There’s an ancient VHS case sitting in my closet or under my desk or behind the toilet or somewhere else. I don’t know exactly where it is. My place is kind of torn apart right now. I’ve decided, instead of cleaning, to let the mess take control and just hope it doesn’t follow me to my next apartment.
“’93 Phillies Highlights,” it says (talking about the VHS again). It’s old, chipped, and has probably been watched way more times than necessary. But for awhile there, all the Phillies Phaithful had was warm memories of 1993. If you can track down the technology to view a video tape, you can see a team that was so in love with each other and baseball it almost got them a World Series title.
It opens with the familiar, dulcet tones of Harry Kalas. It’s taped off TV and comes in a little bit too late to hear the entire introduction, so he’s already in midsentence:
“… who would’ve dared even dreamed?” HK asks of that unbelievable season.
“I would have, dude,” Lenny Dykstra replies.
I could sit here and type out most of the narration and outtakes by memory from a season of come-from-behind victories and a couple games of grab-ass. The video retrospective illustrates those Phillies who were the blue collar, tough-as-nails bunch of guys who turned the summer of ‘93 into a Macho Row-powered thrill ride.
And the unquestionable leader was Darren Daulton.
“Dutch” could throw a lasso around that team and hogtie them a victory. Jim Fregosi was the man with the plan, but his catcher was out in the trenches, making sure everybody was doing their job and doing it to the best of their ability. It may have been easier because they were a team with no real divas or assholes or Brett Myers, but to have the admiration, trust, and respect of 24 other professional baseball players and the coaching stuff is no easy feat. Dutch had been with the Phils for years and in 1993, he was hungry for a World Series title. With this carefully picked squad of “gypsies, tramps, and thieves,” he would have a better chance than ever before at wearing a World Series ring; and not only could they win games, they could put on a show.
A very different show than the one Dutch performed on Comcast Sports Net on a sunny Sunday afternoon in April 2006; namely because this one had nothing to do with baseball.
“I started experiencing these different realms, these different planes of existence. I know exactly what I’m capable of doing. People talk about speaking with lizards and stuff,” he said, as Michael Barkann and living rooms full of Phillie fans across the region looked on in utter confusion.
I looked up from lying face down on the floor, pretending not to be hungover, and the rustle of the newspaper indicated that my father, on the couch, found the statement just as jarring.
When you hear something like this, your first reaction is to assume it was a mistake. Some public figure has let a little bit of crazy fall out of their mouth, and we will all sit patiently and pretend it isn’t weird while they try to correct themselves. It happens, especially when we live in a world full of famous people who shouldn’t be famous.
But Dutch knew exactly what he had said, and instead of hiding behind a curtain of suave ambiguity or changing the subject, he just kept talking. You might say it was a trainwreck and you couldn’t look away, but the strange part was, he didn’t want you to. We were embarking on an expedition to the fifth dimension.
And the unquestionable leader was Darren Daulton.
“Wow, what the hell is happening?” I asked.
“Language,” mom said from the other room.
Dad shook his head and checked the channel guide to make sure this was still Comcast Sports Net. It was. Dutch was just seamlessly transitioning from “How’s Cole Going to Fare Against a Hot Braves Lineup?” to “Made-up Science.”
Whatever. It was now time to decide whether I was going to pay attention to this interview or go back to closing my eyes and playing the theme song from “ToeJam and Earl” on a continuous loop in my head.
“I like to astral travel, teleport; travel through time,” he continued.
Okay, Dutch. I’m sitting up.
The internet was flooded with a wide range of comments, going anywhere from “WTF?! to “LMFAO!” Michael Barkann himself seemed a little flustered after what was supposed to be a habitual interview took a back road into a Dr. Seuss story. Imagine his reaction when they told him Dutch was coming aboard as an analyst.
But then, John Kruk stepped in and held up an index finger to the blogosphere.
“I’m not going to sit here and say he’s crazy just because that’s the popular thing to do right now.”
Kruk’s right. It’s the easiest thing in the world to call somebody out for what they believe. Sometimes, they make it even easier by talking in a public forum. So in a way, you’ve got to respect Dutch’s commitment to what he thinks is the right thing to say and do.
In another, more illegal way, you should probably frown upon what he’s done in the past. Like punching his wife, and then admitting it: “I slapped her… absolutely.”
Just remember, being a weirdo isn’t against the law. But domestic abuse is, Dutch. Don’t try to paint the walls crazy just because you’ve got a temper.
But Dutch was taking his new system of beliefs out for a spin, so he did what everyone does when they’re out to prove they’re not crazy: He wrote a book.
“If They Only Knew,” he called it, which could be referring to a lot of things: The way he can control the weather with his emotions. The way the pyramids are aligned with certain stars. All the crazy things we as fans don’t know went down in that ’93 Phils clubhouse.
I’ve got to admit, I shrugged it off and assumed it wasn’t worth my extremely valuable time. But, in honor of his recent Mount Airy appearance and “Celebrity Dart Night” at McFadden’s Ballpark on January 28, and to prove that I’m not as rabid as the stereotypical Phillies fan, I’m going to read it; if only to give myself a perspective on how a man who gave Philadelphia baseball so much is now engaged in metaphysics and not asking us to believe or even understand what he’s talking about. He just wants us to listen.
He also wants $17.95, plus shipping and handling.