Let that number sink in. Even for the hard-core sports fan, the phrase ten-thousand losses takes a little time to register in their consciousness. To the more casual fan, the words are a part of the ethereal. Vague. Just a big, round number symbolizing a futility beyond measure.
To the non-initiate, the number is without meaning, on par with how many under-weight cows there are in India or the atomic weight of Boron.
The atomic weight of Boron is 10.81 and all cows are under-weight in India.
But baseball hallows numbers. And for the fan - the true fan, the idea of a Major League team losing ten-thousand games is like living in the moment of history. It becomes the, "I remember where I was when..." of the oldest American game.
The Philadelphia Phillies, formed in 1873, are the losing-est professional baseball team in history. Their generational ineptitude is legendary. And tonight, when the Phillies take the field, they do so with the chance to become the quantifiable worst team in sports history.
9,999 and counting.
That's what it says on the website http://www.celebrate10000.com/.
Dedicated to the glory of Phillie futility through the ages, Celebrate 10,000 offers Phillies apparel, as well as insight into what it means to be a true fan of the biggest loser baseball has ever known. Articles, links to blogs and the ever-present reminder that, "Real Phans Love Their Losers". The site is worth a look if for nothing more than to see how a city that has the reputation for being hardest on athletes than any other (booing Santa Clause, sending death threats to Phillies all-time home run leader Mike Schmidt, even cheering when Dallas Cowboy's wide receiver Michael Irvin was taken from the field in cervical restraints after breaking his neck in a game against the Eagles) has taken up the mantle of mediocrity with seeming joy.
That, and the knowledge that even though the city is home to the piss-poorest franchise in memory, they still aren't the Chicago Cubs. After all, the Phillies one-and-only World Championship, won in 1980, is still more recent than the Cubs last World Series victory back in 1908.
And to make things a perfect as possible, the big night could come as early as tonight, as the Phillies resume play after the All-Star break with a game at home against the St. Louis Cardinals. And on Friday the 13th, no less.
Dare to dream.
So tonight, as those of us who follow this craziness turn on Sports Center, maybe everyone can remember they too can be in on history. They too can one day say, "I remember exactly where I was when I heard that the Phillies lost their 10,000th game". If you're not passed-out in your Lazy-Boy like a true Phillie Phanatic.
Baseball hallows numbers. And history is written by the winners. Which is probably why we celebrate number 10,000 like the winners the Phills have never been.
For a taste of Phillies history go to www.forsythnews.com/news/stories/20070704/localsports/182867.shtml.
And if you're a Phillies fan, remember this baseball truth, "You're only as bad as your next loss". And nobody has more of them than you.
Copyright © 2007 Bill Friday