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Just Off-Camera

"They respect you if you write. The dumber the world gets, the more the words matter." -Dan Jenkins


Sunday, May 29, 2005

Charlie On The Bench: An Ode To Phillies Baseball

The outlook seemed quite brilliant for the Phightin' Phils that day,
The score stood four to two with just two innings more to play.
Abreu'd knocked in Rollins twice, helped, no doubt, by his speed,
And Thome'd ripped a two-run shot – the Phils were in the lead!

But Lieber's pitches, at long last, began to get much fatter,
And he began the eighth frame as the Phillies' leadoff batter.
"Aha!" thought Charlie Manuel, "I'll send up a pinch hitter!"
The skipper didn’t realize his 'pen was in the s------.

And so Tomas Perez stepped in, and struck out on three pitches,
And Rollins and Polanco popped out like a pair of bitches.
So heading to the eighth frame, Charlie Manuel made the call
To Henderson, his bullpen coach, to see who'd get the ball.

The leadoff man was lefty, but the next two batted right.
It seemed one hitter would be it for any lefty's night.
And sure enough, he raised his arm and called for southpaw Fultz,
A pitcher barely known by even diehard Phillies cults.

The lefty caused the leadoff man to weakly ground to first,
But following events showed Phillies baseball at its worst.
The fans at CBP swore at their favorite team, dismayed,
Except the fan that mattered most: the Phils' GM, Ed Wade.

Instead of marching out to tell his lefty, "Job well done,"
Charlie sat upon his keister, simply begging for a run.
And Fultz, who knew his night should have been coming to an end,
Now had another man or two against whom to contend.

Fultz gamely toed the mound once more to get the sign from Lieby.
He went into his windup and then he released a BB.
The righty knew, however, that Fultz would not throw a curve.
An average lefty pitcher simply didn't have the nerve.

And so the hitter turned on one, and smoked it down the line,
And as he stood on second, thought that Fultz should ride some pine.
"What were they thinking?" mused the man, as he led toward third,
"To leave a lefty in the game is just straight up absurd."

Yet still there were no pitchers stirring in the Phillies' pen,
And even Ed Wade thought, "If not a righty now, then when?"
Our roster's stocked with so much skill – if Madson's feeling weary,
He still has Telemaco, Rob Tejeda, or Geoff Geary!"

Fultz once again looked in to get another catcher's sign.
The second righty, too, knew that he wouldn't have the spine.
He looked for fastball, then he hit one deep to Ashburn's Alley.
Two runs came home to tie the game – a late opponent rally.

Then Charlie dialed up the pen; said, "Better now than later,
Start warming Billy Wagner and that Robinson Tejeda!"
Not stopping to consider he'd already blown his lead
And why the fans were booing each new manager’s misdeed.

Fultz managed to escape the eighth with no more damage done.
The visitors had struck, though, and the Phils needed a run.
But true to Phillies form, the squad then fizzled in the clutch.
They went down one-two-three by whiffing, grounding out, and such.

The contest, which looked sure to be the Phightin' Phils' to claim,
Was, after eight, a tie, and now was either squadron's game.
And who did Charlie use in such a pressure situation?
A man whose name's said wrongly by the whole of baseball nation.

"It’s not time for a closer," Charlie reasoned in his head,
"And Tejeda's done a fine job since Worrell became a sped."
The visitors' announcers told their fans, "Here comes 'Tejada,'"
While fans at CBP began to brace for nearing slaughter.

"Damn, Charlie," thought the rooters, "Just because we're not ahead
Does not mean that the time for Billy Wagner should be dead."
So on the mound, in a tight game, now stood a helpless rookie,
And fans began to wonder whether Charlie had a bookie.

The rookie toed the rubber, and delivered to the plate,
And to the fans' surprise, he notched an out – score it "F-8."
But what transpired next induced a fan or two to hurl.
What seemed a can of corn instead just dropped in front of Burrell.

"Ah, crap," cried out a couple fans, as more began to boo.
"We should have one more out to go; instead, we're needing two!"
And magically, as though the gods had heard their anguished yell,
The next man up could only hit a grounder toward Bell.

"We're saved!" thought Phillies rooters. "That’s an easy double play!"
And then they watched in horror as Bell threw the ball away.
The inning should've ended, but because of what occurred,
The visitors, with one man out, now stood on first and third.

"Wagner's warm," thought many fans, "we need him now for sure."
But Charlie Manuel disagreed; he somehow felt secure.
"It's not Tejeda’s fault," he thought. "The kid's been pitching well,
We wouldn't even be here now if not for friggin' Bell."

And as so often happens when momentum starts to tip,
The pitcher lost his stuff; he plunked the next man in the hip.
The bases were now loaded, or the pond was full of ducks.
Whatever the expression, Phils fans peppered it with "f----."

The lefty Aaron Fultz first faced now batted once again
With thoughts of his own highlight reel played on ESPN.
And even with his closer warm, Skip came not to his senses.
He let the lefty swing against Tejeda for the fences.

And so the hopeful lefty swung away with all his might.
He lifted Mister Rawlings high and very deep to right.
Abreu looked up hopelessly – he hardly could do more.
The bases had been cleared, and now the Phillies trailed by four.

The last two outs were once again recorded far too late.
The damage done, the baseball gods had sealed the Phillies' fate.
Some fans got up before the end to hit I-95.
While others clung to that slim hope: The Phils were still alive.

But once again, like times before, a win was not to be.
The Phils went up and down again, retired, one-two-three.
And Charlie gave, on Postgame Live, his usual refrain:
"Just give us some more time," he said, "we'll take it game by game."

Oh, sometimes in this fabled game, a coach knows who should pitch,
And usually in the NL, coaches know the double switch,
And some lead by example, and still others lead by Zen,
But there is no joy in Philly – the Phightin' Phils have lost again.

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