Saturday, September 30, 2006

Don't Hog The Covers, Harry. I'm Rollin' Over.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Bend Over, Here It Comes Again


Do you hate yourself yet? Did you make it to work on time? Maybe you drank yourself to sleep?

You knew as well as I what you were getting yourself into last night…this morning…whatever. Major League Baseball, via its evil proxies, the umpires, decided THE SHOW MUST GO ON so they demanded Team Schizo and the Gnats engage in mortal, splishy-splashy combat for millions of drowsy Philadelphians up past their bedtime watching on cable and the 119 fans still hardy enough to remain unseated and wet on location. They sure as shit weren’t from Washington – they were masochists, performing Phillies flagellation “wit,” assembled at the waterlogged modernist monstrosity named for a murdered Red Sox fan – and, if they held out any hope these choke artists could beat a last-place team, they were as deluded as a jihadi who supposes the world would be a better place if we squatted on prayer rugs and stopped eating hot dogs.

Jesus Fucking Christ. Now there was a name invoked bedside as the glow of plasma televisions were doused throughout Hostile City boudoirs a few clicks beyond 2 a.m. as the Fightless meekly went down in a swampy, foggy city-state with a southern accent that assumed governance from Philly a long, long time ago and tonight made the city’s baseball team their bitch.

Let’s be fair to the Gnats. They won it fair and square – relished it, as a matter of fact.

“It's good to go out and ruin their season," said Ryan Church after the game, savoring his midnight home run that gave the Gnats a 1-0 lead. “Now they've got to get on a plane, take a two-hour flight, then strap it on against a good Florida team tomorrow.”

Tell you what. Any alpha male would file that comment for next season and direct a little high heat toward that guy’s noggin. Do you really think our pansies might insist on a little retribution? Fat fucking chance, considering these boys have been every pitcher’s speed bag this year, getting plunked more than 100 times yet…no fight. No bile. No vim. No vinegar.

Yeah, they’ll strap it on, alright. I’m sure they can afford the finest in dildos.

Jesus Fuckup Phillies. Their opposition tonight on the mound was a rookie mediocrity who owned them, a 26-year-old who has allowed 35 percent of hitters to reach base against him. Tonight, the Pukies succeeded to get three hits and two walks off him. They touched him for a run. Bad? No, that was the good part. The bad part was the Gnats relievers, sensing the desperation of a trapped animal, allowed just two hits the final four innings of the game.

Jesus Fuckup Rollins. Jesus Fuckup Victorino. Jesus Fuckup Utley. Jesus Fuckup Howard. Jesus Fuckup Conine. Jesus Fuckup Burrell. Three hits between the six of them. By the way, congratulations, Conine. You’re a Phillie now!

And don’t give me that shit about Howard being the MVP and I should lay off him. Fuck that. I gave him his “props” as the kids like to say. But now he’s swinging at junk and can’t ignore the adrenaline. As Chollie might say, “he’s like a hedgehog that can’t git out from under the water pail. Stuck, like. Confused, as it were.” Frank Robinson could smell blood Tuesday, and, unlike every other manager this month, had his closer challenge him to end the game. Ryan, I love you like a son, but I feel horrible about your choice of profession: You’re a Phillie now!

Oh, what the fuck. Maybe Chollie can drain a bottle of V.O. and settle back for a few nights on Miami’s South Beach with the teetotaling Jelly Roll, and review the season with somebody who compared himself with Derek Jeter, obviously ignoring his team’s results and his championship season virginity, his maiden’s head as safe for another year as his manager's job.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

This Sure Beats "Sex and the City"


I was tempted to jump in the car and head down to D.C. after Team Vomit won that five-hour torture and turned into pumpkins at the stroke of midnight today. The Old Lady had already missed another tantalizing repeat of “Sex and the City,” and whenever that happens, bedtime just ain’t the same.

The whores on that show are so clever. Imagine some skinny, hideous gash coming up with a nickname like “Mr. Big” for one of her mansluts. Surely, that had Carrie Bradshaw nominated for a Pulitzer in the “Most Creative Name for a Guy with a Large Penis” category. But wouldn’t you know it – I cracked the morning internet open after a little shuteye and there was Chollie going hog wild with the imagery after the game, thirsty reporters gaga over the bizarre material. Even Sarah Jessica Parker’s skeletal mask of a face would have been blushing. She might have even fingered herself.

“We’ll put some glue on his pants or something,” Chollie said of the slippery Michael Bourne, seeing more playing time even after his Tuesday impression of the cocaine-era Lonnie Smith. “Some pine tar. Keep him from sliding past the base.”

Then Old Backwoods had a revealing Carrie Bradshaw moment, suggesting a little sado-masochism when he said maybe he could provide Bourn with “one of those shock collars. That's what I put on Varsh sometimes.”

Whew doggie! Sounds like Chollie hit that moonshine while the game was in progress. I can’t blame him. This shit is a little too much to take at my age. Five fucking hours of push-me pull-you bullshit. Erectile dysfunction with men on base. Throwing the ball around like girls. A rookie pitcher getting a pinch hit. More bad umpiring. A smiling Pat Burrell. Two blown saves.

And then, our beloved Jelly Roll -- he of the do-rag, the Cadillac strut, the two errors that almost cost us the season -- got the big hit, further proof that he is an egomaniac who only responds to pressure in August and September, the rest of the year be damned.

Unfortunately, we may never know how good he is in October until he learns to answer the bell in April and May, when he’s busy uppercutting the ball and popping out – and considering the paucity of walks he receives, handicapping the top of the lineup, undercutting production, and costing the team wins.

