October 4, 2011

Philadelphia Phillies: Wind, Wins and Other Things That Pass in the Night


by Cindy Falteich


Crickets and crows. That’s what we’re reduced to.


The songbirds that tweeted their 140 character posts from dawn till dusk have exploited the north and closed their accounts. The weeds that grew like beanstalks have begun to grey, a reminder that their exoskeletons will haunt me until our first big snow. And today it took only a breeze to rain leaves.

It all means just one thing: the postseason has rushed in like a brisk wind.

Or I’m just feeling the effects of tacos.

Growing up in the Midwest made me appreciate how short a 162 game season can be. Summers were abbreviated by camping trips, fish flies and fears of flood. By this time each year my little brother would empty the yard of crab apples by smacking them one-by-one with his plastic bat into the lawn across the street, dreaming that each one that pitted the siding cleared the wall at a major league stadium almost 200 miles away.

At County Stadium. That’s where Robin Yount and Paul Molitor swung like gods on deck. Where we snuck my little brothers into the game by shoving them through the turnstiles with a large group because our four country butts barely filled two bleacher seats. Where we handed our clothes packed in brown paper bags to the doorman at the Hyatt Regency who threw them in the trash because he thought we were just cleaning out the car.

Where our sunburns were the color of ketchup and the boys filled the air with the aftershock of digesting brats all the way home.

If they’re still looking for alternative energy sources, they should test the tailgaters in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Now another regular season has passed. A few days ago I flipped my Phillies’ calendar to a month of empty dates and ESPN didn’t have to pretend the Yankees were the only team worthy enough to make the promos.

Is it a coincidence that Moneyball came out at the climax of the baseball season? I think not. As a result, Brad Pitt is on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

Now that's what I call masturbation material.

Soon the season where I don layers to make up for my lack of culinary skills will be upon us. Before you know it, that whitewashed period of memory called ‘the holidays’ will pass and we’ll enter the point in time where we can ask, without criticism, “When do pitchers and catchers report?”

If the Phillies have one more 'Game 2' they’ll be asking that question much sooner than they thought.

In Game 1, Roy Halladay got hit before he retired 21 straight.

That night I witnessed the 11-6 conquest from three rows behind home plate. I saw Phillies’ backsides warm up to bat from a seat so close it was illegal to admire their body parts through my binoculars.

The gourmet hot chocolate in Diamond Club was so good I got a pimple.

I saw Hunter's pants warming up from ten feet away. I’m still drooling.

When Shane Victorino ran onto the field, I had to adjust my binoculars—one eye is dirtier than the other.

And you should know that the screen behind home plate was put there to keep people like me from fondling the players.

I’m not saying I was born with an abnormal amount of Phillies spirit (nor will I admit to my other abnormalities for that matter) but that night TBS televised my face and voice as the poster child for Phillies love.

When a friend texted me that I was on TV, I had one thought: I hope it wasn't when I let that stinker slip.

My husband says my whoop-whoop was the first time I’ve opened my mouth where it didn’t sound like I was simultaneously talking through my ass.

And thanks to a good headwind, he didn’t know what part of that pre-game meal was slipping through my crack.

So there I was, famous—if only for a moment.

Let us not forget, baseball is the endless quest for moments, the sum of which we hope produces a great memory. Cliff Lee, last year’s Christmas lift, could only claim in Game 2 that he sent nine guys pouting back to the bench with a capital K like he left them a lump of coal on a cold yule morn.

Hey, that’s an idea for a 5-hour energy commercial: “Cliff catch you looking?”

The loss was anticlimactic compared to the previous game but admit it: amazing plays, timely hits and ruthless pitching often compile a win, especially this year in Philadelphia, but when they don’t, let’s not miss the forest for the trees.

You win some, you lose some, you learn some. Every single day I’m reminded of what I don’t know. Maybe Charlie Manuel is too.

My dad says Charlie needs to ‘manage’ and I should get that message to him if I can. He should trade the ‘big inning’ for small ball. Exploit the speed. Watching Game 2 was a reminder that almost all manufacturing has moved overseas.

The gritty, dirtball, sandlot immaturity fizzled, replaced—one would think—with the illusion that less risky strategies would work. But if you’ve been paying attention, the only sure things in this world now are death and taxes for the middle class.

Don’t get me wrong, I hope the Phillies win the series. And I’d love to go head-to-head in the NLCS with the new Younts and Molitors—Fielder, Weeks, Hart and Braun. It wasn’t long ago Brett Myers drew a 9-pitch walk off Milwaukee’s CC Sabathia before punctuation of his initials was debated. The NLDS win led to another where Matt Stairs became an icon at more than just the Country Buffet. And then Joe Blanton earned the nickname Joe Lumber for his closed-eye homer that put the Fightins one win from a World Series parade.

Another one of those isn’t much to ask. Luckily for the Phils, I’m low maintenance—I don’t need to cook or clean to boost my self-esteem.

So the series is tied as the contenders head to St. Louis for two. The bookies bet the Phillies would win the series in four. The chance my son gets gassy in the third? Pretty good.

He’s from Midwest stock. Brats are in our DNA.

Is a World Series win in the stars?

Believe it.

See you at the ballpark.



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Copyright 2011 Flattish Poe all rights reserved

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