I was spoiled when I first moved to Philadelphia. The first baseball season for me in Philly was 1993, when the Philadelphia Phillies had an amazing year of improbable comebacks, improbable characters and almost won the World Series.
I became a Phillies fan and it has stuck with me ever since. Although the horrible years since make me question my sanity on my loyalty to the team, I still remain optimistic about them each year. Maybe it's because I grew up in Buffalo and the years of hope mixed with crushing defeat just made me immune to the feelings of general disappointnment they give me each year. I forgive and forget and usually get tickets to the Home Opener at Citizens Bank Park.
Mrs. Pratt and I are no fools about traffic around the stadium for opening day. We wisely take the regional rail and subway into the ballpark. Extremely easy and we were there in plenty of time before the game started.
Giant bronze baseball statue outside the ballpark. They played better than the Phillies today.
Too much beer and you see a gigantic Phillie Phanatic staring at you.
We found a nice spot inside the rail on the lower level, watched batting practice and ate some sandwiches. Then it was up a few escalators to our seats. On the plus side I was right behind home plate. On the minus side I was as high up as you can get in the stadium. Also on the plus side I had a roof over my head (it showered slightly through most of the game)
View from our seats. The skyline of Philadelphia. All in all, not a bad view of everything going on.
The usual opening day introductions were held, flags unfurled, anthems sung, skydivers parachuted in the first ball. I had Crackerjack, a beer; I was ready to watch some baseball.
Introductions and the national anthem...Play Ball!
Shortstop Jimmy Rollins at bat. In the 8th inning he continued his hitting streak to 37 games.
By the 4th inning, the hopes of the day turned south when the Phillies gave up 8 runs. We haven't had a strong dominating pitching staff in years and it shows.
An infield conference by the Phillies when they were down 10-0. The pitching proved yet again to be their downfall.
The game was an ugly affair. Albert Pujols for the St. Lousi Cardinals got 2 home runs. Former Phillies third baseman Scott Rolen, who now plays for St. Louis got a grand slam. The final score of the game was 13-5. BOOOOOO!
When the game is that dreadful, you try desperately to find any kind of diversion. I looked around at a few of the characters sitting around us.
It's Santa again!
Last year, we saw this gent wearing his Phillies jersey with 'Claus' on the back. Nice to see the jolly old elf again.
In the center of the photo, the Phillie Phanatic goes to wage war on Fredbird the Redbird, the Cardinals mascots. Behind the Phanatic, stadium security wrestle a superfan to the ground after running out on the field.
The crowd was not happy with how the team was playing. Art Garfunkel did sing "God Bless America" to good applause. But in the bottom of the 7th...even Miss America got booed in the when she and the Phillie Phanatic did a dance to Morris Day and the Time's "The Bird". "There she is...Miss-in-need -of a- good -choreographer."
Look! It's that other colorful character you see at Philadelphia sporting events:Drunky McLoudmouth! He was shouting lovely rude things in earshot of kids...scrreeched "Let's Go Phillies!" nonstop for an entire inning in a voice that sounded like sandpaper and a gallon of Jim Beam. He did get angry when Miss America got booed "Nobody boos Miss America!" he barked randomly at the crowd...but I think he also shouted at her "Yeah, I'd hit that!".
Despite the overcast chilly weather, and the miserable play on the field by the home team, it was opening day for baseball in Philadelphia. Let the fun begin.