Friday, October 31, 2008

Phillie Phloat Phallout

Any time that a city (or a nation) is awash in this much glory, it's important that the logistics are all squared away.

For example, when Chase Utley stepped to the microphone today and declared that his team is Number One, it was important that the children within earshot wrote it down w/o any misspellings.

It's spelled just like it sounds, kids.


When we take a minute and say it slowly and more-distinctintly, it's reminiscent of that time when Peter Gibbons and his pal Lawrence were cleaning up the debris following the fire at the site where the INITECH building once stood.

Lawrence gave us a quick, matter-of-fact, crunch-each-syllable-into-one "fuckinay" -- while Peter, on the other hand, offered a philosophical pose and sounded almost magnanimous as he spoke clearly and with distinction.

"Fuck ... In ... Ayyy."

Chutley's was somewhere in-between ...

And, that's an important lesson for America ... addressing who's Number One in an appropriate, succinct manner which galvinizes young and old (and black and white) alike.

After all, the last time the Big Phillie Parade took place in Philly, Mike Schmidt took the microphone and altered a lyric from that Johnny Paycheck song, "Take This Job And Shove It."

Said Schmidt to the throng of Phanatics, "Take this championship ... AND SAVOR IT!"

It wasn't "take this championship AND CRAM IT UP YOUR PHUCKING ASSES, Philly bandwagon motherphucks!"

Schmidty's message might've sounded too corny and Squaresville, so it was up to Chutley to provide a remark which, in some circles, would be considered "alienating."

We call those who are offended "dickheads."

(How interesting is it that a hip-hop version of "Take This Job And Shove It" is the song which accompanies the closing credits to the movie which chronicles Peter Gibbons' everyday battle against TPS-report cover pages and pieces of flair?)

Early indications are that Chutley's signature remark was less-offensive and less-alarming than it was confusing.

For example, nobody knows yet if the banner which'll be on a flagpole and flyin' high in the south Philly breeze at The Cit next season while the hometown team is losin' 2 of 3 to the NY Mess will read 2008 WORLD PHUCKING CHAMPIONS with a "ph" or an "f" -- or, if the "complete" term ("motherphucking") fits completely on a flag.

At least the organization has time to figure that out (that is, if Ruben Amaro and his biology degree from Stanford is, in fact, promoted to GM, thus clearing the way for Charley-Charlie Kerfeld to choose not only the correct spelling of his first name, but also to find somebody to replace him as "assistant to the assistant GM").

Of more immediate concern to the organization should be that Feb. visit to the White House when new President Oprah will receive his official Phillies shirt (white w/ red pinstripes ... a script, red "Phillies" across the front w/ two blue stars dotting the "i's") and, on the back of said shirt, the name OPRAH with a large 08.

(Thank phucking god it's an "08" and not an "8" ... because that number belongs to Hall of Famer Bob Boone, Juan Samuel, Jim Eisenreich and The Fuckin' Flyin' Hawaiian ... in that order ... sorry, Shane ... it's a tough lineup to crack ... )

That White House visit oughta be a dilly -- especially when the Vice President steps forward to shake hands and some P.R. guy says, "Joe Biden, meet Joe Blanton."

Phuckin' surreal ...

Before we arrive at Joe Blanton meetin' Joe Biden, it stands to reason that, in the immediate days ahead, we might hear some backlash about Chutley droppin' the F-bomb at the rally, particularly 'cuz it's (theoretically) not the proper message for our children, not to mention the fact that it might be construed as disrespectful to the recent Fallen Phillies who might be watching from Heaven (i.e. Tugger, Vook, the Pope and Whitey -- a.k.a. McGraw, Vukovich, Owens and Ashburn).

Then again, maybe 82-year-old Robin Roberts heard Chutley's signature statement, shrugged and remarked, "Fuckin'-A ... I'm 82-year-old Whiz Kid Robin Roberts ... and I approve this message."

What Robin Roberts probably doesn't condone, however, is the mob of jerkoffs who tip over cars during the overexuberance of victory.

Y'see, the problem which many of us have with such an act of wanton violence is that if these cars are to be tipped over, they must be set ablaze.

An upside-down car which isn't engulfed in flames ... what's the point?

The act is incomplete.

Mob mentality, however, is a powerful narcotic.

To pre-empt such hooliganism, it'd be fun to single out one of those tough-guy car vandals and, just as he is about to perform the rite of passage of joining the vandalism phalanx, whisper in his ear, "Everything you're about to do to this car, I'm gonna do to your girlfriend. Or daughter. That's right ... I'm gonna smash her windshield, flip her on her hood and then slide her along the asphalt until she bursts into flames. You into that?"

That's the City of Brotherly Shove for ya -- which is why it's best to steer clear of that city when everybody from Valley Forge to King of Prussia is converging along the parade route to see their heroes in their street clothes making their phucking declarations of phucking dominance.

The problem with allowing plainclothes Phillies to mingle w/ the masses is that it ends up like that time when Maximus began laughing at Proximo and, through his laughter, said, "You knew Marcus Aurelius?"
Proximo (angrily): "I did not say I knew him! I said he touched me on the shoulder once!"

That helps to explain why certain Phans are likely to walk up to J.C. Romero and say, "Carlos Ruiz, sign my t-shirt, puhh-leeeze!"

America needs its sports heroes to remain in their jerseys/uniforms so that we don't have to think of them as everyday people in everyday situations.

Chutley's a prime example.

We need him wearing his #26 and providing pop and crucial ribbies and valuable glovework and some speed on the basepaths.

His versatility as a ballplayer is his gift to us -- not his wide-open yapper spewin' PH-bombs.

CHUTLEY is best when he's a second baseman and not an orator in street clothes because, seriously ... whaddya gonna get from a guy who took a few classes at FUCLA just to stay eligible for baseball?

Chutley lives in the land of "see ball, hit ball ... see grounder, field grounder ... " -- so, we'll take it from there, Chuts.

When we need somebody to say something stupid or nonsensical, well ... that's Vice President Biden's job.

Jeez ... what ever happened to the good, ol' days of "Ours is not the victory of might, but the vindication of right ... " ???

WAIT A SEC ... Victorino's playin' center; he was in right last year, ha ha ...

We, the members of the Phanaticship, shouldn't get tooooo carried away with Chutley being so adamant of the phuckingness of this so-called world championship.

Officially, the Japanese baseballers were crowned WORLD champions at the World Baseball Classic in SoCal in '06 -- so, until the United States team does something to alter that status at WBC 2 next March, it might be a good idea if Chutley gets his facts straight.

U.S. Pro Phucking Baseball Sweepstakes Winners!

Hey ... just because Chutley isn't very accurate or articulate, it shouldn't diminish the impressive depth that Phils' lineup exhibited during the '08 postseason.

Workin' from the top of the order, the Fightin's postseason damage during the 14 games was respectable:

ROLLINS: (.240) Wasn't much of a sparkplug until his leadoff HR jump-started the NLCS-clincher at Milwaukee and his leadoff HR ignited the NLCS-clincher in L.A. ...

WERTH: (.310) Had more strikeouts (17) than any Phillie, but he also had the most extra-basehits (7 doubles, 1 triple, 2 homers) and the most stolen bases (4). His 6 BBs in the World Series led the team ...

UTLEY: (.220) Nuthin' to brag about in the postseason, yet, again, his big blast off of Lowe in Game 1 of the NLCS was huge and his first-inning, 2-run shot in St. Pete was vital -- and, how different would matters have been w/o his diving, unassisted DP in Game 4 in L.A. or his throw home to nail Bartlett (or if Mike Cameron, an alleged Gold Glover, had fought through the wind n' the rain to make that catch of what was ruled a double -- a gift -- in the very first game of this postseason)?

HOWARD: (.230) Was a real non-factor 'til he blew the lid off of Game 4 of the World Series w/ that 3-run shot (it was redemption for his nifty barehanded grab of Moyer's flip from the night before which was negated by umpire Tom Hallion abandoning his position where he had a clear view and then running to the concession stand or the souvenir stand or the mezzanine level or the designated smoking area located within a 648-foot homer to LCF to get a better view of the play).

BURRELL: (.230) In his final days as a Phillie (we presume), extended his MLB-record streak to 630 consecutive games w/o a SB att. -- and somehow escaped Eternal Phillie Boobird Hell with four, long, slow, overexaggerated, big-finish, sweeping swings of the bat -- the two homers during the clincher in Brew Town; the solo blast which followed Utley's 2-run shot in Game 1 vs. L.A.; and his almost-homer/double off of the crazy-angled wall in CF two nights ago.

VICTORINO: (.270) What a catalyst (13 ribbies in 14 games) -- and even if most of us have forgotten the 2-run single he ripped during Monday night's slop-a-thon, we're never (ever) going to forget his grand salami over the flower bed in LF vs. Sabathia (batting right-handed) or that laser-beam, 2-run HR which he buggy-whipped into the Phillie bullpen at Dodjerk Stadium (batting left-handed). Oh ... and, defensively, his glove was where rallies went to die.

