Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Italian Sausage Party at Citizens Bank Park

Last night, two teams that were a combined 19 games under .500 took the field at Citizens Bank Park, with the defending World Series champion San Francisco Giants and their last-place record coming to town to take on the third-place Philadelphia Phillies.

For all intents and purposes, both teams' seasons might as well be over, making this far from a marquee match-up. But after walking around Center City all day and realizing just how beautiful it was outside, I decided to see if silver fox wanted to go to the ballpark and take in a Phillies game. After all, it had been a while since I've been to CBP, though not all that long ago that I saw the Giants play. So we decided to head to the game and enjoy perhaps but probably not the last game in red pinstripes for a few Phillies. You never know, even if it seems like Ruben Amaro Jr. still thinks this core is good enough to win a World Series when healthy. But I digress.

We got down to the stadium, purchased some cheap seats up in section 434, grabbed a couple beers and took our seats on quite literally a perfect summer night. There was no humidity, the sun was setting, it wasn't hot and wasn't cold — perfect conditions for baseball, one of the most comfortable nights of the entire summer.

To top it off, there was room for us to stretch out a little, with so many vacant seats, and the people in our section were quite pleasant actually. In fact, minutes after I sat down, I sneezed, and the guy sitting to the right of me with his son passed me a napkin. Hospitality in Philadelphia — it felt strange but was much appreciated.

As for the game itself, pitcher John Lannan started off on the wrong foot, giving up a run in the first inning, and I kept saying how they should trade everyone. But the Phils got it right back and even took the lead, as Michael Young got things going, Chase Utley followed suit and Delmon Young and John Mayberry drove in runs to give the Phils a 2-1 lead. Moral of the story: Barry Zito is still terrible.

That first inning took forever, and the game just continued to crawl along from there. The Giants tied it up in the third, and it felt like it should have been the sixth. Thankfully, like I said, it was beautiful out and I had nowhere else to be.

Plus, we soon found out it was Italian heritage night, and the Phillies kept playing stereotypical Italian music. Some could argue it's racist, but whatever. I'm half Italian, and I didn't mind.

Again, back to the game. In what could potentially be his last game as a Phillie, Carlos Ruiz homered to left in the fourth, scoring John Mayberry and giving the Phils a 4-2 lead. Chances are Ruiz isn't going anywhere, but just in case that was his last game in Philadelphia, it was a nice way to go out … deriving in the eventual game-winning runs.

Two innings later, Michael Young — the Phil with the best shot at being traded provided he waives his no-trade clause — crushed a two-run bomb himself to left, and the game was pretty much over from there.

Lannan settled down after the third and seven innings to get the win. Ruiz and Young both hit two-run bombs, and Mayberry drove in two runs himself. All in all, it was a good effort from a team that looked like it didn't have another good effort left.

But really, all the game action is secondary to what took place between one of the innings.

Let me start by saying that over the course of my 29-plus years on this planet, I have been to quite literally hundreds of Phillies games. I've been going to games since I was a little kid, and there have been seasons where I've gone to close to 30 games. I've sat pretty much everywhere you can possibly sit in both the Vet and Citizens Bank, from club box to box seats to skybox to every section and row you can think of. And in all those games over all those years, I've never once caught a foul ball or home run ball, nor have I ever gotten a hot dog/sausage/t-shirt shot out of the Phanatic's cannon. Never. Not once.

So when the Phillie Phanatic came out with his hot dog gun shooting Italian sausages, silver fox and I had no delusions that a sausage would come our way. In fact, silver fox literally said, "There's no way he can get one of them up here." I thought the same. While I've seen the Phanatic hit the upper deck with his hot dog gun, I thought the angle we were at in 434, row 5, the last upper deck section lining up near the foul pole in left field, gave us no shot at a sausage.

Then, moments later, the Phanatic cranked up the CO2 and rocketed one right for us. It just kept rising on a line headed literally right toward me. What can only be described as a douchey-looking fellow in front of me wearing a Papelbon shirt tried to nab it, only to see the sausage fly through his hands and land right next to me. I'll be damned. I nabbed the sausage, unwrapped its layers of duct tape and split the sucker with silver fox. Not only did the Phanatic get it up to our level … he shot it right at us.

We considered that a victory in its own right, and we capped off the perfect evening with a cheesesteak and some chilling at my house following the victory for the Phillies and the victory for us. All in all, not a bad night at the ballpark.

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