July 26th, 2012
Wednesday was getaway day so it was another day game following a night game. I got up around 9:30 and packed my stuff for the voyage home. I was going to be doing an interview with 94 WIP, who broadcast the pre game show from Citizens Bank Park. I left Mike and Meg’s place around 10:45, got my car from the Best Western that I parked it at early Monday morning, and headed to the ballpark. I can’t thank Mike and Meg enough for opening their home to me, you guys are great! I was parked at 11:10, picked up my pass to get inside and found the hard-to-miss booth on the field level behind section 123. This photo was taken right before the game and by that point it was empty.
The hosts of the Mike & Ike show are Michael Barkann and Ike Reese. I wonder if they hired the two of them just so they could have the *sweet* pairing of names. Ha. I think my segment was supposed to be about five minutes. However, the Phillies had signed one of their starting pitchers to an expensive long term deal and a reporter who calls into the show sometimes to inform the guys of newsworthy stories called in during my interview. What he had to say was (how do I say this nicely) not really newsworthy. He said he was in the clubhouse and another one of the Phillies’ pitchers, Roy Halladay, made a comment about the contract and how it might the Phillies’ ability to sign/keep players in the future. Mike and Ike didn’t think it required a call into the show and I’d have to agree (but I could be biased seeing that it took up most of my time). I was on air for about two minutes and it was a little frustrating. I skipped getting lunch at one of the famous Cheesesteak places so I could be at the park extra early. Mike and Ike were great and I got a picture with them before I left. Ike’s on the left, Mike’s on the right:
Ike is a former NFL linebacker who played for the Philadelphia Eagles from 1998-2004 and the Atlanta Falcons from 2005-2006. He made the pro bowl in 2004, the same year that the Eagles made the Super Bowl where they lost to the Patriots in a close game. Mike is a host, anchor, and reporter and was named Pennsylvania’s sportscaster of the year in seven times between 1999 and 2007. They’re both great guys and I’m grateful that they allowed me to grace their presence on the show. Chris Johnson, who was one of the guys I talked to on Tuesday morning for his and Spike’s show, had helped set it up, and I’m very appreciative. He was not obligated to help out in any way but he did, so thanks Chris!
After the radio appearance I went out to pick up my ticket from will call and then re-entered the stadium. I went to the upper deck to get game photo number 97, which a nearby fan took for me.
Behind this section in the concourse rests a giant Liberty Bell Piggy Bank. I think every stadium has the piggy banks (with different designs) and the money deposited goes to charity.
I had been told to get Chickie’s and Pete’s Crabfries, and that’s just what I did. The stand is located in the concourse in right-centerfield. They have the back and forth line that you go through because they’re so popular. That entire wall contains deep fryers.
If you couldn’t tell from the picture above the buckets that they come in are quite large. They cost $7.50, and a white cheese cup sets you back another $2. The fries are loaded with Old Bay seasoning (which is commonly used to season crab, thus the name Crabfries). With the portion size it’s really something to be shared. They were good and perhaps a little overrated, but I’m glad I gave them a try.
After eating the fries in the concourse I went to my seat in section 126 and waited for the game to start. It was hot but I was in the shade and it was breezy. It was probably the most comfortable I’ve been at a game in a while. Here’s the first pitch of the game, which resulted in a foul ball off the bat of Carlos Gomez:
The Brewers got on the board first, when Maldonado singled home Corey Hart in the top of the second. The Phillies tied it in the bottom half and then added two runs in each the third and fourth inning. Rickie Weeks homered to lead off the sixth to cut the lead to three:
Later in the inning Gomez doubled to drive in Cody Ransom. It was 5-3 Philies going into the 8th and with two outs Braun came to the plate with Gomez at first. The Phillies had a lefty on the mound and a righty loosening in the bullpen. I told the Phillies fan next to me that Braun eats lefties. It took four pitches to prove my point and Braun did what I was hoping for:
It was a game-tying 2-run home run for Braun, and it was awesome. I’m actually surprised that the Phillies fans didn’t give Braun more grief about the whole off-season scandal. I was expecting it to be right behind Dodger Stadium in terms of nastiness. I wasn’t sitting in the left field bleachers so I didn’t hear what was being said out there, but there wasn’t an overwhelmingly hostile mob-mentality when he came to the plate. Well done Philadelphia. Twenty eight home runs through 97 games means that he’s on pace for a career high 47 home runs, WITHOUT Prince Fielder behind him in the lineup and WITH all the crap he’s had to deal with. Amazing. Those “H8ters Gonna H8te” t-shirts hit the nail right on the head.
