October 26, 2022
My wife is from Houston and she loves baseball.
I am from Philly, and I love her.
It’s always been fun to support each other’s hometown teams. Seeing her Astros breakthrough for the first time, the elation in her eyes as she celebrated with her fellow Texans was a heartwarming experience way back in 2017. It was really, truly special to have the Eagles and Astros share a championship season.
Long before I met my wife, I went to Temple University at the same time that Jimmy Rollins was turning double plays with Chase Utley. The 2008 Phillies were a fundamental part of my life. I went to games, pep rallies, watched every game in bars near campus and collected Philadelphia Inquirer sports sections from key victories throughout their run.
The Phils became irrelevant as I became a professional sportswriter and editor, to the point that the lack of interest in the team made them almost not worth the effort to cover. Terrible draft picks, bad signings, collapses in September — all of this while the Astros fired off what would eventually be four AL pennants in six years.
Our house in the suburbs has a fairly even mix of Houston and Philadelphia decor, apparel and memorabilia. Just like we’ve assimilated my Jewish heritage with her Christian values, our two baseball teams have intermingled for half a decade in our relationship. There is a pride I have for our melting pot approach to life.
Even through the Astros’ cheating scandal, I was forced to find ways to defend our family’s geographic and historic affiliation with the most successful franchise in baseball over the last few years.
The odds of there ever being any situation where our rooting interests would be this complicated were extremely thin. Here’s what had to happen:
• MLB had to expand the postseason so the Phillies and their 87 wins could make it as the 6-seed.
• MLB added a universal designated hitter, which allowed Bryce Harper to stay in the lineup despite an elbow that keeps him from throwing a baseball.
• A ridiculous 6-run ninth inning in St. Louis in the first round to give the Phillies full control of the Wild Card series.
• One of the greatest home runs I have ever seen in my life, off the bat of Rhys Hoskins to beat the defending World Series Champions from Atlanta.
• An insane 4-run comeback in Game 4 at home for the Phillies in the NLCS, before one of the greatest baseball games ever played in South Philly in Game 5, ending with Harper’s two-run homer to win it in the eighth.
It is not at all surprising that the Astros had no problem besting the Mariners and Yankees — but they were far from a collision course with Philadelphia this season.
In a rare day off, I took my wife to watch the Sixers beat the Pacers on Monday and her always feisty self chose to wear an Astros T-shirt under her Allen Iverson throwback jersey. I’m lucky we got out of there without incident. If I had an Astros shirt on, I’d be in trouble.
I’ll be in Houston to cover the first two games of the World Series. I’ll be visiting my in-laws, and decking my one-year-old daughter in Phillies and Astros gear as she watches "Bluey" with her grandparents. My wife will be wearing some combination of Astros hat, Phillies authentic jersey with an Astros tee underneath.
Houstonians are a lot more easygoing than Philly folk, and as she hits the streets in Montrose and downtown, I have little doubt her split allegiances will serve as nothing more than a great conversation starter.
But where does that leave me? I love my wife and my family more than I love the Phillies. Tell my 21-year-old self, the guy who I sprinted down Broad Street from Cecil B. Moore to City Hall covered in beer and sweat on October 29, 2008, and I’d have said you were crazy.
I am excited to sit in the press box, cover the game and reach the peak of my profession. I have always dreamed of going to a World Series and that dream comes true Friday evening at Minute Maid Park. But for whom will I be truly rooting? The Phillies right? Of course. What a story that would be. It would be great for business — I work for PhillyVoice after all.
However, the more I think about the craziness of this situation the more I feel blessed — because I can’t lose.
It’s just sports, Philadelphia will survive being swept. Houston will fight another day if they lose in an upset. But my family will be on the edge of its seat with every pitch knowing whatever happens, we still get to celebrate.
Maybe that’s counter to the point of competition at the highest level of sports. Or maybe that’s the entire point.
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