A co-worker was talking to me at the end of the day today. She stopped because my eyes kept drifting to the left like a cartoon character. On my computer screen, the Phillies just ticked three runs on Gamecast and it must have looked like my brain was slowly going off like a fireworks display. It was a shame, too; it was a real interesting story about an expedition she went on in the Amazon to study a rare chemical in a tree.
“Who cares?” said Raul Ibanez, hitting a two-run double in the first.
“I do, Raul,” I replied.
“What?” she asked. “Why are you nuzzling the monitor?”
Phillies 10, Marlins 5
“If I was a real smart guy we’d have all four of ‘em.”
–Ruben Amaro, setting himself up for easiest jokes of all time [SI]
So you’re out with your friends doing spectacularly entertaining twentysomething things we do, like pretending to know what expensive scotch tastes like, demanding that street cats accept The Killers as the voice of our generation
, or updating your middle-of-the-pack Phillies blog. Everybody’s having one of those reasonably good times we like to have. Except the cats.
Then your other friend shows up. You know the one. He’s got his wife where his video games and worthless trivia used to be. And even when she isn’t there, he can summon no conversational topic without–almost impressively at times–somehow relating it back to her.
Cliff Lee is Ruben Amaro’s parasitic spouse. Only she left him months ago and none of us want to say anything. The dishes are piling up in the sink. The cat is an afternoon from starving to death. Wandering packs of dogs have turned the living room into a pit stop on their way from one end of town to the other. She’s gone, Ruben
. She’s long gone. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t warn you that these were good
times we’re having, so stop trying to ruin this by tearing your wounds open and sobbing into the phone.
In 1972, in the land once and also currently known as “Philadelphia,” Ruben Amaro was leaving
because the Phillies were demanding
that he do so. The only breath of life that year was Steve Carlton, before he got all self-righteous and began burrowing underground
, who pitched a 27-win season, becoming only the fifth starter in MLB history to do so for a tea seemingly void of any other talent-morsels.
Also the Pirates ended the year in first, 11 games ahead of the second place Cubs.
Advertisers fought to see who could make their products seem the least necessary. It was a weird time.
38 years later, the Phillies are somewhat better, in that they managed to have the potential 20-game winner and the contending team as a whole, instead of Steve Carlton doing what he can with 24 garbage bags full of leaves.
This season, we have Roy Halladay, whose monitor-nuzzlingly good record jumped up to 19-10 after striking out nine Marlins in less than seven innings. Onward came the bullpen, who were fully prepared to watch the wheels fall off, until Charlie Manuel raced to his clubhouse time machine, traveled 20 minutes into the future, when Brad Lidge was telling the press “I just didn’t have my best stuff out there,” and returned to the present just in time to watch Brad walk a run in, beginning the horrific series of events that we can only assume led to the apocalypse.
Charlie, in an act of heroism that many will never know of, immediately pulled his closer and stuck Jose Contreras in there, who offered a slightly less chance of the end of the world.
Fortunately, we don’t have to complain about the pitching too much (but obviously will) because the offense was once again potent with Ibanez doubles, Utley bombs, and whatever they’re calling it when a ball hits the bat of Wilson Valdez and doesn’t result in two outs.
To the Phillies went the spoils. Perched three games ahead in the NL East, we head home for a series with the Nats, who just finished doing us two out of three favors in Atlanta