Go get ‘em, Mr. September.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

End Is Near - Expect The Expected


The fates sent Philly fans a big giggle after Team Vomit failed to win as expected last night. Terrell Owens tried unsuccessfully to kill himself, which would have never happened if he had stayed an Iggle. If he were still playing here, his girlie man pill suicide would have succeeded. The Iggles would have been instant head cases again, Donovan McNabb would have been blamed, and Andy Reid would have had to strip T.O. of his Latter Day Saint status.

I could hear the press conference now. Chubmeister Mormon would be at the podium, gasping for breath, and start: “Injuries. Terrell Owens. Suicide. On the permanently unable to perform list.”

Man, that sure would have helped us get over the rancid hangover we Phillies fans have today. Even if he had the guts to pull it off, imagine if T.O. had done that as an Iggle! The brother would have been getting round-the-clock, helicopter-injected, swirling, whirling, whoring media attention! The Phils would be relegated again to the usual 15-second summary at the bottom of Action News after the erectile dysfunction feature. That would be an appropriate slot considering last night’s horror show.

It is remarkable how Team Psycho always seems to introduce new Legends of Losing to its pantheon of late season fuck ups. Ladies and gentleman, introducing Michael Bourn, our rookie pinch-running sensation who has managed to get picked off and caught stealing in the rare opportunities, albeit critical ones, Chollie has tossed him into this September.

Last night, he overslid second base with two out in the eighth. Naturally enough, he said that had never happened to him before, so he has saved it for the major league level in the last week of a wild cared race. In a deft, media-savvy move, Bourn paraphrased Chinua Achebe to the assembled inquiring minds after the game.

"I've never had that happen," said Bourn. “I hadn't had a baserunning blunder in two or three years, and I come up here and everything falls apart."

If only Chollie had channeled Earl Weaver, Chase Utley’s plain-as-the-manager’s-English home run off the foul pole might have been correctly called after a managerial rampage inspired one of those down-home umpire conferences, considering most everyone else in cavernous RFK Stadium heard the ball hit the pole, and, for the deaf in the crowd, saw the ball careen the way balls that hit foul poles typically do.

This is one of the reasons teams have first base coaches. In our case, Marc Bombard, who obviously figures he will go to hell upon death if he fudges the truth (as opposed to the umpires, who just count time until their post-game beer), or who needs corrective lenses, held up his thumb and forefinger about four inches apart, indicating, among other things, the distance of the ball from the pole. In sign language, that meant he was telling Chollie either he wasn’t well endowed or the ball was foul.

The umpires refrained from comment on that one like suspected thieves; Chollie seethed after seeing the video the next inning; Utley somehow digested his post-game meal after watching it hit dead center on the pole on the video tape; and Phillie fucker Frank Robinson openly admitted his team was lucky, a sly, wide smile and a wink punctuating the thought.

Bombard showered and dressed in private. And T.O. lives another day to inspire Pat Burrell that, yes, even if you are able to still play the game, life is damn depressing if you are unloved.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Yo Gnats: I Got Your Derailment Right Here!

I would have shared my lamentations yesterday with you, dear reader, as they were multifarious and horrible, but the monster that hosts this publishing service was about as useful as Baby Girl Burrell. You know what I mean – just when you think it’ll start functioning as expected, it lets you down, then you try again, it frustrates you, until you finally say “Fuck it!” and give it all a rest, hoping that’ll solve the problem. Worse comes to worse, you can always replace it. All things considered, it’s better than Burrell, because it won’t set me back $9 million just to disappoint me. It’s free.

But back to more pressing matters. See, after that Gene Mauch dream, and after watching the Astros beat the Phils yesterday, I’m sorry to say the impending sense of doom is returning. Our next opponent, the Washington Nationals, was involved in a train derailment on the Amtrak last night, and that only forebodes bad things for Team Psycho. You know the old baseball saying: Unlucky on trains, lucky against Philly.

But the Gnats will have to use that advantage without the specter of the Larry Bowa Family egging it on the field. Bowa nephew Nick Johnson is out for the year with a broken leg. You’d think that would be an advantage. That beefy bugger can hit.

Then there’s the pitching matchups. Tonight, Brett Myers faces off – did I just use a hockey analogy? Yeah, I did – faces off against the ever-lasting and brilliant Ramon Ortiz, who has served up 31 homers this year. You’d think that would be an advantage for a team whose top six hitters in the lineup average 26.7 this season.

And if you were a betting man, you’d have to say Cole Hamels and Jon Lieber stack up nicely against Pedro Astacio and Mike O’Connor. You’d think.

But, alas, this is the Phillies. I half expect Frank Robinson to start a beanball war just for old times’ sake. He’s practically out the door. He’s 71. He’s tired. He’s never won a thing as a manager.

But worst of all, he was standing at the plate when Chico Ruiz stole home against the Phillies in the sixth inning of a game on Monday, September 21, 1964. The Reds won, 1-0. For the Phils, it was the first of ten straight losses, the beginning of the Mauch Mens’ historic collapse.

Fuck you, Frank Robinson.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

A 42-Year-Old Recurring Nightmare


I’ve been a little sick the past couple days, and last night the medication drove me to bed early; thus I found myself listening to the conclusion of the Phils’ glorious victory against the Marlins on the radio.

