Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Playoff Memories - 10/23/93

11:37 pm on October 23rd, 1993 is a date and time I will never forget. It took me years to be able to watch that highlight. Seeing it live on TV once was enough for me. Not until the Phillies won the World Series again in 2008 was I able to watch that heinous villain Joe Carter round the bases. It took Mitch only 4 batters to blow a 2 run lead and send me into one of my most colossal nights of debauchery ever. Maybe Mason, Anderson, or West should have been in the game at that point. I truly don’t second guess Fregosi’s move there. Mitch was the Phillies closer. Period. I plan to recreate, to the best of my recollection that night from 11:37 pm on. I will try to make it the most accurate and least factual account possible.

The night all started well enough. I know this much. I was in the Juniata section of Philadelphia on Glendale Street. The 4300 block to be more precise. There was copious amounts of beer, wine, broads, and hope. There were two bottles of crappy champagne in the refrigerator with dreams of being able to pop those bottles after  Game 7 victory. As we all know, that never happened. Those bottles turned out to be the proverbial first shot fired. I will fast forward to the pitch that crushed a city.  With two runners on and the possibility of a game-winning homer on my mind, I stood right in front of the TV. I didn’t think the pitch was in a bad location. When it left the bat, I also didn’t think it was high enough to go out of the park. My intuition may have been a bit off due to Kamikazes and false hope. I truly had the hit pegged as a double and a tie game with a man on second and one out. That wasn’t the case and as my fellow attendees on Glendale Street will attest, I didn’t yell or scream or jump up and down like they did. I was just sad, so I went to the refrigerator and took out the two bottles of champagne. We wouldn’t be using them for victory any longer.

I walked directly outside and popped the one bottle and guzzled it down. I then proceeded to urinate in the neighbors birdbath. My friend Rich came out and popped the other bottle and in true macho fashion, he guzzled the other bottle. Now I don’t condone what I just did or what I am about to tell you I did, but it happened. A fellow Juniata resident that I did not know at the time in 1993 had heard about this story. I was just an angry young man, I had no idea my tirade would be legendary. One of the broads came out, my girlfriend at the time who lived two doors away, and started chirping at me and Rich to get in the house. I saw her mouth moving, but simply didn’t listen. I probably told her to go back in and do laundry.

Rich and I were now fully alcohol fueled and made a bad choice next… in a night filled with bad choices, this may have been the most egregious. We broke the bottles while throwing them at a Catholic School, Holy Innocents. It was right on the corner from the house where I was and quite honestly it felt really good at the time. Alcohol+Ego+Macho+Anger equaled us now going over to the Karl Mackley apartments and screaming for anyone who liked the Blue Jays or looked like Joe Carter to come on out and be dealt with. Thank goodness for us and them, no one came out… and no one called the police. A quick saunter down to the corner of K Street and Cayuga, right by the golf course, had us stumble upon a Septa stop sign pole. Rich and I shared the same brain that night and moved the post back and forth until we got it out of the ground. In a move never tried before, we did the dual javelin throw of said sign post into the broad side of a passing Septa bus. The night was not yet over…

Our next target was the stop sign at the corner of Glendale. We wriggled it out of the ground, but it had a huge block of cement as an anchor, so a javelin throw was not possible. We simply left the stop sign in the middle of the street. At around this time, a pick-up truck was passing by with two dudes in it. They drove slow past us and saw that we had Phillies gear on too, so… They asked us if we wanted to go find Mitch Williams house in Jersey and bust it up. In our smartest move of the night, we politely declined, but gave our best wishes. We then returned to the house and drowned our sorrows a bit more. People asked what we did, but anything we said can and would have been used against us, so we just smirked.

