TELL IT LIKE IT IS TUESDAY: THE BEAUTY OF THE GAME

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by Philview and Philly Phanatic

PHILADELPHIA, PA – This past Sunday several teams, including the Mets and the Phillies, participated in what we used to call doubleheaders. Things are different now, of course, because in these doubleheaders, the fatted calves from the first game are not allowed to stay. After the last out, they’re cattle-driven to the parking lot, to either graze or go home. The true “doubleheader,” as we knew it, has gone the way of the two dollar beer. And the five dollar beer for that matter.

As this season winds town, these games, obviously, hold little significance for most of the other teams. They are simply contractually bound to play them. Locally, injuries and leadership crippled the Mets long ago and buried the season. They join the masses with a winter of wondering and discussion ahead. Specifically, the Mets must wonder if the window already closed on this team. Maybe, maybe not. On the bright side, there will be no September collapse this year.

Meanwhile, the Phillies are leading the NL East and headed for the playoffs. They go there, by all accounts, a leaky faucet; a team with a few steady parts but more puzzling questions than an MCAT. Somehow they have a huge lead – oddly enough, very close to what the Mets enjoyed two years ago. There will be no historic collapse, however – this team is good enough and the teams behind them are not. But there are holes.

Back to Sunday: On a wonderful, clear, comfortable night in Philadelphia, the stage for game two was meticulously set. The Mets had come back from the dead the day before – on two home runs by slugger David Wright (bringing his post-steroid season total to 10). The Phillies had won earlier in the day behind Kyle Kendrick, who spent most of the season in the minors trying to learn a third pitch. Despite a three run lead in the ninth, the first game was almost lost by Brad Lidge, again. The Marlins had lost.

So, as we (the Phanatic and Philview) entered the stadium around 6:30pm on Sunday, we assumed we were in for a nice relaxing evening. Quickly, however, from the first pitch, it was evident that for this one night, the standings would mean nothing. Pedro was pitching. It was the Mets. Nothing else mattered.

The tension, the tightness, was there from the outset. It was as if the teams were playing, right then and there, for the division itself. The crackling of rivalry – missing all year and so desperately needed – came roaring back for one evening. And until the last out, the game’s outcome was impossible to predict!

It was, from end to end, a glorification of the beauty of baseball. Today, still awash, we wanted to share with you a few of our expert insights, events and observations from the game:

  • Pedro Martinez is a star. You can’t help watching him – even when he’s just playing long toss.

  • The line for crab fries is really long.
  • The tall blonde who sits nearby looks a lot like Paris Hilton, so we quickly dub her, very inventively, “Paris Hilton.” We talk of her surgically enhanced bazookas. We agree that the doctor did a fine job.
  • Tony Danza, still wealthy but now a 10th grade teacher in Northeast Philly, sings the National Anthem. He does a commendable job. Has it really been over 30 years since the premiere of Taxi? Son of a b!tch.
  • The Phillies score their only run in the first – on a peculiar play that had all three runners, at one point, within ten feet of second base. It was a very awkward social moment. In the end, just a foot from a three-run homer, it was a 380-foot single. The Phils get one more hit in the second, and then are no-hit the rest of the way.
  • In the fifth inning, a drunk a few rows in front of us passes out in his chair. His “friends” quickly pile hats on his head, and point to him, while people flock to take pictures. A few outs later, he wakes, and the hats fall to the ground, much to everyone’s disappointment. Personally, we are glad to see it. We decided that this restful sleep was good for him, since he was clearly the designated driver. It’s great to see responsible kids these days.
  • A girl across from us keeps holding up a sign saying “Pedro – Best Perm in MLB.” She thinks this is funny, and she is BEGGING to be on ESPN. It never happens. We give her credit for her persistence, and for her real knockers.
  • Ryan Howard fields a grounder and then slides head first into first, beating Carlos Beltran by an eye-lash. We comment about how great it would have been if Beltran had ALSO slid into first. Let those Elias geeks kill themselves seeing if THAT had ever happened before!
  • The world has no shortage of really, really, really overweight people. We are disgusted by this. In protest, we order two more beers. The guy directly in front of us is particularly fat. Overweight is too kind. Overweight could be genetic, or a thyroid problem, or childbirth. However, when this guy returns to his seat we are pretty sure that it’s not genetic – he has three cheese steaks, and he’s not sharing. He’s also the kind of guy who yells things loudly at the pitcher from 300 feet away. He rattles no one, except us.
  • Luis Castillo gets hit in the arm with a pitch. Two guys were on and Pedro had two strikes – clearly a pitch that got away. Castillo jumps around, behind home plate, before collapsing around the on-deck circle. Knowing that this is a nationally televised game, he asks to be carried to first base on a stretcher. The request is denied, since he was hit in the arm. He plays the rest of the game, without a problem.
  • A few innings later, Jayson Werth is also hit by a pitch. This one on the foot. Werth also knows he’s on national television. Clearly auditioning for the remake of Spartacus, Werth struggles to his feet, tortured; in clear agony. He bends over at home – for minutes. Then, he jogs slowly down to first. He dramatically runs a half-mile past the bag. He walks back. Then he bends over at first base. The trainer comes out (to touch up Jayson’s makeup – and tell him that there’s nothing wrong with him). Werth bravely pushes him and his powder puff to the side, and assumes his rightful place on the pedestal that is first base. He also plays the rest of the game, without a problem.
  • We agree that Paris Hilton doesn’t know what “RBI” stands for.

  • Pedro Martinez is still so amazin’. The Mets could have had him, couldn’t they? We agree to send Omar a nice note and a box of chocolates.
  • A vendor walks by yelling “Crack-ack; Crack-ack.” At first we make fun of him, because the name of the snack is “Crackerjack.” Then we realize, we’ve spent an entire half-inning talking about the guy. Our opinion changes – and we declare him a marketing genius. We agree to buy his product when he returns, but he doesn’t. Geniuses obviously do not work long hours.
  • The “real” Philly Phanatic (the green one) does a routine around “New York, New York,” where he smashes a Mets helmet. Speaking in third person for a moment, the MTM Phanatic thinks this is hilarious, and laughs loudly. He laughs more at the pained look of “you find that funny?” he gets from Philview.
  • It’s late in the game. We rise to our feet to support Pedro, and to see over the fat guy – who now can’t stand without a medical team.

  • The Philly fans start “the wave,” which we both hate. We hate it even more when Paris Hilton refuses to participate. We both agree that this alone would have been worth the price of admission.
  • The real knockers girl is still holding up that dumb PERM sign.
  • Charlie Manual comes out in a crucial eighth inning spot to talk to Pedro. In an unprecedented move for Charlie, he leaves Pedro in to face one more batter. We both remember the LAST time that happened – and how it burned Grady Little at the stake. The next play is a throw-out at third after a pitch in the dirt. Pedro is done for the night. He was remarkable.

  • It’s the ninth inning, and Paris Hilton is not watching the game. She’s looking at her nails. She’s not biting them, like us, she’s just looking at them. We wonder how much she’s being paid to sit with the loser she’s with. We agree its more than we can afford.

The game ends on a line drive, with the tying run on second. Once again, hardly a dominant performance by the Phils’ closer of the night – but at least it’s over.

For the Mets, not even Matts-Matics can save them now as the Phillies officially eliminate the injury-proners from any post-season chance this year. They are now just like the Pirates. Nothing will beat that historic collapse of 2007, but it was sweet to see the Mets season finally crumble in person.

Oh, one more observation – two middle-aged guys can still laugh like idiots for four hours.

Angry Ward should be good and angry tomorrow.

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