FELIZ & RUIZ: (.250 and .260) '08 was '80 revisited w/ these two as it was reminiscent of (a productive) Trillo, Boone and Bowa creating havoc at the bottom of the order 28 years earlier. That threesome was far more-consistent during the regular season than Feliz & Ruiz (.249 and .219) were this year, although nobody should discount their defensive acumen for a nano-second. Feliz had some key hits here and there ... and Carlos The Catcher was "a force" wearin' #51 in the No. 9 spot (his double vs. Sabathia was THE mistake which C.C. made before Victorino's homer, not Myers' AB ... and let's not forget how it was Carlos' single which preceded Stairs' bomb in L.A., not to mention his RBI groundout which was the GWRBI in Game 1 in St. Pete before he singlehandedly won Game 3 w/ his HR and the 47-foot tapper at 1:47 in the morning ...

While the Phillies didn't have two or three guys hittin' .435, they also didn't have two or three guys w/ .167 avgs. in the postseason (the way that the N.Y. Mess would've). And, even though Rollins and Utley each have 30-plus game hitting streaks to their credit, nobody in the Phils' lineup possesses the everyday consistency to win a batting title.

However, as demonstrated during this postseason, when pitchers make mistakes (in terms of location), Phuckin' Phillie batsmen have a knack for hittin' those pitches on the screws.

Again ... it's not "if somebody makes a mistake" ...

It's "when" ...

That's what Matt Stairs did in L.A. and Geoff Jenkins did to ignite "The Resumption." They got each got a ball to hit and that's what they did.

Guys such as Stairs and Jenkins might've been easy to I.D. today, what, with their blonde goat-tees.

But, it is impressive to consider that if somebody such as Greg Dobbs isn't wearing either his #19, pinstriped shirt or a name-tag sticker which reads, "HELLO: My Name Is Greg Dobbs," he could blend in with the crowd and maybe say to the gal standing next to him, "Hey, get me Eric Bruntlett's autograph. Show him your ta-ta's if ya have to."

That's our Dobbsie -- the guy who looks like a regular Joe ... unless he's wearing his pinstriped attire w/ #19 on the back, wearing a facial expression of "I'm-all-business" and swinging a weighted bat in the on-deck circle as he's waiting to be announced as the scheduled pinch-hitter for Clay Condrey.

Every U.S. Pro Baseball Gold Medal Squad needs somebody like a Dobbsie ... a real Plain Jane ... until it's time to come off the bench and shoot a line drive into RF.

Or over the fence.

Technically, he puts the PH in "Phuckin' Phillie" (as exemplified by his .355 avg. as a PH this season).

Although Dobbs didn't have any Unser-esque moments in the postseason (seems as if those were reserved for Bruntlett and his lumberjack beard), he was a quiet 7 for 14.

Some of us definitely appreciate the manner in which the ex-Oklahoma Sooner got the start at 3B in Game 2 vs. L.A. and followed those backwards-K's by Burrell and Werth with a broken-bat chunker into CF vs. Barbara Billingsley.

That was the first of 5 consecutive hits for a 4-1 lead ... before Howard was caught looking.

The Game 2 victory was the second of two starts in which Brick Myers received ample run-support.

Crazy shit ... for which the Phillies were phamous this season.

For those of us who couldn't make it out there today for the phucking celebration, we're a little fuzzy about the scope of the merriment.

Was Adam Eaton allowed to ride on one of the victory floats? If he wasn't, was he out in the crowd, signing autographs which read, "Best Wishes, Chris Coste"?

Where was Kyle Kendrick?

Before we forget: On consecutive games during the first week of Aug., Kendrick blanked the Marlins to improve to 10-5 the day before Cole Hamels lost to the Marlins to fall to 9-8.

Don't gimme that, "Kyle who?"

It was nice of Moyer to make mention of Kendrick during the postgame excitement two nights ago.

Days like this are perfect for walking up to Brick Myers in his street clothes and asking, "Clay Condrey, will you sign this ball for my niece?" -- leading him to reply, "I'm not Clay Condrey" -- to which you'd say, "That's swell, 'cuz I don't have a niece, whoever the fuck you think you are" (knowing full well that it was Brick Myers w/ his moustache-less goat-tee).

Ri-ri-ri-right ... we're 'sposed to lay off Brick -- until his talent and mental makeup go south next season.

To his credit, though, Myers broke the ESPN Theorem of how Reformed Sex Addict Steve Phillips sez you're 'sposed to perform.

Thank god they don't play these games on paper any more.

If they did, the Cubs and Red Sox would've won every game, 6-0, until meeting in the World Series wherein all seven games would've been decided by a 4-3 score.

Yet, while the Cubs were lining up their playoff pitching staff (watch out, world! it's Dempster! Zambrano! Harden! and here comes Kerry Wood out of the 'pen! ... oh, "never mind" ... ), something went horribly wrong.

Such as not enough motherphuckers get the phucking job done in a performance-based paradigm.
There's yer phucking U.S. pro baseball sweepstakes triumph.

OF COURSE, we're already starting to hear the increasing negativity as the early TV-ratings numbers trickle in.

This World Series will probably go down as the least-watched of all-time.

Which makes perfect sense, since it wasn't Manny vs. Boston ...

Or Manny vs. the Yankees ...

Or Manny vs. Cleveland ...

Or Cubs vs. Chisox ...

Or the Los Angeles Dodjerks of Culver City vs. the California Angels of The Big A ...

Or because it wasn't Francona vs. Torre ...

Or because it wasn't Papelbon vs. Brazoban ...

Or Kuroda vs. Dice-K ...

Or because it wasn't Fuckingdummy playing RF for the Cubbies and battin' a robust .266 and makin' the All-Star team ...

Or because it wasn't Scioscia vs. Piniella ...

Or because the high-flyin' Rockies (shhhhhh ... they weren't a fluke!) couldn't be here this year ...

Or because the most-popular player of all-time, Kirby Puckett, missed the postseason because, um, he's dead ...

Or because Ozzie Guillen wasn't available to out-F-bomb Utley ...

It's easy to see why Philly-TB would be a ratings dog, given that each team has some of the best young talent in the game w/ stars ranging from Howard to Longoria to Rollins to Upton to Hamels to, jeez ... there's too many to mention.

DAMMIT, America ... why can't we get Giambi into the World Series every year???!!!

Why do we HAVE to put up with watching Lights Out Lidge when we NEED to be talking about Mariano Rivera?

Why do we have to watch Rollins doin' a little of everything when we NEED to be talking about Jeter's leadership??? (Note: Jeter can go 0 for 4, but his leadership oftentimes wills the Yankees to victory ... Rollins goes hitless in one AB and his own fans wonder why he didn't hit a 5-run homer while stealing second and third base in that one AB ... ).

Just thinking about how the Disneyland Baseball Channel obsesses w/ the Pinstripers/Bosox makes ya wanna burn either your "Yuck The Fankees" t-shirt -- or to have Chutley tell America to phuck the phucking Yankees (and the phucking Red Sox).

And, seriously ... who gives a phlying phuck if this was viewed as a "boring" World Series? It's always a boring, unwatchable World Series when your team isn't there -- or when Disneyland Baseball doesn't tell ya who to root for (or who to bet on).

Would a topless Jeannie Zelasko have spiced up matters?

If people want Dullsville, they need to check out the 1943 World Series or the 1999 World Series or the 1963 World Series or the 2004 World Series or the 2006 World Series or the 1984 World Series or the 2007 World Series or -- the worst of 'em all -- the 1994 World Series.

This one?

Not even close ... in fact, that S.I. w/ Ruiz and Baldelli on the cover called it "a connoisseur's classic."

That's probably a stretch -- but, here's the catch: America needs to get used to it.

'Cuz these are the teams which'll be playing for all the marbles next year ...


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Fightin' Feliz (World Champs)

The last time that some of us achieved this milestone in our lives -- the moment when we could proudly proclaim that the Phillies are the best team in baseball -- it was acceptable to be wearing flared Levi's cords (flared ... not bell-bottoms, goddammit!) and Brut (by Fabrege!) for that "get-together" with Janet down the hall (even though, ideally, the master plan was that, one day, there would be a get-together with Virginia across the hall).

It's amusing now because Janet let only one guy call her "Janetor" -- the same guy who was the only one who called Virginia "Ginny."

Oh, the conflict ... considering how it was Ginny who was there, not Janetor, when the only thing we had to pour over the head of the campus' undisputed No. 1 Phillie phan in the shower room was one bottle of Henry Weinhard's.

Mediocre beer for drinkin' ... sub-standard for dousin'.