The next morning I wake up two doors away and the girlfriend’s Dad says to me, “ Some assholes ripped out a stop sign and a Septa sign last night. They left the sign in the middle of the street…”. Ouch. Either he knew it was me and was going to see if I was a man about it or he knew and was just going to be pissed at me either way. I calculated the possibilities very quickly and said, “Hey Mr. O’Brien, I was the asshole”. I saw him smile and shake his head and say, “ I figured it was you and your crew. Let’s go clean it up and move the stop sign out of the street. I know how much you love the Phillies and that loss must have been hard to handle huh?”. You are goddamned right it was hard to handle Mr. O’Brien. I went to Toronto in 1995 with a group of my college baseball friends and as we went in a club called The Joker, there was a wax Joe Carter in full uniform standing there. I went over and blew my nose on his uniform. I have a picture to prove it, which was taken right before I was thrown out for blowing my nose on Carter’s uni. It took me 15 years to be able to watch it again, but truth be told, I am still not over it.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

9-7-2005 Almost Playoff Memories...

I still have the playoff tickets and the invoice from the one game playoff that never was in 2005. September 7th,2005  may seem insignificant to you, but for me it really wasn’t. For reasons that are quite personal and close to my heart it was a special day. I was less than 24 hours from being a Dad for the first time. A beautiful and healthy 7 pound 12 ounce (big baby, small turkey though) little girl was born the day before. I was on a high and can remember thinking that 9/7/05 was the last night of quiet sleep that I would have for quite some time. That is the perfect and sweet part of this story, it all went wrong with 2 on and 2 out in the 9th inning that night.

The Phillies had a new manager,  a newer ballpark, and seemed primed to enter the post-season for the first time in 12 years. Now no one can definitively say, but I truly believe that with one swing of the bat, Craig Biggio ruined the Phillies chances at the playoffs. His former teammate, Billy Wagner, put one right in Biggio’s wheelhouse for a 3 run homer and an 8-6 lead. Brad Lidge came in for the save that nailed down the sweep of the Phils. That year the Phillies finished one game behind the Astros and consequently, one game out of the playoffs.

I can remember sitting out back my house in my Boozebo, listening to the game on the radio, cooler by my side. Scared. Happy. In less than 24 hours, I was going to have to be a Dad…of a daughter…WTF was I going to do? My Dad told me that being a parent is a lot of common sense (of fuddddddddddddgggge). This was good advice, but it was also from the man who “made me and my brother dinner” when my Mom was down the shore with my Aunt. Making dinner consisted of opening a can of Beef-a-roni and putting it in the microwave, but I digress. Now, I wasn’t my usual drinking self that night, for chrissakes I had a new baby coming home the next day or two. It all went out the window after that devastating home run. I have NEVER heard Harry Kalas more downtrodden. When asked about his most crushing loss, Harry said “Probably the most downer call I ever made is Billy Wagner’s last year with the Phillies when Biggio hit a home run off him and we were on our way to perhaps post-season, and when Biggio hit that home run — I was devastated…” You and me both Harry…you and me both. I like to think that we both unwound in the same way, with booze.

I was so angry at Wagner. I never forgave him. He is a prick anyway, so I find it hard that I cheered for him. I polished off the rest of my Sierra Nevada’s from the cooler and went back into the house for more “medicine”. No beer? Shit. It’s 10 pm and this is PA, so all the beer spots were closed, I was already tuned up, so driving was not an option anyway. So I delved into the wine. I had two bottles left, but one was only half full. I took both bottles back to the Boozebo and just Gagootzed (my lingo for drinking what is left in a bottle) the half full bottle and then fired onto my backyard lawn. That felt good, so I did it with the 8-12 empty Sierra Nevada bottles too. It was around this time that I got a text from a friend who liked the Sox or Yankees and was talking shit about the loss. I was in no mood for this, so I smashed my cell phone. That felt good too, so I went in the shed and got a sledgehammer and busted it up more. I then was a drunken Gallagher and used the sledge on the bottles strewn about my lawn. Then I went back to the Boozebo and drank the rest of the other bottle of wine while listening to sad Irish music. I woke up at around 7:30 am in the Boozebo and for that one moment I felt like God. I looked around at what I created in my yard and it was good. So I rested.

