Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Road to 30***: D'Lyin's Long Strange Trip to Every Baseball Park

And all roads must come to an end.

Except for the James Bond series.

And the never-hotter career of Andy Dick.

I couldn’t tell you the first day I went to a baseball park. Sometime in 1980/81 when the Phillies were rocking a lineup including Pete Rose, Mike Schmidt, Quick Draw Tug McGraw and “Mister .160” John Vukovich.

On July 5, 2015, I will have officially been to every major league ballpark*** And unlike the finale of The Sopranos, I know how this ends. In Arlington, Texas next to a friend who refuses to be named.
For the next chunk of days, I’ll be doing a retrospective of my long strange journey from young Carlton Fisk fan to ol’ dirty bastard obsessed with the Mets, Dodgers and the early work of Shannon Tweed.

I didn’t take notes at every park or have a Sax-like OCD-level tradition with each game. So you’ve been warned: some of these memories might be slightly tainted, exaggerated or flat-out wrong.

1.Veterans Stadium / Citizens Bank Park

The place where it all began, a stadium that should have resulted in my untimely demise as a Mets and NY Giants sympathizer. Thankfully, the angriest, nastiest fans in the biz (and I say that with all peace and love) are also the drunkest. As long as I made it to the seventh inning or third quarter, I was home free with only the faint smell of thrown beers and other questionable liquids. Veterans Stadium was the ultimate old school dump… replaced by one of those perfectly legit new stadiums that seemed to take/steal its design from Camden Yard.

The Vet was also the location of my first concert: Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers, a show which came FREE with a ticket to the game.

(For comparison's sake, the Dodgers recently had Robin Thicke perform before a game. And that right there is Philly vs LA in a nutshell.)

The Vet's parking lot (shared by the Spectrum back in the day) also provided my first contact high outside a Phil Collins show. Just as significantly, the Vet was the first (and, to date, last) time a stranger looked at my privates while at the urinals and felt the need to comment on it/them.

Yeah, Vet stadium was a dump that lent itself to fights, harassment and the occasional gawking leers at my genitals.... But it was our dump.

And now there’s Citizen Bank Park… a home-run hitter's fantasy. Complete with bars and restaurants across the street… as opposed to the toothless fellas who used to sell year old pretzels in paper bags. I’m all for progress, and Citizens Bank is a very nice park… but Philly’s not supposed to have nice things. It’s like watching your slobby cousin drive a new BMW. Part of the reason you loved him is he made you feel better about yourself when he owned a VW bug that smelled of French fries. Baseball grew up, getting bigger, roidier and prettier... and so did Philadelphia sports arenas.

Allow me to wax nostalgic for the old days of Philly sports while calling my shrink about that bathroom experience.

***Like fu-k I’m going back to Miami for their new park.

Their fans don’t even go, so S my Bs Miami.


Alli M. said...

Nailed it. Or as an original Philly fan would say, "Fuck yea."