After Zoo with Roy abruptly ended our relationship last week, philly.com was left to pick up the broken pieces of a once perfect relationship. But we knew this Penguin had a soft spot, and that was the Phillies. So how do you fix your relationship problems? Buy Phillies tickets!
Here's ZWR's diary of a recent trip to Citizens Bank Park.
9:44 a.m. - On the road. Leaving behind a seven-month pregnant lady and a toddler ... make no mistake, the Nag's the coolest. I think I need to put air in one of my tires, but don't have a tire air measurer. Let's do this thing.
10:58 a.m. - I am at the Wawa in Bel Air, Maryland. It's my favorite place between Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia. I stop here every time I make this trip. They recently added a Wegman's right across the road. That's a solid combo right there, yo.
11:14 a.m. - I just spilled meatball sandwich sauce on my lap. I'm dictating this story to myself on my iPhone memo app. First world problems and what not. Minus 325 points.
12:05 p.m.- Scanning the radio and OMG IT'S THE MICHAEL JACKSON SONG FROM FREE WILLY! YES, PLEASE.
12:23 p.m. - A thought occurs to me: "Wait, I'm driving all the way to Philly to watch John motherducking Lannan pitch? Darn."
3:45 p.m. - Meet some friends at a tavern near the stadium complex we've been going to for years. Over the course of time we start talking with the folks around us (we're a social sort) who are going to the game to get their opinion on the Phils.
Frank from Newtown Square (originally from South Philly) is quick and blunt, "they blow." His friend Susan is equally pessimistic, "I don't know what they're doing." Buddy from Phoenixville laments, "they haven't gotten any better over the last three years". Jay from South Philly seemingly finishes his point, "I don't see it anymore."
An older guy across the bar, in a corner, under perpetually-strung Christmas lights, upon hearing the word "blow" yells over, "Bryz blows, too! You see him duck the other night?" He then simulates Ilya Bryzgalov ducking. This overtakes Michael Jackson's "Will You Be There" coming on the radio as the highlight of my day. Then a woman who appears to be a regular guest at this particular establishment--she's wearing a pullover Disney fleece with a Goofy patch--blurts out a series of f-bomb-laden missives. It's not clear whether they're meant for Bryzgalov, the Phillies, or the world in general. I assume it's the last one.
My roast pork is here. Be right back.
6:15 p.m. - My buddy takes some super-secret South Philly back alley that winds behind bars, florists, bakeries and row homes to get us back to Packer Ave., and then the stadium. Once parked, I'm giving his wife a piggyback ride to the park. I like the trajectory of this evening.
6:30 p.m. - We stop to say hello to my friend's brother: a lifelong fan, longtime season ticket holder, and father of four who spent the 2008 season fighting - and beating- leukemia. When the Phils made the playoffs that season he told everyone that they were going to win the World Series, because that was the one year he wouldn't be able to go to any of the games. He informs us that they're selling 32-ounce cans of beer for nine dollars, and he's optimistic about the game. His outlook on things tends to be better than most folks.
GAMETIME - This is literally the most boring game I've ever attended. The Phillies have two hits. Lannan's not making me want to punch him in his big dumb face. Then stuff happened. Ohai we wonned! This web site features the work of some incredibly talented reporters. I'm not going to pretend to be one. Check their game recap.
10:15 p.m.(ish)- Leaving the stadium, we see a guy in the parking lot who insists his car was stolen. He appears to have been drinking heavily and frankly we're not sure if he should be near his car anyway. Nevertheless, we ask him what it is, and set out looking for it. I instinctively blurt out, "Dude, nobody stole your car." We start chatting with his buddy, who is relishing this moment as any good friend would (and tells us he's driving, thank goodness), and eventually he says to me, "Zoo, Where's My Car?" which made me laugh... a lot.
We find the car. It was not far from where we were, as suspected. I remember my assignment, and ask his opinion on the team. Buoyed perhaps upon avoiding a tragic automotive disappearance, he says, "We're going all the way! Haters gon' hate!" Okay he didn't really say hater's gonna hate, or maybe he did, and he may have been being sarcastic, but I hope he's right. Also, he was a pitcher in high school. No for serious I just texted this to myself so I wouldn't forget. To the car!!!
11:15 p.m. - I look up, and we are – somehow - at a bar in my old neighborhood. It's as if we just appeared here. There are nachos, dips, chips, empanadas, and craft brews spread from end-to-end on our table. I am surrounded by good friends, old and new. It's moments like these that make my occasional sadness over not living in Philadelphia more acute. But we celebrate tonight.
9:08 a.m. (Sunday morning) - I am, once again, at the Bel Air, Maryland Wawa. It is still my favorite place between Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. I drink a 16-ounce Kona blend with a splash of light cream, just like a do every other time. And, they have free air. I finally put some in my tire. I don't know if I put the right amount in, but it definitely looks more inflated. I am on my way home.
10:15 a.m. - No traffic. I'm amazed.
10:39 a.m. - I walk into the house, and my three-year-old daughter - wearing a princess dress - runs over and gives me a big hug. That was the best moment of an already pleasant weekend.
Plus, the Phils are on at 1:30. Perhaps the most amazing thing about this game and the experience of going "to the ballpark" is that no matter the outcome (though we of course always prefer the glories), presented to us anew each day is the opportunity for moments that we'll keep with us - in memories, in spirit, in your own form of sentimental aggregate - for however long you need them.