But, that's how it worked in '80 ... when those dorm gals asked, "Is that a bottle of Brut by Faberge or a bottle of Wienhard's in your cords -- or are ya just glad that the Phillies won the World Series?"

Those moments never leave ya.

Just as that mental snapshot will remain permanent of Bake McBride using that unorthodox, off-balance swing with his 28-ounce bat to buggywhip that 3-run homer off of Dennis Leonard in Game 1 28 years ago, we'll never forget the swings we saw tonight, be it Geoff Jenkins' big cut and follow-through to jump-start "The Resumption" ... or The Wheel-Burrell taggin' one off the kooky angle of the CF wall ... or Pedro Feliz crisply sending that four-hopper up the middle and past the drawn-in infield for the game-untying, RBI single.

Feliz's semi-sharply-struck grounder up the middle which Bartlett couldn't reach was a lot like Werth's dunker to shallow CF which IwoJima couldn't latch onto, allowing Jenkins to score the first go-ahead run.

If the infield wasn't drawn in, well ...

So phrickin' what ...

Some of us are going to remember Feliz standing on first base as his magnificently-groomed beard and his necklace with those titanium magnets glistened in the floodlights of The Cit.

We can't think of anyone who has EVER in the history of the World Series singled home the eventual Series-winning run while wearing such a tidy-and-postgame-celebration-ready beard to accent his necklace of magnets.

Pedro Feliz w/ the Junior Ortiz Beardstyle ... it makes a Phillie Phan harken back to all of the third basemen who DIDN'T single thru the drawn-in infield in a Game 5.

That's you, Rick Schu ...

And, you, too, David Bell ...

(Boobirds are dialing 4-1-1 right now to get Scott Rolen's phone # ... so that they may boo him and blame him for 27 seasons which ended w/o a world championship)

The '08 Fightin's ... Weirdo Series Champions.

Probably more amusing than weird, notwithstanding The 50 Hours of Game 5.

The Jenkins-Burrell-Feliz trifecta definitely fit nicely into the paradigm -- such as when Carlos Ruiz became the first catcher who wears #51 in W.S. history to end a Game 3 with a 47-foot dribbler at 1:47 on Sunday morning after homering earlier in the game when it was Saturday night.

(John Facenda, please remind us again: "Great teams aren't great all the time. They're just great when they have to be.")

Phillie Phan has to admit that immortality was the last thing on his/her mind when Ben Zobrist followed Dioner Navarro's shattered-bat single with that screamin' liner to RF.


If this was 1977, Luzinski in LF would have retreated tenuously on Zobrist's deep fly ball -- or if this was 1978, Garry Maddox in CF would've been frozen in his tracks as Zobrist's liner emerged from the shadows to the sunlight.

Phortunately, Zobrist didn't hit the ball thru the time warp to Luzinski or Maddox.

Hence, right field was the right place for Zobrist's sinking liner to die in Werth's glove (instead of sinking faster than expected and skipping under the glove for an RBI triple which would've tied the game before the Rays tacked on five more runs for a 9-4 lead and lotsa mometum heading into Game 6 at The Trop ... ).

Not tonight.

Werth caught the ball that Luzinski couldn't and Maddox didn't (although both were completely vindicated in 1980).

Such is the forgiving nature of these triumphs which are Biblical in scope.

80 backwards is 08 ...

80 upside-down is 08 ...

80 ... the year that Genuine Risk became the first FILLY in 65 years to win the Kentucky Derby ...

08 ... the year in which Genuine Risk passed on to that horsetrack in the sky (in August) ...

The puzzle pieces finally fit ... so, there's no longer a need to reflect upon the hunt for Janetor or Ginny after Tugger thrusts his arms skyward and leaps off the mound after Willie Wilson's mighty swing and a miss through a fastball.

No need to phone up the ex-mom that we haven't spoken to in 27 years and rattle her Alzheimer's cage with commentary that the Dodjerks can kiss off (as some of us did 28 yrs. ago) ...

This time, the mood was one of subdued appreciation after Hinske waved weakly at Strike 3 and Ruiz hustled moundward after Lidge had dropped to his knees before the catcher bent the pitcher backwards and broke him in half w/ his victory hug.

It was similar to how we felt when Andy jumped off his beached boat and embraced Red on the sands of Zihautenejo (the reason for which was not 28 years w/o a world championship, but rather the reunion as free men after spending 19 years together in prison) (what? only Simmons is allowed to reference that movie? get serious ...).

Red had warned Andy that hope is a dangerous thing ("it's got no place on the inside"), yet, through it all, those two convicts reconciled that difference of opinion (such as when Red found Andy's note inside the box buried next to the wall under the big oak tree in that wheat field in Buxton ... "hope is a good thing ... maybe the best thing of all ... ").

Luckily, to offset the syrupyness of this triumph, we can always rewind to "Searching For Bobby Fischer" and parallel the moment when Vinnie was watching Josh playin' for all the marbles on TV vs. the mighty Jonathan Poe and he yelled, "There it is!" ... kinda like what we were doing when Jenkins found the gap as the first batter of "The Resumption."

(Note: Vinnie's not a "potser" ... and Bobby Fischer died in '08 shortly before pitchers and catchers reported to spring training ... )

We can't help but think how this outcome would've been sweeter if only Tugger, Vook, the Pope and Whitey had all lived to see this momentous occasion.

On the other hand, was it the image of Jenkins' majestic swing and his reaction upon pulling up at second base which sticks most in our minds or was it what happened in-between ... when Rocco Baldelli was looking awkward (sliding into the base of the wall) and dorky (with the hunter's earflaps down on his un-baseball-ish-looking Rays cap)?

Some gappers, some bleeders, some dunkers ... it all added up nicely for the Fightin's, who didn't have silly earflaps on their caps because it might've looked totally uncool on TV as celebration time grew near.

Despite a miracle season, the Rays's final push at immortality died in Philly's Arctic Zone -- hence, there will be no Game 6 inside their climate-controlled, amusement-park stadium with the bandwagon fans and the jumbo fish tank in CF.

There was some hope for them when Baldelli somehow managed to muscle up on a fairly-decent pitch by Madson for that HR which tied the game ... hope which was dashed only moments later when Utley performed his heads-up pump-fake to first and nailed Bartlett at the plate.

Hope which grew dimmer when B.J. Upton -- the terror of the '08 postseason -- tapped into that routine 6-4-3 DP to bail out Romero in the 8th.

And, finally, hope which was officially snuffed out when Werth corraled that line drive (instead of allowing it to skip past him for that aforementioned, soul-crushing RBI triple).

Speaking of triples, it was amusing to hear McCarver suggesting that Burrell probably should've legged out his hit for a triple after it caromed off the jagged edge of the CF wall.

Since we, the home audience, are well aware that Timmy talks baseball yet doesn't really watch much baseball, we realize that he may not know that the ground-rule triple (in an MLB paradigm) has not been invented yet.

And, unless Burrell was ridin' one of those big-wheeled, stand-up Segway personal transporters, there was no way in hell that the former Bellarmine College Prep quarterback and Miami Hurrcane third baseman (and future DH for either the Jays, A's or Rays) was gonna end up at third base.

That is, not unless all three outfielders collapsed and lost consciousness -- and, even then, if the left fielder came out of his coma one week later, there'd still be time for him to chase down the ball in the RCF gap and hold the super-slowpoke Burrell to a double (possibly a long single with a strong throw to second base).

Typical Burrell, though, isn't it?

The Vanilla Ronnie Gant ... right down to the uniform # (5) and the lower-than-we-had-hoped RBI and avg. numbers ...

In his Phillie Pharewell, the guy who batted .191 during the final month of the season ... the guy whose streak stands at 613 consecutive reg.-season games w/o a SB att. (630 in a row, including playoffs) ... the guy who was 0 x 8 during the first three games of the NLDS before bustin' loose w/ 2 HRs in Miller Park ... the guy who was ready to tie a record for ignomany with his 0 x 13 in this World Series ... well, that jackass AGAIN escaped the permanent wrath of the boobirds by using that big, slow, sweeping, dramatic swing to loft that drive off of the quirky facing of the outfield fence.

(Which is why it's worth phoning up Rolen and booing him before closing with an angry outburst of, "Why couldn't that be YOU?")

Once we push aside the acrimony and derision, however, the only remaining emotion is the feeling which best describes a big ol' bellylaugh and an emphatic, "no-frickin'-way" shake of the head.

"It hasn't sunk in yet" is likely to ring true for a few more weeks, considering how this team entered the playoffs with starting pitchers No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4 represented by Myers, Moyer and Blanton.

The 45-year-old sandwiched between the Brick who was 3-9 / 5.84 at the end of June and the Joe Blow who was 5-12 / 4.96 when he was acquired in mid-July ...

"World Series, here we come!"

