Dance With Me Inside This Ring of Fire: Prologue

Your 2011 Guide to Watching, Analyzing, Losing Sleep Over and Yelling at Strangers About Philadelphia Phillies Baseball


After several days of letting other people tell you about the Phillies, TBOH’s own preview will be balled up and smeared across the final week of the preseason.  Our title comes from an out of context Ryan Howard quote from earlier in Spring Training when he was set upon by a pack of hyena-like reporters.

Some people will spend the next seven months keeping up with world news, staying in touch with family members, and tapping their toothbrushes on the edge of the sink to assure maximum hygiene.

I am so sorry, but you do not get to be one of these people.

And there’s no reason for it.  You could just easily grab your suitcase and head for Norway.

“Good bye honey,” you’ll call over your shoulder as you quite abruptly leave the dinner table with an already packed set of luggage.  The cab driver out front honks his horn impatiently and shouts profanity in another language.  “I have to go live in another country for more than half a year or Phillies baseball will make me crazy,” you explain over her tears.

Sure, your kids may end up confused and ruined, but that’s why we make these decisions:  To avoid kids.  The Norwegians are a respectful people, living off a diet of hot lapskaus and spearing the occasional walrus.  You’ll fit in perfectly.

If you don’t leave, you’re signing on for seven months of awesome baseball, with periodic reminders of what it looks like when somebody lets their Phillies fandom seep all the way through.

In the wild, its 'natural selection.' In Philadelphia, its '80 hours of community service.'

So, fine.  If you’re still reading this, then you probably intend to stick around.  Way to go.  You passed the test.

Now… on three.  We jump the fence together.

And for god’s sake.  Nobody piss themselves when the taser hits you.

Maybe Buster Posey and Brian Wilson should have synchronized their celebratory arm gestures, then they wouldn't look like idiots! Am I right? Mmm? Ha ha! Ha. Damn it.

Okay, that.  Fuck all that.

That’s the past, and like the guy with the blood-red pupils outside of Wawa keeps telling me, the past is just the “feces of time!

We can stalk and hurl media grenades at Ryan Howard all winter.

“Ryan, was it a strike?!”

“Ryan, what is the taste of failure?!  Is it sour, or is it more of a rancid bitterness?!”

“Ryan!  Ryan!  Would you say your final 2010 at-bat is indicative of all your muscles dying?!”

It was just another cringe for us; on the other side of 2008, there were many just like it.  So we throw it on the pile, ignore the smell, and wait for the sun.

Starting now, these words are being written in the present.  Those ones before are from a night when I had come home from a party where someone had tried to say there was more pressure on the Flyers to win the Stanley Cup than on the Phillies to win the World Series.  The confidence I’d built up from accidentally winning a dart game (winning the last one is the same thing as winning all seven) was bleeding into my memory of the last 45 minutes I’d spent talking about the Phillies and the 27 minutes I’d spent explaining that Perfect Couples is a funny show as long as you are very patient and really drunk.  The combination made for some impassioned typing.

Which isn’t to say that I feel differently now. I mean, I think its lame that they include the word “Perfect” in the title of every episode, but if anything, the cast is really starting to get some momentum.

That also goes for the Phillies.  So far, Spring Training has been a carnival of horrors.  Everybody keeps… breaking… and it gets harder and harder to believe that each hole is going to be plugged with a miracle.  Can this offense really lean on Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez?  Should I even have put a question mark on the end of that sentence?  Shouldn’t it be an exclamation point, as if I’m shouting it sarcastically back at someone who had asked it of me?

Have you ever noticed how people have been leaving comments at the end of positive Phillies articles that say, “Gosh, I guess the Phillies have already won the World Series.  Why do they even play the games?”  Or if its against the Phillies, they’ll say, “Oh, I thought we’d already given the Phillies the World Series trophy!”  Ha, ha, ha, ha.  People are so fucking clever.  I love them.  When there’s a shuttle evacuating the planet, all of those people will be ushered to the front of the line, while scientists and artists are left to be enslaved by the lizard people.

Well, I’m pretty sure the Phillies haven’t not won the World Series yet, either.  And while there are plenty of ways you could compare the Phillies to a ticking time bomb, just remember, before a bomb goes off, there’s always a guy rushing to diffuse it.

Only instead of one sweaty guy screaming increasingly panicked bomb diffusal updates into a radio, there’s me, and you, all those other people we don’t know, the Phanatic, Ruben Amaro, everybody in the Phield, every part of Chase Utley but his right knee, that guy who sings in the wheelchair who got arrested in Clearwater, Tina Fey I think, and at the moment, Luis Castillo.

We haven’t done anything yet, but when we do, it will be resounding enough that everybody will hear about it.  That’s who we are now.  That big important team that everybody hates just because.

Also because of this.

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