Thursday, April 9, 2009

Am I a Soothsayer? No Questions Asked

As you may have heard, I played hooky yesterday and attended my first Phillies game of the 2009 season, and you know what I found out? I'm a fucking soothsayer, that's what.

After six innings of suck (Raul Ibanez's first home run as a Phillie aside), Arkansas Fred and I watched as half the ballpark left to go about their lives outside of the Phillies. What a bunch of jerkfaces. Haven't the past two seasons taught you people anything? Never, ever count the Phillies out. Keep your butts in your seats and enjoy the show. Besides, it's not like the game was late. Where the hell did everyone have to be so bad? Sorry about that rant. Let's back up a minute.

First off, the ring ceremony. I have to say, that shit took a hell of a long time to set up. The ball girls and company were having all sorts of trouble setting up the lovely table to place the rings on, and it took for-fucking-ever to get all the boxes and rings on said table. There were five ball girls carrying the boxes over, one at time (each box had two rings in), and it must have taken 20 minutes just to set everything up. As Arkansas Fred pointed out, the setup didn't go so smoothly because, you know, the Phillies aren't exactly used to this type of thing.

But once it was all ready to go, the ring ceremony itself was fantastic. When it was kicked off, and they announced the architect of the 2008 World Fucking Champions, I jokingly said to Arkansas Fred, "They invited Ed Wade?" After all, Wade did draft half the team AND trade the Phillies Brad Lidge. Of course, they were speaking of Pat Gillick, who was bawling like a baby through the entire thing.

It was a glorious moment. Adam Eaton was booed, and even though some people found it so objectionable that they had to resort to hackneyed, stereotypical writing, Eaton actually took it well. He had a huge smile on his face and waved to the crowd. He spent two years of his career sucking for the Phils and hearing a chorus of boos. He knew it was coming and took it in stride. So if he's OK with it, maybe the rest of you should be too. Just saying.

Of course, Pat the Bat received the biggest applause, and the guy was sincerely choked up. All in all, a great ceremony. Check out the abbreviated highlights here:

As for the game itself, well, again, the Phillies starting pitching got smacked around like the Braves were Chris Brown and Joe Blanton was Rihanna. Heyo! What? Too soon? In all honesty, by the time the score was 10-3, things were looking grim. But did I leave? Hell no I didn't leave.

In fact, when the bottom of the 7th was about to begin, I turned to Arkansas Fred and said in jest, "Hey, they're still in this. When you look at it, they're only down a touchdown and an extra point." Little did I know that statement was about to make me the smartest man alive.

The inning started out conspicuously enough, as Shane Victorino grouned out. But a bloop single by Chase Utley was all the Phillies needed before the Braves bullpen completely imploded. On a 2-2 pitch to Ryan Howard, Eric O'Flaherty plunked the big boy, putting two on with 1 out. Thanks to Charlie's intuition of breaking up the lefties, Bobby Cox went to the righty Peter Moylan to face Werth, and Werth worked a beautiful 8-pitch walk to load the bases. Then Ibanez got the merry-go-round started, lining an RBI single up the middle, 10-4. Pete Happy followed with another one-run single, 10-5.

Then the wheels really came off for the Braves. Moylan walked Matt Stairs on four pitches, 10-6. That was it for Moylan. Two pitchers down in the inning, three Phillies run, Blaine Boyer heading to the mound. And it didn't matter. Boyer caught the control problem fever, walking Chris Coste on 5 pitches, 10-7. With all the walks and the bases loaded, it would have surprised absolutely no one had Jimmy Rollins, or Shane Victorino, or any Phillie really, gone to their usual undisciplined, unfundamentally sound hitting, and swing at the first pitch for a popup. But that didn't happen.

Instead, Rollins walked on four pitches, 10-8. That was it for Boyer. In came Jorge Campillo, and much to my surprise, and delight, Shane took a first pitch fastball right down the middle. I couldn't believe my eyes. The Phils were being patient. On the next pitch, Victorino did swing, which was perfectly all right seeing as he was down 0-1 and the pitch looked to be a strike. Plus, he ripped a single to right, moving all the runners up a base again, 10-9. And then Campillo caught the walk bug, putting Chase on with a 5-pitch walk, 10-10. It was glorious.

A Ryan Howard chopper was all it took to gain the lead, 11-10, and off to Ryan Madson it was.

Madson came in and the first fastball he fired hit 96. Only problem is, Yunel Escobar was ready for it, and he ripped one toward the first base hole. That's when Howard, much maligned for his defense, made an incredible play, at least his third already this young season, diving like Rico Brogna, nabbing and tossing to Madson. The toss was off a little, but Madson made a tremendous catch and managed to hit first base with his right foot as he stumbled. Guess Howard really wants to hit that Gold Glove incentive.

Then Madson got back-to-back groundouts, and the Phils played small ball again to get an insurance run with a leadoff walk by Ibanez, followed by a double by Feliz, and capped off with a sac fly by Bruntlett to make it 12-10.

Lidge came in, did give up a solo home run, but managed to get the save and remain perfect in save opportunities as a Phil. And Joe Blanton, even with his suckiest performance as a Phillie, still has not lost a game since coming over from Oakland. Not a bad day at the ballpark at all.

In fact, after I beat Arkansas Fred in NHL '09, I watched it all over again on the DVR with my roommate. What a great way to kick off my year at the ballpark. The Phils should pay me to go to games. I'm the comeback witness king.

BallHype: hype it up!


  1. Yeah, but it was really cold at the stadium, what if people wanted to be somewhere warm?

  2. Then they shouldn't have gone to the game.

  3. I was at the game too.

    When the van was just sitting there for a few moments before the rings came out, I was expecting Pat Burrell to jump out the back.. oh well.

    He recieved a great ovation. Great game.

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