Again, not to get too Biblical, but when Moyer The Warrior was attending the previous world championship celebration to honor his Fightin's (as some of us were making Janetor our unclothed Phillie sacrifice while wishin' it was Ginny), the planets had aligned and cosmic forces had coincided so that Moyer was at the parade two months after Myers was born and two months before Blanton was born.

Phreaky, phrickin' Fightin's ... that's what they are.

Now, it's merely a matter of observing the levels of jubilance-blended-with-hostility-aided-by-booze during the riots which'll rage from Conshoshocken to Croydon ... from Broad Axe to Leopard ... from Wissonoming to Neshaminy ... from Collingswood to Cinnaminson ...

Hard to believe there'd be this reaction to a team which had a 7-11 record vs. the New York Mess, an 8-10 record vs. the Florida Martians and a 4-11 record during interleague play.

Crazy shit ...


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Suspended-Game Suspense

To pass the time during, this, THE LONGEST 6TH INNING IN BASEBALL HISTORY, the Big Yokel (Middle Name: "Fuqua") who manages the Phillies is likely sittin' in his office with his chief lieutenant, Jimy Williams, breaking down game films and talkin' strategy.

Y'know ... important championship stuff such as how to deal with more two-deep-zone looks ...

And more pick-n'-roll plays w/ guys goin' back-door ...

And, say ... howzabout at least considering the neutral-zone trap?

The scene is likely reminiscent of that time when bail bondsman Eddie Moscone was losing faith in Jack's ability to bring The Duke back to L.A., so Eddie thought it over and then confessed to Jerry that it was time to make a change.

"It's time to bring in Marvin. Call him up. He's in Pittsburgh."

JERRY (showing surprise): "Marvin Dorfler?"

EDDIE (shouting): "That's 'D' in the Rolodex for jerk, Jerry!"

Ahhh, the life of a bail bondsman and the bounty hunters who complicate his life, etc ...

Was it really 20 years ago when we first saw the conflict amongst Jack n' Eddie n' Jerry n' Jimmy Serrano n' Alonzo Moseley n' Marvin Dorfler, that's "D" in the Rolodex for jerk, Jerry! ???

Apparently, so ...

Kinda makes ya wanna go to Casper, Wyoming (no, Anchorage, Alaska ... no, Boise, Idaho) and stand in the lobby of a Howard Johnson's wearing a pink carnation.

Well, that might be Jack Walsh's way of killin' time, but it's not foremost on our minds right now as America is imprisoned by Selig's Game 5's 6th inning, which is now 20 hours old.

The drudgery of such an oddity on a blustery East Coast day is made more painful that we're talkin' about something that's not happening as we watch it not happen.

Kinda reminds ya of what happens every time that the cliche-ridden jerk-off Kirk Herbstreit appears on the TV screen and uses his gelled hair and slightly-raspy voice to yap about "the offensive side of the ball" and "the defensive side of the the ball" ... and running backs who run downhill ... and receivers who catch the ball with their hands and not with their facemasks ... and guys who make plays "in space" ... and quality play from the quarterback position (as opposed to quality play from something merely known as "the quarterback" -- no, seriously, didja expect less than 58 cliches per game from a stiff who had an 0-8-1 record vs. Michigan and in bowl games?).

Jimmy Serrano sez, "You and that other dummy had better get more personally involved in your work or I'm gonna stab ya through the heart with a fucking pencil."

Ahhhh, the life of a mobster with whom Jack Walsh refused to do business ...

Memories of Walsh v. Serrano is sometimes all we have when the InterWeb is infected with Selig bashers and the unclever pro-Phillie rabble who routinely demonstrate a lack of wit or a flair.

When you're married to a sugar plum who's spent the past four months kicking the crap outta breast cancer, it seems appropriate to use this final week of Breast Cancer Awareness Month to inform her that when the Fightin's do make that trip to the White House during the first week of February (or whenever), they'll be handing President Oprah an OBAMA 08 uniform top, not an OBAMA 1 Phillies shirt.

Get with the program, sleepyheads ... 1 on the back of a Phillies' shirt (it's not a "jersey," people) should never have a last name above it.

Because 1 is the nameless shirt which Richie Ashburn wore.

Then again, if someone had a '78 Phillies retro shirt with a CARDENAL 1 on the back, that might be acceptable (maybe for a week) because it would be soooooo uniquely retro.

More on the mystical side of matters, the '08/'80 angle cannot be discounted or diminished (or, as they say, nowadays ... "marginalized" ... or "thrown under the bus").

Because, held up to the bathroom mirror, 08 is 80.

And, upside-down ... 08 is 80.

However, if one were to stand on his/her head and looking at 08 in a mirror, it's still 08.

So, don't do it, okay?

Instead, spend some time with your '08 calendar and flip through the months until you arrive at the realization that it is exactly the same as the '80 calendar -- meaning that when Brick Myers was born on Aug. 17, 1980 (two months before the Phillies' only world championship), it was a Sunday (just like 2008).

It's the same deal for Joe Blanton (a 6-0 record, 10 no-decisions in his 16 games as a Phillie).

Kentucky Joe was born two months after the Phillies clinched the only world championship in their history.

Baby Blanton showed up on a Thursday.
Four days after Lennon was gunned down during Monday Night Football ...

Nobody can say for sure if these cosmic forces make the Fightin's "destiny's darlings," but you can damn well bet that something which caught the eye of the Big Yokel and his 1st Lt. was this:

In the '80 World Series (during the era when we had DHs for the entire series in '76, '78, '80, '82 and '84 ... 'til they changed it to "the pitchers must bat" in NL parks ... which normally sucks 'cept when Kentucky Joe is comin' outta his cleats while swingin' and linin' one over the wall), the bottom third of the Phillies' lineup consisting of Trillo, Bowa and Boone batted a combined .328 (21 for 64) with five doubles, 8 ribbies, 10 runs scored and -- get this -- ZERO strikeouts in those 64 ABs.

What first-rate production from the No. 7, 8 and 9 hitters who wore Nos. 9, 10 and 8.

There's something symbolic about that.

Isn't there?

Anyway, it's really the only data that the Big Yokel and his 1st Lt. have to work with.

Well, THAT ... and the oddity from the first inning of Game 5 (which seems like it began two weeks ago).

Somebody somewhere somehow shoulda noticed that when Chase Utley was walking from on-deck circle to batter's box, the P.A. system (as usual) was blaring Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir" -- and the Stingray pitcher on the mound was Kazmir (!!!).

As the kids say: "No frickin' way!!!"

(Way ...)

Some of us who were in the ballpark for Game 4 predicted that there would be serious repercussions in a "Kashmir" vs. Kazmir showdown -- albeit not quite the same confusion we felt all those years ago when we heard "Kashmir" cranked up as Mark was driving his sister's car for that big date w/ Stacey -- an act of defiance perhaps after Mark's Ridgemont High classmate, Mike, specifically instructed Mark to fire up side one of "Led Zeppelin IV."

Actually, Mike told Mark that "Led Zeppelin IV" should serve as the backdrop for when it came time to make out w/ a chick -- lousy advice, it seemed, since everybody knew that the ultimate makeout song of that time period was what it was a decade earlier.

"Helter Skelter" ... what else would it be?

Hey, just before the start of the magical '80 season, some of us DID make out with a 16-year-old and then went home and fired up our favorite side (two) of The White Album.

It still resonates today (whatever "resonates" means) ...

Besides, "Physical Graffiti" wasn't in the LP collection, anyway.

So, these are the immutable laws of nature which govern these times when '08 is connected to '80.

It's likely that nobody informed Chase Utley that a little more than one week before the end of the Phillies' '80 regular season, Zeppelin drummer John Bonham left us permanently when he gagged to death on his own vomit after another drinking binge.

If Utley knew that, maybe he'd opt for something just-as-hardcore-but-maybe-less-popular from the Zeppelin vault, such as, oh ... "The Battle of Evermore" (unless he feels it has too much mandolin) or "When The Levee Breaks" (unless he feels the song is too harmonica-heavy).

Looks as though we've found our metaphor right there:

"Cryin' won't help you / Prayin' won't do ya no good ... "


Monday, October 27, 2008

You Can't Spell "Phanatic" w/o "Panic"

Have Philadelphians forgotten -- and, failed to embrace -- the concept of how rainy Philly nights interacting with postseason baseball are THE kiss of death in their beloved city of brotherly love?

After all, Karen Carpenter sang something about how rainy days and Mondays always get her down ... yet, she died before we could get her reaction to rainy Mondays and World Serieses.

The postponement of Game 5 -- and the subsequent overturning of cars and shattering of storefront windows -- is exactly that and nothing more.

A postponement.

Which is why this definitely is NOT the time for a full-scale Phanatic Panic ... definitely NOT the time when we collectively piss our pants and moan about conspiracy theories which will sabotage this Series and direct it back to the Land of the Cowbell for a "phatephul" Game 6 and Game 7 which'll culminate with a Feb. trip to the White House whereupon Pres. Obama will proudly display his Stingrays shirt with the OBAMA 1 on the back).

