July 17, 2007

I Love a Parade!

So no luck on Friday night. And on Saturday afternoon, the Phightin's crushed St. Louis again. With a week-long road trip to California on the horizon, it was do or die time. In order for the Phillies to lose their 10,000th game at home, it would have to be on Sunday night. A nationally televised match up. The whole nation would be transfixed on South Philly. Would the Phillies disappoint us by winning again.

Maybe this would be different. With tonight's starting pitcher being Adam Eaton, the worst starting pitcher in the National League according to the Sabermetric geeks at Baseball Prospectus, surely tonight would be the night!

Unfortunately, I didn't have a ticket, and the game was a sell-out. But did that stop me? Me? The guy who once snuck into the All-Star game? Well, yeah it did.

I originally had no intention of going, but then Eaton lived up to his reputation by giving up six runs. By the end of fifth, it was 6-0 St. Louis. History was about to be made! How could we pass up this once-in-a-lifetime experience? I rounded up my brother and we were on our way.

I had read about a parade that was to commence immediately after loss number 10,000. A parade that would travel from the ballpark, across Broad Street, and ending at Chickie's and Pete's. Only in Philly folks, only in Philly.

So your intrepid correspondent, with his younger brother in tow, arrived at the Bank at around the seventh inning, sans tickets. No tickets, no problem. My brother said that McFadden's -- the bar attached to the ballpark -- didn't require a ticket; or a cover charge, for that matter. So we entered, put away a few Bud Lights, and watched the final three innings on their HDTVs.

I'm going to preface these next couple of paragraphs with this statement: I'm a guy. I am what I am and I make no apologies for that. But sometimes, I just can't help myself. It's hard to fight the tens of thousands of years of evolutionary biology that have wired the male mind to think of one thing, and one thing only.

With that said, it was hard NOT to notice the massive mammary glands on the barmaid serving me my aluminum bottles of Bud Light. I can't remember what exactly her face looked like, but I do remember that she was wearing a gold necklace. I'd like to tell you what the pendant attached to the necklace looked like; unfortunately, it was buried between two very large folds of cleavage. It was also hard not to notice the steel "tip" bucket on the edge of her beer station. And also hard not to notice all the dollar bills that overflowed from the bucket. (I think I even saw a few $10s and $20s!)

Now, I'm going to say something else that, before I say it, needs another preface: I am 100% comfortable with who I am as a heterosexual male. So with that said, there are some situations where, from a financial and economic perspective, it is more advantageous to be a woman than a man. And in times like this, I have to admit, I am a bit envious.

Now before you get all crazy, let me say that I'm not going Mr. Garrison from South Park on anyone -- nor will I ever. (And not that there's anything wrong with any of that, either.) But it must be great to have a "job" where all you do is serve over-priced beer to horny dudes, who then stuff your tip jar with dollar bills on the sole basis on your cup size. What a racket. But at least it doesn't involve straddling a fireman's pole, so I guess you get to keep some of your dignity, right?

Moving on.

After the loss, me and my brother high-tailed it to the designated spot for the "parade." With the unusual Sunday night starting time -- I guess some people actually have lives and are unable to partake in a life of leisure -- and the expectations from the first two games of the series, the turnout for the parade was less than the organisers had anticipated. By my count, only about 50 made the trek from The Bank to Chickie's and Pete's.

As it turns out, the whole parade was for a documentary film. I had the opportunity to shoot the breeze with one of the producers and he seemed like a pretty good guy. Yeah, with all the pain and suffering Philly sport fans have experienced over the last 25 years, where is our HBO special? Where is our ESPN mini-series? (OBTW, don't get me started on The Bronx is Burning.) Oh sure, there was Invincible, but we're all too young to remember Vince Papale. I'm barely old enough to remember the Phillies winning the World Series!

Here's an idea for a film: BUDDY. It's the story of a flamboyant coach who built a Super Bowl caliber defense, neglected his once-in-a-generation mega-quarterback, feuded with an absentee owner, and wound up with zero playoff victories.

Anyway, it's high-time someone told the rest of the country the real story of the Philadelphia sports fan. Preferably one that doesn't stoop to the level of Santa Claus and snowballs.

The parade to Chickie's and Pete's was led by a guy in a white suit who billed himself as "MR. 10K," and a William Penn impersonator. Almost everyone, myself included, had mistaken Billy Penn for Ben Franklin. William Penn, Ben Franklin; Ben Franklin, William Penn; what difference does it make? Apparently, the crux of this movie-film I will be appearing in, is "The Curse of William Penn" -- a nod to the fact that no Philadelphia sports team has won a championship since One Liberty Place surpassed City Hall as the tallest building in town. As far as I'm concerned, it's a bunch of crap. But hey, if it sells movie tickets...

