Friday, September 23, 2005

Journey Through the Mind of a Phan: Phaltering, or Phaithful?

That was... epic.

I missed the comeback--or rather, I was watching Battlestar Galactica and taping it for Annie, and kept flipping back during breaks. I'd seen the last out of the Reds 8th, keeping the score at 10-6 Cincinnati right before the show started, saw "Rollins, Lofton, Utley" due, and thought... well, maybe. Sure the Reds had scored nine unanswered runs to wipe away a 6-1 Phils lead and inject a serious bummer element into my evening; yes, I'd increasingly switched away from the worsening game to watch West Side Story (TCN) and The Usual Suspects (AMC) through the 9pm hour. But it was just four runs, top of the lineup due, and...

Nah. Not again. Twice in a week? Uh-uh.

Against the Reds, who dashed our hopes two hours ago, knocked us out of the playoffs 29 years ago, and started the spiral toward eternal infamy for a Phils team 41 years ago? No. The lefty Kent Mercker will do the job on us, cementing Wade's lifelong impetus to possess him. He'll probably strike out Ryan Howard to end it, and then this winter they'll be traded for each other.

Show comes back on, the VCR is running, I'm trying to put it out of my mind. It's a really, really good show, Battlestar; tonight was the season finale, and might have been the best episode they've ever aired. I think to myself, I have to let the Phils go.

Commercial break and I flip back to ESPN to check. It's now 10-9. There are two outs. Nobody on base. Howard vs. Mercker.

No. Frackin'. Way.

Count goes to 2-0. I'm flipping back and forth between every pitch, in part to make sure I'm not missing the show, in part because each pitch is a ball and thus whatever I'm doing seems to be working. It's obvious by 2-0 that Mercker won't give Howard any meat, and the kid is too disciplined to go fishing ahead in the count, down by a run and nobody on base. Ball four.

Commercial break's ending. Bell comes to the plate. I figure: No. I know how this one ends. I'm not doing it to myself. I turn back to SciFi.

(Though the thought also crosses my mind that, if they come back to win this game and then go on to... well, you know... if all that happens, then THIS is the moment that might live forever. Could I live with missing that?)

So be it. They scored the three runs with my not watching; the last scoring I'd seen had been the Reds' 9th. I'm letting it go.

15 minutes or so later, Battlestar breaks again. I flip back to ESPN; the ballgame is over, college football is on, and there's no ticker at the bottom of the screen. ESPN2 is on a commercial break, and is also showing college football in any event. Back to SciFi. If only I knew the past tense of "que sera, sera."

The show breaks one more time--this is the last one till January, rich in hints and cliffhangers and complications, even closing holes left by earlier episodes this season--and then I switch to ESPN2 watching the ticker. There's the final: Phillies 11, Reds 10. S: Billy Wagner (35)

So be it. But what had happened? I get online, go to, read through the entire game thread, smiling and cringing through 9-6, not sure how the Reds scored that 10th run but recognizing the "resigned, but not leaving" tone of late game threads when the team is behind. Then an Utley 3-run bomb, his second of the game, just as we'd all given up on his for this year as exhausted and spent... wow, but I figured someone had probably done that since I'd seen two outs, none on, one run down in "real time."

An Abreu strikeout and his ejection, along with Cholly Manuel... gut punch. The best player on the team, obviously injured, already having endured a bad game--this was his fourth strikeout of the night. Then he's tossed. Burrell follows with a bad AB, not that much of a surprise. Howard's walk, which I'd seen.

And then David Bell continues down redemption road with a two-run bomb; a ten-page orgasm on PhilliesPhans, with Scott Graham's home run call audio. By now, my wife is home; I call her in for the repeat playing.

I'm not sure whether my "letting go" was rewarded by the win, or whether my lack of faith was punished by my missing such a moment. Either way, I feel much in the grip of larger forces at work.

Quite an evening.

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