Well Werth It: A Homecoming Game to Remember

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The only thing more frustrating than being a lifelong Phillies fan in the Tri-State area is having to root for your team when you live on the West Coast. That has been my predicament for nearly five years now.  View from the cheap seats-otherwise known as 18th row behind the Phils dugout

The only thing more frustrating than being a lifelong Phillies fan in the Tri-State area is having to root for your team when you live on the West Coast. That has been my predicament for nearly five years now.  View from the cheap seats-otherwise known as 18th row behind the Phils dugout

If they’re not catching the game at Citizens Bank Park, most team loyals get to watch the Fightins tear up the National League East via Comcast Sportsnet or another local channel. For me, unless the Phils are on Fox, ESPN or playing the Dodgers or Padres, I’m reduced to staring at a computer-generated pitch-by-pitch offered by MLB.com. Not an ideal situation by any stretch, but this has been a thorn in my side all season long.

That was until Wednesday night’s game against the Washington Nationals, when my parents, brother and I sat 12 rows behind the Phillies dugout (the value of being lifelong season ticket holders should not be overlooked in this instance). I hadn’t been to a game at the Bank in more than a year, and I was not to be disappointed.

No sooner had we walked inside, but a staff photographer approached me and my Mom and took a fan picture for the Phillies website. As we headed to our seats, I was overwhelmed by the sea of red and blue hats and shirts that surrounded me. Of course, I was one of them, having donned my retro maroon Phils cap and tee shirt to show my support. The sausage and peppers my Dad was wolfing down was in direct competition with Mom’s crab fries for my olfactory affections-this is just one example of the conflicts that arise during the course of terrific vacations.

The Phillies scored first, but it was their stellar defense that drew the loudest cheers during the first part of the game. (I don’t know where Chooch Ruiz’ cannon of an arm came from, but I wish there was a way to clone him). Even after some spectacular plays in the field, I was secretly yearning for a big hit-maybe the Big Man would smack a shot to center? But there was nothing-for a little while, anyway.

Enter the bottom of the seventh inning-and a bases loaded opportunity for Jayson Werth, who was stepping up to the plate. Could it happen? Would he be the one to bust this game wide open, with me sitting here watching, the only Phillies game I will get to see live and in person this season?

After fouling off a few pitches with some huge swings, Werth did indeed deliver the goods-big time. All in all, it was a monster of a home run that cleared the bases, and then the wall in center field. I almost couldn’t believe my eyes, and my good fortune for that matter. Werth’s Grand Slam shot into the night had swiftly made up for it all-for every night I’ve been forced to text my brother for a score update, for each time I’ve had to watch game highlights on ESPN and for each automated MLB.com batter I’ve watched as he swings at pitches I can’t actually see.

I know there will be more of the same frustrations once my vacation ends and I head back to Southern California, but for now this is truly enough-more than enough to sate my Phillies appetite.

Oh, and those crab fries were killer, by the way.

photos: Joe Vallee Sr. (josephv985@aol.com)

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