It was not quite a throwback experience for me. I am an AM radio addict, open-eared for any space alien conspiracy theory freak occupying the late night air or any neo-con nut slightly to the left of Hitler by day. And I have a confession: Your host finds kernels of truth in most any agenda posited. Yes, I do believe there are god-infected lunatics who are serious in their threats to commit mass murder, allah inshallah. Yes, I agree it is bizarre to hear even a bad sitting president accused by another of being “the devil” at the United Nations – and even more peculiar to hear applause by his political “peers” supporting his medieval declaration, let alone seeing lost souls like Danny Glover parading around Harlem with him like an unabashed whore.

If Hugo Chavez dropped the sulphur-stinking shtick and stuck with the facts about Bush being an alcoholic, he would have gotten a lot less flack from the godsquad, particularly hard drinkers like the Catholics. Do you have a spot of Jameson, Fadder? I think I need a tightener.

There’s a lot of assholes in the world, and people can vent about them on the radio. That’s what makes it fun. But somewhere after Scott Franzke’s game re-cap and the middle of the UFO show, the Ny-Quil took hold and a vision dream was manifest upon me with all the clarity of a Yuengling piss stream.

“One down, nine to go,” a voice intoned, and as the fog of the subconscious cleared, I beheld the living image of Gene Mauch!

“I’m pitching Hamels again Sunday,” Mauch said to me. “Then Myers, then Hamels again. Gotta go with the hot hand. Gotta clinch this thing now. Lieber’s fat and bad. Wolf has nothing. Hamels and Myers…Lieber once, then Hamels and Myers again.”

I was 15 months old when “The Mauch Men,” the 1964 Phillies, conducted for Hoagie Land’s sporting pleasure probably the biggest collapse in baseball history. I have no memory of my time in diapers. But I heard the stories for years -- about how the Phillies blew a 6 1/2-game lead with twelve games left. About how Mauch insanely and adamantly started Jim Bunning and Chris Short five of the last six games. About how I peed in my Dad’s beer glass during one of the losses. About what a perfectly Philadelphian failure the whole mess was. But what did Mauch mean when he said one down, nine to go? And who was he to fuck with the 2006 pitching staff? Why did he come to me in a dream now? I soon had a few cryptic answers. Visions are like that.

“We need to win all the games,” Mauch said. “Just like the Cardinals did.”

Well, the Cardinals didn’t win their last ten games in ’64 – but they did manage to win eight of their final ten games as the Phils were busy losing ten straight to take the pennant from Mauch's Chokemen. “Mauch – speak to me from the grave,” I implored him. “Mauch, are we going to do it this year?”

The recently-deceased manager seemed to look off at the distance. He squinted and got that trademark “little general” look about him. The conspiracy show’s experts tell me when a person has painful, unresolved issues at death, they leave an electromagnetic impression – a ghost – that remains on earth to find closure.

I always pitied Phillies managers in that regard.

“What’s Richie Allen doin’ with 58 homers?” he asked.

“That’s not Richie Allen, Mauch,” I said. “That’s Ryan Howard.”

“Frank Howard plays for the Senators.”

“Yes, he sure did,” I agreed. “But Ryan Howard plays for the Phillies. Hopefully, for life.”

“For life,” Mauch laughed. “Nothing’s for life.” He looked around in a northeasterly direction and something else caught his attention.

“What’s that sonuvabitch Bowa doin’ at third?”

“He’s the Yankees’ third base coach, Mauch,” I explained. “But at one time, you’ll remember, he had your old job until just before your expiration.”

“He never won anything at the helm while I was still alive,” the little general said with a smile.

“No, he didn’t,” I told him. “I suppose you were his mentor after all. But now we have Chollie Manuel to fuck things up.”

“They made him a manager?”

“Not only that, he’ll probably be back for his third season next year, especially if he wins the wild card,” I informed him. “He finally understood your most famous invention, the double-switch, after a season and a half.”

“I’m tellin’ ya, the two-man rotation is the way to go the last week. Maybe he can do a little crammin’ and learn quick,” Mauch said. “The fans will never appreciate my legacy.”

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

BEAT L.A.!


Fucking Los Angeles.

I lived in L.A. for three years, eating pupusas, kim chi, Tommy Burgers and shawarma the whole while and speaking Spanish, Korean, Russian and Armenian because I had no choice.

I had to listen to the English and Spanish speakers tell me how fucking great Vin Scully called a ballgame, how “The Penguin” was a better third baseman than Mike Schmidt, and how Tommy LaSorda’s turds were re-constituted as Dodger Dogs.

I had to listen to the Russian and Armenian speakers tell me how they made their meters run faster in their taxis, and that Americans were “too stupid” to know the difference. I called an ambulance for a pummeled cabdriver who ran into a customer greedy enough to know he was being ripped off.

I had to restrain myself from throttling my Korean landlord after he refused to fix the toilet. I had wondered why another tenant tried to run him over with his truck the day we moved in. I got my answer soon enough.

Fucking Los Angeles.

The local gang in my Koreatown neighborhood was the highly-promoted Mara Salvatrucha-13, a.k.a. MS-13, with chapters in El Salvador, Washington D.C., and for all I know, Shanghai. They wore Dodgers hats and wondered what gang I claimed when I wore my Phillies cap. “OG Carlton y OG Kruk’s set, essay,” I told them. They nodded as if they knew. I might just as well have answered them in Urdu. I’d like to see John Kruk try to put a pistol down his pants. It’d be a tight fit and he might lose his other testicle. Now Carlton…I think he already has a gun collection. Maybe he smokes crack with his wine. Who knows? He might be able to hang with those homies and convince them the bankers, not the police, are the real enemies. But he would need a translator.

