Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Hockey Season Is Over



For the uninitiated, it is hard to understand why fans at a Phillies game sometimes begin singing cheers for the other sports franchises here in The City of Confused Brothers.

Need something to do while watching the Phils get clobbered by ten runs? Start singing “Fly Eagles Fly” and pine for football season. The Fightins’ can’t get a hit to save their lives? “Let’s Go Flyers” is the incantation used by hockey fans to exhort the team to victory. And if the 76ers had a new song – their old one from the 70s sounds like a bad O’Jays tune sung by coked-up disco dancers - that would get play at the old ballpark, too.

The other teams’ fight songs are crooned because they have a higher success ratio than the Phils, who are charging full steam to the unstated goal of losing their 10,000th game in their 124th season. (They started the season with 9,879). That’s no mean feat considering the sport has its share of losers; this team, however, is not a “loveable” loser like the Cubs, or worse, the Red Sox. They’re the Phillies, man, and waddya want? The Athletics to move back? Some would jump at that idea. Or at least take Barry Zito off their hands.

As the Phillies gaffed the Marlins tonight in Miami, 7-5, courtesy of some timely hitting by off-season acquisition Aaron Rowand, big things were doing back in Philly with the hockey team, the Flyers. They were getting their asses righteously kicked by a team from Buffalo which nearly went bankrupt and whose payroll is about half the money that Comcast, the local cable monopoly who owns the Flyers, pays its French Canadien and Eurotrash flyboys. They lost 7-1. In baseball numbers (sorta like dog years) that’s the same as losing by double that score. What a joke.

So when bozos like Sal Fasano, our alleged new folk hero, give away a run by flinging the ball uncontrollably from his chubby hand when he tries to fake out a runner, fans needed only to flick the remote one channel up to see what the Buffalo Sabres were doing to the Flyers to feel better, after color man Larry Anderson indicated this might be another comedy promotion night.

“I don’t know what to say,” Anderson guffawed. “Not to laugh at him but…”

Oh, go ‘head, Larry. Treat yourself. Laugh at the poor fucker. The players like to say they’re entertainers, right?

In all fairness to Sal, who I suspect has been doing shooters with Chollie between innings, he was all over the field tonight – mostly for the good of the team – and even had the wherewithal to catch a popped-up bunt on an ill-advised Marlins squeeze play on a full count to the batter (!) and run down the dead-duck runner barreling toward home. Whew. The whiskey almost came up on that one.

“The Harder the Battle, the Sweeter the Victory” hangs over the Flyers’ locker room door, but sweetness was not to be savored by the Ice Men, and at least not by Out-of-Hand Sal in his last at-bat, who was called out on a questionable third strike and tried desperately in his fury to break a bat apart in the dugout to no avail. Chollie nipped at the bottle and offered anger control therapy.

Without Sal, who is now hitting .182, the Phils were not to be denied, warts and all. Jimmy Rollins hit a homer in the 7th inning with two outs (one of them Sal’s strikeout) to shrink the Marlins lead to a run, 5-4. The inning looked cooked but Chase Utley hustled his skinny ass down to first base and beat out a bang-bang play to key a big rally finished off by Rowand’s three-run triple. The bullpen, which has performed well after its horrible showing the first two weeks, shut down this AAA team like the rookies they are.

The Phillies now have the city’s entire attention until Eagles training camp at the end of July, and without Terrell Owens, the football team is no match for Sal’s soon-to-be announced Summer Buffoonery Festival, following straight on the heels of his stand-up Spring.

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