Lest we forget, this Phillies team has gone against convention from the get-go, so there's no need to dial up that rainy Oct. Sat. night in '77 -- the day after "Black Friday" -- when Commissioner Kuhn put his Bowie-approved, smiley-face stamp on Game 4 and allowed Lefty to pitch in the downpour.

Likewise, there's no need to rewind to that cold n' drizzly n' bleak Oct. Weds. night in '93 when a 14-9 lead went down the drain.

And, there's definitely no reason to summon FOX's Chris Myers & His Cartoonish Voice as he utters, "It's always sunny in Philadelphia? I guess not ... " (add the creepy, uncomfortable, please-don't-kick-my-ass laugh ... ).

This is a unique situation and, yes ... it was shameful that Colbert was asked to get back on the mound in the top of the 6th as the infield dirt was turnin' to Malt-O-Meal.

A reasonable person could reason, quite reasonably, that if the game is to be played in conditions so miserable that Hamels cannot grip the ball for his best pitch (the cuveball), then the Stingrays should be ordered to hit while using rolled-up newspapers as bats (which some of them are, anyway).

The argument: "It was rainy and dismal for BOTH teams" doesn't (ha ha) hold water because if ya tossed a toddler into a pond with an aligator, well ... it's wet for human AND reptile, so get over it!

Look ... everybody realizes that an unusual development overseen by a spineless commissioner who still hasn't initiated vital legislation which would justifiably de-enshrine Eppa Rixey, Old Hoss Radbourn and Pud Galvin from the Hall of Fame is problematic on its face.

However, this is no time to go all Warden Norton when he finds Andy Dufresne's cell empty for the morning count.

"Let's ask that cupcake on the wall," he says, glancing over at the large photo of Raquel Welch in her famously revealing cavegirl outfit on the movie poster for "One Million Years B.C."

Warden Norton (raising his voice):"What say you, fussy britches?! (Quietly) "Oh ... don't feel like talking?" (turns to Red and the two guards) "I'll tell ya what this is ... it's a conspiracy, that's what it is!" (begins throwing the little rocks which he swiped from Andy's window sill) "And everybody's in on it!"

Now, before we go out and buy that poster of Raquel and use it to cover the hole we'd dug in the wall so that we could tunnel out of our existing lives, let's consider our options.

A) Play the blame game.
B) Continue to exhibit the same stoic nature that we did during the month of September and thru the playoff series wins over the Brew Crew and Dodjerk Blue.

If we get all impulsive and reactionary, before ya know it, we're on the telephone, leaving nasty messages on Scott Rolen's answering machine.

Or we're insta-messaging Scott Rolen and booing him and telling him that his hustle, skill and all-out play for shitty Phillie teams is why we're in this mess, et ceterea, et cetera, et cetera ...

If only Larry Bowa and Dallas Green had hugged Scott more ... and not called him a "red ass" or spouted some nonsense about he needs to focus more on the game, blah blah blah ... have another Scotch, Greenie.

Note: Some of us spend lengthy rain delays raging against the way that Scotty Rolen was run outta town by loudmouths and boobirds ... which wasn't much different than what happened to Bobby Abreu ... because Phillie Phan doesn't always understand that productivity doesn't always have to be accompanied by a fist-pump and a scream of "fuckin'-A!" every time a guy does something ... a guy CAN be a Gold Glove third baseman or a 30/30 performer without chest-thumping ... but, then again, if he doesn't yell "fuckin'-A!" as he hits a homer, Phillie Phan will think Ballplayer X doesn't care ... but, if they wanna boo somebody who doesn't care, they need walk only as far as the Phillies broadcast booth in order to boo Larry Andersen, who, if he gave a shit about what he was doing behind the microphone, he wouldn't sound like a frickin' drunk who's been doin' that job for less than three weeks ... jeez, it's difficult to believe that such a super-doofus gets a paycheck for airwave incoherency ... )

Now, THAT was a nice rainy-night rant ...

Speaking of broadcasting mastery ("hey, just 'cuz ya got a mike in your hands, that don't make ya no broadcaster -- just as when ya have a mike in yer mitts in the karaoke bar, that don't make ya no singer ..."), there was a priceless moment when the tarp was stretched across the infield for the final time tonight when America thought it heard Joe Buck say something about how, if Tampa Bay hadn't scored the tying run in the top of the 6th against Cole Hamels, the game would've been suspended with the Phils winning, 2-1, and, if the game had been called a rainout (possibly anywhere between 2:38 a.m. EDT and 5:02 a.m. EDT), the rain-shortened victory would give the Phillies the world title.

That's an excellent example of Joe Buck when he huffs floor wax that his papa (god rest his soul) left in the cabinet under the kitchen sink.

Everybody knows that the Commissioner is a frickin' nitwit -- but he sure as hell wasn't going to allow the World Series end the way that Buck described.

While Bud did allow an All-Star Game to end in a tie ... and while he hasn't lifted a finger to de-enshrine Eppa Rixey, the guy's not a total stooge.

If it HAD worked out as Joe suggested it might, Little Billy Phillie Phan in Bryn Mawr might've gone to bed at 11:30 not knowing the fate of his beloved Phils ... and when he awoke at 7:30 on Tues. morning, Mom n' Dad (if Dad's still in the picture) could've instructed him to hurry downstairs because there was a wonderful treat in the living room -- and, to his utter delight, Billy would've rubbed his eyes to discover that Mom n' Dad had used a red Magic Marker on a white t-shirt to write: "Philadelphia Phillies 2008 World Series Champs."

"It's just until the World Series champion apparel arrives at Sports Authority in a few days, honey."

Alas, there would be no jolly St. Selig to fill Little Billy Phillie Phan's stocking with candy canes, a So Taguchi autographed batting glove and a world championship.

What this weather nonsense means is that an undecided Game 5 is takin' a little bit of a detour.

Hey, after spending Sat. and Sun. nites chainsawing through 93 years of Game 3/Game 4 bad karma (let's say it together: 0-2 in 1915 ... 0-2 in 1950 ... 0-2 in 1980 ... 0-2 in 1983 ... 0-2 in 1993 ...), a slight breather right now affords everybody the chance to over-think which storefront windows will get smashed and which cars will get tipped over.

For those of us who wear a Phillie red cap with a Detroit Red Wings sweatshirt, we can comfort everybody by re-telling how Hockeytown was less than 40 seconds from winning The Cup at home until the Penguins tied the score w/ 35 seconds to play and then forced a Game 6 back in Pittsburgh.

Rather than fall to pieces, the mighty Wings regrouped and went about their beeswax the way one might expect -- getting the game's first goal when Brian Rafalski ricocheted a shot or a pass off of Hal Gill's leg and into the net before the official "clinching" goal was scored by Henrik Zetterberg when his stoppable shot was blocked by Marc-Andre Fleury who then fell on his buttocks and pooped the puck across the goal line.

Now, THAT'S a championship recipe ... and maybe it's something the type of fun/insanity that the Phillies can cook up.

Once they resume this thing ...


Sunday, October 26, 2008

PHILLIES: The Difference Is Crushability

What TV has taught us 'bout gettin' wasted while watching/attending sporting events:

Bud Light's drinkability makes it the beer of The MLB ... but, if the focus is fewer carbs and swell taste, the Commissioner of The More Taste League suggests that you drink Miller Lite during NFL telecasts.

Baseball beer vs. football beer ... so, how many Silver Bullets does it take to get the courage buzz goin' for gettin' her bra unclasped? ha ha ...

America ... a nation overwrought by booze conflict -- particularly when a ballplayer w/ the ultimate Pabst Blue Ribbon body (Joltin' Joe Blanton) hits his first major league homer over the DRINKABILITY sign on the outfield wall one night after his teammate, Ryan Howard, blasted his home run below the DRINKABILITY sign hanging from the upper deck.

As if anybody would celebrate such heroic accomplishments with a light beer.

Those are he-man feats ... it's time for a Yuengling (or three).

Or vodka ...

That's the cool thing about visiting the ol' ballyard when ya haven't been there in several years -- it's a real learning experience.

Just ask the Tampa Bay Stingray pitchers who leave pitches in the fat part of the plate to this Phillies lineup.

"The difference is crushability ..."

And, because the Fightin' Phils pigged out on pitches with a high hittability factor, we're arriving at the conclusion that the difference in this World Series is winnability ("yes" ... these cliches are a reach, but, c'mon ... what kind of a hookline is "drinkability," anyway? That's like saying that you drive the car you drive because of "drivability" or that the meal you're about to eat has a lot of eatability ... ).

Weak ad campaigns: The difference is gullibility.