Fucking Los Angeles.

I look at the standings and see L.A. a game up on the Phils and the memories come rushing back. Dodger Stadium is a ghetto adjacent to a rapidly hipsterizing ‘hood, Echo Park, that has gone from working class to Latino class and now Hollywood upper class. Sorta like Fishtown with colorful murals and tacos. The Old Lady and I looked at a “two bedroom apartment” there – that was a lie, it was two rooms with a kitchen in the middle – and the owner wanted to charge $1,100 a month. That’s a bargain in L.A., by the way. The view was terrific, if a homeless camp was your inspiration.

Fucking Los Angeles.

Their ballclub somehow attracts quality free agents who ignore the enormous hassle of the incessant traffic crawl, where a simple five-mile drive can turn into a two-hour time vampire without warning. I suppose you can bring a laptop to analyze the day’s starting pitcher, or marry a porn star wife like Kris Benson did and get a hummer on the way, or become a porn star yourself like Jeff Kent and plug in the auto-suck and run the camera to catch the action.

I am so glad to be back in the Holy Land of Philadelphia.

I eat cheesesteaks and speak English. Harry Kalas, for all his errors, still sounds soothing to the ears. Ron Cey is a nobody. Hatfield hot dogs don’t taste like turds; besides, the kielbasa in Bridesburg is sublime. The cabdrivers are less wont to thieve from their customers. And my landlord is grateful to get his check every month on time and fixes things promptly and apologizes if he can’t do it right away. When I wear my Phillies cap, I am not asked if I am a “Blood.” And most of all, when I look at the standings and see my team a game behind the fucking Dodgers, I know I can walk down the street and proudly exhort my fellow miserable, underachieving losers that if they do one thing this season that would be this:

BEAT L.A.!

Monday, September 18, 2006

Iggles To Phils: Choke's On Us


Philadelphia was on the verge of mass suicide or riot yesterday, and most of the credit for averting this horror can be attributed to Flash Gordon.


Talk about a save. Not that Gordon mowed the Astros down in the ninth – he made it exciting by allowing two base runners – but if he didn’t finish the job at the same time the Giants were finishing off our pathetic, heartless choke artists who call themselves a football team, there would not have been enough room in the morgue for the dead or holding cells for barroom combatants. (Why didn’t the Iggles build a large jail at the Linc? The cinder block cells were charming at the Vet, and rarely empty).

As Tom Gordon’s deep counts paralleled Eli Manning’s long tosses over the suddenly inept Iggles secondary, I involuntarily began making gurgling noises and grabbed my neck with my left hand as I punched the toggle button on the remote. The Old Lady ran into the living room to see what was wrong. I pointed at the television. She had her answer as Gordon went 3-0 to Brad Ausmus. But for some reason, the veteran catcher defied conventional wisdom and swung at the next pitch despite the two runners on base, his team down to its last out, down two runs, and down against the Phillies - their bitch, their property, their submissive visitor who had gone three years without beating them in Houston until this series.

You have to wonder what Ausmus was thinking. This is the kind of game the Phillies were born to lose. But in that regard, our football heroes didn’t disappoint.

Question: Why are the Iggles so loved, so spared the caustic bile projected at Team Vomit? After all, it’s been FORTY SIX YEARS since they last won a championship. The baseball team has kept us waiting a mere twenty-six. In between, both teams have been bridesmaids twice. So what gives? Why all the warm fuzzies for the Iggles? If you look at management, as downright Appalachian as Chollie is, Andy Reid has an air of the bumbling idiot about him as well.

Today at his day-after press conference, Reid looked like a fatter, balder Mike Ditka, hungover without the booze, hoping his Mormon angel Moroni might somehow heal his failure of a team, physically and emotionally. It’s the same old shit with this lobworm: The loss is my responsibility. The team can take something from the loss and learn. The veterans will use the experience and get the kids straightened out. Yeah, right. Have another donut, Andy. I’d rather have an inarticulate hick like Chollie be honest with me than listen to your bullshit.

I’d like to see Reid come down to the local tavern and shoot the shit with the Philly faithful after a game like Sunday's catastrophe. That’s what I did after watching the carnage. The authenticity would have made for good reality television. I went down to the Shamrock 13 bar and Billy the Iggle fanatic was two sheets to the leprechaun wind.

“Let me end it all right now,” he moaned theatrically, a plastic knife denting his wrist.

“It’s okay, Billy,” I counseled. “The Phillies won today.”

“Fuck the Phillies,” he shouted. “They’ll never win anything.”

“It’s been a lot longer since the Iggles won the big one,” I countered.

“The Iggles are different,” he said, pushing a basket of bar munchies toward me. I chewed on a pretzel and indulged him. “We won the division four years runnin’ baby, and last year with the T.O. thing and shit was, howya call it… an apparition! But every fucking year the Phillies are an apparition.”

I ordered up a Ying and began looking for images of Ryan Howard on the potato chips in the basket. I could have sworn I detected Chuck Bednarik on a Ruffle, but I was hungry and ate it.

It was stale.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Outta The Mouths Of Babes


Behold the innocence of childhood!

“We’re gonna win this game,” my son said in the top of the eighth inning today as the Phils piled on the runs. “And we’re gonna win the playoffs.”

At his age, an uncorrupted nine years, big disappointments consist of parental sugar withholding or video game restrictions. His mother and I have tried our best to shelter him from the foul influences of Phillies baseball, because we know it can lead to harder stuff. But it would be naïve to think the temptation to watch this team doesn’t exist.

