The sound of machine-gun fire was ear-piercing, even through a pair of sophisticated, noise-reducing earmuffs.
While Phillies fans spent yesterday grinding their teeth and cursing Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig as Game 5 of the World Series remained stuck in the mud, Brett Myers blew off some steam with a visit to Targetmaster, an indoor firearm range he frequents in Chadds Ford, Delaware County.
"It's just fun to bust some caps," said Myers, whose work in the World Series may or may not be over, depending on the outcome of Game 5, which is slated to resume tonight, weather permitting, at Citizens Bank Park.
When Myers suggested I stop by to watch him fire at a few targets, I wondered if one of those caps had my name on it.
"Who's the geek in the Dockers?" I heard one of the regulars ask Myers as he entered the range.
Myers began loading bullets into an assault rifle. He fired off a few rounds, then asked if I wanted to try.
No thanks. The last thing I'd fired was a spitball in Mrs. Sasso's second-grade class (and I still feel badly about that). I'd never fired a gun in my life and, frankly, it was not on my bucket list. Myers didn't care. He loaded a Glock 19 handgun. I squeezed off a few rounds and managed to hit the target.
Myers was not impressed.
He grabbed the handgun, held it sideways and began firing.
"That's how the gangsters do it," he said.
"You've been watching too many movies," I said.
"This is a lot of fun for me," Myers said. "I just like shooting."
He picked up the hobby a couple of years ago from a buddy, Dean Guelich, a former Navy Seal. Joe Hurley, Chris Broomell and Joey Raap help Myers whenever he stops in to Targetmaster. He stops in often, especially lately.
"I was here Saturday, before Game 3," Myers said. "The games start so late, you have to do something to kill some time."
As much as Myers enjoys shooting, he knows it's serious business.
"You've got to take guns seriously," he said. "I like the fun of it, but I only do it in a controlled area, at a range. You have to be very responsible."
There are some similarities between shooting and pitching. Both involve hitting a target. At times, Myers shoots like a starting pitcher. Precise location is the goal. Other times, he grits his teeth and fires like a closer.
"Sometimes I like concentrating and seeing if I can hit the target," he said. "Sometimes I just want to go Rambo-style - no focus, just hold the trigger down. Let it ride, see how much damage you can do to a target."
If the World Series is extended to Game 6, Myers would be the starting pitcher. As much fun as it would be to take the mound and let it ride one more time in 2008, he hopes he doesn't have to. He'd like the see the Phils get some quick runs in the resumption of Game 5 - the score is tied, 2-2, entering the bottom of the sixth - then have the bullpen continue its magnificent postseason work to wrap up the second World Series title in club history.
"I feel good about our bullpen," Myers said. "They've been great."
Indeed. Phils relievers have allowed just seven earned runs in 371/3 innings for a 1.68 ERA this postseason.
Myers described the soggy action on the field Monday night as surreal.
"In that sixth inning, Cole [Hamels] was putting the ball under his armpit trying to keep it dry," he said. "It looked like he took a shower with his clothes on.
"I thought it was funny when [baseball officials] said they suspended it because they were looking out for the players' welfare. If that's the case, why are we playing in slop? It was pretty bad. It was bad in the fourth inning. I grabbed a squeegee in the dugout so nobody would come in and bust their rear end. I still don't know why they allowed the sixth to start when they knew they would have suspended it."
Myers knows worrisome Philadelphia fans are fearful that the hellish events of Monday could be the beginning of another chapter of sporting heartbreak in this city.
He is not worried, though.
"The game is tied," he said. "Why does that give [the Rays] the momentum? I don't see any momentum change. I don't feel it. Everyone is talking momentum. We're still at home, we're still leading the series three games to one, and I still feel a lot of positive momentum.
"We'll take batting practice like any other game and go play. We'll be all right."
These were calming words, amazingly so from a man holding an assault rifle.
Nothing eases the pressure of a World Series quite like the sound of machine-gun fire.