Not that any of this detracts from what transpired while attending our first Phillies home game since the FIRST-EVER SUNDAY game at The Cit (when, on that mid-April day, The Vet was still a pile of rubble next door ... and when the Montreal Expos came out for the bottom of the 9th with Terrmel Sledge in LF as a defensive replacement and Rocky Biddle was on the mound in a non-save situation in a 4-4 game ... a scenario which lasted all of 5 pitches as Doug Glanville rocketed that Biddle offering over the head of Sledge ... over the flower bed atop the outfield fence ... and into the bleachers for a walk-off home run and <<< what the frick??? >>>

Is this REALLY the time or the place for "The Ballad of Rocky & Sledge"?

Is the difference truly Sledgability?

What a journey: From the first-ever Sunday game at The Cit to this -- the first-ever Sunday World Series game at The Cit ... on a Sunday which began so gloriously for the Fightin's when Carlos Ruiz ended matters in delightful fashion with that Game 3-winning, 48-foot dribbler up the third-base line at 1:47 in the morning.

Let's sing it together: The difference was dribblability.

Although tonight's Game 4 did not end with Lights Out Lidge demonstrating Lidgabilty, it was a terrific field trip, due in large part to the fact that the Fightin's haven't lost a Sunday home game since the Fourth of July weekend.

Eight in a row -- and, moreover, since The Cit opened, the Phils are 52-16 on Sundays (11-2 in '04; 9-3 in '05; 12-4 in '06; 9-3 last year; and 11-4 this season).

Winning three-quarters of your games under any circumstances is tremendous -- yet, it just goes to show: The difference is Sundaybility.

For us to participate in Citability, it's necessary to recall the conversation which took place more than a week ago when the former director of the Phillies' West Coast bureau (Shadow Company, 29th Infantry, Batallion X, circa 1975-97) and the Mrs. were 'bout a trip to The Cit for a World Series game and <<< "no, seriously, honey ... we don't have tickets." >>>

Like that's gonna stop her during this, Beware of Breast Cancer Month.

After you've had both breasts removed four months earlier, "obstacles" which might stymie other people seem a lot less unconquerable.

Still, it makes ya chuckle when you're sittin' there by The Cit's "Third Base Gate" (not too far from the Schmidty statue, which, unlike the Johnny Unitas statue outside of M&T Bank Stadium, was sculpted depicting a favorable likeness of the Hall of Famer instead of what happened to the Johnny U. sculpting which has him depicted with a crotch-bulge the size of a cantaloupe ... begging the question: Should we open a checking account at Citizen's rather than M&T?

The difference is genitalability.

Back at the ranch: We enjoyed overseeing the intermingling of Eagles fans in their green jerseys (after their "W" at The Linc became official an hour earlier) with everybody in Phillie red during the Game 4 pre-game melange of humanity.

It's amazing how the passers-by were decked out in every type of Phillie cap, Phillie shirt and Phillie jacket conceivable to mankind, although it's always amusing any time those baseball shirts (they aren't "jerseys," America ... football players wear jerseys; baseball players wear "uniforms" ... let's get on the same page, people!) have an official Phillies logo on the front, yet the letters and numerals on the back are entirely the wrong font and incorrect point size.

Like the Johnny U. statue, there are some flaws which need correcting.

Despite these nitpicks, the swarm of Phandemonium allowed us to complete a mental inventory which we can take to the next board-of-directors meeting.

The breakdown is as follows:

43% of those shirts were dedicated to #26 UTLEY ...
24% were for #35 HAMELS ...
9% were for #11 ROLLINS ...
8% were for #6 HOWARD ...
6% were for #20 SCHMIDT ...

... and the other 10% were equally divided among #8 VICTORINO or #54 LIDGE or #5 BURRELL or #28 WERTH or an '80s/'90s throwback (McGraw or Kruk or Luzinski or Dykstra).

Notwithstanding those pie-chart demographics, sometimes it's difficult to shake the memory of that first-ever Sunday game at The Cit in Apr. '04 when that dude (whoever he was) crossed up everybody in the Phillie phanbase by wearing a #48 GROTEWOLD shirt ... back an era when 88% of the fans wore a #25 THOME shirt.

That memory of a fan's tribute to Jeff Grotewold sometimes is the brain's way of hoping upon hope that somebody -- anybody -- would walk by wearing a #2 BROGNA or a #21 McBRIDE or a #51 SLOCUMB or a #44 RUTHVEN or a #8 EISENREICH or a #74 URBINA or a #22 INCAVIGLIA (the Mrs. doesn't know yet that somebody was wearin' a #12 IGUCHI, but nobody was wearing a #99 TAGUCHI).

There's no denyin' that seein' somebody with a #2 BROGNA shirt would've stirred up quite a few emotions (considering how Rico provided quality play and back-to-back, 100-RBI seasons while battling the effects of ankylosing spondylitis "lookit up").

Alas, we stood a better chance of seeing somebody wearing one of the two finest Phils caps which sells (which we've discussed previously) -- i.e. either the lid w/ the combo of purple shell + sky-blue brim + yellow P or the MLB Chocolate Funk w/ brown shell + pastel circles on the brim + electric-pink P outlined in electric blue.

Fortunately, we had visual proof that nostalgia wasn't totally dead once we saw that guy entering the ballpark as he wore a kelly green (or is it forest green?) #48 HOPKINS Eagles jersey ... "that's exactly what we're talkin' 'bout!" ... word up, old school ... been gettin' too much midnight green in our diet ... ).

[Y FYI: There were as many shirts for #51 RUIZ and #7 FELIZ -- "zero" -- as there were #23 CHURCH and #30 DONNELLY shirts -- meaning that Philly appreciates its Latin American stars about as much as it feels inclined (which is to say "not at all") into paying tribute to Bubba Church and Blix Donnelly, two pitchers for your '50 Whiz Kids, dammit ... which really makes ya wanna burn your #43 HAPP shirt ... mostly out of guilt ... because there's no way that J.A. Happ is better than Bubba Church ... Y]

The parade of shirts/caps, etc. was fascinating as hell, but when it was all said and done, it didn't get the ticketless fan any closer to gettin' inside, despite a bellyful of The Bull's Pulled Pork Sandwich bought from one of those nondescript stands.

We knew it was "crunch time" when we were still outside and the Phillies' lineup was announced backwards (no, not as in "Drawoh Nayr" -- but in reverse order ... as in No. 9 thru No. 1 ... what the frick?) before Patti LaBelle butchered the "The Star-Spangled Banner" worse than the Backstreet Boys did before Game 1 with all of those wild "waaaa, oooooo's" and "eeeeee-yahhhh's" and some made-up lyrics (note: one day, this once-proud nation of the United States of America will cut to the chase and stop bastardizing Francis Scott Key's national anthem and take the song to a new level -- and, that's to say that when the song arrives at "... and the rocket's red glare ... " it'll morph into "you're whispering in my ear / tell me all the things / that I wanna hear / 'cuz that's true / that's what I like about you ... " -- because, here in America, THAT'S the song which we use for 78 percent of our TV ads because, well ... didja ever stop to think that maybe the Romantics are better than Francis Scott Key, mostly because FSK never had a single in the Billboard Magazine Hot 100???).

Well, right about the time that some of us were thinkin' that a nation which has "Enter Sandman" by Metallica as its unofficial/unauthorized national anthem isn't such a bad country, the Mrs. was delighted to inform her hubby that she was standing inches from Commissioner Selig near the curb on Pattison (he musta just stepped out of a limo or a helicopter or something).

It didn't occur to her to do the sensible thing (such as stab him in the eyeball with a Bic pen) -- nor did she think to inquire about the Eppa Rixey controversy.

"Commish ... when the hell are you gonna de-enshrine Eppa Rixey? In his eight years as a Phillie, five of those years were subpar, one was ordinary, one was good and one was excellent. In his 13 seasons in Cincinnati, three were subpar, six were ordinary, two were good and two were excellent. Nobody gives a rat's ass that his 266 career wins was a record for a southpaw when he retired. The simple arithmetic sez: 8 subpar seasons, 7 ordinary seasons, 3 good seasons and 3 excellent seasons. Add it up, Slick ... there's very little that's Hall of Famish about that "alleged" Hall of Famer. And, say, while you're de-enshrining Eppa Rixey, go ahead and do the responsible thing and revoke the memberships of clowns such as Pud Galvin and Old Hoss Radbourn and their circus stats from 100 years ago. By doing so, you'll be availing space for considerably stronger players from a more-balanced era ... players such as Jim Kaat, Bert Blyleven, Lance Parrish, Bob Boone and, 'yes' ... Jamie Moyer ... "

It's a serious concern ... the way that nobody wants to address the Eppa Rixey matter. All they wanna talk about is that little tyke who spent the Game 4 pre-game peddling around that little car called "The Utley" -- or that kid who was riding on his dad's shoulders and holding up a little sign, "The Rays Are A Fluke."

WAIT! Someone actually took time out of a gorgeous Sunday to Magic Marker such hate-itude? And then "that somebody" made his kid tote the sign?