Today, little Caesar watched the ball game with your host. Well, kind of. He’s a hyper kid, so Abe Nunez’s at-bats don’t exactly thrill him. Nor does seven innings of one-hit ball by our young ace Cole Hamels. But Ryan Howard? Now you’re talking.

“We’re gonna win the playoffs because Ryan Howard is our secret weapon,” he said as one of his kiddie peers in Houston reached over the outfield wall and stole a homer from The Howitzer. “He’s the best hitter in the league.”

Caesar was not the least bit happy about that kid spoiling Number 57 from our should-be MVP. Here he goes to school every day, our capable school system helping to build the critical foundations necessary for good citizenship. He knows that cheatin’ Texas waif, later seen crying his Astro eyes out, violated a number of societal rules in his misguided effort to catch the ball. And my son had an idea what we Phillies fans should do to exact justice, Hostile City style.

“We should kill him,” he confidently declared.

That’s my boy!

Friday, September 15, 2006

He Can't Be One Of Us


Hold your horses, Jeff Conine. You’re not a real Phillie just yet. That concrete glove you brought out to left field in Houston tonight let you down. Yeah, you dropped a fly ball any beer leaguer could shag, but it didn’t cost the team a win. What good are ya? At least bleeding-Phillies-red David Bell had the good grace last season against the ‘stros to boot a chopper down to third and set up eternal cheesesteaker Billy Wagner for his eternal moment in the spotlight of misery. It’s a collective effort, here, you know. So why couldn’t you just throw the ball away after you picked it up? If we had Burrell out there, he woulda flung it in the stands. It woulda been perfect after his grand slam. But you ruined the whole scene, doofus.

What the fuck, Conine. This ain’t the Marlins. Learn how to lose the Phillies way or retire.

Fuck off.

Leave me alone.

What time’s the game tomorrow?

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Treating Our Head Case


Dr. Ziegfried Grafenstein boarded the first plane for Atlanta when the call came. It was a desperate plea for help, one that came as no surprise in the heat of a wild card chase. But this case was different. Chollie Manuel was re-inserting Pat Burrell into the lineup.

After de-planing, Herr Grafenstein was hustled by Phillies brass to the Omni Hotel, where the team was staying. It was still morning – 10 a.m. – but by Burrell’s standards, it might as well have been the crack of dawn. Team voodoo doctor Jeff Cooper hustled the famed psychiatrist to the slumping left fielder’s door, and knocked repeatedly until the Baby Girl appeared, disheveled and confused.

“Pat, this is Dr. Grafenstein,” Cooper said. “He’s here to help you.”

Burrell eyed the shrink with disdain. His cheek was puffed by a chaw of tobacco; he used an empty beer can as a spittoon.

“Suck my dick,” Burrell remarked.

“Dat’s a gut start,” Grafenstein rejoined. “Now get some clothes on and get dat girl aus of der room. Schnell!”

From under the sheets of the bed, a full-figured gal emerged giggling and grasping a towel. The doctor politely turned his head as she dressed. With a hearty whack, Burrell slapped his hottie’s ass goodbye, proving to those assembled if he couldn’t hit a baseball for much anymore, at least he could nail larger targets.

The Dixie chick dressed, and under Cooper’s watchful eye, was escorted to the hotel lobby, leaving Der Gut Dokter and Baby Girl Burrell alone to conduct business.

“Herr Burrell – can I call you Pat? – vell, Pat, vee need to verk quickly, see,” the doctor started in.

Burrell was sitting on the edge of the bed nodding off.

“Pat! Pat!” the good doctor yelled. Burrell woke up briefly, but began snoring again. Grafenstein, instructed by the Phillies to use drastic measures if necessary, slapped the flaccid slugger’s face. That got his attention.

“What the fuck!” Burrell groused. Though agitated, he made no move toward the doctor to counter the attack. No man had ever slapped him before. Only a woman could get away with that. Oh, what the hell, he thought. Considering the kind of shape he was in, any new indignity was possible. He lost his stroke, he lost his job, and was on the verge of losing his mind. Maybe the team already thought he had. So he decided to hear what the doctor had to say.

“Okay, Doc, I’m all ears,” he said.

“Gut,” Grafenstein began. “Now, Pat, a question. Have you ever been hypnotized?”

“No,” Burrell said. “And nobody ever will.”

“Well, we’ll see about that.”

In what seemed like an ironic gesture, Grafenstein pulled out a pocket watch on a chain and began to swing it in front of Burrell, who giggled and decided to play along. This was just like the movies, he thought. This guy is a quack!

“Just vatch der vatch,” the doctor said in his thick Teutonic tone, “and relax…relax…you’re not sleeping…just relaxing…relaxing…relaxing.”

Burrell took on the stupified look that he carries back to the dugout after every repeated, numerous and numbing called third strike, a gaze into thousand-yard-nothingness that has come to define the better part of this season and the other season-long monumental funk in 2003: The deer-in-the-headlights look. The I’ve-been-out-all-night-again look. The just-keep-that-check-coming-because-I-can’t-figure-it-out-look. And that was why Grafenstein was trying to hypnotize poor Pat. There had to be a root cause. He began the unraveling.

“Now, Pat, you are in a safe, comfortable place – a place where there is nothing but friendly people who love you, care for you, wish you success and good things.”

“You mean I’m not a Phillie anymore?”

Nein, idiot, er, I mean, No, Pat! You are still a Phillie. You refused to waive your no-trade clause, remember?”

