Wow. That was really something. I just got back from Citizens Bank Park, the new stadium for the Philadelphia Phillies.
It's a lovely little park. I remember visiting Veteran's Stadium a few times, and it was downright ugly. The turf was plastic, you could see the seams between sections, and even the sight lines were bad. The only good memory I have of it is that when Xander was about 2, Ginger and I brought him with my sister Cheri and her husband Jeff to see a game because there were going to be fireworks afterwards. Xander got progressively more tired, but we pushed it to see the fireworks. Eventually the game ended. He enjoyed the fireworks for a while, but the finale was so loud and spectacular that it WAY overstimulated an already exhausted two-year-old and he cried all the way home.
On second thought, maybe that wasn't such a great memory after all.
These days, whenever I travel during baseball season I try to catch a local game. A couple weeks ago, when I was in Jacksonville, I got to see the first-place Jacksonville Suns lose to the Birmingham Barons, which I mentioned earlier. I prefer to see minor league games if I can, because they're much less expensive and often more fun. But here I am in center city Philadelphia on a beautiful May night, so I just had to head over to the ball park.
That in itself is rather amazing to me. Fenway is already sold out for the season, and the cheap seats are $90. Here I was able to go to the box office at the Phillies' stadium and buy a ticket in the best section in the house for $50. Not something I want to do every day, but it sure was fun this time.
Even better, the Mets were in town, and Pedro Martinez was pitching. I was amazed how many Mets fans were in the crowd, too. The Phillies fans were not pleased about that, to put it mildly. I wound up sitting next to a long time Phillies fan who was a music teacher at a local high school. He had his son along, age 15.
The Phils went up 3-0 in the 2nd off of Pedro and it looked like it was going to be an easy night. Pedro settled down, though, and Bret Myers looked good for the Phillies. It was still 3-0 in the 8th when the Mets got a 2-run homer. The Phils got an insurance run in the bottom of the 8th and brought on Tom "Flash" Gordon to pitch the top of the 9th and save the game.
Gordon (former Red Sox, former Yankees) has been great for the Phillies this year. He's 10 for 10 in save chances. He got the first out right away, then gave up a seeing eye single. Up comes Carlos Delgado, who is something like 2-infinity against Gordon.
Pow! Delgado hits a homer to center and we're tied, sending the Mets fans into delirium.
Gordon eventually gets out of the inning, though, and we head to the bottom of the 9th tied.
The Phillies fans are dearly hoping that the Mets will bring in Billy Wagner, who was basically run out of town last year. No such luck. Instead it's Dellucci, gets an out and then gives up a triple. A walk follows and then another out, so we have first and third with two outs. Up comes Utley, the Phillies emerging star, who works a walk from careful pitching.
That means it's now bases loaded with two outs and Bobby Abreu at the plate. Abreu won the home run contest at the All Star game last year, but hasn't done much in the regular season and is slumping this year. He works the count to 3 and 2.
Abreu takes a mighty swing at the next pitch but barely hits it. It's basically a swinging bunt, which rolls up the first base line. Dellucci runs over to field it (he should have left it for the catcher, but so be it) and throws wildly at first. The ball winds up in the stands, the runner scores from 3rd, and the home town fans go home happy.
Like I said, wow, that was fun!
Oh, by the way, I was watching the out of town scoreboard all night, too. The Sox are playing a three game set at Yankee Stadium. Tonight was Josh Becket against Randy Johnson. Let's just say the Sox won 14-3 and bask in the glow.