Out of Left Field: An Exciting Father's Day

It was a beautiful day for baseball, if only the Phils had been playing two. Sunday. Father's Day. Not a cloud in the sky and tickets to see the Phillies take on the Kansas City Royals. I packed up the family and off we headed for The Vault, hoping to see a Jim Thome homerun and a Phillies victory conjuring up memories of 1980. As I cruised along, I had that rarest of satisfied feelings. For that moment, all was right in the world.

And then; taillights. The interstate was closed.

I was grateful, at first, to know my family was with me and none of us was involved in what must have been a major accident. Even when thoughts of the pending game seeped into my head, I remained at peace, since we had plenty of time to get to the park. But as the minutes ticked away, I was finally forced to realize that we weren't going to make it for the first pitch. I turned the radio station to listen to the play-by-play.

When Thome came up in the bottom of the first with Placido Polanco on second and promptly deposited a pitch into the left field seats, my family and I cheered at the Phillies good fortune. However, as I sat there in the unmoving traffic, the good feeling slowly turned to frustration. "I can't believe that Thome hit a homer on Father's Day and I wasn't there to see it. Where are the cops to direct this traffic anyway? If a major interstate is shut down and they redirect traffic onto a secondary road, shouldn't there be someone directing traffic through all of these traffic lights? Has it occurred to anyone that there is an awful lot of traffic through this tiny, one-horse town today? Can't someone get a clue!?" My wife patted my arm in that loving, yet condescending way that says "I understand you're frustrated, but stop acting like a three-year old."

As we continued to crawl through traffic, the bottom of the second saw the Phillies get runners on first and second with one out. Then the unbelievable happened: Brian Powell bunted the runners over to second and third. Holy Cow! A Phils pitcher that can get a bunt down! This kids a prospect, I'm tellin' ya.

After the unbelievable came the unthinkable. Jimmy Rollins ripped a pitch to the deepest part of the park, where Royals center fielder Carlos Beltran narrowly missed catching it before crashing into the wall. As the ball bounced off the wall and caromed off of "The Angle" towards right field, I imagined Rollins circling the bases, little legs a complete blur, as John Vukovich waived him home from third. An inside-the-park-homerun! No way was this happening! I'd never seen one in person before. Of course, I had to imagine what it looked like, because I was still stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic in Godknowswhere, Delaware; a place that apparently has no police officers on duty on the weekends. Again, my wife patted my arm.

"An inside-the-park homerun," I pleaded with her. "Do you have any idea of the rarity? And on Father's Day at that." I looked at her, expecting some type of understanding, but her face just showed disapproval at my selfish, childish antics.

I tried to accept my fate, I really did. After all, it wasn't as if we were alone in this traffic jam. It seemed as if everyone in the tri-state area was here with us, with the exception of any, and all, police officers. The seconds kept ticking away, and the pitches kept firing, and the cars refused to move.

Bobby Abreu led off the bottom of the third with a single, and I had a feeling of dread as Jim Thome stepped to the plate. I almost felt like an opposing fan in the bottom of the ninth with his team leading by one run. I just knew what was going to happen next. And there it was. A deep drive to right field, as Thome deposited his second Father's Day homerun into the seats at Citizen's Bank Park. And there was Harry Kallas' voice describing what a treat Jim Thome was providing for all of the fathers in attendance.

My son chimed in from the back seat, "It really does sound like an exciting game, doesn't it Dad?" "Yes, it does son. I wish we could have seen it."

We eventually made it to the game, just in time to see Placido Polanco score from third on a sacrifice fly (there's something you don't see every day.) My wife tells me I acted like a baby the entire day, but she doesn't understand. Yes, the Phillies won, they moved into first place, and I'm grateful for that. But I had to watch Jim Thome's two homeruns, and Jimmy Rollins' inside-the-parker, on SportsCenter that night. It just wasn't the way I pictured it while sitting in traffic.

Poll Time: Last week I gave you an opportunity to invoke a mulligan on the Phillies 1998 draft, allowing the opportunity to draft Mark Mulder instead of Pat Burrell. The final tally was extremely close, with much wavering back and forth, but in the end, most of you thought the Phillies made the correct decision by selecting Pat Burrell.

There was also much discussion among the e-mails I received over the Phillies "sandwich" pick in that draft: Eric Valent.

Most thought we blew that pick and pointed out the Phillies could have gotten Mark Prior, who was selected by the Yankees immediately after the Phillies took Valent. Ahh, hindsight. Thanks again for all of the responses, there are a lot of good ideas out there.

This week, let's play a little fantasy game. It's twenty odd years in the future, and the PhillyBaseballNews.com headline reads: "(Blank) Goes For Win Number 300 Tonight." Of our current young pitching studs, fill in the headline. Do you think it's more likely to be Hamels, Floyd, Madson, or Myers? I look forward to your thoughts.

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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