If not pointless, it does seem counter-productive.

Yet, it didn't change the fact that there was $300 on the line for two tix that somebody was lookin' to ditch, but before anyone could say, "ShamWow!", those well-dressed gentlemen with no particular team affiliation appeared out of nowhere (maybe they just stepped out of a limo or a helicopter or something) and offered FREE tix.

We don't know if they were baseball nomads or some heroic benefactors (they were definitely more dapper and fit than those male foursomes in the Flomax commercials ... y'know, the TV ads which address matters such as "incomplete emptying" when we should be addressing the Eppa Rixey injustice), but the Mrs. didn't need to milk the cancer angle, though she has cancer and she's married to a Cancer (albeit neither she nor her spouse has ever been referred to as a "clubhouse cancer" ... the deadliest form of all the cancers ... ).

Those nattily-clad gents -- the anti-thesis of the City of Brotherly Loathe -- wouldn't permit us to buy 'em a beer (or five) as payment.

"Just enjoy the game ... "

And then those generous gents vanished ... leaving us unsupervised within the walls of The Cit ... free to roam and go nuts with everybody else in Section 307 (on the foul side of the RF foul pole) ... or in the area on our way to Section 307 ... "that's right," Section 122 ... the place where we saw Rollins rip that leadoff double down the line before Burrell sandwiched a bases-loaded walk between feeble ABs by Howard (an eventful comebacker!) and Victorino (a tapper in front of the plate!) ... this, after spending only a few fleeting moments on the outskirts of Section 131 when the first batter of the game, Akishinjo IwoJima, hit that opposite-field deep drive which caused Burrell to stumble and stagger and stumble again and then eventually make the catch up against the wall.

As he was staggering.

The irony of our gamelong free roaming was that Howard had the audacity to lauch his first bomb inside the LF foul pole when we were just outside the RF foul pole, then he went wicked, super-nasty big fly to RCF when we were (socializing with the local rabble in Section 140) near the LF foul pole.

It was like that old Translator song, "Everywhere But I'm Not."

Good band.

What happened to those guys?

OH, RIGHT ... the game ...

What a night in the City of Brotherly Shove ... a once-in-a-lifetime World Series experience (a 10-2 victory, a 3-games-to-1 lead, the Liberty Bell prop gettin' all flashy n' sparkly w/ its neon lights of red, white n' blue) for a 34-year veteran of the Phillie summer wars of '75 thru '08 and his sidekick, the sweetest bald chick, bar none, within the stadium.

It was the type of night which can prompt a guy to unabashedly misuse terms such as "funner" and "funnest," particularly when that inebriated guy walks over and asks you who that is warming up in the bullpen next to Lidge ... and you mess with his head and, instead of saying, "Jay Happ," when you notice that it's the lefty, #43, you inform the guy that it's not J.A. HappWhoCallsHimselfJayHapp, but that it's actually "I.M. Hipp."

The stranger thanks you and you send him off with a hearty, "No prob, dude. Glad I could Happ ya out ... "

Note to self: 30 years ago -- when most of us were certain that the Ozark-led Phillies would win back-to-back world titles -- Isaiah Moses Hipp was a bad-ass RB for the Nebraska Cornhuskers.

Yup ... before Jarvis Redwine ...

Inside, you're amused ... 'cuz you remember when Nebraska knocked off your beloved No. 1-ranked Sooners, 17-14, in that '78 showdown ... and you recall that the Sports Illustrated made a coverboy out of a 'Husker white-boy RB named Rick Berns, not RB w/ the funky name "I.M. Hipp" (that was a time before white-boy RBs were outlawed in this country ... during a frustrating period of teenhood when Heisman Trophy-winner Billy Sims lost the football at the 'Husker 3-yard line late in the game one month after Garry Maddox dropped that soft liner in Game 4 at Dodger Stadium ... thank god the Steelers bailed us out two months later and >>> uh oh, the game! <<<

Sometimes, it takes a ballgame such as this to remind ya that it's good for the bloodstream to get a little clappin' and yellin' goin' as Werth is hittin' a frickin' screamer into the seats (y'know, when you witness a pitch that's a blur and a swing that's a blur, yet your eyes are fixed on the drive from the split-second that it jumps off the bat ... and you see it sail over the wall (or, as the broadcasters say, "out of the park") ... quite unlike the way you see the same development in its chopped-up version inside a cube called "a TV" before Buck or McCarver say something unintelligent or incongruous ...

It happens so fast in person ...
And it happens so fantastically ...
Especially in a Game 4 setting ...

It makes ya wonder: Why can't every game be a Game 4?

That's the thing about TV sports -- ya forget how, despite all the bells and whistles of modern technology, NUTHIN' can reproduce the sights n' sounds of bein' there, no matter how much Hi-Def and Surround Sound is injected into the system

Invariably, TV will muffle and mute the environment -- and while the medium may offer closeups and some cliche words from miked-up players, there's no way that the other mikes can effectively translate the power of 43,000 chants of "EEEEE-vuhhhh! EEEEEE-vuhhhh!" accompanying 43,000 rally towels wavin' as Longoria is inching closer and closer to gettin' punched out.

While Phillie phanatics have definitely earned a measure of respect this season for fillin' The Cit to capacity repeatedly, one gripe is that the crowds grow mighty quiet when JumboTron is not instructing them how to act and how to feel.

We shouldn't allow "Kernkraft 400" by Zombie Nation to create "electricity."

It's a pleasure when the game-action dictates the buzz.

And, once all hell breaks loose (in a good way), it's worth it just to soak in the pandemonium ... admiring all the pretty neon colors -- again -- of the giant, Liberty Bell prop, especially when you've just finished watching Joe Blanton circle the bases because he just homered (to the surprise and amusement of everyone).

Of course, that's the beauty of bein' at the ballpark -- you go to grab an Italian sausage 'cuz the Phils have the bottom of the order comin' up and then you linger near Ashburn Alley for a little too long because you're mesmerized by that black guy wearing that throwback, powder-blue 1976 Phils shirt which has CASH 30 on the back (in maroon, not red ... ) and you're so blown away by the old-school brilliance of it all that you lose focus momentarily until the crowd is erupting and you're running up the nearby stairs to see what's goin' on.

Just in time to see Joey Blants trotting around second base in a semi-leisurely fashion.

"No ... effing ... way!"

But, that's Joey Blants for ya.
Kentucky Joe!
He's just crazy enough to pull it off ...
Take that, Kevin Millwood (or Jon Lieber)!

It's then that you recall what it was like during that very first Sunday four years ago when Thome blasted one out several innings before Glanville's game-winner.

That was the first week that the bell tolled for home run heroes.

But that was a day game ...
And, it was April ...
And, the victims were Rocky Biddle and Terrmel Sledge ...

THIS WAS WAY DIFFERENT, obviously ... right down to the postgame misbehavin' by the kids who supposedly pushed over (so they say) a streetlight just north (we think) of the Broad and Curtin intersection (according to the young driver of that Chevy Lumina who we talked to at the traffic light at Broad and Hartranft).

And, maybe there simply is no explanation for that bizarre post-game fracas one car ahead of us on Broad when all three occupants of that taxi (including the driver) exited the vehicle and engaged in some slap-fighting with some riled-up street toughs (maybe) in that park between Geary and Curtin all because one of those punks banged on the cab's trunk, but x MAKE NO MISTAKE ... the greater crime which took place at that very moment -- as Sunday was merging to Monday -- is that we were actually watching those shenanigans instead of having our butts parked at Pat's King of Steaks right then ... and, while wolfing down a "whiz, without" (if that's how we out-of-towners order the Cheese Whiz version w/ no onions), asking the locals about that ballfield right there across the street ... w/ home plate nestled up against 10th and Wharton and ...

"Wait a sec ... do only Little Leaguers play there? 'Cuz if there's slo-pitch which takes place on that diamond, it looks like a pretty easy pop for a lefty slugger. We've all seen slo-pitch gorillas who can knock one 200 feet -- and that's about all it would take to clear that fence in right field, to clear the traffic on Passyunk and to land on top of the roof at Pat's. Hey ... you'ze-list'nin'-uh-mee? We ain't talkin' 'bout no 525-foot blast to straight-away center which lands on the roof at fuckin' Geno's, y'know? Straight-away right field ... betcha someone's done it ..."

A Game 4 victory like there was tonight ... it gets everyone a little crazy. Kids are wired and lettin' off steam, after all ... it wasn't as if they could storm the field and tear down the goalposts.

Kids nowadays ... when they aren't texting or losing their iPods and stealing someone else's iPod because they lost theirs, they don't always stop to smell the roses (whatever that means) -- nor do they very often stop to appreciate that old black dude who conducted his own postgame show outside the parking lot on Pattison by playing the title theme to "The Good, The Bad & The Ugly" ON HIS VIOLIN!!!

