Thursday, September 27, 2007

There were two beers left in the fridge.

At 7:05 p.m., I drink the first one to calm my nerves.

Holly's already asleep, set to wake up around 4 a.m. to start a 27- to 30-hour surgery shift. I'm in the next room, the living room, sitting on the leftmost of the three couch cushions, crouched over looking at my laptop screen.

The computer video feed is flawless, even at full screen. The computer provides the only light in the apartment -- and the only sound, apart from the occasional AC kicking on.

Well, and apart from my occasional strangled cheers and groans, and my punching the air with every strikeout and double play.

The game was quite an experience, and it started as well as a game possibly could.

First pitch: Rollins slaps a single through the box.
Second pitch: Batting left, Victorino drops a gorgeous bunt down the third-base line as Rollins steams into second. Smoltz grabs it bare-handed and fires it wide of Teixeira at first. The ball smacks into the rolled-tarp at an angle and kicks into right field as Rollins chugs home and Victorino streaks to third.

Utley works a late count, then knocks an average grounder to Teixeira as Victorino takes a few tentative jab-steps toward home. Whether Teixeira was truly distracted by Victy (as Philly announcers surmised) or not, I don't know, but he booted the grounder, Shane walked home and Utley made first safely.

And then Howard came up. And I swear to you, I knew what was coming next.

Howard has struck out so much, SO much, this year that I no longer get those occasional pangs of "uh oh, here he comes, I'll bet he hits one a mile" like I did last August and early September. That's no knock against Howard, but ... OK, maybe it is a knock. But regardless, when he came up against a rattled Smoltz in the first tonight, it was the first time in a while that I really thought, "Smoltz doesn't have a chance here."

And he didn't. It looked like somebody had put the ball on a tee, lined up a fire hose, set it on "STUN" and flipped the switch. Kalas could barely get a mouthful of words out before the ball was in the right-field seats.

Four batters. Four runs. No outs. At least one fan having a silent, slack-jawed seizure. (I'm sure it was more than one, but as a reporter, I don't want to speculate.)

Kendrick was a wizard for five innings, scattering three hits and a walk or two. He left two balls over the plate that Chipper and Teixeira hit out for three runs combined, so he couldn't make it into the seventh. Myers left a ball up for Francoeur to pound out in the ninth, too.

The difference ended up being Burrell, who broke through against a guy who has terrorized him. He came in with two hits in two dozen at-bats against Smoltz, and he left with a two-run dinger that eked into the left-field seats.

There were a few tense moments, but I've seen tenser this year. In the end, I treated myself to another seizure, then popped open the other beer.

And oh yeah, the Mets lost. To Joel Pineiro, who did his best impression of a healthy Chris Carpenter.

So now the Mets and Phillies are tied for the lead of the National League East. The Phillies haven't had a meaningful lead (or share of one) for any potential playoff spot since the last week of 2003, when they proceeded to drop seven of their last eight to the Reds, eventual world champion Marlins and the Braves.

And that was it for Veterans Stadium -- simply a brutal way to end the stadium's life. (The NFC title-game loss to Tampa Bay a few months later managed to top that.)

Now, the Phillies are at home, the Mets are at home. The Phillies are 87-72, the Mets are 87-72. The Phillies play a losing team that has terrorized contenders this fall, and the Mets? Yeah, they do that, too.

Phils v. Nats. Mets v. Fish. Three games each.

If there's still a tie when the weekend's done, the Phils and Mets will meet at Citizens Bank Park for one game. The Phillies would throw Kyle Lohse. The Mets? It'd be Philip Humber's turn in the rotation, but I'll go ahead and guess they'd use Pedro, who threw tonight, instead.

Accckkkkkkkkkkk. Stay tuned.


  1. So with the events of this past week I've had to spend some time escaping from reality. Today I did that by thinking about my FantasyLand Scenario. Check it out: The Mets and the Phillies both win the last 3 games. It all comes down to a 1-game playoff in Citizens Bank. In the top of the ninth, the Mets (beaten mercilessly 8 straight times by the Fightin's) are down 3-0 with 2 outs. Reyes singles on a bunt, and Castillo walks. D-Wright then hits a 3 run blast straight away to center field as Rowand just watches. Then, Marlon Anderson steps to the plate as a pinch hitter (don't ask why he's in for Beltran in this situation--its my karma filled fantasy). He's booed to no end by the Phills fans for his "rough slide" in the last series in Philly. He hits a long fly ball to left field. Burrell goes back, back, back, and the ball bounces off his head and over the fence. 4-3 Mets.

    B-Wags then sprints in from the bullpen. He goes on to strike out Rollins, Utley, and Howard on 9 straight 105mph fastballs. Woohoo!!

    What do you all think?