The joint was hoppin’.
A record 45,459 fans including Beerleaguer, Ball Sticks & Stuff, Philliesflow, yours truly and special guest commenter extraordinaire George S. (all the way from Vietnam) were in attendance last night at the Bank to get their very own Ryan Howard Bobblehead figures and, by the way, watch the Phils beat the Diamondbacks 6-4.
Who’d of thunk it? Neither Barry Bonds nor opening day in April, 2004, nor Chase Utley Bobblehead figure night could top last night’s turnout in steamy South Philadelphia. It was a glowing testament to Howard’s enormous popularity in this town and to grown men’s’ mania for collectibles. Sure, the target audience is allegedly the fans 14 and under, but trust me, I saw Beerleaguer clutching his boxed figurine throughout the evening, glancing at it lovingly! (“It will look very nice next to the Ryan Howard Bobblehead figure in a Reading Phillies uniform I already own.”)
True to our routine, the aforementioned Phloggers never took a seat during the game, instead standing at one of the many aluminum counters that ring the concourses, sipping our beers, eating our peanuts and analyzing the proceedings. Indeed, for the second straight game most of us never even looked at our tickets to see where they were located. These days, we are more likely to buy the cheapest seats in the house just to get in and take up our positions at one of the counters.
There was much to see and talk about.
Chase Utley continued his torrid hitting streak, now at 26 straight games. In the process he hit his third home run in two nights and raised his batting average to .321. Howard didn’t get a hit, but what more do you want from a guy who draws a record crowd just for lending his image to some effigy makers in a factory in China? P.S. They got the stance right, but missed high and outside on the facial resemblance.
Much of the night was spent speculating about moves the Phillies might make as the trade deadline approached. All of us were rooting for starter Jon Lieber to have a good outing so that the many scouts in attendance would send back Buy signals to their respective clubs. Each hit he surrendered (eleven in all over seven innings) produced an audible moan among us, none louder than from Beerleaguer, who badly wants to see the rotund righty on a one-way ticket out of town.
David Dellucci was another player being showcased for the visiting dignitaries. Dellucci got the start in left field last night on merit and delivered a home run on cue. Of course it didn’t hurt his cause that the Phils were facing tough right-hander Brandon Webb, a legitimate Cy Young candidate. This was no time to get Pat Burrell more AB’s.
Shane Victorino got the start in center. All agreed he gets to the ball much more quickly than Aaron Rowand and has an absolute cannon of an arm. In the sixth inning he threw out Connor Jackson, who tried to stretch a single into a double. The ball came in low under the radar, about two feet off the ground all the way, on the fly. No hops. No skips. No errors. Victorino is an exciting ballplayer who deserves more regular playing time to prove definitively whether or not he can handle a fulltime job.
Today, Cory Lidle, also the subject of numerous trade rumors, gets the start. More than a few of us are wishing him well and sayonara.