A generation-defining night?

Fans check their cell phones during the Phillies vs. Mets game, Sunday, May 1, 2011. News broke during the game that Osama bin Laden had been killed. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

I have a confession to make: At no other point in my professional career have I been less interested in a game than I was last night after another reporter turned to me and said, "Obama's supposed to address the nation at 10:30 p.m." And only now am I really starting to make some sense of it. One of the most fascinating conversations I've had since taking over the Phillies beat in 2008 occurred this spring training when Jimmy Rollins and I talked about everything that happened on the morning of Sept. 11. The thing he said over and over and over again was how he kept staring at the television flickering in his hotel room thinking that he was watching a movie, some HBO re-run where Bill Pullman would address the nation with a John Williams composition humming faintly in the background. He was a rookie with the Phillies in 2001. I was a sophomore in college. He was 22 years old. I was 19. And while the lives of all Americans changed that day, I'm convinced that when we look back on all of this decades from now, our generation is the one that will have been shaped most by those four planes crashing into their respective targets.

They call our generation entitled, our generation overly-sensitive, our generation sheltered, and in many ways they are correct. Because for the first two or three decades of our lives, we did not know true conflict. Our parents had seen Vietnam. Their parents had seen World War II and Korea. Their parents had seen the depression, and their parents before them the Great War. Other generations had seen conflict, had witnessed reality, had lived through the emotions and consequences of life-or-death. Us? We thought conflict was something two-dimensional, something fought thousands of miles away on television newscasts where images of Patriots and Scuds flashed like fireworks against the night time sky. War was fought with joysticks and microphones with casulaties you could count in one sitting. War -- real war, the kind with villains on both sides and every-shifting mission-statements and justifications and policies -- was not part of our reality. It did not have a face. It did not have a name. It did not resonate. And in one morning, all of that changed. You left your dormitory or your hotel room at 7 o'clock in the morning to grab a bite to eat and by the time you returned everything you thought you knew about the world, about the future, had changed. My generation? We were not ready for this. This was heavy stuff, far heavier than anybody had heaped on us before. My generation was safe, perhaps safer than any American generation that had lived before. When our friends and brothers and sisters joined the army, we congratulated them on getting their education paid for, not on their decision to defend this country. Our biggest concern on Sept. 10, 2001 was whether the job we were certain to land after college would pay well enough, or carry with it enough prestige. This was one of Osama's great crimes. First and foremost were the lives that he claimed. But after that was the world that he stole.

The world we live in now, with wars on two fronts and political parties screaming obsentities across the aisle and airline passengers of differing nationalities eyeing each other with unhealthy suspicion, is and always will be different from the one into which we were born. The killing of one man will not change any of that. It will not bring back the world in which we lived for the first 20 or 30 years of our lives. It will not make the future any less certain than it is at this point in time. Truth be told, that original world was probably just an illusion, with a pretty surface just waiting to be ripped away. But now, at the very least, we have the illusion of closure, some concrete objective we can point to and say, "See? The world really is something we can control. This is why my brother joined the Marines. This is why Pat Tillman died in Afghanistan. This is, as the president said, is justice." Ten years in Afghanistan and seven years in Iraq and finally something happens to allow us to think that maybe it wasn't all for nought. On Sept. 11, 2001, my generation experienced pure, calculated, conspiratorial Evil. And on May 1, 2011, our friends and brothers and sisters answered back. I didn't realize how much that would mean until it happened.

All that being said, here are a couple things I did not get to last night:

1) Ross Gload, missed yesterday's game after learning of the death of his grandfather. Charlie Manuel relayed the news after the loss, which explained why he seemed to be staying away from the veteran pinch-hitter.

The first hint came in the seventh inning, when Manuel allowed Cliff Lee to hit despite the Phillies facing a 1-0 deficit and Lee having exceeded 100 pitches.

The next hint came when Manuel sent right-handed John Mayberry Jr. up to the plate to face righty Jason Isringhausen in the eighth inning.

And if you still had some doubt about Gload's availability, the left-handed pinch-hitter Manuel sent to the plate in the 14th probably removed it. Because Manuel picked Cole Hamels.

Gload is expected to be back with the team on Wednesday.

2) Raul Ibanez hit a couple of balls deep last night, but went 0-for-4 and is now hitless in his last 34 at-bats. I have not been able to locate the official major league record for consecutive hitless at-bats by a non-pitcher, but everything I have read suggests it was Bill Bergen, who went 0-for-46 during the 1909 season. Red Sox short stop Luis Aparicio went 0-for-44 in 1971, according to the Worcester Telegram and Gazette.

Ibanez is hitless in his last 10 games, eight of them starts. His last hit was a single to center field off of Shaun Marcum with one out in the fourth inning of the Phillies' 6-3 loss to the Brewers on April 18.

Carlos Gonzalez snapped an 0-for-25 last week with a bunt single. Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz was riding an 0-for-23 when he injured his back last week in Arizona.  

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