The early morning rain had faded, but a strong wind remained as I prepared to go to my first Phillies game since Jul. 9, 2008.
A veteran of Opening Day in Philadelphia, my good buddy was meeting me to go to see the opening round game of the Phillies vs. the Colorado Rockies today, Oct. 7 at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia.
I arrived first and attended a pre-game rally, shown above. The Phillie Phanatic was on stage, as well as the band and several young ladies in Phillies gear. The Phanatic shot Phillies gear out of a long-nose funnel gun into the crowd.
The sun was shining and the mood was good. I was ready for some baseball.
My cell phone went off as I got away from the din of the music and cheering and it was my friend. He said to meet me at the Mike Schmidt statue.
When he arrived, he went through the tickets; he said: "I can't believe I did this."
He split season tickets with another coworker at a Philadelphia television news station and had pairs of tickets for the NLDS Game Three in Philadelphia (which would be Game Five of the NLDS) and Game One of the NLCS. No tickets for NLDS Game One, which was Wednesday.
Most of the scalpers were looking for tickets and the ones that had them wanted too much money.
For this purpose, we were not interested in buying from scalpers.
"Let me tell you something," said one scalper. "If a dude sells you two tickets, take one and ask him to walk you to the gate. The other fellow stays back with the money."
Anyway, the game: We went to a local sports bar located three blocks away, Chickies and Petes. Never made it inside CBP.
Crab Fries, crab legs, and muscles on the table and we hunkered down for the game amid other Phillie faithful.
"Bo," I said to my friend. "When Cliff Lee is on, he is like Carlton."
Steve Carlton that is; the Hall of Famer who went 27-10 for a bad 1972 Philadelphia Phillies team. Both Lee and Carlton work fast.
Sure enough, before we finished our meal, it was the fifth inning. Lee got ahead of hitters, spotted his fastball, mixed speeds.
The Phillies broke through in the bottom of the fifth on an RBI double by Raul Ibanez and RBI single by catcher Carlos Ruiz. 2-0 Phillies.
Ryan Howard and Jayson Werth continued the barrage in the sixth, with an RBI double and RBI triple, respectively.
Both probably would have gone out, but were knocked down by the wind. Werth, in particular, hit off the top of the wall in left center, to almost the deepest part of the park. The ball was crushed.
The key was in the fifth, when the Phillies ran deep counts against starter Ubaldo Jimenez. Ibanez went 3-1 before doubling, and Ruiz ran 3-2 before his RBI single.
Cliff Lee did not get into trouble until the ninth.
Carlos Ganzalez singled with one out; then with two outs, Lee ran a full count and served up a fastball that Troy Tulowitzki hit for an RBI double.
In all Lee was masterful. He gave up six hits, no walks, and struck out five.
Again, Charlie Manuel made the right move, going with Lee instead of Cole Hamels.
If everything goes to plan, I may attend Game One of the Championship series.
Game Two goes off at 2:47 p.m. Thursday. It is Cole Hamels vs. the Rockies' Aaron Cook.