Marlins2003 Posted September 18, 2003 Share Posted September 18, 2003 I was reading The (Philadelphia) Inquirer this morning and I though my buds here would enjoy this piece. --------------------- Posted on Thu, Sep. 18, 2003 Bill Lyon | A night of wonder, except for score By Bill Lyon Inquirer Columnist Perfect night to be at the yard. You can feel summer dying and autumn coming, tart as apple cider. Even the Vet, whose days now dwindle down to a precious few, manages to look captivating on such an evening. When the light is kind and just right, when the makeup is strategically applied, she stirs in you memories of the good times. It is because tonight the place is alive with possibility. The Phillies do this only every 10 years, after all, contend and get themselves into the World Series. Nature has the seven-year locust, while baseball has the Phillies. So on this night the Vet turnstiles are clicking like mating crickets. Three hours before the first pitch, the line at the ticket window is 11 deep. For the Phillies, this is a harmonious convergence of time and circumstance. The town is ready to be retaken. The Eagles, awful and now off for two weeks, have conceded center stage. Baseball, as Admin Bowa observed, was mackerel-dead in this town. "It had dirt on top of it," the manager said. "It's good to be back." So the faithful and the doubters come out, wanting to see for themselves, wondering if it's safe to commit. The skeptics insist that eventually the lack of a bullpen, the soft underbelly of the franchise, will be the difference. The hopeful insist that they will win the wild card, somehow, some way. Either way, a resolution is near. The Phillies and the Marlins are locked in a prelude to the playoffs, and this is how the latest one unfurls: First pitch at 7:07. Juan Pierre, the Marlins jackrabbit leadoff man, reaches out and pokes a Brett Myers offering into left. Single. The peskiest, most irritating kind of hit. It promptly becomes a double when Pierre, a jet plume in his wake, steals second, his 61st swipe of the season. The crowd bellows its outrage at the safe call. Pierre, indeed, looks to be out. But the replay shows that shortstop Jimmy Rollins never tags him. 7:15. Pierre floats home on a double by Derrek Lee, the ball bouncing high off the rug and over the leaping Placido Polanco, who is playing his first game since Aug. 31. Even if Polanco had been Manute Bol, he could not have reached it. Moments later, Polanco stretches as if he were Manute Bol and snares a smash that has double written all over it. He saves two runs. But it will be only a temporary reprieve. 7:18.Phillies pitching coach Joe Kerrigan, continuing to pile up the frequent-flier miles, visits the mound. It is not exactly a family reunion. He and Myers profaned each other a little while back. Myers' third pitch after Kerrigan's visit is laced into the right-field corner by Jeff Conine. The Marlins are up 3-0 even as the ticket windows outside the Vet are under siege by patrons still clamoring to get in. 7:21.The Phillies have runners at the corners and Jim Thome is up. The crowd makes that animal noise of anticipation, the sound of a lion closing in on a zebra with a bad limp. Thome is that Philadelphia rarity, an import who has delivered. Others have come here and shriveled. But he has thrived and won everyone over; indeed, he is one of us. His numbers are huge. Now, the count goes to 3-2 and Thome unleashes a 500-foot swing. And misses. 8:06. Thome up again. Runner on second. Two out, again. The count reaches full, again. Thome unleashes that lumberjack swing, again. The ball climbs on a majestic arc, like a rainbow, finally clattering down beyond the visitors' bullpen. He has done what they have paid him so much to do. He has gotten his team even, at 3, and has gotten the crowd in it. The crowd, incidentally, has been swelling by the minute. It will eventually top out at a healthy and encouraging 33,761. 8:13.The Phillies' lead evaporates with one swing by Conine. He catches a fat one between the screws and the ball is gone like the last boardinghouse pork chop. 8:23. The pesky Pierre reaches out and bloops a pitch to left. Pat Burrell trundles in, tries to surround it, and decides to slide when he would have been better served just blocking it. He sprawls while the ball rolls and two Marlins come home. The Phillies are down 3 again. Myers leaves, dented for half a dozen runs in only four undistinguished innings. Now, shudder, it is up to the pen to hold 'em. 8:35.The Phillies begin to peck again. It might be their best trait, persisting. Marlon Byrd, who has blossomed in the leadoff slot, singles in a run. You see in him immense potential and possibility. 9:01. There's that sound again - Thome is up, and so are the people. Runner on first. Thome uncoils and the ball is a tracer lighting up the night sky. In deepest left, Conine throws up his glove. The ball decides to stick there. He bounces off the wall and alertly fires in a most improbable 7-6-3 double play. When Conine reaches the dugout, he is pounded by his joyful teammates. What appeared to be a certain tie game remains, instead, a 2-run Marlins lead. It is the kind of play that decides who makes the postseason and who doesn't. 9:13. The Phillies change pitchers, for the third time. In an inning and a third. The crowd does the wave. You feel trapped in a time warp. 9:57. Thome up again, leading off the eighth. He is why many have stayed in a game the home team is now losing by 7-4. He cranks a 2-2 pitch on a line you could hang your wash on. But it is right at the rightfielder. People begin filing out. 10:07.Bowa, unable to hold back the froth that has been churning within all night, gets himself ejected in the top of the ninth. The Marlins feast on the Phillies' pathetic pen for four more runs. 10:31. The loss becomes official, and emphatic. Now the Phillies are back to a game and a half behind the Marlins. The night feels cold. But then, it always seems to in defeat. Inquirer Link Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
Join the conversation
You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.