Everybody wants a quirky, likable, talented, young team to get behind. It helps get us through the summer months, as we are dropping A/C units on our toes or watching our children sweat to death. Solar power? More like solar terror! Am I right? No, I am not.
But not every city is blessed with 25 fiery upstarts and grizzled vets who gel together to form the perfect beast. Most of us get dreadfully mediocre squads of variously motivated fellows, all claiming they want to go all the way when they know the furthest they’ll get is about late July when the wrong guy’s hammy will explode and start a chain reaction of injury and bad luck not seen since I tried to change a tire in Fishtown.
The 2012 Phillies are trying desperately to fend off the white flag as it bats them in the face every morning.
“You’re below .500! Do you give up yet?!”
“Your starting pitching is crumbling and dying! Give up yet?!”
(**Through a closed window**) “HEY! HEY! BONE CHIPS! INFLAMMATION! ’PERSONAL REASONS!’ YOU STILL IN THERE?!”
(**Pounding on bathroom door**) “Ty Wigginton is your secret offensive weapon?! Oh, man. I’m right here, assholes! Wave me!”
So anyways, every day is a constant battle with giving up forever. Much like life. Or, changing a tire in Fishtown. This weekend, the Phillies stomached several blows that, even right now, have them teetering closer to the edge than ever before.
I chose to watch this game in a bar with a single tiny television and no sound, while introducing my girlfriend to one of my closest friends. The good news is, they got along famously. The bad news is, Shane and Cliff did not.
A hilariously poor showing from the Phillies outfield had everyone pretty sure that Cliff Lee was leaving Busch Stadium that night with somebody’s head in his bag. After Shane lost one ball in the lights, and Hunter lost a second one, and I lost my “TV prilvieges” at yet another local establishment because I “…wouldn’t stop throwing darts at it,” the night seemed like it was ready to end on a down note.
But, despite my best efforts to scream at the umpire through the television, from my new seat in the corner, they allowed the game to keep going even with all the “gross incompetence.” The worst part came when Cliff exchanged some words with Shane in the dugout, and it became painfully real that the Phillies may not all be best friends who hang out on the weekends anymore.
Fortunately, Brian Schneider (???) appeared to offer the calming words that talked Cliff off of his murderous ledge. Cliff was so mad he scored the tying run and coerced Hunter into knocking in the game-winning ones, but only because he wasn’t in the game anymore.
A man so laid back and collected in every other moment of his life, Cliff undoubtedly has a few decades’ worth of pent up hostility to unleash. If that should come while on the mound, so be it. But in the Phillies dugout? Might as well nuke the franchise from orbit.
Kyle Kendrick was starting, so naturally everyone was filled with dread, even though he’s “not that bad” and “performed in every role the Phillies have ever asked him to” and “come on, it’s a beatufiul day, just enjoy it.”
Then he pitched the first complete game shutout of his career which, according to the hieroglyphics on the inside of the cave where the Phanatic was born, means the stars have aligned in a way that will make Citizens Bank Park get swallowed up into the earth, setting free an army of evil Philadelphia baseball spirits.
So thanks Kyle.
Roy Halladay is no Kyle Kendrick, we found out this weekend, and if that doesn’t rouse the taste of bile in your throat then you probably don’t have a throat. Doc gave up a grand slam to the universally loved Yadier Molina and came out after pitching two innings, which was not merely a “sign of confidence in the bullpen from the coaching staff,” like I tried to explain to people.
The Cardinals stomped the bullpen, but that’s fine because nobody was watching the game anymore after that. We all turned our attention to our favorite insiders to find out what was wrong with Doc and how many of us would have to sacrifice most of our blood to make it better.
We still don’t know. And I’ve got all this blood I’m not using. I’m sure it’s barely got a fraction of the potency of Doc-blood, but still. It works, or the most part.
And here we are. Waiting patiently for the results of an MRI for a man who does not know our names. Can we take solace in the fact that three of the four games mentioned were victories? Yes we can. But think of all the victories we won’t have without Doc. Think of all the speculating on who fills the starter’s spot with Kendrick already filling in for Vance Worley. Think about all the drawings on your fridge of Cliff Lee and Shane Victorino holding hands and skipping and how you’ll have to rip them down in a fit of tears for being “lies.”
Today we’ll have to do what we do best: Stop thinking.
This time, it’s the only way.