HAS THE SUN ever shone so brightly on the Schuylkill or shimmered so brilliantly off Liberty Place? Has the city ever looked as beautiful as it did yesterday morning?

At 9:58 Wednesday night, Philadelphia became a better place to live. We were smiling at each other on the street, and our hands hurt from too much high-fiving. Even our hangovers feel delicious. Life is good, full of hope - and pride. Anything is possible.

This is what pure joy feels like.

This is what winning does.

An entire generation of Philadelphians has lived without a baseball championship. Our frustration has bordered on paranoia or the occult. The town felt cursed, conspired against.

And then it was gone, dissolved in the time it took for Brad Lidge to throw a slider for a strikeout.

As reprehensible as the damage done by out-of-control fans Wednesday night was, maybe it served as an exorcism of the last vestiges of rage at the 25-year championship drought. Perhaps, when the parade down Broad Street to Citizens Bank Park ends today, there will be a new civility in the stands, and in the city. (Well, we can dream.)

Besides, we were struck, not with how rowdy, but how young were the crowds that poured into the streets Wednesday night. The torch of Philadelphia devotion has been passed - and the future looks bright for another quarter century.

We're famous, as fans and as Philadelphians, for our "attytood," for being tough as nails. And we are a tough town. But today, we don't care if everyone knows our secret: Inside, we're creampuffs.

And 25 guys made us that way.

You got a problem with that? *