a vague collection of daily struggles, hourly arguments, minute concerns, and secondary impulses.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Goosebumps ahead.

(Posted Wednesday, June 6.)

The little man turns 24. After breakfast on South Street, we headed back to "The Bank". Shane Victorino Day, replete with a figurine. This game moved almost as quickly as last night's; an immediate 2-0 hole, followed by a brief 3-2 lead, then a trail of 5-3. We had plans to preempt the seventh inning stretch with some food, but after the Giants continued hammering the middle relief, we gave up on our seats and walked around for food early. (Standing around had worked the night before, aye?)

The Phillies entered their half of seventh inning with the score now a bloated 7-3. Wes Helms stepped to the plate with two runners and doubled in both. When his chance came, Utley drew a walk. First and third, two outs, down 7-5. Ryan Howard -- remember him? -- stepped to the plate, 0-fer, and quickly Sheffielded himself into a hole:
The 1-2 to Howard ... High drive, deep center field ... It's got a chance ... IT'S OUTTA HERE! ... Three. Run. Home. Run. Ryan Howard! And the Phillies have taken an 8-7 lead!
Citizens Bank Park has something that no other baseball stadium can match. In center field sits a giant neon sign in the shape of the Liberty Bell. Each time a Phillie homers -- as well as at the end of each Phillie victory -- the bell comes to life and warms the soul of every dark-hearted Philadelphian in the stadium. We missed seeing any home team home runs the night before, but after Utley, Rowand, and now Howard had gone the distance ... goosebumps indeed.

In the top of the ninth, the bullpen warmups became a reality and the Phillies brought in Antonio Alfonseca, the kiss of death. My brother warned me that this was the end of the Phillies lead, and one batter later, that was the case. Big Al managed to escape the inning without allowing anything more than a tie.

At the hotel after the Saturday night game, I told these two about an Orioles game I had been to early in the 2000 season. This was the Albert Belle Era, and I was signed accordingly -- big black posterboard with "PHAT ALBERT" in vibrant orange construction paper. In the middle of the game, he doubled the Orioles out of a hole and tied the score. A cameraman near our section swung right over to us and showed us and our sign on the big screen. Until last year, I once described that day, that moment, as one of the last times I ever felt, good or bad. I spent the better half of the next five years numb, quiet, and efficient.

Speaking athletically, ridiculously ... I have been to my share of events over the years ... but nothing compares to what came in the Phillies' half of the ninth. An 8-8 tie, with bad relief pitching and struggling offense looming worse than the clouds and pouring rain. Rollins stepped to the plate and prompty struck out. Next was the man of the day, Shane Victorino. 0-fer himself, he took the first pitch for a ball and settled in:
High fly ball, deep to left ... Could it be? ... VICTORINO! ... No Ka Oi! ... Shane Victorino -- on Victorino Figurine Day! -- has won the ball game with an opposite field home run! Phillies win it 9-8! You couldn't've scripted it any better!
I missed the home run trot. I missed the Liberty Bell. I missed the crowd, the cheers, the high fives, the spilled beers. The only thing I had, and held, was my brother, as our twin six-plus frames hugged and jumped up and down, and up, and down, and up again, until we nearly fell over. My eyes were soaked and my voice was hoarse. One of the greatest moments of my life, easily. His birthday last year -- "Nitro? Fucking ridiculous!" -- was the beginning of the end of the numbness; this birthday, any last bits were shattered into obscurity for good. Between these two years, with Sophie in between, I should look into having my birthday shifted to June, too.

A meaningless game, during a meaningless season, in a meaningless time ... but for three hours (twice), our minds wandered and our batteries were charged.

And we still had the Les Claypool show.


At June 07, 2007 10:15 AM, habulous said...

It's not meaningless if it makes you feel alive!

Many of our favorite people are Juners--we winter babes should leave behind our snow-cancelled party past and become summer ex-pats.


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