First Base Coach To Tom Hanks . . . "There Is An Academy Award At Second Base!!!!"

In the ongoing list of things the internet does really well — song lyrics, footage of early punk rock shows, probably also porn — the "open thread" has emerged as also being kind of brilliant. Not the lazy Oh-it's-Friday-and-I'll-let-people-comment-about-nothing-in-particular kind of open thread but rather the It's-the-baseball-playoffs-and-let's-replicate-the-experience-of-watching-a-game-together kind of open thread. See, for example, this open thread from last night's Phillies-Giants NLCS Game 5 on the Philadelphia sports fan site The Fightins.

Jen likes to check in on the Philadelphia sites every once in a while — The Fightins and The 700 Level are two in particular. I always say that I miss exactly two things about my hometown — my family and the sports teams. One is obvious — you should miss your family! — and two, the idea of rooting for New York sports franchises is about as unappealing as it gets. We have many close friends who root for New York teams — though I don't personally know any Nets fans — and those teams just don't need any more support (the Diamondbacks, on the other hand, could use several hundred thousand more supporters — abandoning that poor franchise now would be basically finishing what Hitler started).

Although my family does have some Philadelphia roots, my current support for them is more directly related to Jen — if I went to the boardwalk shops at the shore I might be in the market for a "Philly By Injection" novelty T-shirt. Which is to say, we watched Game 5 last night. Just as we watched Games 1 through 4. And Games 1 through 3 of the NLDS. And countless regular season games on MLB Extra Innings. And Game 3 last year — and etc., etc., etc., etc., etc., etc., etc., etc., etc., etc., etc., etc., etc., etc., etc., etc., etc. But this game was the "must-win" game — the Phillies down to the Giants three games to one.

Jen, like many Philadelphia sports fans, has a streak of negativism that seems to have been present at birth. The way I understand it, the "Phold" of 1964 permanently altered her parents' DNA and the defective gene was activated in 1993 and subsequently exacerbated by things like the 10,000 loss mark that the team reached in 2007.

Suffice it to say, the level of anxiety before Game 5 was high. The game started out badly, then got better, and then got tense until there was finally relief — the Phillies won — woo-hoo — and now they'll have to do it all over again on Saturday. Usually games — for me at least — are a blur of ups and downs and cursing at Ryan Howard when he golfs at curve balls in the dirt and pumping fists and holding heads and whatever other emotions happen, and it's hard to recall everything. Which is why the open thread is so genius — the entire game comes back to you when you read it again. Newspapers have gotten into the act by having their reporters "live blog" games, but it's not nearly as great as the open thread. And as you'd expect from a town that "booed Santa," the Fightins open thread sort of reads like cross between a Greek chorus and 4chan. Reading it after the fact is really entertaining.

The game basically starts with "SHANE, DONT SWING AT BULLSHIT PITCHES!" (comment 67) and ends with "FUCK YEAH FIGHTINS!!! BRING THIS SHIT HOME!" (comment 751). Between it runs the gamut: the handle "Darren Daulton's can of Oompa Loompa spray tan" sarcastically writes "great start" (comment 91); JT asks (comment 136) when Pat Burrell turned into overly aggro-Washington National Nyjer Morgan after Burrell argues a strike call and seems to yell "What the fuck are you looking at motherfucker?" at Roy Halladay; the Phillies' three-run third inning elicits cheers — "Phinally! Phuck yeah! Phuck you Giants!" (comment 226). It goes on from there. Mixed in the action are trolls with handles like "Giants Fan With Broom at Game 5" and "PhilsSuckMooseBalls" — they're the useful foils for the thread.

This being a game against San Francisco, and the nature of semi-anonymous comments from Philadelphia sports dudes being what it is, a certain degree of homophobia eventually emerges, but it's really precipitated by the aforementioned PhilsSuckMooseBalls troll, who gloats (comment 309) — I think in response to allegations that Tim McCarver gushes too much about Giants players like Tim Lincecum — that he "blow[s] [himself] on a daily basis! And take it from Tim McCarver's shrunken chode in the ass every Thursday at 2pm!" PhilsSuckMooseBalls adds (comment 325), "HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA YA SUCK COCK!"

