Friday, January 29, 2010

I wish I could give you some exciting and melodramatic story behind my lengthy absence, but let’s just skip all that. Instead, I’ll tell you what I’ve been up to.

Got married in Manayunk. Watched a lot of baseball. The wife and I shopped around for a house, found one, bought it. Tried Twitter for a bit, lost interest. Went on honeymoon to the Mediterranean: Ate an astounding amount of food, wandered around a bit of Croatia, swam in the Ionian sea and stared at the coast of Albania, saw the Parthenon, saw the site of the original Olympics, ate some more, and spent some time in the Rome airport, which, without any sort of exaggeration whatsoever – I’m serious, I am not trying to be funny or glib or anything, I am being absolutely and entirely 100% serious and honest when I say this – is the single worst place I have ever been. Came home, moved into the house, spent a few weeks surrounded by my scattered and unorganized possessions and the dog got fleas. Phils got scary bad for a while, then scary good. The Eagles signed Mike Vick, lots of people screamed and complained, I just sighed and accepted the fact that my favorite team continues to feel the need to grab attention for all the wrong reasons. Slowly unpacked the house. The Phils played in the freezing cold, the Rockies almost rallied, the Phils said no. Unpacked some more. Discovered Saad’s. Jimmy Rollins went Matt Stairs all over Jonathan Broxton. The Eagles muddled around for a bit. Wrote a lot for the Naïve’s Guide. Phils win National League: West Philly much quieter about such things than South Philly. Writing a new novel; probably the best thing I’ve ever done. People seem to like it. Old novel: haven’t sent out any queries in a while, gotta get back on that. Phils tease us with Game 1 win, then not so much. Johnny Damon will haunt my dreams for the rest of my life. Ate at Saad’s some more. The dog got better. Eagles get better, much better actually. Flyers were very good, then very bad, now they’re sort of neutral; no idea what to make of them, as usual. Sixers were instantly bad, far worse than I ever could have predicted. Union acquired some players, and continue to do so: looking good. Wrote some more for the Naïve’s Guide, and appeared on the radio! Phils acquire Roy Halladay and trade Cliff Lee; much to my surprise, I actually sort of understand what they’re trying to do and I’m okay with it. My lovely wife gets me a Union jersey; merely owning it makes me feel like a better man. Eagles play, in the span of seven days, the two worst football games I have ever witnessed. Sixers are still terrible. House mostly unpacked. Union get some more players and I pick my seats (section 113). Watched a lot of “Lost” on DVD, but not nearly enough. Found a copy of “A Farewell to Kings” at aka for $2.99. Did I forget anything?

Oh yeah, I did. I’m going to be a father. Not long from now, actually – in about two months. Me, a dad! That’s really much too big of a thing to cover here, so I’ll get to it later.

[I’m sorry about this oddly written entry, which now that I look at it reads quite unfortunately like that grotesque “European road trip” monologue in that terrible college movie I watched on cable with Matt one time. What was that movie called? Never mind, I really don’t want to remember. Anyway, it was really the only way to sum up the past seven months of my life, though admittedly, they were even better than they sound. It’s been a nice time. Did I mention I’ll have a son in two months?]

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Friday, June 26, 2009

Don't think twice (don't think twice) don't think twice HOO!

On June 11 Raul Ibanez hit a three run homer in extras at Fake Shea Stadium to finish off a 7-3 road trip. The Phils were 35-23, had a four game lead, and except for a few flaws they looked, I say, like a million bucks. Since that time, they've gone 2-11, had a 1-9 homestand, got swept by the Orioles (!), lost Ibanez, Lidge, Bastardo, Eyre, Condrey, and now Park apparently to the DL, Madson was atrocious as the closer, Rollins was and still is benched for being the worst leadoff hitter in baseball history, they can't hit, they can't pitch, they make all kinds of dumbass fielding and baserunning mistakes, they just generally suck a lot of ass and look terrible doing it, I had to sit through not one but two dull, excrutiating losses when I could have been doing any number of other useful things, and Michael Jackson died. In short, it's been a resoundingly terrible two weeks for Phillies fans who might also happen to like Michael Jackson.

I don't even really know what I'm trying to say here, other than pointing out the blindingly obvious. The problem with being a sports fan is that you literally have no power and are completely helpless at all times. In the good times that isn't so much of a problem; you don't really notice it. You can say, "Oh look, Brad Lidge is striking out Eric Hinske to win the World Series. That's really great. I think I'll scream and jump around now just like the players are doing." But beyond that you can do nothing at all. I didn't make Eric Hinske's bat miss that pitch, or help Jayson Werth catch that second out, or help Pedro drive in Pat for the Series-winning run. I just sat/stood there and watched it all happen, as I had done for months (years) up to that point. Now we're here in the bad times, and the total helplessness is magnified; I can only stare horrified as the Red Sox rack up ten runs, shake my head in disgust as Bruntlett proves himself to be the world's worst pinch hitter, marvel at the otherworldly terribleness of Jack Taschner. I can't make Jimmy hit like '07 Jimmy. The only thing I can really do is write about it on this blog, and tell you that if I wasn't getting ready to get married in nine days, I'd feel even crappier about this team than I currently do, and that would be no good at all.

