were times when I could’ve sworn I was the cause of their failures. There were times that I jeered and times that I cheered, and many many times that I’ve forgiven them and thanked them and throughout it all, I loved them.

Tonight, John Kruk explained on Baseball Tonight that the Phillies organization is a family unlike any other in baseball. Family. That’s what they’ve always been to me. Harry Kalas has sat at our dinner table, and our lunch table, and every major holiday. The tears we cried when Richie Ashburn, and Tug McGraw, and John Vukovitch died were real. The pride we felt when our boys won the MVP award, or made the All Star game, or hit in the home run derby was no less strong than the pride we feel when one of our own is accepting a diploma or receiving a promotion.

And of course we fight and we insult those who need insulting. But we stick together as a family, mock those who need mocking and we give without thinking of the consequences, because we’re family.

Tonight, the boys of summer finished the longest World Series game in history and came out on top.

For the first time since I was four years old, those bums came through, and I’m so happy all I can say is thank you.

Thank you for the summer days and the smell of grass, the taste of hot dogs, the feel of the sun on your back, and the crack of the bat. Thank you for long drives and balls that are outta here, for miracle plays and amazing defense. Thank you for making the cold winter that’s coming a lot warmer on the inside. Thank you.

Pitchers and catchers report on February 14, 2009. I can’t wait.

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