Out of Left Field: Going, Going...

Isn't it funny how two different, but related people can go to the same baseball game, but come home with differing highlights? What works for Dad doesn't always work for Son. Still, even a bad day at Citizens Bank Park would beat a good day almost anywhere else.

I took my 12-year old son to Citizens Bank Park this past Sunday. After walking around for a bit and then taking our regular Sunday Plan seats in Section 110, I was anxious to find out what he thought of the new place. His reaction: "It's hot out under the sun. How come we couldn't get seats in the shade?" There's nothing quite like the magic of seeing things through the eyes of a child. It didn't help cool him down later when I showed him the seats they originally offered me, beyond the right field fence in section 106, under the overhang. The park is great though, and there is something mesmerizing about the grass and dirt infield after all those years of green carpet.

You may remember that I asked several weeks ago for ideas regarding what you thought the "popular" name of Citizens Bank Park would become. At the time there were several competing names: CBP, The Cit, and (my favorite at the time) Citizen's Park. I've gotten emails from quite a few of you with your own suggestions, with various themes on "bank" leading the tally. I've put some more thought into this, and coupled with the way the new place has played early in the season, I have decided from here on out to refer to it as "The Vault."

I'd like to take credit for the name myself, but the credit goes to Chuck Darrow, who writes for the Courier-Post. Chuck, who is keeping a season-long weblog about the Phillies, emailed me back in February. His idea for a name played off the "bank" theme, but also had a certain similitude to "The Vet." I thought the name had some merit, but it didn't really jump out at me.

That is, until this past weekend, when it occurred to me that the name had another meaning that could be adapted to the park. Vault, in its verb form, means to bound vigorously or to leap over. There were an awful lot of baseballs "bounding vigorously" and "leaping over" the left field wall in Citizens Bank Park this weekend. So there you have it: The Vault—noun or verb, it seems to fit.

We sat there in The Vault; my son and I, watching the Expos take batting practice, hitting mostly lazy fly balls that fell far short of the wall. My son offered that it would be difficult for any of the Expos to hit it out to straight away centerfield. In the first inning, Expos leftfielder Brad Wilkerson, the fifth batter of the game, promptly deposited (get it? Bank—Vault—deposited) a Randy Wolf offering right in that spot, just over the 401 sign. My son just looked at me and shrugged. That's baseball.

In the bottom of the fifth, with the Phillies down 3-2, we got to see a majestic Jim Thome two-run homerun - and I do mean majestic. From our vantage point it seemed that the ball must have gone at least 1000 feet up, and only 375 feet out; like that darn bunny, it just kept going, and going…until it found the right field seats. Crank up the Liberty Bell, Thome has put us in the lead!

In the seventh, Larry Bowa brought Doug Glanville into the game on a double switch, to be the defensive replacement for center fielder Marlon Byrd. Much like Kim Batiste in the 1993 playoffs, the ball immediately found Glanville, as Expos catcher Brian Schneider ripped Rheal Cormier's pitch over Glanville's head in dead center field. Glanville misplayed the ball a little and ended up crashing awkwardly at the base of the wall; Schneider ended up at third with a leadoff triple. He scored on Ron Calloway's sacrifice and tied the score at four. I couldn't help thinking "Nice defensive replacement. He better pull a Kim Batiste when he comes up to bat too." We call that foreshadowing.

Bowa brought Billy Wagner in to pitch the ninth inning, even with the score tied and Wagner pitching his fourth day in a row. Wags had been wowing the home crowd all week with his triple digit heat, regularly clocking 100 mph on his fastball, even once or twice breaking through at 101. On Sunday, he was effective, but tired. He could only manage 97 on most pitches, and never hit the century mark. It is truly amazing that we have already come to expect so much from him. A fan a couple rows in front of me was actually agitated that Wagner didn't hit 100, yelling at him "This is inexcusable; you've got to throw 100." Dude, lighten up.

It was a perfect ending to a perfect Sunday afternoon game when Glanville led off the bottom of the ninth inning against Expos closer Rocky Biddle and deposited (get it? Oh, never mind) his first ever walk-off home run into the left field seats. As we walked out of the bright, shiny, new ballpark on a warm spring day, I asked my son what he thought the best part of the day was. He never hesitated, "The bathrooms—they were air conditioned."

DN Curry comes to you Out of Left Field every Thursday at PhillyBaseballNews.com. You can email him at dncurry@comcast.net.

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