So what I need to do is just concentrate on the wedding, and then go and get married on July 5, and then maybe later that week I'll start worrying about the Phillies full time again. For now, they're going to have to suffer through this nightmare without me, because quite frankly I've got stuff to do.

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Tuesday, June 09, 2009


I'm trying it out as a way to rethink sports, writing, and sportswriting. This blog isn't going away (it never does), so put down that knife!



Tuesday, May 12, 2009

"That ball was just literally smoked"
-Gary "Sarge" Matthews

No, Sarge, it really wasn't!

Anyway, here's the latest roundup:

Sixers: Depressing
Flyers: Infuriating
Eagles: Intriguing
Phillies: Frustrating

Yes, that's right, the Philadelphia Union have arrived. I know that in the past I complained about the name and how horrible it is, and I'll just level with you: I'm still not crazy about it. But the logo is just totally sweet. I was at the name announcement on Monday afternoon at City Hall (I would post pictures here, had my digital camera not mysteriously died a few weeks ago) and it was a lot of fun. I can now say that I have seen the commissioner of a sports league in person, because there he was, the kind of goofy-looking Don Garber. The Sons of Ben were there, of course, sucking up all the attention and getting their asses kissed by the assembled dignitaries. Oh, I'm just kidding, it's fine. Anyway, I acquired some Union swag, and now I just have to suffer through the the next ten interminable months of my empty, pointless life before I can finally watch these dudes take the field and end my desperate misery. Or something like that.

Speaking of which, if you're reading this and you'd like to go in with me on the season tickets, please email me, because it's pricier than I expected and I don't think I want to go to all 17 games...

More in a bit.



Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Why must I continually learn and relearn this lesson over and over and over again? You never give up on your team. As I get older, and my mental well-being starts to have more to do with grown up things and (somewhat) less to do with the fortunes of sports teams, I'm trying more and more to live by this simple rule.

Allow me to publicly apologize to the Sixers for being, as of a few days ago, one of the many, many doubting jerks across the country who believed strongly that they would get swept by the Magic. Oh sure, it's still early, and the Magic (almost certainly the better team, all things considered) have plenty of time (and talent) to come back and win it. But on Sunday, the Sixers proved what I had refused to let myself believe: they came to play. Haters like me can suck it.

I'm sorry, Sixers. I really am. You made a believer out of me. Whatever else happens in this series and these playoffs - Sunday was fun, nothing changes that.

And the Flyers! Coming out swinging! I'm a little annoyed that they needed to go down 2-0 to remind themselves to do that, but hey, keep playing like that and you'll be fine. Game time in just about 43 minutes; you know where I'll be.

And you... Phillies... no time to deal with you right now; just behave yourselves until I get to it.

Let's go Flyers!

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Saturday, April 18, 2009

I never met the man, and I'm always going to regret that. The one thing that keeps getting mentioned over and over, in every tribute and speech, is that Harry Kalas was the most unfailingly polite, kind, gracious, decent, generous man ever, and I feel filled with an odd gnawing jealousy that I never got to meet him, shake his hand, or say thank you. He would record your voice mail message (!) or your wedding announcements (!!!) if you asked. He didn't have to; he was a legend, an icon, and he could have just as easily been a giant jerk. But as Wheels recounted in an anecdote on Monday, the thing he learned from Harry was this: it's not that hard. It just isn't that hard to be cool to people, not that hard to shake a hand or smile or say something nice, and my god, I just hope we can all learn that. I have, I think. Especially now, in these weird times, in this wonderful and troubling world.

My favorite Harry moment is one that I haven't heard mentioned. It was on September 30, 2007, the day the Phillies got into the postseason for the first time in 14 years. They needed a win and a Mets loss to do it. The Mets were already losing 7-0 at the start of the game, and the glee and wonder in Harry's voice as he reported that at the top of the broadcast was unmistakable. Now, Harry deserves a lot of credit for always being a consummate professional; he just simply never had a bad thing to say about literally any player or team (not even Endy Chavez!), even though he probably had a right to - the man saw more awful Phillies teams than probably anybody. But his respect for even the most incompetent scrub player, and the opponent, was unmatched. He never gave into the endless Phillies-Mets bickering like the rest of us (me included).

But on that day, Harry wasn't a broadcaster, he was just a fan, like me. That remarkable September run had culminated in a totally incredible day, a totally incredible game. At the top of the ninth, Harry said this: "Well, we just need six more outs, three here and three at Shea." And I loved that, because he was right, and because you could hear the joy in his voice, his total confidence that it was going to happen... and... and... it was just great.

Wow. What a guy.

Harry's the role model, you know, moreso than any player. He's the guy you want to be. Well, maybe not the part where he smoked like a chimney for 50 years. But otherwise: seriously, let's all try to be more like Harry, what do say?

Thanks, Harry. We love you.



Wednesday, April 15, 2009

I really want to write a little something more about Harry, which I will most definitely get to in the very near future, but for now I just wanted to jump in and say let's go Flyers. Which I will get to in a moment.

First, let me just reiterate from the other day: go out and get the new Superchunk EP, it's really great.

And now. Let's Go Flyers!!!

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