Sunday, October 26, 2008

The agony and the ecstasy of a Phils' win

Have I mentioned recently how much I hate TV?

Look, I'm a print guy. This blog appears online, but if you cut my arms open, you'd be just as likely to get ink as blood.

I spent much of the past week doing two things I don't especially care for: Checking the forecast and making a battle plan for Saturday night.

For those of you glued to political coverage on MSNBC, Fox or CNN, I bring you this news bulletin: The Phillies are playing in the World Series.

For most of the region's sports-addled fans, that brings tidings of great joy. After all, it's been 15 years since Joe Carter broke our hearts with that laser into the seats in Sky Dome to beat the Phils in the 1993 Fall Classic. It took 15 years, but the Phils are back, and after two games in Tampa, the scene shifted Saturday to Citizens Bank Park.

Everywhere you go, there are smiles on the faces of the faithful. Unless you happen to be a newspaper editor.

Look, I'm as big a fan as anyone. My heart shattered in '93; I loved the "Wheeze Kids" in '83; I was at the parade in 1980.

But in 2008 I have other issues to deal with.

Sprots has long since surrendered its soul to TV. They pay big bucks to televise these events. They tell them when to play. TV says jump, major league sports execs respond, "How High?"

There was a time when the Fall Classic was played in sunshine. Not anymore. This is now strictly a Prime Time Affair, regardless of how many kids will not be able to stay up to watch their heroes. The Series is played at night, sometimes late night, toward the end of October, in less than ideal weather.

Last night's game was supposed to start at 8:35. That in itself poses a challenge for our nightly print deadline. We long ago established new later deadlines in order to handle these Wolrd Series games.

But note the first four letters in that word - D-e-a-d-line. At some point, we have to start printing newspapers in order to get them into the hands of our readers. Go ahead, cal us dinosaurs. Some people still cling to the idea of holding a newspaper in their hands.

Then there was the other little problem last night. I guess it was about Tuesday that I started hearing the forecasters calling for rain on Saturday. Not good. Add in the possibility of weather problems with an 8:35 start, and you have a newspaper editor's nightmare.

So I started creating Doomsday Scenarios. In a perfect world, I thought to myself, if it was pouring all day, Major League Baseball might make an early call to postpone the game. Yeah, right, I told myself. Right after they sell the souls of their grandmothers. I knew that was never going to happen, especially when the forecast started to shift, with many calling for rain most of the day but clearing at night.

Sceanario Two was my big concern. As I suspected, Major League baseball was not about to make an early call. They would make everyone slosh down to the ballpark, then sit and wait in the rain. 8:35 came. And went. Rain delay. Not good.

Saturday night's game was delayed 1 hour, 31 minutes. Which ment it started just after 10 p.m. Which told me something I had been fearing all week. We likely would be publishing newspapers that did not have the result of the game in them.

If you are a home subsciber, you probably noticed that. And the box on Page 3 informing you that last night's game ended too late for that edition of the Daily Times. It killed me to do it, but we really had no choice. We informed readers they could get full coverage on our Web site, another arrow in the heart of an old print relic like me.

When Carlos Ruiz hit that dribbler down the third base line to win the game in the 9th inning to score the winning run, it was exactly 1:46. I know because I had been looking at my watch constantly for the past two hours.

Yes, I'm hapy that the Phillies won. I'm ready to do it all over again today.

It's something of a double-header. The Eagles play at the Linc at 1, with the Phillies on deck for Game 4 of the World Series.

But it won't start at 4, or even 4:35. Nope, it's also an 8:35 start. Prime time, you know.

Hey, at least it's not going to rain. So tonight I suppose they'll play 19 innings. Just kidding. I think.

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