As the Phalanx of Philly Phans made their way through the parking lot and up Broad street, for some no good reason, I started a "DALLAS SUCKS!" chant that went on for about a good twenty seconds. Angelo Cataldi once said that you can stand on any street corner in Philadelphia, at any time of the year, and scream "DALLAS," and someone will reply with a "SUCKS!" Guess he was right.

There were also the obligatory "Fly, Eagles, Fly" chants. I'm somewhere behind the "celebrate10000.com" banner. Trust me.

When we arrived at Chickie's and Pete's, we were immediately were ushered into one of the private "VIP" rooms. There, the magic words were said: OPEN BAR. I was happy to introduce my brother to the nuances of Jack Daniels mixed with Coca-Cola. Although, I must say, it was a bit heavy on the ice, and light on the Jack. Buy hey, it was free!

After an hour of hanging out with these dudes, we split and went to Geno's to cap the night off with a provolone witout. Let me say, the perfect hangover food is a Geno's cheesesteak.

I want to give a few shout outs to everyone at Phrustrated Phan Films and Celebrate 10,000 for organizing this crazy thing, and Chickie's and Pete's for the free booze. Suckers!

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July 14, 2007

L 10K, not tonight.

In all of my years as a Philadelphia sports fan, I have seen many great things.

Back in '87 (when the NHL was still relevant) I witnessed Ron Hextall becoming the first goalie to actually score a goal.

I was there when Ronde Barber intercepted that pass and ran it back 95-yards.

(Yeah, fuck you too Gruden!)

I was there the following year when Brian Dawkins turned Algee Crumpler's neck into an accordion, and Donovan and Fat Andy (finally!) got to hold the NFC Championship trophy.

Greatest day of my life, by the way.

And yes, I was there in Jacksonville, high in the end zone at the Gator Bowl, when Donovan ran out of gas, and the Birds lost the Super Bowl by a field goal. (That's why I had to settle for a state school, rather than the Ivy League by the way.)

Last night should have been one of those nights. But alas, with the Phillies coming into the game with 9,999 all time losses, they sacked-up and beat the shit out of St. Louis.

I came out of the Pattison Avenue subway stop at around 4:30 and then spent the next hour finding the designated tailgating spot. This was the first time I'd met up with my now-former colleagues since I was fired over the phone, so it was good to see them again.

The next hour-and-a-half was spent drinking Miller Lites, and playing a ghettoized version of horseshoes called "washers."

At around 6:30 I announce to the group that I'm entering the ballpark. I am accompiend by no one. When I buy a ticket to a ballgame, I actually like to, you know, go to the game.

It was a "not-your-typical-atmosphere" at "not-your-typical-ballpark." For a celebration was about to commence. An accumulation of Philly Phutility. One sign that hung from the right-center field facade said it all:

7 Stadiums
52 Managers
2150 Players
LOSES (sic)

Gotta love that Philadelphia education system!

But it was not to be. On this most historic of evenings, leave it to that asshole Tony LaRussa to start a pitcher with a 3-11 record and an ERA of 6.00. By the time I get to my seat, the Phightin's were up 5-0.

For what it's worth, Paul -- one of the member's of our crew -- didn't show up until the fifth inning, and the rest of the gang straggled in at around the seventh. For these guys, there are more important things to do than be witnesses to history. Namely, getting drunk on Miller Lite and throwing large metal objects into a paint can. Oh what fun!

Sometime around the eighth inning, with the Phillies up by 10 runs, a Phils fan in the section to our left starts jabber-jawing with a couple of guys in Cardinal shirts. So naturally, Bob and Yock -- yes, the same Yock from my New Year's Day satellite misadventure -- just had to get involved.

I like Bob. But there's a reason why he takes four Xanaxes a day. He's the kind of guy (and we all know someone like this) who's ready to throw-down at the drop of a hat, especially with a little too much of the ol' liquid courage. For instance, we went to an Eagles game together last season, and at halftime we went for a walk on the concourse. All of a sudden, an cup fell from the top of the grandstand and landed on top of my head. It was empty, and it probably blew off the top row. No harm, no foul, right? Nope. Not with Bob around. He immediately wanted to go up and fight whoever it was who dared throw a cup onto the head of his friend. It never even occurred to him that it might have been an accident. And he was ready to go. But, with a little but of reason and a lot of common sense, I talked him out of it. Don't get me wrong, if I'm ever in a back-alley, I'd want Bob covering my back. But sometimes, he can be his own worst enemy.

Anyway, asshole Phillie fan was getting into it with asshole Cardinal fan, and Bob just had to put his two cents in. And again, I -- well, we -- had to step in to save him from himself, again.


Afterwards, the rent-a-cops escorted the pinhead Cardinal supporters from the area, and all was calm.

By the end of the eighth inning, and with chance of witnessing history reduced to nil, I decided to split. Loss number 10,000 will have to wait for another day.

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