“I hate Baltimore,” Burrell said.

“You’re not there, either,” said the doctor. “Look, you are home again with your family in San Jose. They love you. You are the Big Man on Campus at your high school. You are worshipped. You are happy…content.”

“Wanna fuck?”

And who are you talking to, Pat?

“Doesn’t matter, I’d fuck a snake.”

“Pat, vee need to talk baseball, not your sex life. You have no problems in that department. You are wealthy. You are gut-looking. You are still young. Let’s talk about baseball.”

“No, I wanna fuck.”

“Pat! There are other things in life than fucking. There are responsibilities. There is duty. There is learning to hit to the opposite field.”

“I’m not gay.”

“No, Pat. Hitting a baseball to the opposite field. Have you forgotten how to do dat?”

“We got Conine to do that now.”

“But the Phillies pay you ridiculous amounts of money to do that – and you promised you would for years. It is in zee contract you signed with Ed Vade.”

“He’s gay.”

“Pat, let’s keep the talk to baseball, bitte! Please! Now, when did you first discover you feared the inside pitch.”

“I have no problems with inside bitches. But once you take ‘em outside, they’re nothing but trouble. Bitches - can’t live with ‘em, can’t live without ‘em.”

Grafenstein leaned back in the comfortable hotel chair and took a look at the mess of the man sitting before him. He was amused this playboy would be wearing a monkey suit and playing a game on national television that evening. After his 30 years of practice, he knew when his efforts would be a waste of time. Some people have one-track minds; some people refuse to change. Some cannot change. There is nothing that will help them. He wondered why a company valued at maybe a half billion dollars could be run by stooges who throw their money away on bad employees and then be stuck paying them millions after they have been fired.

As he called for a limo, left the room and waited in the Omni lobby, the good Dr. Grafenstein wondered if he should be honest with management: Maybe the whole team needed an exorcism instead.



Monday, September 11, 2006

Snake Bitten

Five years ago today, I awoke in Phoenix, Arizona to my clock radio alarm at 5:30 a.m. and moments later, heard the news about an “airplane” crashing into one of the World Trade Center towers.

Okay, that’s where I was and everybody knows the rest. The baseball season was suspended for a week – one of Bud Selig’s more intelligent decisions. Meanwhile, everyone contemplated exactly why a bunch of murderous lunatics with grievances convinced themselves six dozen virgins were waiting to fuck them in heaven if they wiped out 3,000 innocent people during their suicide. And how many of them we’d have to kill to avert further catastrophes.

It’s depressing, World War III.

That’s why the Phillies give me such great joy. The world may have changed forever that day five years ago, but the Fightin's remain the same. You know, they give me endless chuckles, they really do. But I am not amused when I hit chat rooms or forums about baseball and the inevitable “Off Topic” thread rears its ugly head, because the internet is such a compartmentalized creation; if you want to argue about Israeli foreign policy, or tell the world how much you hate George Bush, or wonder what size burqa is appropriate for that insolent bitch wife of yours, why would you pose those questions on a baseball site, other than to provoke people?

You want a provocative site? Hit Aljazeera’s home page. Eat a pork chop and have a ball.

Which brings us to the 2001 World Series Champion Arizona Diamondbacks. Remember them? If your memory is cloudy, and you’ve been watching the Phillies fumble in September again against the Marlins, let me get your choler up.

The D’backs finished that season 92-70 and won the West Division flag by two games over the Giants, the latter’s steroided monster, Barry Bonds, made moot by Arizona’s twin whirling dervishes, Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling, both 20-game winners who went on to share MVP honors in the Series after terrorizing the Yankees in seven exciting games. Ably assisting in offensive support was the ridiculously over-pumped Luis Gonzalez, who hit 57 homers that season but finished second in the league to his brother-in-chemistry Bonds, who hit his fraudulent 73 that season.

So, let’s review. The Diamondbacks, a team that had existed for only four years, won the World Series. Gonzalez, their right fielder, who had averaged 13 homers in eight seasons prior to his trade to Arizona in 1999 and discovering muscle-enhancing pixie dust, hit more homers than any other player in National League history – besides Bonds, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, the three other “naturals.” And, in the coup de grace, one of the two golden arms on their pitching staff came courtesy of the engineering marvel known as the “Ed Wade Trade” – that would be Herr Schilling. I remember Phoenix went into mourning for a month after having to say goodbye to Travis Lee and Omar Daal to get the Schill.

Meanwhile, in Hostile City, our team has won one championship in 123, and soon, 124 years; has not won 90 or more games in 13, and soon, 14 years, hasn’t had a 20-game winner in 23, and soon, 24 years, and the one true glittering milk-fed star, Ryan Howard, is having his historic season marginalized by the numbers put up in the Steroid Era, which reached its pinnacle in that unforgettably tragic year of 2001.

It’s uncannily coincidental that as the world was “changed forever” by those halal homicidal maniacs who violated every rule of civility, the steroid freaks were simultaneously and silently busy killing the innocent competition of a game that is prescribed by rules that helped make it a meaningful and enduring pastime.

If I were dictator, I’d make the whole bunch of them – Bonds, McGwire, Sosa, Gonzalez – wear burqas the rest of their lives and sell hot dogs at the ballpark. If I caught their hands in the till, I’d chop ‘em the fuck off.

