Phillies fans: 10,000 reasons to be bitter
ANGRYVILLE -- You spend any time in this dingy city and around these folks, and pit bulls running wild come to mind.
Fine when leashed, but set them free, put a beer in their grubby paws and it’s only a matter of time before they’re going to go on the attack -- both the home team and its opponent feeling the bite.
It’s an angry place, all right, everything old here in Philadelphia, crumbling and in ruin. Even the city’s main attraction has a crack in it.
So the prevailing opinion around here is you have to be an obstinate pug to make it in Philly, the football team tough, the hockey team a bunch of bullies and the Phillies rugged competitors like Larry Bowa.
This is supposed to make Philly an intimidating place to play, Bowa telling the media Wednesday that if the Dodgers thought Chicago was bad, “they’re going to be in for a rude awakening” playing here.
“It was like a West Coast crowd in Chicago,” said Bowa, the Philly in him unable to keep himself from slapping Dodgers fans, and apparently discounting the manner in which Nancy Bea Hefley can whip a Dodgers crowd into a frenzy.
But if a Philly crowd is so intimidating, as Bowa suggests, why do the Phillies lose here so often? A year ago, the Phillies became the first pro sports franchise in North American history to lose 10,000 games.
Philly has always been more bark than championship bite, so why should the Dodgers give a hoot about folks who paint their faces and then have to drive home looking like sad clowns?
The Dodgers have the better team, a destiny date in Boston, and while that might make the folks in Philly miserable, they don’t know how to act any differently here.
Funny thing, too, this series will probably come back here for Games 6 and 7, and nothing more disappointing than getting that close to a World Series only to trudge out of the stadium wondering what went wrong.
The Phillies get the first two games here, their best pitcher in Cole Hamels starting against Derek Lowe, who is pitching for a new contract next year, as much motivation as any pro athlete can have these days. Advantage Lowe.
Brett Myers, who has more losses than wins, then takes on Chad Billingsley, and the Dodgers look pretty good to win one of the first two games here. A sweep is not out of the question -- especially if Matt Kemp opts to rejoin the Dodgers.
“I didn’t care that I went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts when we clinched because we won,” Kemp said, “but I’d like to contribute, too. And adding an extra bat might help make a difference.
“I just need to calm down. I saw all those towels waving, and I got excited and said to myself, I just have to get a hit. The same thing happened in Arizona earlier this season, and I made the adjustment.”
Kemp failed to come through with the game on the line in Arizona one day, regrouped and the next delivered the winning hit.
“It was my best at-bat of the season; I was in a zone,” he said. “I need to do that again. All those towels waving got me nervous. I’m emotional, but I think that last series helped me.”
OK, so if Phillies’ fans show up waving towels, maybe the Dodgers only go 1-1 here before returning to Dodger Stadium on Sunday.
But then it really turns ugly for the Phillies, who can only throw 100-year-old softball pitcher Jamie Moyer at the Dodgers and then just another guy in Joe Blanton.
The Dodgers hitters weren’t much earlier this season, but even at their worst, they feasted on pitchers like Moyer and Blanton.
Now as long as the Dodgers don’t get into a slugfest in Games 3 and 4 and lose the advantage of playing a team that can do no better than Moyer and Blanton, no reason why they can’t be sitting in L.A. with a 3-1 advantage.
Three playoff wins in L.A. might be asking for too much, though, from a Dodgers team that doesn’t figure to be as good as the Phillies in close games down the stretch. But leaving L.A. up 3-2 makes everyone at Fox hoping for an L.A.-Boston matchup feeling pretty good.
That would take the series back to the city, though, that just isn’t quite up to the standards of New York or Boston, the Dodgers needing one more win in this angry place.
Now as intimidating as Philly likes to think it is, could the Dodgers come up with one win in Game 6 or Game 7 to move on?
“If it comes down to that,” Manager Joe Torre said, “we can get one more win.”
So there you go, the Phillies lose again, but then what’s new?
THE NED COLLETTI victory/resurrection tour continues. The former Cubs’ PR guy returned to Wrigley Field as Dodgers’ GM, renewing interest in the book he wrote years ago for Cubs fans, “You Gotta Have Heart.”
Now back here, he was the subject of Bob Ford’s fine column in the Philadelphia Inquirer. Ford reminded everyone that Colletti was a sportswriter covering hockey for the defunct Philadelphia Journal.
Colletti, writing under the headline, “Sittler, deal not dead yet,” wrote: “Out of the murk came the plane. Out of the plane came Keith Allen, Paul Holmgren, Flyers’ President Bob Butera, Flyers’ attorney Ron Rutenberg and . . . and . . . and . . . the crew.
“What? You were expecting Darryl Sittler? Humphrey Bogart?”
Not surprisingly, the paper went out of business the next day, ending Colletti’s journalism career.
T.J. Simers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. To read previous columns by Simers, go to latimes.com/simers