For us out-of-towners, we don't know if that guy was a phixture of Phillie postgames, but, maybe THAT GUY should be performing "The Star-Spangled Banner" before Game 5.
It would serve as a fitting prelude to what we envision happening if the Series wraps up with the Phils clinching in 5 ... and the quality of rioting which would surely ensue.
Forget the light pole which was uprooted.

It's "Best of luck to you, Mr. MyCarWasCapsizedAndSetOnFire" ...

It might very well mushroom into an ugly, every-man-for-himself, free-for-all which is commonplace when championships are won (which hasn't happened in THAT city since '83, unless ya count that Philadelphia Soul/Arena Bowl championship which garnered much global acclaim for Ron Jaworski -- who, the Mrs. reminds us, is a fella who can be taken outta Depew, but Depew can never be taken outta him).

It's highly doubtful that anyone who has ever toured Philly has ever described the visit as "magical" or "otherwordly," yet, that's how it played out for these lovebirds four days after their 10th wedding anniversary.

Our union is strong enough to withstand ballpark temptations, such as that gorgeously-magical and otherwordly gal who some of us brushed up against on the patio outside of McFadden's.

She was insanely beautiful ... although she was not the cause of the unzipping and the whipping out ... that was the result of an unstoppable urge to whizz inside the men's room at McFadden's rather than at the base of the Rocky statue on the way back to the car.

Needless to say, that "looker's" unmitigated raw beauty was only heightened by that '70's/'80s, maroon Phils she was wearing.

Perfect crown, perfect stitching on the logo, a fitted shell ... the sight of a knockout like that wearing a cap so stylish and brilliant and alluring definitely prompted thoughts of approaching her and asking:

"Say, what are the chances that I could talk you into a threesome? Me n' the Mrs. here would really love to take your maroon Phillies cap home with us for a beautiful experience, if you catch my drift. Say 'yes' and I promise you this: The Phils cap can be 'on top.' Yintristid ... ?"

Nobody knows for sure if she spent any time "mulling it over" because, before the thought process computed that "the difference is bangability," we were accosted by those Japanese TV guys only a few steps outside the McFadden's patio.

Imagine that: Just a few seconds from stepping outside the ballpark boundaries and onto Pattison, the Japanese cameraman turned on his light and the the Japanese guy speaking broken English wanted our comments for Japanese TV.

It makes a Fightin's Fan wonder: "What in the name of So Taguchi, Tad Iguchi and Emperor Hirohito is Japan's agenda?"

On one hand, you're thinkin' that mayyyy-beee The Land of the Rising Sun wants our observations on various trends in this Series, such as Longoria and Pena being a combined 0 for 29 -- or, before tonight, the Phils' inability to hit with runners in scoring position (0 for 13 in Game 1; 1 for 15 in Game 2; 1 for 5 in Game 3; and, tonight, 0 for 6 in such situations until Pedro Feliz had that critical 2-out, bases-loaded single one inning before Howard went 3-run Big Fly to LF).

Sure ... 2 for 39 (.051) was bleak, but then Feliz's rip into LF got the RISP avg. up to .075 before Howard's jack lifted it to .102.

Baby steps ...

Is that what you were looking for, PRP (Pacific Rim Programming)?

Or were you fishing for something controversial, such as some inflammatory remarks regarding the way that the Stingrays' IwoJima kicked two grounders tonight or the way that Taguchi was forced to ride the pine by his manager, Charlie Manuel, a former Japanese League star?

Maybe the Japanese wanted an explanation in THEIR version of the Eppa Rixey Crisis -- such as the time when the Mrs. went to Japan almost 16 years ago and brought a pack of baseball trading cards across the Pacific ... and inside that pack was there not only Koichi Yanada wearing #0 for the Yakult Swallows and Koji Nakada wearing #34 for the Hanshin Tigers, but -- check this -- So Taguchi was wearin' #6 for the Orix Blue Wave.

Most Americans might not be able to pick Koichi Yanada or Koji Nakada out of a police lineup unless those players are wearing a Swallows shirt with a YANADA 0 on the back or a Tigers shirt w/ NAKADA 34, but here's an issue which Japan doesn't like talking about:

When So Taguchi was brought to the bigs by the St. Louis Cardinals, he couldn't wear #6 (Stan The Man's retired #) and he couldn't wear #6 turned upside-down (#9 ... Country Slaughter's retired #).

So, So-So So Taguchi chose #99 ...

Two upside-down #6's ....
(That dude's frickin' crazy, man ... )

That's a quasi-newsy tidbit that the Japanese citizens can handle -- far less controversial than any of us explaining the injustice which took place before the bottom of the 8th when dancers from the local colleges did some dancing (what else?) atop the Phillies dugout.

We saw gals from St. Joe's, Drexel, LaSalle, Villanova, Penn and >>> holy crap!!! there was nobody representin' Temple!!! <<<

That guy standing nearby (it might've been the guy who couldn't I.D. Jay Happ warmin' up in the Phillies' 'pen) was livid. He was madder than a hornet -- so, it's probably just as well that nobody told him that also NOT dancing were leggy female reps from Gratz College, Stenton House or Eastern State Penitentiary (located right next door to St. Joe's, for you out of towners).

In Japan's eyes, this might not've registered as much of "an issue" -- after all, our Pacific Rim neighbors are infamous for mocking The MLB for crowning a "world champion" when the so-called "Fall Classic" is nothing more than a U.S. Pro Baseball Sweepstakes.

Lest we forget, Japan defeated all international competition three years ago (destroying all comers, from Iceland to Rwanda) in winning the World Baseball Classic -- and, to them, this Phillies-Stingrays series is but a mere prelude to WBC 2 next March.

Although nobody in the States can touch Makoto Nagano's insane level of athleticism in Ninja Warrior, Japan needs the WBC as a deterrent to those international collapses at the Little League World Series, not to mention the bitterness the nation experienced five months ago when Kristi Yamagushi (not Midori Ito) waved the green flag to signal the start of the Indy 500.

That Indy race was a real heartbreaker, considering that American rookie Ryan Hunter-Reay finished in 6th place less than one full second ahead of Japanese rookie Hideki Mutoh (even though those Top 10 times were almost 13 seconds ahead of 11th-place finisher, rookie Oriol Servia of Spain and almost 24 seconds better than 13th-place finisher, rookie Will Power of Australia).

Do the Japanese people feel as though "Oriol Servia" and "Will Power" are made-up names of two anonymous KV Racing teammates?

Speaking of the Japanese and automobiles, the viewers back home in the villages of Daihatsu and Mistubishi probably don't realize that the last time that the Phillies were one win from a "world championship," the Datsun B210 Honey Bee w/ the dimpled hubcaps made to look like a honeycomb was a car which we would frequently run off the road with the power and brute force of our '73 Gran Torino station wagon.

Taken together, all of these are matters which have displeased the Japanese people and strained Amer-Asian relations.

That ... and the fatal misunderstanding between Hans Gruber and Mr. Takagi in the Nakatomi Building in L.A.

Oh ... and the fact that we scoff any time a broadcaster informs America that Eeee-chee-rohhhh is such a magical hitter that he could hit a home run any time that he choses ("he's THAT good") -- which, doesn't make a damn bit of sense because when the M's were free-falling to 100 losses w/ the $100 mil payroll, shouldn't Eeeee-cheee-rohhh have waved his magic wand and gone 6 for 6 in a game w/ 6 grand slams?

Y'know ... just for kicks?
Instead of that "doin'-the-fundamentals" thing during a 14-5 game in which a "W" won't help the "36" in the "GB" column.

At the end of the day, American TV not only misinforms us re: the spiritual one-ness of Eeee-chee-rohhh, but also how Sapporo beer stacks up against the previously-mentioned Yankee-doodle pisswater lite beers out there.

It kinda makes ya wish that the result of the joint venture between Matsumura Fishworks and Tamaribuchi Heavy Manufacturing Concern had been a rice beer rather than the dish detergent which banishes dirt to the land of wind and ghosts which we came to know as MR. SPARKLE.

It stands to reason that Cole Hamels will employ a Mr. Sparkle focus when he takes the mound for a potential clincher in Game 5.

"Out of my way, all of you. This is no place for loafers! Join me or die. Can you do any less?"

If Hamels succeeds in his quest to become the first pitcher to go 5-0 in a single postseason, the Stingrays will be banished to the land of wind and ghosts.
Before we get ahead of ourselves, though, we'll spend a little more time savoring the hearty goodness of the Game 4 fiesta.

It might just be worth it to call in sick to work Monday ... except for some of us, we don't need to use the telephone inasmuch as we are required to roll over in bed and tell her, "Ain't gonna make it in today, hun."

As for her, she's got some powerful stories to share w/ everybody during her 4-hour, Monday chemo session.

"... and then Kentucky Joe came to bat ... and he practically came outta his cleats when he took that swing ... "