You've got to love a grown man who brings his mitt to the ballpark. Stepping onto the Broad Street Line in front of me Saturday afternoon was a guy with a graying crew cut and a soft leather glove tucked under the arm of his Phillies jersey. The streets around Fern Rock were gray and the skies threatening, but those bright red bills added hopeful dabs of color.
Spotted a couple of mournful Thome jerseys on the Broad Street Line. Some Forsbergs, too. The Flyers were facing off at the same time. A couple of guys wore Red Sox gear, since Boston had come to town, but there were more caps for the Yankees than for either team playing - all flat-brimmed and worn at cocky angles by kids who got off well before Citizen's Bank Park. This was a transplanted Grapefruit League tune-up. The real opener is Monday. But you had the feeling that spring was here, even if the clouds emptied on us at Broad & Patterson.
Hawkers pushed umbrellas and water, and "Dallas Sucks" T-shirts with a gross T.O. reference. During the rain delay, Red Sox Nation was out in full - those odd green and pink ballcaps that bring out the purist in me. The weather cooperated, and the ground crew got busy. It's still thrilling when the tarp slides off and reveals that emerald-green diamond barbered into Scotch plaid strips. Grabbed some peanuts and a beer and watched one of mankind's greatest creations, a summery game without a clock.
The Phanatic has gotten himself a dye job. No more Gatorade green. He's blood red now. It goes with a promotion about the Phillies heat, the Phillies heart, the Phillies passion. What was the green for, envy?
When the line-ups were announced, some mook behind me bellowed about the DH, making the pitchers hit. The game was played by Junior Circuit rules, and allowed a designated hitter.
Did I mention that Phillies DH, David Bell, was a triple away from hitting for the cycle? - he went four for five, and didn't hurt himself.
They've pushed back left field by five feet and hiked it up a bit, it still didn't stop the teams from launching five round-trippers - most hit into a wicked wind.
Does back-up catcher Sal Fasano look like he was made for this town or what? I can see him on top of City Hall. Maybe it's time to retire that Incaviglia jersey I saw along the first base line.
The game ended with the Phillies new bullpen shutting down the Boston nine, and a work-a-day score of 9-5. The place emptied just as the Flyers were done, and the two crowds met in the streets.
What was the score? I asked two guys.
"Four to One." Sour-looking dudes.
"Phillies won," I said cheerfully.
One of them called back to me, "Who are the Phillies?"
"The team that won today."
Only I said that last part quietly as I skipped back to the subway.