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 ...


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