Allah Akhbar, motherfuckers.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Every Night Is Masochist Night


Latino Family Night at the ballpark appears nowhere on the Phillies published schedule the masses pick up at the local WaWa. Neither does Gay Night. But the Phillies “celebrate” these groups on seemingly random dates during the season. For all I fucking know, they have a stealth Pedophile Night when the North American Man-Boy Love Association runs the bases with the kiddies. None of this shit appears on the schedule.

So tonight, your local losers celebrated all things Latino and handed former Phillies disappointment Juan Samuel an award for being Dominican. But let’s get real. Every night is Masochist Night at the ballpark with the Phillies. Need a beating? Watch Baby Girl Burrell whiff with the bases loaded. Want to feel some pain? Watch Ryan Madson throw Lance Berkman a fattie down the pipe tonight to score three runs and kill Team Vomit. Now give us a trophy for taking our punishment.

Ole!

No amount of jiggly senoritas and their lusty vatos could lessen my pain and torment watching these fuck ups wash another season down the drain. Look, I’m not Latino. I’m not gay. I’m not a child molestor. When’s my night, then? Oh, that’s right. Every night. Every season. It’s all for me. I’m the guy who loves misery. And these impotent shits dish it out generously.

Tonight’s cat o’ nine tails lashing featured the usual litany of incompetence with runners in scoring position. The previously sainted Chase Utley, whom the Team Succubus has evidently possessed, gagged up fur balls again tonight, leaving three runners on base. The consistently pathetic Abe Nunez, once again below the Mendoza Line at .194, killed a bases-loaded rally in the second inning with a Latino-style double play for the assembled descendants of Cortez the Conqueror (and who knows how many were gay.)

And then there was Our Baby Girl, rendered a eunuch this season, flailing away like a confused sissy at Andy Petitte’s big league, manly stuff. Every night has been Gay Night this season for Pat – on second thought, the Gayborhood would never have him. Interior designers love money, and he has plenty of that, but what they really want is a big stick who comes through.

Don’t worry. I’m not forgetting anybody. For all his grandiose achievements this season, Ryan Howard has done the least amount of fan bitch-slapping this year. If anything, his numbers point up the deficiencies of Burrell. Things have to be corrected next year. The Howitzer could stand to have a confident hitter in front and behind him. Utley’s plainly slumping, and he’ll likely recover, so we’re halfway there. But Baby Girl better be diapered and shipped to Kansas City before every evening becomes Angry Black Man Night at the ballpark because the brother is getting pitched around for the playboy and he wants out of Philly.

Have another tequila, Pat.

The Brother From Another Planet


He is a behemoth among men, a country power incarnate, and thirty years ago, if Ryan Howard had already hit 53 homers with 24 games to go in the season – before cable television was as common to households as toasters, ten years before personal computers were brought to market and twenty years before the masses had heard anything about the internet – baseball fans would be listening to most games on the radio and running down to the end of their driveways the next morning for the newspaper to relish the stat in the boxscore that said: HR-Howard(53) rather than read sports writers question whether his historic season was the product of chemical enhancements to his physique.

Instead, thanks to the three guys who shot juice, puffed up like parade floats and proceeded to surpass the Holy Number of 61 homers in a single season, Howard is quickly becoming an innocent victim of their chicanery and the self-styled cynics who make a living spinning shit like this:

“There is no reason, no whisper, no allegation that suggests Howard is cheating. In fact, there is plenty of talk that he is clean. But how can you blindly trust anyone anymore?”

This is what Dan Wetzel, Yahoo Sports, wrote as what the newsbiz calls his “nut graf” – the distilled message of a story. (Note: Editorial shorthand always struck me as a pretty queer flourish – why not just spell “graph” correctly?). His “nut” shortly followed his “lede” – the first sentence – a fairly direct question:

“Is Ryan Howard juiced?”

Jesus on a popsickle stick, Wetzel, are you married? Do you blindly trust the bitch? Is she juiced?

It seems perfectly ironic that Howard plays in Philly. The mass consciousness here has always tended to believe the rest of the world has been out to get us – they are, I tellya! - and now, the world wants to taint our innocent Howitzer, who points to his chubby gut and big butt as evidence his power was a product of Mom’s home cooking and exercise rather than the lazy, ego-crazed, sinister shortcut of steroids.

You know, playing it “straight” like this chump Wetzel makes me fucking puke. Really, the whole journalism business makes me upchuck with its pretensions to authoritative wisdom. Believe me, his editors are happy he threw this slop on the table for publication. Gets people talking. Stirs the pot. Let the chips fall where they may. Then the booming voiceover: WE LET YOU DECIDE.

I’ll give the news business this: They know a lot of people are suckers. They will believe anything because they know next to nothing. They can name the Three Stooges but not three Supreme Court Justices. As Wetzel writes, how can you blindly trust anyone anymore? Well, dear reader, you can trust me. We suffer the Phillies together, holding hands in misery. So gather ‘round, and I’ll tell you a bedtime story.

It happened one horribly hot and humid summer’s eve during the small hours. As was his custom, young Ryan Howard was sleeping blissfully under the St. Louis stars in a pup tent, his dreams weaving pleasantly through his superego, unconsciously preparing his instincts for his big future in Philadelphia.

At least he thought they were dreams. But they weren’t. He was receiving an implant below his earlobe from the Zeta Reticuli, visitors from another planet who have been trying to manipulate the Phillies’ destiny for 123 years.

The Reticuli were assigned the Phillies as hosts for their experiments. Other alien races, such as the Reptilians and the Grays, were designated to manipulate the destiny of other teams; the Reptilians have met with great success implanting various Yankees, while the Grays have done well with the Cardinals.

