THIS IS WHY I’M HOT
If only, Shanno, if only.
I should have known Opening Night of the Phillies’ 2007 season was going to be a soul-crusher before I even took my seat. While I was waiting for my friend Judy to arrive, I could hear the strains of Josh Groban crooning “You Raise Me Up” on the PA system outside Citizens Bank Park.
Not a good sign.
Along with the dubious choice of musical accompaniment, it was a damp, chilly 46 degree night, the first of the Phillies’ many College Night promotions, and the first Dollar Dog Night of the season. Combine those three factors with the Atlanta Braves, a team Phillies fans love to hate, and you have the recipe for an outrageous night of baseball.
After a nail-biter of a home opener, Phillies hoped for a change of fortune by bringing future ace and Ladies… favorite Cole Hamels to the mound for his 2007 regular season debut.
Accompanying me to the game was honorary Lady… Judy, which was quite a treat for me. Judy and I usually go to shows together, but I was delighted to find out that she likes baseball too. Apparently we like tight pants in general; indie rockers, center fielders, whatever.
The Phillies player introductions on the Jumbotron begin with a cute little video cut to Jay-Z’s “Show Me What You Got.” Girls dance in the stands, and boys with their caps off-center bob their heads. It’s a good choice for a group of 41,000 or so rowdy college kids.
The day’s starting nine are introduced with arty (for baseball, anyway) dramatically lit photos on the Jumbotron. Judy, who has a BFA in photography, might disagree with the description of the photos as “arty,” but who cares — our boys look super cute. Observe. As Cole is announced to a huge round of applause, a girl behind me idly wonders, “Who’s pitching today?” Giiiiirl, PAY ATTENTION.
Breathe a sigh of relief, everybody — the green Phanatic is back.
Banner Boy (center) heads to the dugout. This is the coldest game he’s ever pitched. I’ve got some ideas for how to warm you up, honey.
The West Chester University dudes’ chorus (not their real name) sings the National Anthem and we’re off!
In the bottom of the first, new daddy Shane Victorino gets dinged by a Tim Hudson pitch and trots awfully close to the mound on his way to first. I imagine some words are exchanged. Victorino gets a big lead off first and Hudson keeps trying to pick him off. You just plunked him in the ankle, jagoff, lay off!
After a few unsuccessful attempts to catch Cole’s crazy foot-above-his-head follow-through I finally get a photo of it. Gorgeous.
Judy makes fun of Cole’s semi-mullet when he comes to the plate during the bottom of the third. I can live with the semi-mullet — as long as he smells like strawberry-peppermint lotion for troubled skin.
In other news, Judy and I are no longer friends.
On a more somber note, Phils fans will know that longtime third base coach John Vukovich died on March 8 after a long fight with cancer. He’s being memorialized by the Phillies this season with patches on their jerseys and for the first three games of the season, his nickname, “Vuk,” is painted in the third base coach’s box.
In the third, Chipper Jones comes to the plate amid shouts of “LARRY! LARRY! LARRY!” For some reason, this makes me smile. Probably because no grown man should go by the name CHIPPER. Larry takes big cuts at two of Cole’s freakish changeups and a splitter — that’s the way you do it! That’s the way you debate!
At the plate in the fourth, Cole fouls one off to left field and grounds one into the gap between first and second. Isn’t that cute? Aw, look at him, trying to get on base! You’re so cute.
Judy and I decide that Jeff Francoeur is a two-face. Sometimes he’s cute and sometimes he looks like this:
The Motrin Flex Cam (these promotions are getting stupider and stupider, are they not?) goes around the stadium looking for people showing off their best bicep curls. We get a shot of a tanned, waxed wifebeater-clad doofus with his hat cocked to the side. Clearly, this fellow is from Jersey.
This moment of hilarity is followed immediately by a guy proposing to his girlfriend on the Jumbotron. She accepts, but it looks dicey for a moment there. Judy and I use this as an opportunity to wonder out loud why baseball players, young hotties all, decide to get married. I scream in the general direction of the infield, “WHY ARE YOU MARRIED?!”
In the seventh frame, Manuel and the infield come in for what I imagine is a strongly worded pep talk with Cole, and he throws a strike to end the inning. He’s done. His line for the game is impressive: seven innings, four hits, one walk, eight Ks.
It’s a tough park for batters when the Phils’ reliever Matt Smith takes the mound in the eighth: The cold wind is blowing directly into the field. That’s why the ball’s not traveling so well. That’s also why my ass has frozen solid. My beer, however, has stayed cold for three innings now. I will miss this unexpected benefit in July.
J-Roll reaches second base in the bottom of the eighth, and Shane Victorino comes to the plate to wild applause. Come on, Shane! For some reason, he thinks it’s a good idea to steal third after getting himself a nice double, and he gets thrown out at third. The shouts of “asshole!” are brief but intense. We can’t stay mad at Shane for long.
The reigning MVP comes to the plate and singles, bringing up Chase Utley. All the girls scream for Chutley. He drops one on the warning track, and Ry Ho trucks around the bases, diving into home. The ump calls him out at the plate and the boos are tremendous. A douchebag sitting next to me opines sarcastically, “Boo, you made the right call.” Bitch, I will CUT YOU.
Seriously, look at that face. We know you’re off the market, Chase, and the “I’m sensitive” face isn’t helping us come to terms with it.
Burgeoning hottie Greg “Hobbs” Dobbs pinch hits in the bottom of the ninth. Dobbs came over from the Mariners and has had an outrageously good spring. Also, he is super, super cute. He slaps one into deep right field but Francoeur shags it. Jerk. Tied at two each. We’re going into extra innings.
The entire stadium sings along to “Livin’ on a Prayer.” And I mean really, really gets into it. Spirits are high. Let’s do this!
RHH (that’s “right hand hottie”) Ryan Madson, the best piece of ass in this whole damn city, comes to the hill in the tenth. Boyfriend is ALL LEG. Wow. He Ks Andruw Jones after a tense meeting on the mound.
Ry Ho comes to bat with two runners in scoring position in the bottom of the tenth. Make us remember why you’re MVP, guy! He grounds out to second, and Judy and I decide it’s time to go home when the dollar dogs start flying.