Now I am no Aesop, but there is a moral to the first part of this story. Every game counts. Every moment counts. That I why I kept those ‘almost’ playoff tickets. I see them every day and they are like a Carpe Diem to me. While that sweep took the wind out of the Phillies sails, they were 10-14 in April. Abysmal. They didn’t seize shit. Maybe that lackluster performance haunted this team and then came back to bite them when they got their asses handed to them by the Astros 5 months later.  Milli and Vanilli can blame it on the rain, but I blame it on Wagner and Abreu. “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right.” You have to look in the mirror every morning and ask yourself whether or not you would do the same thing that day if it were his last day alive. Whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, you know you need to change something. Ok, maybe I am Aesop/Jobsian a bit.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Phils v Yankees 11-1-09

My seatmates 2009

It was November 1st, Game 3 of the World Series, a cool Sunday evening. The Eagles were across the street playing the NY Giants, so the parking lots were packed with Eagles and Phillies fans. This article is not even about the game. The Phils lost. Lidge sucked. Damon stole third while standing on first. This story is about the tailgate and the events that took place prior to the game. What had no become a tradition, the World Series tailgate would have a menu like no other game. We sat in Lot F2 and ate off of fine china and actual silverware. We tucked napkins in our collars and for that 10-15 minute time during the meal, we were etiquette personified. Filet Mignon, Lobster Tail, and Jumbo Shrimp were on the menu. Unfortunately, it all deteriorated from here.

As usual the drink menu consisted of such staples as Miller High Life and Jameson, but added to the list was Jefferson 1812 Single Barrel Bourbon (close to 100 proof). My ticketmate was slowly becoming drunk, or so I thought. As I saw him finish a beer, he did not place it in the trashbag, but haphazardly tossed it over his shoulder to smash on the ground. If you have ever seen the pie-eating contest in Stand by Me…when everyone started to do what Lard Ass did, that is exactly what happened here. Bottles smashing all over the place. People actually going into their trash bins and tossing empties. I finished a Jameson bottle and this guy next to me asked for it. He tossed it at a passing trash truck. I can honestly say that I threw no bottles. I should have, but I did not. The parking lot now looked like Beirut. A complete war zone. Some dizzy self-righteous broad came over with a piece of cardboard so I could sweep up the glass. I told her to get her fat ass back over with her man and yelled over for the dude to control his bitch. Ok, so I wasn’t exactly sober either…

Now the bike cops arrived. Here is how that conversation went:
Cop: You two have tickets to the game?
Seatmate: That’s none of your business. Nice bikes.
Cop: Now I’ll ask you. Do you have tickets to the game?
Me: Yea, are you gonna scan them in for us?
Cop: One more broken bottle and your friend is coming with us. It is time to pack up.
Seatmate: We will pack up when we are ready. It is the World Fucking Series.
Cop: You are ready now.
Me: Did you just try to pull the Jedi Mind Trick on us?

So we slowly packed up our gear and ambled into the stadium. Walking through shards of glass like in some DMZ. We lost the game that day, but the time and load we tied on will live in infamy.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Playoff Memories- 10-2-2008

It is October and this year it is not Phillies red. I have gone through all 12 steps I think: Denial, Anger, Depression, etc. Right now I am just sad. I should be checking the calendar, arranging my schedule around the playoff games. For many reasons it was just not meant to be, the why is for another time or article. What I want to do is write about and collect fan stories of their favorite playoff moment from 2008-2011. I want to know the details: where you were, who you were with, what cologne/perfume you were wearing…I will start it off with one of my stories:

It was October 2nd, 2008.  It was 62 degree and cloudy when I arrived in Lot F2 near the now demolished Spectrum. Tailgating is all part of the experience for me and Jameson is a vital part. I had attended both home playoff games in 2007, where the Phillies were never really in either game, so while hopeful, I was skeptical because of the past years disappointment. On the menu were Denny Dogs, which are hot sausage wrapped in a ¼ inch thick slice of Virginia ham. This is placed on a roll with a slice of cheese and is AWESOME. The beer of choice is always Miller High Life. It is more of a tradition and superstition rather than it being my favorite beer. This is where things began to go wrong…and by wrong I mean terribly fun. There were about 50 or so people at the tailgate and when you get locked into a High Life and Jameson boozefest, it is tough to stop. A half an hour before game time and we were all packed up and ready to head into the game. I don’t like missing the National Anthem, it is bad luck and disrespectful.

