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Phillies owner excited by Eagles' Super Bowl run

Eagles' success reminds Middleton of Phillies' World Series glory
MLB.com @ToddZolecki

PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies owner John Middleton needed no reminder about how fun and crazy Philadelphia can be when one of its professional sports teams is rolling toward a world championship.

He remembers quite well.

PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies owner John Middleton needed no reminder about how fun and crazy Philadelphia can be when one of its professional sports teams is rolling toward a world championship.

He remembers quite well.

"Watching the Eagles win the NFC Championship is like watching the Phillies clinch the NLCS," Middleton said in a telephone interview Friday afternoon. "It's great. Those games don't come around very often. And, boy, did the Eagles play well."

Middleton and his wife Leigh were on their way to the airport Friday to fly to Minneapolis for Sunday's Super Bowl at U.S. Bank Stadium. They watched the Eagles crush the Vikings, 38-7, in the NFC Championship Game two weeks ago in Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie's suite at Lincoln Financial Field. (Actor Bradley Cooper and former 76ers star Charles Barkley were there, too.) The Middletons will be staying with the Luries in Minneapolis and watching the Super Bowl from their box again.

"Just to be in that box with that excitement and emotion, it was great," Middleton said, recalling the NFC title game. "The Eagles were firing on all cylinders. When they drove down the field at the end of the first half and kicked a field goal, I really thought the game was over. Now, I know you've got another half to play, but I thought the Vikings walked off that field like they were beat."

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He said he and his wife lingered in the stadium afterward to soak in the atmosphere.

"When you clinch a game like that for the conference championship on the home field, you enjoy it," he said. "We weren't the last ones to leave by any means, but you want to be there."

The Middletons hope for one more celebration Sunday. And then, of course, a parade next week down Broad Street.

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"That would be huge," Middleton said. "Ginormous even."

Does the excitement engulfing the city get him any more fired up for the Phillies' to return to the postseason? The Phillies won the World Series in 2008, won the National League pennant in 2009 and won five consecutive NL East titles from 2007-11. The Phillies have not had a winning season since 2011, but they believe they have turned a corner in their rebuild.

"I started thinking about that the day after we won the World Series in '08," Middleton said. "I did take the night off, but I woke up the next day thinking about what we have to do to win again. But yeah, when you're in that stadium and people are going ballistic and berserk, it really brings back those memories in a visceral way. It's not just a mental image, it's really a visceral, gut feeling. So, when you see big plays like the Eagles made against the Vikings, it reminds you of other big plays that we made."

He mentioned Matt Stairs' pinch-hit homer in Game 4 of the 2008 NLCS against the Dodgers, and Shane Victorino's tying homer that came just before it. He recalled Jimmy Rollins' walk-off double in Game 4 of the 2009 NLCS, and Chase Utley's throw to the plate in Game 5 of the 2008 World Series.

"Those are just great memories," Middleton said.

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

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