Friday, October 10, 2008

GAME 2: Fightin' Hard, Flyin' High

You could see it in the eyes of the Phillie phanatics (but not in the face of the Phillie Phanatic because he wears the same expression all the time ... because he's wired ...on caffeine ... or greenies ... not sure which) a few innings after those phans had exhausted themselves waving their Fightin' Phillies rags as Sugar Cane Shane capped the 4-run second with his 2-run single and then capped the 4-run third with his 2-run triple.

Euphoria had yielded to angst ... the 8-2 lead had shrunk to 8-5 on Manny's 3-run homer ... and as the Dodjerks sent the tying run to the plate on more than one occasion, the FOX-TV cameras showed the images of concerned fans who had only one thought.

"Please don't be 15-14, please don't be 15-14, please don't be 15-14 ..."

Unless, of course, the mantra running through the minds of those panicked phanatics was: "Please don't be another Black Friday ... please don't be another Black Friday ... please don't be another Black Friday ..."

For those of us phans of the Fightin's who couldn't be there at The Cit today, we kept the karma train from derailing -- although we couldn't help but notice that when the FOX cameras showed us images of happy 9-, 10- and 11-year-olds amongst the crowd, we figured that maybe their innocent smiles were the result of Mom n' Dad never sitting down with the tykes and having "the talk."

Y'know ... the discussion involving 15-14 and Black Friday.

Then again, maybe those 9-, 10- and 11-year-olds don't have parents. What other explanation is there for the kids' presence at The Cit? Kids can't afford the tickets -- especially not the tickets to avenge 15-14 and Black Friday.

Thank goodness for the charity of orphanages and foster homes.

'Cuz let's face it -- Phillie Mom n' Phillie Dad is likely disinclined to explain/rationalize/justify the 14-9 lead which slipped away in Game 4 of the World Series on a damp-n'-chilly night at The Vet 15 years ago (although we did have three guys in uniform tonight who were there for 15-14 ... Milt Thompson, Larry Bowa, Mariano Duncan).

"Black Friday" vs. the Dodjerks 31 years ago receives the "shhhhhhh" treatment in the homes 'round Bryn Mawr and Bala Cynwyd -- which is the why the kids or those neighborhoods are not full of bitterness and rage.

However, instead of poundin' another nail in the L.A. coffin, the Phils spent the final six innings making the game a bit of a nail-biter -- particularly when Madson got that pitch elevated to Blake-beard the pirate and the result was that long flyball to the kooky-angled corner in CF.

Alas, L.A. of '08 is not Toronto '93 and all's well that ends well, particularly when it's the Flyin' Hawaiian showin' some ups to make the catch at the wall on Blake's drive, followed shortly thereafter by Lights Out Lidge ending the game by inducing "I-Go-By-My-Middle-Name-Which-Is-My-Dad's-First-Name-"Ramon"-Spelled-Backwards" to go fishing for sliders in the dirt in a "one! two! three! strikes yer out at the ol' ballgame" manner.

THE PHILLIES CONTINUE TO AMAZE US AND BAFFLE US AT THE SAME TIME -- and now they're two victories shy of completely f**king up the love story which ESPN craves sooooooo badly: A Manny-Beantown Homecoming! (everybody knows that the more-interesting human interest story is the one where Americans busily MapQuest the Boston sidewalk where the alleged Brett Myers did not allegedly punch/slap his alleged Mrs. before alleged eyewitnesses a few alleged years aqo).

The only thing that Brett slapped tonight was a baseball ... three hits for the guy who's batted a robust .050 the past three seasons ... the goofy mofo who impressed us with his batter's-box/basepath razzle dazzle to the point where America was forced to decide if we enjoyed Brick conking himself in the back of the helmet during his follow-through more than we were thrilled about his dash from first to third -- stumbling dangerously after touching the second-base bag -- on Rollins' single up the middle.

Some of us have lived long enough to remember the last time that "A Phillie Named Brett" did something of this magnitude was wayyyy back in '73 when pitcher Ken Brett, in his only season as a Phil, homered in four consecutive starts (it saddens us to realize that a cheerful baseball guy like Ken Brett died of brain cancer at age 55 less than two months before Tugger died of brain cancer at age 59 ... which is totally an F'ed-up outcome for both families).

After what Brick did to the Brew Crew last week, it really makes ya wonder what's goin' on inside that boy's head (picture: a hamster running inside a squeaky wheel).

BY THE WAY, Buck and McCarver are "this close" (this close!) to receiving a lifetime ban at our La-Z-Boy lounge.

Buck is KILLING this nation every time a batter fouls off a pitch and he exclaims, "Good swing!" as though he's watching a Bobby Sox game in which his daughter, Jacqui Buck (we're guessing on the name), is playing.

