New Day Dawning

Those Philly boo birds: Oh where, oh where have they gone? — Ron Costello

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Some Observations at the Ballgame (sorry, no photos)

The Mrs. and I spent a pleasant night at the ballpark Saturday. Here are some observations.

Our investment, all told, was about $281, including two tickets from SubHub; two beers each — $30 (at Total Wine in Delaware you can almost get two cases of Coors Lite for that, without the view, of course.) Two cheesesteaks — $21; split an order of fries — $6; two subway tokens — $4 (I ride free;) and we brought our own peanuts and bottled water. We were seated 16 rows, on the aisle, behind the middle of the Phillies dugout.

Obscene? Don’t think so — try going to the orchestra or theater and eat and drink and see what that costs. Try a George Strait concert at the Fargo Center (in comparable seating, bought at StubHub, with food and drink? — easy $500-plus.) Theater in New York? Get a loan.

We walked to 5 o’clock church, walked home to give our cats their afternoon happy hour, walked 3 blocks to the subway, went three subway stops and were in our seats — with our first two beers —  at 6:50. The game got underway at 7:15 and unlike most country music concerts we’ve been to, it started exactly as advertised: 7:15.

The game ended after the 10th around 11:45 p.m. Compare that time span to concerts, theater, and the orchestra. I think Strait sang an hour-and-a half with an intermission that pushed it beyond two hours.

It was Phanatic beach towel give-away night for under age 14 — and no, we didn’t get one, but from the looks of them (the towels) I didn’t think it was a towel I’d seriously consider taking to the beach. It was kind of flimsy. But the kids hung on to those beach towels like it was their most prized possession, other than the cotton candy and the Phanatic hats, of course.

In our section and the sections on either side of us, sat the Dugout Kids, lots of kids between the ages of 8 and 14, most decked out in Phillies apparel — Utley shirt by far the favorite — with gloves, mostly boys, nearly all Caucasian, and affluent — see cost of Phillies apparel.

Every inning, with the Nationals at bat and two outs, the Dugout Kids began making their way toward the aisles.  On the third out, they dashed down  the aisles toward the Phillies dugout in mass — like it was the running of the bulls —  maybe 20-30 kids or more. As the Phillies came-off the field, one player  held the last-out ball. Twenty feet or so from the dugout, the Phillies’ ball holder tossed the ball underhand to the mass of kids, bunched together, like trout in a feeding frenzy, at the roof of the dugout.

The ball lifted slowing into the glare of lights, then descended down to 30 some gloves reaching for the heavens, like some kind of PAL athletic salute, and disappeared into either a Wilson A-2ooo Junior, or a Dick’s Sporting Good special bought at a late February sale.

Amazingly, the kids policed themselves. There was no shoving or pushing and once a kid gloved the tossed ball,the others — not trying to slap the ball away or steal it —immediately headed back up the aisles and returned to their seats, each one as gloomy as a kid without a date on the eve of the junior high prom — waiting for the bottom half of the next inning. Just  one kid returned to his seat with the treasure in glove, edged on by a proud mom or dad to hold the ball up like he was the Statue of Liberty.

One inning, Grady Sizemore made a running catch in the left field corner and then tossed the ball up into the crowd.

Uh, oh.

The team started its trot to the dugout with no ball carrier. Suddenly, before the Phillies got off the field,  I saw the top of a red hat peek out from the dugout and a hand that tossed a ball to the Dugout Kids.


Speaking of Grady Sizemore, before the game, he signed autographs, mostly for kids,  up until Drexel’s Dan Baker — the best PA announcer in modern baseball — called for the National Anthem. It seemed that Sizemore — after missing two full seasons from several major surgeries — appreciated his return to the Show. Sizemore now has two more lifelong admirers.

Then late in the game, Jason Werth hit a towering high pop up that came down several rows behind us. I mean this ball stayed in the air a full minute, or so it seemed. Then I heard the sickening sound of ball hitting face. People around us, including me, turned to look. The ball came through outstretched hands and hit a man in the mouth. His wife had napkins which she gave him to stop the bleeding. Phillies personnel quickly  came to take him out of the row. I hope for his sake the ball was deflected, because it came down like a missile.

Speaking of Jason Werth, what’s up with people booing him? He played his heart out for the Phillies and helped lead them to a World Series Championship. Oh, he left the team for $127 million? Who in their right mind would turn down money like that? The people who boo Jason Werth, in my opinion, are jerks and losers. I’d say something else but this is a family blog.

Just sitting at the Show and seeing how many people the Phillies employ is amazing. From beer and food vendors to video photographers, ticket takers, ushers, people employed in the numerous food and drink concession stands inside the park, security personnel — all so great to see. The city is lucky in more than a few ways to have the Phillies in Philadelphia. Jerks and all.

Attractive young women, more than you can keep your eye on sitting next to the Mrs. (and men too, but for some reason I notice the women more, why do you think that is?)

Not that I’m complaining, mind you, cause the Mrs. I’m sitting next to is no slouch.

But it seemed to me more young people — between the ages of 18 and 35 — than old heads like me — decked out in Phillies apparel and lookingwell, never mind that.

Another good sign that baseball is on the rise, not in decline as some World Cup followers would have you believe.

Then the Phanatic did a skit on top of the Phillies dugout that was, well, typically Phanatical. Between the sixth, a pretty blond dancer jumped up on the dugout roof to dance with him. She immediately attracted any fan’s attention who had a pulse.

The Phanatic did one-are push ups to impress her. Then, a muscular beer vendor climbed up at the far end and she preferred to dance with him. If you’ve seen the Phanatic, you can imagine what gyrations he went through. Jealous, he pulled an old head guy up onto the dugout and, to the amusement of the crowd, slow danced with him. It was a delightful addition to the game, as it always is with the Phanatic.

Medical science today says that laughter is the best way to improve and strengthen one’s immune system. If that’s true, and I believe it is, then a hell of a lot of Phillies fans owe a debt of gratitude to the Philly Phanatic!

Finally, in between all of this, there was a game on the field. The Phillies lost because the middle hitters in the order — Utley, Howard, Rollins — didn’t hit much, especially with runners on base. Byrd and Revere each had two key hits, but it wasn’t enough. Revere  made a fine running catch on a ball hit over his head.

Starting pitcher Hamels was good, but he wasn’t himself. And once again, not a lot of run support.

In the first inning, Asche — like my good friend Pete frequently did playing third for legend-coach Skip Wilson at Temple — made a sensational play and gunned out the runner by a millisecond (Pete, that will cost you an extra glass of Cabernet on Wednesday.)

Dom Brown didn’t start because he had a boo-boo — he didn’t feel well. I like Dom and want to see him do well, but I like needling him, too. He’s got to get his act together. “Dom, you want that big money or not?”

The Phillies will most likely trade Marlon Byrd soon. Even though it might be the right move — he’ll be 37 next month — I hate to see it. Byrd is a good ball player who wanted to come here and he too plays his heart out. Don’t know the man, but my guess is that Bryd would be a good friend to have.

You can sense things like that sitting at the Show.

Could have had a lot of nice photos for this post — and I apologize to the Phillies for the main photo, which might have been much better if I waited to take it later in the evening. But when the game begins, my iPhone get’s turned off and buried deep in my pocket.

Then it’s just me, the Mrs., and the ball game, on a beautiful evening — with a couple of cold ones, cheesesteaks and fries, Dugout Kids, and the Phanatic, in and around a great game on the field.

At the Show, it doesn’t get any better than that.

Say, just where does this blog writer live? On the Mainline?

Didn’t think so, how else could he write a book about South Philly?

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