It was a weird night at Citizens Bank Park.
How weird was it?
It was so weird that a girl stood up in front of us to order a drink and took nearly thirty minutes to finish the transaction. Someone sold a ticket to a tree sloth.
It was so weird that when the guys in section 144 started insulting the Nats left fielder, no one joined in.
It was so weird that when someone behind us asked, “Where’s the beer man?” I turned around to see a child of four.
It was so weird that Blanton struck out the side in the first and then forgot how to locate a pitch.
But the weirdest thing was what happened when Ryan Howard stepped to the plate with the bases loaded, Phils down by four, and did something he hasn’t done since 2007.
When he tapped the bat to the plate, you didn’t hear the usual mixture of “please, Ryan, please,” peppered heavily with the pessimistic, “he’ll probably strike out.” Instead it was like peace and love had blanketed the field, raising fans to their feet like they were levitating. It was such a fantastical display of optimism and excitement that I knew only one thing could be true: Bin Laden really was dead.
It must be true. When has any other team come from behind four times to win a game? What happened tonight could only be viewed as mystical. Even the scoreboard displayed hits and runs in such a consistently even form: 2-2, 5-5, 7-7, 10-10, and 11-11, that everyone sensed synchronicity in the air. And it promised to work for someone. So the Phils picked their magic number and put runs on the board in fours: first by Ryan, then by Raul. Tonight, grand slams came in R’s.
But not all went well. I lost count of how many batters walked to base for both teams. Our pitching was so bad, I almost started believing my own theory of the Carlos curse, and it was so bad I almost expected Charlie to call up Cody Ross from the Marlins to close. But honestly, I think there was a lightness to the air that made sinkers sink, cutters cut, and sliders slide completely out of control.
It was the same lightness that hoisted five home runs into the stands for the Nats, some of which may have set distance records. I think one landed in a cheesesteak stand. They flew so far the only thing our outfielders did was sigh.
Even Jimmy Rollins got a break. It was like mild mannered Jimmy finally found his cape and mask and appeared from the dugout like the old “J ‘Mighty’ Ro,” the superhero we love and missed. I think he went 3 for 5. Welcome back J Ro.
But alas, I felt bad for the Nationals. They have the worst record in the MLB, but it’s not for lack of trying. Our fielding was phenomenal. And have you seen their batting averages? They’re really no worse than ours. I guess there’s no shame in losing a game by two when you scored eleven. The shame lies in losing a game when you scored eleven.
So, babes and gents, welcome to the slugfest. We hope you enjoyed the show. Tune in again Tuesday. Maybe it’ll get even weirder.