McCarver -- having seemingly gone cold turkey on the Miss Clairol hair dyes -- hasn't picked up his level of play since he captivated America with his wacky, semi-coherent, top-of-the-9th, play-by-play two weeks ago in the Phillies' N.L. East-clinching W vs. the Nats.

It's one thing to dispense disinformation to America, but, it's another matter entirely to provide misinformation -- such as declaring Brick Myers' AB as the key to the first of the Fightin's 4-run rallies.

(Drumroll ... ) He's wrong.

It was the Carlos Ruiz AB after Greg Dobbs broke his bat and chunked that single to CF.

Chad Billingsley -- who nobody fears any more than we feared Barbara Billingsley as June Cleaver in the 1950s (or Barbara Billingsley speaking jive in "Airplane!") -- punched out 4 of the first 6 batters (destroying Dobbs' lumber in the process), needed to be smart (and able) vs. the .211-hitting catcher.

But, he grooved his pitch and Ruiz rifled that shot to LCF for the game-tying RBI double.

Re-construct the inning, Timmy.

The pitch that Brick lined to RF for his first hit was located well, but Brick "stepped in the bucket" and inside-outted one the other way -- a textbook example of how "sh*t happens."

Nevertheless, none of this sh*t which happened, however, explains why Dodjerk pitcher Joe Beimel (whoever he is) used his made-for-TV lineup intro to describe Billingsley as "Barney Rubble's stunt double."

It really makes ya wonder what 1987 Cy Young Award winner Steve Bedrosian (the Phillie nicknamed "Bedrock") thought of that Flintstone characterization.

Some things, it seems, are beyond our control -- such as when we go to commercial break and get either Randy Newman's "I Love L.A." or the theme from "Rocky."

No one has the guts or the imagination to fire up the track "Los Angeles" from the debut album by X entitled -- get this -- "Los Angeles" (it's significant now in the sense that it was released in 1980, the same year that the Phillies won their only world championship, etc, etc ... thankfully, people came to realize that while "Los Angeles" wasn't bad for a debut LP -- particularly the cut "Your Phone's Off The Hook, But You're Not" -- and even though the band's second album, "Wild Gift," received all of the critical acclaim, it was the third and fourth albums -- "Under The Big Black Sun" and "More Fun In The New World" which are probably the coolest ... seriously, "Blue Spark" and "The Hungry Wolf" are WAIT, WHERE WERE WE?

Ohh, right ... everybody with a value system is irritated by Elton John's "Philadelphia Freedom" ... and where the hell are FOX's football robots?

These are the types of questions which run through a Phillie phan's brain whilst he's wondering if the 8-2 lead will disintegrate into 15-14 or Black Friday.

If Blake hits that drive w/ Maddox or Dykstra in CF instead of Victorino, do they catch that ball? (answer: Probably not Maddox ... after all, he'll celebrate his 60th birthday next year ... his range has diminished ... ).

Does Rowand make that play?
Does Rowand knock in those 4 runs?

Less hypothetical in this Q&A is whether the Dodjerks will initiate some sort of a beanball war when the teams get to L.A. ... in retaliation for Myers throwing that pitch behind Manny.

It's such a non-story -- but, then again, it's important to protect one of the mighty apostles of The MLB.

Anyway, the ideal outcome for Game 2 woulda been for the Phils to take that 8-2 lead and mushroom it into something like 11-4 or 13-6, but, alas ... it's simply not in the Philly DNA.

It's difficult to believe that in the history of Phillies postseason baseball (this was the organization's 27th postseason win), the widest margin of victory was the 9-4 win in L.A. in Game 3 of the '78 NLCS (remember? the game in which Lefty tagged that 3-run homer off of Don Sutton?).

In playoff baseball, 10-1 wins are difficult to come by -- but you'da thunk there'd've been at least one 6-0 or an 8-1 win in there somewhere.

No worries.

Tonight, there was no Phillie meltdown, so, "yes" ... the process of avenging '77 and '78 is right on course.

The Phillies are in such good shape that they can make like Irwin Fletcher (the guy who writes the "Jane Doe" column for that L.A. newspaper) and, while standing in Chief Karlen's office, notice the photo of the Chief w/ the Dodger manager and remark, "You know Tommy Lasorda?" (pause ... angrily punch the photo, shattering the glass) "I hate Tommy Lasorda!"

Everybody does, Fletch ... everybody does ...

It's best to take that contempt and set it aside so that we may gulp down one or two In-N-Out Double Doubles w/ cheese -- burgers which are more-easily digested with a 2-games-to-none lead ...

Exene Cervenka sez, "John-neeee hit and run Pauleeeeene ... "


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