(Hopefully) good sports essays and observations for good sports by a guy who tries (and can sometimes fail) to be a good sport.


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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Baseball Day from Hell, Sort Of

Because of conflicting schedules, the four of us weren't able to go to a Phillies game together until today. We had our usual seats at the 1:05 "business person's" special versus the Cleveland Indians, where the Phillies (surprise, suprise) were going for a sweep (per the most recent edition of Sports Illustrated, they're still the favorites in the NL East despite being third, but, then again, isn't SI a golf and esoteric features type of sports magazine?).

The weather forecast was ominous -- 99 degrees, a heat and humidity index over 100, and precious little shade at Citizens Bank Park. Sure, we got about 5 feet of snow in these parts in the winter, but it can get hot as Hades here in the summer time. So, we ate a light lunch, put on sunscreen, wore light cotton (the Phillies' jerseys that two of us sometimes wear remained in the closet) and drove down I-95 to the game. All was going well until we exited the highway, when I heard a dragging noise beneath my car (hint: it's one of those whose warranty extends for five years or 60,000 miles, which sounds great, but you'd rather have a great car with the average warranty than a car that struggles to be average with a great warranty, trust me). A piece had fallen off beneath it and was dragging.

So, we pulled over at 3rd and Pattison, about 8 blocks away from the stadium. Dad gave Mom some cash and 3 tickets, and the rest of the family marched onward to the stadium while Dad remained in the car, air conditioning blasting, listening to the pre-game on the radio and then the start of the game. Meanwhile, the family made it inside the stadium and stayed in the concourse, as it was too hot to sit in the seats. They drank cold water, but my son started feeling woozy. They made their way to the first-aid stand.

Which, in the first inning, was beginning to overflow. The people there were cheerful, gave my son a cold compress for his neck, encouraged him to drink water, but my wife listened to the chatter all the while. A woman had passed out in the women's bathroom near left field, people were suffering all over. Friends texted my daughter that they were going to leave after two or three innings (the Indians must have intercepted these texts, because it was a "get away" day and they played as though they wanted out early, bowing 12-3). While I was waiting for my town and then riding with a chatty tow truck driver back toward my home, the rest of the family took a taxi to Philadelphia's Suburban Station to catch a train home.

Meanwhile, I was waiting in the suburbs on my first day of vacation in 6 months for the car to get fixed. Mercifully, the service people at the dealer know me and know the frustrations I've had with this jalopy (the way they look at me it's either that they pity me because I don't know the joke that they're in on or they know that the engineering of the model of my car is terminal but are forbidden to tell me; yet, their manufacturer is quick to send me surveys that are somewhat self-congratulatory about the quality of their service -- if only they asked about the quality of the car!). At the same time that I was riding back home, my daughter told my wife that she wasn't feeling great either. Fortunately, Suburban Station is underground, it was cool, everyone cooled down, drank cold drinks, and made their way home.

And, in so doing, they missed a hellacious thunderstorm that hit the ballpark in about the 7th inning that had gusts of wind so strong that one of them pushed a John Deere lawn truck that was being used to hold down the tarp about 20 feet. The rain was so thick that the broadcasters couldn't see the outfield, and it came so fast that the Indians' bullpen corps remained in the bullpen for most of the storm. They resumed the game an hour later to an almost empty stadium, and the Phillies' bullpen held the lead, with the home town nine winning 12-3. Among the highlights were the first well-pitched game by Joe Blanton since he signed his big contract and a home run by just called up Dane Sardinha, a 31 year-old journeyman catcher who was called up from AAA Lehigh Valley to replace Carlos Ruiz, who is on the disabled list. It was only the 33rd Major League game for Sardinha, and it was his first home run.

Finally, Dad picked up the family at the train station, air conditioning blasting, and everyone went home to rest. The Phillies won 12-3, but we missed almost all of it.


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