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Hell of a day, Halladay

October 7, 2010

I haven’t felt any large-scale affection for the Phillies since the days of Steve Carlton and Mike Schmidt, yet I can’t help noticing that they keep crossing my cosmic path in small, subtle ways that seem designed to win me over.

I ought to resent the heck out of Ryan Howard—he’s got an MVP at home that should be on Albert Pujols’s mantel, and he’s exactly the sort of big-bashing, free-swinging crusher whose offensive style represents the demise of the style of baseball I love. But he’s from St. Louis, he played trombone in high school, and he’s sufficiently modest and well-spoken that I can’t bring myself to dislike him.

Here on the West Coast, a close professional colleague earned extra cash as a teenager by babysitting Chase Utley. A really nice kid, she says when asked to recall what he was like. Damn! There’s another one I can’t hate.

That’s not all: Last winter, when my family embarked upon a week-long Caribbean cruise, we were instantly struck by how many Phillies shirts we saw on passengers boarding the ship. A coincidence? Nope—we were on the same boat as the Phillies Phantastic Voyage, which we were convinced would be a phrigging nightmare, given the nature of the average Philadelphia fan. As it turned out, the fans were on their best behavior, not least of all because they didn’t want to jeopardize their chances at currying the phavor of the players who were along for the ride. And about those players: Well, Shane Victorino seemed every bit the jackwad you’d expect him to be, and J.C. Romero lost me when he told a roomful of eager parents that their kids needed to turn their lives over to Jesus if they wanted to be big-leaguers, but Greg Luzinski was a gruff, good-natured riot, and Ryan Madson not only posed for a windblown photo with my niece and me (see above), but then proceeded to wave cheerfully at us each time he saw us during the remainder of the trip. (I think he secretly loved it when my brother-in-law said “We’re hoping Brad Lidge implodes and you get his job.” Too bad his temper rendered moot the power of our positive thinking.)

And now, Roy Halladay has done what Cardinal fans could only have dreamed guiltily of: Utterly humiliating the Reds on a very big stage. Halladay was so good that this game looked downright unjust. He was Michael Phelps and the Cincinnati lineup was the guy in lane 8 from a country that has no swimming pools. He was the United States Army and the Reds were Grenada. Except this was better—all of the beat-down, none of the liberal guilt.

Most of the Reds, to their credit (she types grudgingly), gave Halladay the honor he was due. Orlando Cabrera, on the other hand, erroneously credited the gem to home-plate umpire John Hirschbeck’s generous strike zone, which you might think would have prompted Brandon Phillips to call him a “little b—,” except that Phillips was presumably worn out after flinging his bat into Carlos Ruiz’s path in a fruitless attempt to break up the no-hitter with a cheap two-out ninth-inning infield hit. Yay! More failure on the grand stage! More reasons to like the Ph—nope, sorry, not quite there yet.

My feelings about the Phillies may be complex, but my congratulations to Big Roy are sincere. That was a game for the ages, and I bet the fans in Philadelphia are so excited that they’re puking champagne on each other instead of beer.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Barbara Miles permalink
    October 7, 2010 10:29 pm

    My sister, who lives in South Jersey, invites you to a Phillies game any time you’re in the area to experience the world’s best soft pretzels, the Phanatic and the surprisingly civilized fans at Citizens Bank Park.

  2. fearlessleader permalink*
    October 8, 2010 6:18 pm

    Would those be the same Phillies fans who are booing Scott Rolen’s every at-bat, EIGHT YEARS after he left them?

    I do like soft pretzels.

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