Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A Moment at Penn Treaty Park

The beginning of the 6th inning was too much for me to take. In utter disgust, I stormed out of my house praying I came in contact with some punk kid with a Dodgers hat so I could take my aggression out on someone. I couldn't believe how perfect the weather was at that time of night for mid-October. There was a soothing breeze coming off the river, not a cloud in the sky and I had an unabated view of the Ben Franklin. I sat on a park bench at Penn Treaty Park staring at the purple-lit bridge thinking that I can't continue to let these teams I love dictate my demeanor. As I felt all the momentum slipping away from the Phillies I asked that statue of William Penn, "Will it ever happen? Will any of these teams just bring us the parade?" The bums bunking up next to the statue looked at me like I was crackhead.

I'm one of these guys that is horrible to watch a game with. I scream, curse, break stuff and in general I'm a pretty negative fan. People who are casual or optimistic probably think that I'm some sort of ill-tempered piece of white trash during games. Add the fact that I haven't really had the chance to truly take in a playoff baseball LCS—to say the least things have been volatile on East Girard.

So as I sat there staring at the majestic Benny, I agreed with myself that I would take these types of games in stride. "It's going to be 2-2," I said. "No biggie, Cole's goin' tomorrow and we'll get back to Philly with a chance to take it." After a couple of bizarre encounters with some people I thought may or may not pop a cap in my ass and dump my frowning mug in the Delaware, I finished my Budweiser and made my way back to the house. Also, I started to piss in the river and out of nowhere these people came around the corner and it was extraordinarily awkward. I wondered what the score was in LA ... 7-3, 8-3 maybe? Only a few minutes after I exited my house, unbeknownst to me, Chase turned an improbable double play, keeping the score a reasonable 5-3. I secretly wanted the TV to be on when I walked in but it was not to be, everyone had gone to their respective rooms to sulk for the night. I followed suit by getting into the shower and washing off the supposed loss. Little did I know what was about to happen ...

I walked up to the third floor to make sure my roommate, the Reverend, wasn't hanging from the ceiling fan ... he wasn't. I turned my eyes to the idiot box for one split second when the Phillies playoff MVP Shane Victorino hit a screaming line-drive down the right field line that tied the game. We looked at each other and said, "Did he just do that?" All of the sudden the cloud of doubt that poured all over me from Girard Ave. to Penn Treaty evaporated thanks to the flyin' Hawaiian.

A few hours earlier Rev. and I were blasting Uncle Charlie for using all of his bench players and it appeared as if we were going into extras. Damn it, I thought, we have NOBODY to pinch hit if this goes long. What seemed like a meaningless two-out hit by the Chooch-Man turned out to be monumental. A moment later, a person who strangely resembled the dude who replaced the water pump in my Volkswagen this morning came waltzing out of the dugout. Matt Stairs was our second to last bench player. The situation: Two gone, one on and a pair of fat guys dueling it out on the diamond. When the count got to 3-1, Rev. and I knew what was about to happen. We didn't say it, but we knew that Broxton was going to throw a mid 90s fastball over the plate, just like we knew Matt Stairs was going to swing a ton. No sooner did the pitch leave the Dodgers' closer's hand did the ball start cruising somewhere towards Mexico. MATT STAIRS ABSOLUTELY CRUSHED THE PITCH and the Dodgers spirit. It was the hardest hit ball I've ever seen. At Citizen's Bank Park that thing lands in a Steve's cheesesteak.

Six outs later the Phillies miraculously emerge victorious. Tonight I questioned my fanhood, but learned a lesson. They play 27 outs worth of baseball for a reason and this team never quits. One more win and the guys from Philly are playing for all the marbles for the first time in 15 years. Advice: Don't do what I did and forget the simple words Chase Utley spoke when they clinched the division. He said, "I like our chances."

I'm starting to like their chances, too.

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