It has never been clear to me why fellatio should be maligned in this way. I kind of want to blame David Milch but it's not all his fault, and besides, the mere misogynistic/homophobic etymology of "suck" should be disturbing to us, as should the mainstream acceptance of the term. That said, Jenkintowner's comment (375) after slow Giants left fielder Pat Burrell somehow eked out a double in the bottom half of the fourth inning is hilarious: "First base coach to Pat…'There is free cock at second base!!!!'" It kind of devolves from there until Chase Utley makes a spectacular catch to end the seventh — "HOLY SHIT UTLEY MATRIXED THAT MOTHERFUCKER" (comment 725) — and Philaflava pronounces that "The man crush on Utley is officially back" (comment 732).

Anyway, pretty great stuff . . . and like I mentioned, the open thread is the closest thing there is to understanding the back-and-forth, up-and-down intensity of playoff baseball — without actually watching playoff baseball, that is.

So after the game is over Jen is reading this stuff out loud and guffawing at parts — the handles in particular are funny, so it reads like "'Jamie Moyer, drenched in Champagne, having the time of his life' says (October 21, 2010 at 10:25 pm) . . ." or "'The Elevator Tower at the Vet that withstood the Vet Implosion for ten or so seconds and then proceeded to fall over' says (October 21, 2010 at 9:47 pm . . ." — and then she sees a link on one of the sites to this dopey by-the-numbers "takedown" of Philadelphia culture. This sets Jen off.

As the guy who posted the link notes, the piece brings up the usual Philadelphia sports fan tropes — Santa Claus, et al. — and that it's another in a long line of lazy stabs at a city that doesn't deserve all of the abuse it gets. (By the way, the Santa Claus story has been exaggerated over the years as this USA Today piece from 2003 shows.) Yes, Philly fans returned to rare form this year with the Taser and vomit episodes — but it's important to note that these two yahoos came in from the suburbs. Jen says she wants to write a letter to the editor.

Troll comment 40 on the open thread wrote, "You know what a 'perfect 10' is in Philly? A girl who has more teeth than she has kids." I think Philadelphia is an easy target because it's got a white Irish-Italian working class that no one worries they will offend — shit left over from the previous centuries when the Irish were a different "race" and all Italians were in the mob. Today, the "Philly" has become an almost-epithet adjective along the lines of "ghetto" or "rough," not to mention easy fodder for San Jose Mercury-News columnists.

I also blame Jonathan Demme for the nation's perceptions of Philadelphia — after all, he was responsible for clumsily using a struggling post-1970s milieu of urban decay as the setting for a story of a man dying of AIDS. You might not have realized that the real-life subject — or semi-subject, as it were — actually had no connection at all with Philadelphia. The pre-Rendell city just served as a convenient stand-in for the notion of "the end of the line." Has Detroit even been treated this shabbily in art? (And don't even get me started on Bruce Springsteen's "Streets of Philadelphia" song and video — takes the "subtlety" of Demme's dim view of Philadelphia and clobbers you over the head with the symbol like a sock full of nickels in the 700 Level of the Vet.)

If the Phillies don't win the next two games — and it's possible they won't (some of Jen's negativism has rubbed off on me over the years) — then that's OK I guess — it obviously has to be OK — but it still sucks, to use the word of the day. There's something really deflating about ending a baseball season with one game — deflating in a way that, say, Diamondbacks fans didn't experience this year when their team's season ended like in May or something. Especially in this part of the country. Especially this time of year when the inexorable slide into winter is going on and whatever trees are around are just getting barer and barer with each windy snap and each day just gets colder and darker and crappier and then finally you're stomping slush out of the treads of your ugly snow footwear.

And it only makes it worse when Cole Hamels totally loses control of the game — and basically the series — in the fifth inning and then the drive back to New York is damp and overcast and days later Michael Bloomberg will steal a third term over the objections of nearly no one in power it seems and it all kind of makes you feel crummy (thus, this) . . . until the Phillies trade for Roy Halladay in December and the crazy roller coaster thingy starts up again.

When it's going well, this time of year just consumes you, and when it's going badly, it also consumes you. Bring on Game 6.

Posted: October 22nd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: FW: Link | Tags: , , , ,

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.