By Ira Kaufman
For the mirror
Anyone who thinks the NBA Finals, World Series or Stanley Cup Finals should be played at a neutral venue didn’t make it to Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia for Game 3 of the World Series last Tuesday night.
Philadelphia fans were in a state of euphoria.
The Phillies were making an unlikely run to the World Series and had split the first two games in Houston – and the Philadelphia Eagles were undefeated and had just destroyed the Steelers.
Philadelphia has a reputation for very mean fans (they once booed and threw snowballs at Santa Claus), but love was in the air in the city of brotherly love last week.
Before the Eagles game, my friends had concerns for my safety when I got out of the car in the #7 Ben Roethlisberger jersey.
But throughout the game, the fans were warm and welcoming – even offering to buy me a beer in the concession line.
Monday night’s postponement of rain gave Philly fans an extra day to prepare for the first World Series game in Philadelphia in 13 long years.
During the Miami, New York and Los Angeles games, celebrities from the music and entertainment industries will be featured on the jumbotron during the game. In Philadelphia, however, the video board only showed Philadelphia sports legends (and Bruce Springsteen).
The fans waved their red handkerchiefs and screamed feverishly during the introduction of the players. Bryce Harper’s two-time home run monster for the Phillies at the end of the first race added fuel to the fire of emotions.
As Philadelphia continued to extend its lead in home runs (a World Series record five), the crowd kept shouting and waving their towels at every seat.
The seats in the stadium were unnecessary because nobody took a seat during the entire game. I kept wondering if I had ever been in a louder and more passionate arena in my life. Other options would be Duke Carolina basketball at Cameron, Steelers playoff games, Penn State-Ohio State Whiteout.
The best comparison I could make was America’s Pharoah’s triple crown win at the Belmont in 2015 in front of 100,000 fans who stood for two minutes and 30 seconds.
However, for Game 3, the pandemonium lasted a full three hours. Even in the ninth inning, with the Phils leading 7-0, the fans seemed to have superhuman energy (the stadium doesn’t sell energy drinks) as they kept cheering and waving their towels until the finale. I still have marks on my arms and face from accidental towel whipping.
When fans returned for a coronation rather than a game the next night, the Astros’ tremendous performance amid the hysteria was nothing short of remarkable.
Astros’ pitcher Christian Javier’s six brilliant no-hit innings were followed by three no-hit innings from Abreu, Montero and Pressly. Houston’s five runs in the fifth inning took the lives of the Phils and their crowd, and they left the stadium before the game was even over.
This was only the second no-hitter in World Series history.
Game 5 was the first close game of the series. I was very fortunate to buy a perfect seat for the game online.
Each stadium and arena has a unique design, and my seat was between the dugout and home plate, 20 rows up, with no seats in front or behind me – sheltered from the sway of the towels.
Future Hall of Famer Justin Verlander finally got his first World Series win in his ninth World Series start.
When the Astros won Game 6 and won the series, I was in Athens, Georgia after the Georgia-Tennessee game.
Bulldog fans were far more interested in celebrating after the big win than watching the Astros’ Ryan Pressly chronicle the finale of the season.
It was great to see Houston manager Dusty Baker win his first World Series title after 26 years as manager. Astros fans are thrilled to have won their first title since their controversial 2017 championship.
But the Phillies were winners too, as the excitement of that playoff run will never be forgotten and will continue into next year.
Ira Kaufman, a native of Altoona, will host IRA on Sports on trueoldiesfla.com on Monday nights from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. It’s also available on Soundcloud and iTUNES, search for Ira On Sports. His column appears occasionally.