I normally sit in the 200 section right next to the big shot Hall of Fame boxes, but today’s seats were in 318. As me and my seatmate were going up the escalator, I happened to see good family friends going down the opposite escalator. The looks on their faces were part horrified and part laughing their asses off. What was the issue? I immediately went into the bathroom at the top of the escalator and looked in the mirror. Now I know what it was. I looked like a goddamn drunk. What I said to them, I do not know, but… Jameson mixed with Black Haus and Miller High Life makes you behave like the village drunkard in some early Irish novel ... total loss of all basic motor skills: blurred vision, no balance, numb tongue---severance of all connection between the body and the brain. Which is interesting, because the brain continues to function more or less normally ... You can actually watch yourself behaving in this terrible way, but you cant control it. A total body drug. The mind recoils horror, unable to communicate with the spinal column.

You approach the turnstiles leading into the game and you know that when you get there, you have to give the man your ticket or he wont let you in. But when you get there everything goes wrong: you misjudge the distance to the turnstile and slam against it, bounce off and grab hold of an old woman to keep from falling, some angry Rotarian shoves you and you think: Whats happening here? Whats going on? Then you hear yourself mumbling: "Dogs fucked the pope, no fault of mine. Watch out!... Why money? My name is Brinks; I was born... born? Get sheep over side... woman and children to armored car... orders from captain Zeep. Jameson is the perfect drink for baseball. In this town they love a drunk. Fresh meat. So they put us through the turnstiles and turned us loose inside.

Fast forward to the second inning and the real meaning of my story. Brett Myers at bat after being down to a 1-2 count was maybe the single greatest at bat by a pitcher in modern playoff history. He fought back and drew a walk from Sabathia, but he had to foul off close to 10 pitches and rattled that fat asshole CC so much that a few batters later Victorino hit the first Grand Slam in Phillies playoff history. I know it was early in the game, but that at bat by Myers and Shane were the tipping point for me. The glass was half full. The spectre of 2007’s letdown was forgotten. The Phillies could do this. While I cherish every game I was able to actually attend, this game stood out for me. That special place and time that I was a part of. While it was no Haight and Ashbury in 1969, I was there and felt that energy that still gives me goosebumps to this day.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Ohhh Those Aut-umnnn Nigggghhhts!

Summer lovin' Bastardo gave up a blast
Summer lovin' the fall happened so fast
We have a pitcher whose name is Lee
And a 2B with two bad knees
Summer days driftin' away, to those uh-oh those autumn nights

Uh Well-a well-a well-a huh
Tell me more, tell me more
Can Howard still hit it far?
Tell me more, tell me more
Should we lower the bar?
Uh-huh uh-huh uh-huh uh-huh

Maybe Ruf should play First Base
25 million for .220 BA is a punch in the face
This team really needs more walks
Bob Davidson really likes balks
Summer sun, something's begun, but uh-oh those autumn nights nights
Uh well-a well-a well-a huh

Tell me more, tell me more
Is the future still bright?
Tell me more, tell me more
Will Rollins put up a fight?

My season seats are in the arcade
As Qualls entered I pounded hard lemonade
At small ball, The Phils suck
Popouts and Strikeouts, WTF
Summer fling, don't mean a thing, but uh-oh those autumn nights
Uh well-a well-a well-a huh

Tell me more, tell me more
But you don't gotta brag
Tell me more, tell me more
Will this team win another flag?
shoo-bop bop, shoo-bop bop, shoo-bop bop,shoo-bop bop, shoo-bop bop, shoo-bop bop, shoo-bop bop, YEH

Manuel is a pushover, Chase is no longer the man
This season made it tough to be a fan
A .500 season, that really blows
So did the bullpen ,as everyone knows


Summer heat, ball and bat meet, but uh-oh those autumn nights
woo, woo, woo
Tell me more, tell me more
How much dough did Amaro spend?
Tell me more, tell me more
Does Cole wanger bend?

It turned colder - that's where it stops
The 2012 Phils were great big flops
Sign a stud right hand batter, give us reason to cheer
So sad to hear “We’ll Get’em next year”

Summer dreams ripped at the seams,
bu-ut oh, those Au-tumnnnn nights....

Tell me more, tell me more!