The Joy of a Phillies Game, Even When They Stink

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One of my favorite memories of attending a Phillies game was on September 4, 1999. I was a senior in high school, and a group of us traveled down I-95 to the game. It was a Saturday night. I probably had a cross country meet that morning. This was a chance to relax.

More than 14 years on, I’ve forgotten many of the details. I just remember being so excited. School must have just started, and I was finally coming into my own senior year. Or, well, at least I thought I was. I was eager for my final year of high school. That night at the Phillies, my friends and I goofed around in a mostly-empty 700 Level. We went to a friend’s house in Oxford Circle afterward and hung in her basement. I probably stayed out too late for a cross-country runner. You know, high school stuff. It is just a fond memory.

The Phillies did not have their best day. The Reds set a still-standing National League record for most home runs in a game (9!) in a 22-3 thrashing of the Fightins. (After the first inning, the Phillies were ahead 2-0.) When the Reds’ 9-run fifth inning finally ended, the fans erupted in a standing Bronx cheer.

It didn’t matter that the Phillies were 17 games back after the game. We had a good time. We had all grown up in Philadelphia, so we were used to the Phillies stinking. The Phillies were 68-67 after that 22-3 loss. That’s not so bad!

What’s nice about baseball is it’s a picnic. The Phillies may have given up three home runs to Ryan Braun in a 10-4 loss in their home opener, but I still had a good time at the game yesterday. I tailgated with friends in the parking lot beforehand. I met my uncle, a man who’s taken me to scores of Phillies games in my life, and we sat in his season ticket seats. I listened to him wax nostalgic on Phillies teams in games past — ”Since the Vet opened, I’ve only missed about three home openers,” he bragged — and we drank beers and sighed as the Brewers scored another run. I ran into friends I hadn’t seen in forever. I updated an old boss on my life. I actually walked back to downtown up 10th Street because it was nice out, and a friend suggested we walk. Why has no one asked me to do this before? I wondered aloud.

The Phillies lost, 10-4. Nothing especially notable happened; most of the things I did yesterday weren’t new. They were routines I’d done before and will do again. But it was just so great to do them all again. The Phillies don’t look like they’ll be very good this year. But trips to the ballpark seem like they’ll be just as good as ever.

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This Year at Phillies Games at Citizens Bank Park: More Macrobrews

You couldn't do this pose at the Phillies' exhibition game late last month.

You couldn’t do this pose at the Phillies’ exhibition game late last month.

Did you enjoy an Anchor Steam at the ballpark last year? Or how about a nice 21st Amendment Hell or High Watermelon? Well, you might be out of luck this season: According to the first draft of Lee Porter’s 2014 Citizens Bank Park Brew Locator, they weren’t available at the ballpark during the exhibition game played last month.

In their place: More beers owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev, the largest brewer in the world. I hope you like Goose Island’s beers, because they’re literally all over the freaking ballpark now.

Starte of beer at Citizens Bank Park » 

Citizens Bank Park: A Decade in the Stadium We Didn’t Want

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Out at home? CBP attendance dropped last season. Photograph: Aero-Imaging, Inc./Newscom

The first 10 years of Citizens Bank Park, I think we can all agree, have been pretty great. Five division titles. Eight winning seasons. One magical night in October 2008. Many fans will claim 11th and Pattison as hallowed ground long after global warming turns it into a beach.

But do you remember when the decision to build in South Philly seemed like not just a defeat — but a complete failure of civic imagination? In the early days of the debate on replacing Veterans Stadium, folks were hot for a Camden Yards-style retro park smack-dab in the middle of downtown. Fans whimsically debated putting a new park at the old Schmidt’s brewery, near 30th Street Station, even on the waterfront. Politicians talked more realistically about two locations: North Broad at Spring Garden, and in Chinatown at 12th and Vine.

But each proposed site was eventually sunk by some combination of community or political NIMBYism and logistical or infrastructural clusterfuckery. So the new stadium arose in the shadow of the old one, in the expanse of parking lots and nothingness we call, as if it were an affliction, the “sports complex.”

When the Phils were the best team in town, it didn’t much matter where their stadium was. But last year, attendance dropped by half a million fans. And we may face another dismal August in South Philly. It’s worth asking: Did we blow it?

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Phillies Won’t Play Home Opener Until Tuesday

MLB.com reports: “The Phillies have postponed Monday’s home opener at Citizens Bank Park because of a forecast for “considerable rain.”The game against the Brewers has been moved to Tuesday at 4:05 p.m. ET, when the weather is supposed to be better. The Phillies said tickets for Monday will be honored for Tuesday, which was an open date on the Phillies’ schedule to accommodate the possibility of inclement weather. All gates, including Ashburn Alley, will open at 1:35 p.m.”

VIDEOS: 6 Great Letterman Philly Moments

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Sometime next year, there won’t be any more Top 10 lists. There won’t be any more stupid human tricks or throwing items off a five-story building. (Okay, I don’t think David Letterman has thrown anything off a building in a while.) But, yes, after 21 seasons of the Late Show with David Letterman, he’s announced his retirement.

Even though I haven’t watched Letterman in some time, this is very much a changing-of-the-guard moment. Ever since I was nine — so, just a little bit before I was old enough to sneak viewings of late-night TV — the late-night hosts were Leno and Letterman. Leno finally retired for good last month (we can assume, anyway) and now Letterman will be gone in 2015. It just seems … weird. Letterman was the late-night talker I watched in high school — well, Letterman and Conan — and now he won’t be on TV any more. For people my age, Letterman may as well have been on since the start of television. It’d be like telling another generation that 60 Minutes has been canceled. This makes me feel old.

As a tribute to Dave, I grabbed some Philadelphia-related clips from Letterman from around the Internet.

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Roy Halladay Suggests Someone Start a ‘Zoo with Kyle’ Website

Retired ex-Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay has a Twitter account, and he’s finally letting on that he knows about a certain delightfully strange Philly sports website.

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Ex-Phillie Dykstra: I Was Beaten in Jail

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Hey, remember the 1993 Phillies? Weren’t they great? That team of roided-up, beer-swilling everybodies almost won the World Series! Sure, they lost to a team in Canada in the end, but we’ll always have the memories. Hey, the star of that team was Lenny Dysktra! Hit .305, slugged .482, led the league in hits and runs and walks and only didn’t win MVP because the greatest baseball player ever won it. He’s in the news again, as you can see from the cool screenshot above. Wonder why he’s wearing that hat?

Anyway, what’s our ol’ pal Lenny Dykstra been up to?

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Phillies’ Ben Revere Holds “Saddest” MLB Record

SI.com reports that the Phillies’ Ben Revere now holds the “saddest” record in Major League Baseball: “Ben Revere didn’t hit a home run Tuesday night. That’s nothing new: Ben Revere hasn’t hit a home run since May 30, 2011, when he was with Triple-A Rochester, and he has never hit one in the major leagues. Still, Revere’s failure to hit a round-tripper Tuesday night made the record books, as he’s now reached 1,410 career plate appearances without one. Since 1947, no hitter (pitchers excluded) has stepped to the plate that many times in his career without hitting a single homer.”

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Jimmy Rollins on Philly Fans: ‘If You’re Soft, They’ll Wring You Out’

After his grand slam in Monday’s thrilling 14-10 Opening Day win for the Phillies, Jimmy Rollins had some thoughts on the city and the team. I’m going to embed a tweet so it’s in a giant font right here.

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