Weather fair or foul, fans stick with Phillies

They got wet, and they got cold and they got mad, but they'll be back.

Several Phillies fans contacted yesterday mainly felt duped by Major League Baseball, the Rays and the Phillies after they agreed to start Game 5 on Monday night at Citizens Bank Park in a chilling rain that they knew would get worse.

It got worse quicker than officials anticipated. The game was suspended, tied, in the middle of the sixth inning, at 10:40 p.m., which meant a sellout crowd had sat in the blustery mess for more than 2 hours.

When the game resumes (tentatively) tonight, it might be the last time the Phillies see some of their most loyal patrons.

"Disgruntled ain't the word for it," said George Binczewski, a 64-year-old retired sheet-metal worker who lives in the Bridesburg section of Philadelphia. "They shouldn't have played baseball in that weather."

Binczewski will attend the game's completion but, after 50 years of Phillies faithfulness - loyalty that included spring training and road games - that might be the last time Binczewski invests his money in the Bank.

"He won't be going anymore," said his 37-year-old son, George Jr., who lives in Horsham and accompanied his father Monday.

George Jr. is a mailman, so he's more attuned to the weather. He said he expected Monday to be a mess, and blames the corporate relationship between television and sports for Monday's inconvenience:

"Normally, this would be the storm of the century. Normally, people would be flocking to the store to get bread and milk. . . . I guess [the teams and MLB] felt they needed to cater to Fox instead of the people who showed up to the game. My dad's not a big fan of Bud Selig. He thinks it's all about greed today."

Monday's fiasco won't affect George Jr.'s attendance. He hits the Bank about 10 times a year. So does John Houston, a 38-year-old insurance claims adjuster from Springfield. Like Binczewski the younger, Houston and his brother made the trip not only expecting bad weather but also expecting to have to return to see the game's completion.

"We knew they'd never get nine innings in," Houston said, and he anticipated MLB's declaration that such an important game would not be rain-shortened. "We didn't think they'd let a World Series game end that way."

Still, they went, and they'll go again.

"It's kind of neat, this way," Houston said. "I feel privileged. It's more or less a part of history."

Similarly, the son believes the father will soften.

"Well, it'll be tough to get him to go to Florida again. And he won't get season tickets again," George Jr. said. "But we always take him to the Father's Day game, when they have it. I don't know. We'll see.

"We've waited 28 years," George Jr. said. "What's a couple more days?" *