It wasn't so long ago.
Ramon Castro, our beloved Round Mound of Pound, had taken Ugie Urbina deep to win an Aug. 30 thriller and pull us within half a game of the wild card. The next night, Pedro Martinez was on the mound against Brett Myers, he of the ludicrous shaved head, Friendly's waitress black eyebrows and red King Tut beard. Pedro was up 2-0 thanks to another dinger from the RMoP. The clock was ticking down to a Sept. 1 morning that would find us an if-the-season-ended-today playoff team. I'm sure Fran said it was electric at Shea. If so, he was right.
And then it all turned to shit . Pedro crumbled, our bats went to sleep, Brett Myers throttled us over seven, and Chase Utley — the guy you forgot to be scared of in a scary lineup — went deep not once but twice. The next thing we knew we were getting pinata'ed by the Marlins and the Braves and the Cards and…well, we know the rest. We couldn't know it then, but Aug. 31 was the beginning of the descent, and it was the Phillies who put a boot to our hinders and reacquainted us with gravity.
Which makes tonight not all the sweeter, because there's not a lot sweet about tricking the Grim Reaper into giving you one more day among the ranks of the Mathematically Alive, but does let us curl a lip in a nasty smirk. Because Citizens Bank Park was electric — not used to hearing Philadelphians cheer, I assumed they kept showing minor Eagles highlights on the scoreboard, or perhaps the fans were enjoying the thought that all that rain would make lots of other Philadelphians miserable. (It's that kind of town.) Jimmy Rollins was unconscious, Jae Seo was awful, our defense was birdbrained, and Brett Myers was back on the mound. It was the perfect night for us to finally flatline — a rainy mess with the team looking leadfooted and unmotivated. Meanwhile, if the Phillies won — which seemed just a matter of time — they'd wake up tomorrow tied for the wild-card lead with the Astros.
And then it all turned to shit . For them. Chase Utley, our late tormentor, made a horrific, hide-your-face double error. Ugie crumbled again. Willie Randolph sent every WFAN obsessive to the phone, six digits dialed and fingers poised over the last one, by putting the winning run on base to pitch to Pat Burrell. Didn't he know Pat the Bat has 4,192 hits (755 of them home runs) against us alone?
And Pat the Bat grounded out.
Take that, Philadelphia. Take that, Pat the Bat and Kenny Lofton and Michael Fucker. You know why? You know why I'm positively wallowing in the small, ugly joy of playing spoiler? Because we know exactly how you feel. And you're the ones who made us feel that way.