The Brewers had runners on first and third with nobody out in the top of the ninth inning. Zero runs were scored after that happened. It was hard to watch. Axford pitched the 8th and 9th innings and retired all six batters he faced including three by way of the K. In the top of the tenth a dropped pop up by the third basemen allowed Gomez to reach second base. Izturis sacrificed Gomez to third and the Phillies elected to intentionally walk Ryan Braun (probably a wise choice: he’s good). Aramis Ramirez was up next and he hit a fly ball to shallow centerfield:
It was caught (over the shoulder) by Phillies second baseman Chase Utley. Gomez tagged up and raced home:
Since Corey Hart didn’t get in line with Gomez quick enough Ed Sedar is shouting (I believe) where to slide in the lower left corner of the picture above. The Brewers took a 6-5 lead, but I was still nervous. Beside losing my greatest concern was that the Brewers would allow the Phillies to tie the game and it would last another few hours. I had been hoping to get on the road at 4 PM eastern time, allowing me to beat some of the rush hour traffic getting out of the city. It was already 4:50 at this point, so that didn’t happen anyways.
K-Rod came in and got Ty Wiggington to fly out to centerfield for the first out of the inning. He walked the next batter and then gave up a double to put runners on second and third with only one out. Carlos Ruiz hit a sacrifice fly and the game was tied at six. The next batter, Jimmy Rollins, lined a base hit to center and pinch runner Mike Fontenot came home with the winning run. Final Score: Phillies 7 – Brewers 6.
I’m running out of things to say regarding the team’s on-field performance. This may sound horrible but I think I was more frustrated on the 0-6 road trip than I ever was dealing with Leukemia for two and a half years. I took my diagnosis in stride and never got too upset because there was nothing I could do about it but fight. I had no control of the outcome in either case, really, but it hurts to want the Crew to win so badly and then experience demoralizing loss after demoralizing loss in person. I’m not complaining, but giving you an idea of what I’m feeling. I’m not a quitter and there will be no giving up, as some people have suggested I do. I’ve helped give future blood cancer patients a better chance of finding a matching donor by raising funds for Be The Match and encouraging people to join the registry. For that I feel amazing and grateful for the opportunity to make a difference. Losing, however, is something that I’m going to have to get used to. I’m über-competitive and I need to accept the fact that teams will have down years, and there’s nothing I can do about it. I have to take the good with the bad, and with my leukemia battle as an example, it’s something I should have no problem doing.
A few more pictures. It was “Christmas in July” at Citizens Bank Park on Wednesday, for some reason. One thing they did was alter the home team “mug-shots” on the jumbotron. Take Shane Victorino, for example, sporting a nice Elf costume:
The Philly Phanatic came out on the four-wheeler, greeted Santa, gave him a Phanatic hat, danced with ‘ol Saint Nick and then the two of them jumped on the four-wheeler and took off.
After the walk-off win by the Phillies I was walking through the concourse towards the left field gate. A Phillies fan was excited and saw me walking towards him and kind of laughed and did this pointing thing at me. That was all fine but when I passed him he tried slapping me on my butt. He must’ve thought I had a very droopy backside because he slapped my hamstring instead. Either way I was not happy. From close range I pointed right at his face and said “Don’t touch me.” There may have been a few expletives but that report has not been confirmed. He got up close and said “What are you going to do about it?” Nothing (obviously), so I repeated my original statement and walked away. Seeing that I had witnessed back-to-back-to-back 7-6 horrendous losses I’m surprised I didn’t try to do something about it. Besides that one interaction I had no problem with the Phillies fans. I talked with many of them throughout the three game series and my story was well received.
I had a long drive and while I wasn’t looking forward to it I was looking forward to climbing into bed. I got in my car at 5:04 PM eastern time and 14 hours and 28 minutes later I was parked at my parents’ place in Fort Atkinson. I averaged 62.7 MPH including the two stops for gas. I hopped in bed at 7:00 AM central time and got roughly four hours of sleep. It’s 3:20 PM now and I’ll be leaving shortly for game one of the Brewers-Nationals series. Hopefully some home cooking is just what the doctor ordered for the Brewers.
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