There’s a sickness, a blight if you will, that occurs every year in the Gulf of Mexico. In Florida, it happens every summer, but on the Gulf Coast cities of Texas, like Houston, it can be found anytime from August through February. In scientific terms, the poison is referred to as a Harmful Algal Bloom, a naturally-occurring, higher-than-normal concentration of the microscopic algae Karenia Brevis – an organism that produces a toxin deadly to the central nervous system of fish, paralyzing them, resulting in untold amounts of dead aquatic wildlife washing up on Gulf beaches, the ocean beyond discolored into an unsightly violet. In layman’s terms, it’s simply called the Red tide.
On Tuesday night, the visiting Houston Astros got a full taste of this Harmful Agal Bloom when they entered Citizens Bank Park and ran into the buzz saw that is the Philadelphia Phillies and their swarming, raucous, hometown crowd. The Astros came to Philadelphia with their heads held high, fresh off a Game 2 win, only to find themselves down and out at night’s end, on the wrong end of an ungainly 7-0 defeat. Houston had their most proven postseason pitcher, Lance McCullers on the mound. They had the momentum, they had everything to win, a chance to turn the World Series on its head with a win on the road. So what gave?
The atmosphere. An examination of the two contrasting crowds and Minute Maid and Citizens Bank Parks, respectively, is all one needs to understand the driving force behind the Phillies momentum on Tuesday night. In Houston, one can find a passionate, yet respectful fanbase, bottled in by the unsightly dome atop their stadium, filled with well-meaning individuals, impassioned sure, but lacking a certain depth to their cumulative emotion. The World Series is nothing new to them. For the crowd in South Philly, however, there is nothing else. For the 45,600 tonight is all there is, is all that there ever could be, all that ever was. We don’t know when we’ll be back and at this moment it doesn’t matter, nothing else matters but the next pitch, the next out, the next chance at the ultimate victory. We are a people alight, a teeming bloom of red organisms, the fervor within growing exponentially with each crack of the bat, with each Phillies’ home run that disappears into the sea of red rally towels. A Red tide, charging forth with victory in our eyes, the fire within still burning, stronger than ever now.
Tonight, we face our biggest test, with our pitcher, Aaron Nola, who has the most to prove on the mound. You better believe we’ll show up.
Featured Image: Doug Mills / The New York Times