As a Phillies fan might guess, the Zeta Reticuli have had a bad track record in its selections -- up until they picked Howard.

In 1918, they surgically implanted a gelatinous device in the pubescent Chuck Klein’s testicle. Ten years later, he was in the big leagues and scorching baseballs over the tin right field fence at the Baker Bowl. But something went terribly wrong with the implant six seasons into Klein’s career. It came oozing out during an all-night whore session after he was traded to Chicago in 1934. Talk about busting a nut. Klein was shipped back to the Phils and never was the same hitter; the aliens assumed he would never be traded, but when the Phils dealt him, he met up with the fateful hooker.

At least Klein got some great seasons in before that disaster and was elected to the Hall of Fame. But other hosts they have manipulated didn’t pan out as well, to say the least.

There was Mike Anderson. Remember him? He was supposed to be the second coming of Klein. But his implant was crushed in the minors after teammate Greg Luzinski (not implanted) rolled over him while both slept on the team bus as it headed back to Eugene, Oregon. The Reticuli also had inserted a modified version of the implant into John Vukovich’s lower back; that was a disaster. His Serbian genetic structure rejected the node after incubating for ten years. Not only did “Vuke” have a worse career batting average than Mario Mendoza, he became so well-liked by the team’s Les Invisibles owners (whose genes have been mutated by The Reptilians) he’s still hanging around the front office fucking things up. It was Vukovich, working with the Reptilians, who orchestrated the Bobby Abreu trade to their Yankee abductees.

So the Zeta Reticuli are involved in a tricky business. They got involved with Philadelphia, after all. And after communicating telekinetically with my hosts, I have on authority they are not the least bit pleased with this steroid talk about their masterpiece, Ryan Howard.

Sleep well and fear to dream, Dan Wetzel.

Monday, September 04, 2006

SIMPLE. SHIT.

Astros. Uh-oh.
Clemens. Asshole.
Hamels. Savior.
Batters. Plunked.
Payback? None.
One run. No hits.
First hit. Tie game.
Howitzer. BOOM!
Houston. BANG!
Second hit. Tie game.
Here. We. Go. Again.
Howitzer. Walked!
Garner. Chicken!
Burrell. Pathetic.
Thurston? Wrong!
Chollie. Stupid.
Extra. Innings.
Utley. Finally!
Fuck. Houston.
Phils. Win.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Have You Considered Retirement, Arthur?


Arthur Rhodes might do well to move back to his birthplace in Waco, Texas and make like its most famous resident, David Koresh.

You remember that weirdo. He was the guy who stockpiled enough weaponry for an army at his compound in that horrible, sweaty little city in preparation for the “Battle of Armageddon” -- every Christian’s favorite version of the future -- then built a nearly impenetrable fortification in the hope of keeping the federal government’s lesbian heifer, Janet Reno, from taking his guns away. While Koresh and his misguided Branch Davidian flock got torched to death by that ugly butch bitch, you have to admit, there was no way people were getting inside that place, and if the whole town didn’t know he was armed to the teeth, he likely would have been left alone and very, very safe.

Like they say, God Bless America.

Rhodes might want to consider that kind of sanctuary, because the way he has pissed away ninth inning leads lately, he will soon be washing egg off his local domicile’s door if Team Shook Up misses out on the wild card by a game or two. Well, let’s hope it’s only egg, the weapon of choice employed against Mitch Williams’ house by transgressive fans after his legendary choke in the ’93 Series, because it is unbearable to watch this guy pitch as a closer and I’m afraid various other foodstuffs in Philly remain uneaten or regurgitated after each of his failed efforts.

Garbage in, garbage out. Hostile city, shitty pitcher.

Until Rhodes became part of the rotating “closer by committee” triumvirate after Tom Gordon went down, the Phils were 60-0 in games they led after the 8th inning. Gordon’s absence hadn’t been as glaring with all the runs the team has been scoring, but in tight games, forgetaboutit, this team won’t come close to the playoffs.

The other two excuses for closers, Ryan Madson and Aaron Fultz, shoulder some of the blame for this sick combo’s failings, but it is Rhodes, the alleged wily veteran of the bunch, who is getting burned for the big innings, and it’s been going on all season long. And Chollie keeps trotting him out there. Old Backwoods needs to look at his shockingly pathetic numbers, most of all his putrid rate of 1.68 walks and hits per innings pitched (WHIP), the best gauge in my estimation of any pitcher’s effectiveness. Translated in a non-sabermetrical way, this crusty old pro is apt to put two runners on base every inning he pitches, and that’s a fact, Jack, obvious to anyone watching the games. Using that predictor, it’s safe to assume Rhodes flirts with disaster every time he steps on the mound. Contrasted with Gordon’s 1.20 WHIP, the difference is severe. After the first game of today’s doubleheader, the gap widened.

Here’s a radical thought for Chollie: That 21-year-old midget in the bullpen named Fabio Castro has a WHIP as big as a dwarf’s pinky at 0.83. He has allowed six hits and one earned run as a Phillie in 18 1/3 innings. Somehow I think the Braves’ immortal Adam LaRoche might have had less experience facing this secret weapon, and was gratified to see that fat home run ball Rhodes served him to win the game for the hated enemy-in-decline.

Arthur, do us a favor and fake an injury or use your excuse from last year, you know, the “family crisis” alibi, leave town, take the month off, and let Castro dictate in your place. Open a fucking Arthur Treacher’s somewhere in Texas and leave us alone.

We would prefer to use the eggs for breakfast.