Saturday, April 01, 2006

The Nation Invades Philadelphia

The first baseball game I witnessed live in 2006 occurred earlier today in Philadelphia, as I travelled there with my friends Gareth and Mike to see the Red Sox take on the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. When we got off the subway and walked to the park, we were all excited about the start of baseball after a long winter. But as we were about to enter the stadium, we started feeling raindrops coming down, and by the time reached our seats, it was a downpour. It looked pretty bleak, but fortunately the rain passed quickly, and the game was only delayed a few minutes before the game finally started.

Citizens Bank Park is a gorgeous ballpark, and I'd recommend a visit there if you ever get the chance. And definitely try to the Philly cheesesteaks they have there, as they are delicious. (A little bit pricy, but definitely worth the money.) There were about 25,000 people there for the next-to-last exhibition game before the regular season begins for both teams on Monday. Once again, Red Sox Nation invaded Philadelphia. About half the crowd had Red Sox paraphernalia on. Both clubs put in their "A" teams in the starting lineups, but the Red Sox put in minor leaguer David Pauley to start (I thought Matt Clement would pitch). Pauley got roughed up for five runs in the first two innings, but the Sox fought back to tie the game at 5 with solo shots by Mike Lowell, Trot Nixon and Kevin Youkilis. But the Phillies got two runs off Keith Foulke in the sixth and never looked back. They won, 9-5.

Once the Phillies had the late lead, the minds of the fans turned to other things. There was a guy in the section over from us wearing a Yankee jersey, and he seemed to want everyone to know it. Just about everyone around him booed him when he stood up. I turned to a Phillies fan sitting next to me and said, "We can both agree that we hate that guy!" He laughed when I said it. Then there was an obnoxious Phillies fan closer to us who insisted on yelling "Boston sucks!" to a group of Red Sox fans sitting a few rows above him. You know those are fighting words! The Sox fans started chanting "Reu-bens", "Reu-bens" and "Pee-Wee" at him , as he bore a resemblance to the actor Paul Reubens, who played Pee Wee Herman on TV. I don't think he much cared for that, and when the Sox fans were leaving, they serenaded him with that again. This time I don't think he really minded it so much, as the combination of the alcohol and Phillies lead made him numb to it.

At the game's end, Gareth, Mike and I hightailed it out of Citizens Bank, and we made it back to the Greyhound station in downtown Philly and our bus with just moments to spare.

It was an enjoyable day. The Red Sox may have lost, but nobody got hurt. That is the important thing as the exhibition season winds down.

Bring on the 2006 season!

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