This past weekend in Washington aside — with the Phillies somehow losing two games in which they led in the 9th inning — the Philadelphia Phillies have been nothing short of awesome this season.
They have by far the best record in baseball, their 81 wins four more than the next closest team, and their 6.5 game lead over the Atlanta Braves, who just so happen to be tied for the second-best record in the NL, is the largest divisional lead in baseball. Exploring further, the Phillies also have the second-best home record in the majors, their 44-20 mark trailing only Milwaukee's 47-16 home record.
When you add it all up, the Phillies have been unquestionably the best team in baseball and the second-best home team in the game. Yet I have been a black cloud hovering over the best team in the league, quite literally.
You see, I've been to about 10 games or so this year. The exact number escapes me. But what I can tell you with 100 percent certainty is that only once all season have I attended a game with good weather … and I've only witnessed two wins in person this year. Talk about a double-whammy.
The first game I went to was freezing cold and windy. It also just so happened to be Cole Hamels' worst outing of the year, making for an all-around miserable night. And in every game since except for one — another Cole Hamels loss actually — it has rained at least slightly, sometimes much, much more slightly.
There was the rain delay with Kyle Kendrick on the mound. The other rainy game against the Giants, again with Kendrick on the mound. Then I had tickets last Sunday (a week before yesterday), free tickets no less, for a game I was greatly anticipating. Not only was Roy Halladay slated to pitch, but the unveiling of the Harry Kalas statue was to take place.
So naturally, the game got rained out and postponed until Sept. 20. Then, I had tickets for Thursday's game, a match-up with the Diamondbacks featuring Vance Worley on the hill for the Phillies facing off against Arizona's ace, Ian Kennedy.
While the weather forecast said there was a chance of thunderstorms, the radar looked rather encouraging before I left work. The night started out great. My dad picked me up from work, and we headed to pick up his cousin down in South Philly. Then we were off to Nick's Roast Beef for a heart-stopping pregame meal, and it was fantastic as always. I mean, a roast beef sandwich with provolone and gravy fries is damn near impossible to beat.
After filling our stomachs, we got to the game nice and early. Maybe even a little too early. I say that only because our seats were in left field, section 142, row 7. Since we got there so early, Arizona was still taking BP, meaning there were a lot of fans crowded in our section trying to snare BP home run balls.
Now, let me state a few things. For starters, I have never once in my life caught a home run or foul ball at a baseball game despite going to literally hundreds upon hundreds of games in my life. My friends and I did get Rheal Cormier to toss us a ball from the bullpen at the Vet on Harry Kalas bobblehead night, but that's it. And I absolutely would like to get a game ball some day. I think every baseball fan would at one point or another. However, there is a fine line between wanting to catch a foul ball or home run that is hit to you and being a complete and utter psycho loser. If you are a grown man who does nothing but scour the ballpark racing to get home run/foul balls, especially during batting practice, you are a stupid human being, and probably a pretty awful one, particularly if you are jumping in front of children to rob them of a souvenir.
There were two such men in our section during batting practice, and I hated them with every fiber of my being. The guy directly in front of us was about 35 or 40 years old, glove in tow, and he was trying like hell to get to anything he could. At one point, a ball landed a few rows over, and he and another gentleman (this guy with his two young kids), went for it. The man with his kids got it and gave it to his daughter. The other guy said it was low because the ball was in his glove, the guy took it out and then proclaimed it his. And he bitched about it the rest of BP, despite telling us he had already gotten 15 balls this week, and that the other fellow who "took" his ball did so to give it to his kids. Seriously, get a fucking life.
Even worse, a man who had to be at least 60 years old was doing the same thing, stalking baseballs. He had a glove, at 60, and was fighting for position against 10 year olds to get a batting practice baseball. And the fucker got one, caught it out of the air, and thought he was tough shit for out-maneuvering some young kids and catching a god damn BP home run. He was extremely proud of himself, then shooed away a kid who asked for the ball. Seriously, that guy should go and get fucked.
Listen, if you are above the age of like 13, 14 tops, there is no way in hell you should be bringing a baseball glove into the stadium — unless you are an actual major league player. Yes, getting a baseball is cool and all, but really it's something that's for kids, particularly when getting to the game early. Get a fucking life and grow the fuck up. Christ.
Anyway, the best part of getting there early was going to see the Harry statue up close and personal. Fittingly, it's right next to Harry the K's, and naturally, it was mobbed the entire pre-game.
From there, the game began. Vance Worley was dealing yet again, throwing absolute filth and baffling the Diamondbacks. Raul smoked a ball that just missed being a home run, then was driven in by Wilson Valdez, who smoked another one off Kennedy to give the Phils the lead. Then, John Mayberry doinked one off the foul pole immediately to my right to give the Phils a 3-0 lead. Honestly, when Mayberry hit it, I didn't even stand up or react much, because from my seat it looked like the ball was going to be at least 10 feet foul. However, my eyes deceived me as it hit high off the foul pole to extend the lead.
That's when things went south. Due to my presence, the storm clouds were moving in. And while it was barely raining to start, the grounds crew rolled out the tarp. About 30 seconds later, Citizens Bank Park was engulfed by a monsoon. I mean, it was pouring as hard as I've ever seen. There were impressive bolts of lightning, and just buckets and buckets of torrential rain. We stuck it out for a good, long while, but finally we threw in the towel at around quarter to nine. My dad's cousin had to get home to his family and prepare for work the next morning, and honestly, there seemed to be no end in sight to the rain.
We knew that they'd do everything in their power to resume play given that Arizona does not come back to town this year, but how long that wait would be was anyone's guess. Of course, I got home and about 20 minutes later the game resumed. Fuck me.
That's just been the way of it for me this season. At least the Phillies won, making it just the second game all year that the Phils have won that I've been at, both pitched by Worley nonetheless. But I've been the black cloud quite literally for the Phils this year. I've been at two of Cole Hamels' 7 losses and two of Roy Halladay's five losses. I've seen Kyle Kendrick lose and Roy Oswalt lose. And I've gotten wet or cold at every game but one.
The Phillies are and have been the best team in baseball all season long, yet I can't buy a good experience at CBP this year to save my life. This team has just one black cloud hanging over it, and it seems to be me.