It's about 4 1/2 hours before the first pitch at Dodger Stadium as I type this. The ballpark is coming to life. A couple of Dodgers are catching fly balls in the outfield. The television people are in the midst of all of the technical stuff they have to do to make sure you can see the game. Nobody is really scurrying around -- that comes later, as the moment draws nearer.
The moment. You wonder.
It is a beautiful, about 80 degrees, not much smog. The mountains off in the distance are clearer than on most days. My God, this is a gorgeous place. Even after all of these years, the setting is perfect and the facility is immaculate. It really is a pleasure to watch a game here -- not because the crowd is raucous or any of that, but just the whole aura of the place. It reeks of professionalism, and purpose.
And, maybe history. Again, you wonder.
A couple of guys just headed out to the Phillies' bullpen -- to work, to wait. Everybody knows what is at stake tonight, the first Phillies trip to the World Series in 15 years. Because you understand what it means to so many people -- long-suffering is the operative term, I believe -- you cannot help but feel the tension, even a little bit, even now.
The Phillies' young guys are kind of wide-eyed. The veterans are different. Pat Burrell gathered all of the position players on the field yesterday during the team's workout and had a little confab that, according to people who saw it from a distance, was sternly businesslike. The older guys know full well how rare these moments are, and how quickly things can turn, and how it could easily happen that the driver's seat is on the other foot. (Which is my favorite mixed metaphor, except for the one that an Eagles player once told me, "That you can't let one bad apple spoil the whole big ball of wax.")
They're spraying water on the infield now. Another groundskeeper is smoothing things on the pitcher's mound. Hours to go yet, hours and emotions building to...