For the past five years around this time, we’ve been spoiled rotten with post-season baseball—the Phillies kicked off Red October, work productivity across the region declined and beer/wings consumption skyrocketed. Now “Dead October” is upon us, as Citizens Bank Park sits silent. But that’s just the tip of the misery iceberg that awaits this month, with the NHL lockout, no Sixers basketball until Halloween, and only the Eagles left to provide sports sustenance. Here’s a rundown of the top 10 reasons the next four weeks will, for lack of a more nuanced phrase, suck hard for Philadelphia’s fans.
10. Fewer Bad Commercials
Even as the Phillies playoff hopes slipped away, something that always cheered me up were the ridiculous local ads that run during the games—like Uncle Tomy and his inexplicable Hulk Hogan impression. I’ll even miss the louts on the Steak ‘Em Up spots, who somehow manage to perpetuate the worst stereotypes of South Philly and pay homage to a commercial that last inspired a laugh sometime in 2001. One upside: no more awkward Liscio’s Bakery promos with ex-Phillie Hunter Pence, like the one I heard on WIP this week.
9. Pre-Season Basketball
With the exception of baseball’s spring training, pre-season games in other sports are little more than an excuse to start selling tickets and beer a couple weeks early. For Sixers fans, news that franchise savior Andrew Bynum will likely sit out to rest his knees makes those exhibitions even more meaningless. Most of us can probably wait until the opener to see Kwame Brown suit up for the first time.
8. Fantasy Sports Insanity
With little else to occupy my time, I’m already wasting an inordinate amount of it managing my fantasy football leagues. Yes, that’s plural. I’m in two of them, and despite the low stakes, I’m tracking the waiver wire as if a year’s salary and naming rights for my firstborn is on the line. Anyone with projections on a solid backup QB during Aaron Rodgers’ bye in week 10, please email me.
7. So Long, Phanatic Dangle Hats
These goofy caps were the hottest Phillies merch this season. While some find them to be creepy, I admit I enjoyed seeing fans scattered throughout the ballpark wearing Phanatic heads, like so many furry green Davy Crocketts. But with baseball season over, it’s time to put them in storage. We don’t need any reminders of this past season. And for the next few months, if someone says he wants to show you his dangle, you’ll know it’s definitely a bad thing.
6. The Union
If you’re familiar with the Sons of Ben, then you’re probably a soccer fan and will enjoy the Union’s final four matches this month. Otherwise, watching a team that’s in eighth place out of 10 crawl to the finish line ranks somewhere between body-hair grooming and urban foraging on the entertainment scale.
5. Sports Talk Radio
There’s only so much debate over whether Nick Foles will be the next Tom Brady that one can handle.
4. Bryz Withdrawal
With two weeks of cancelled games and no end to the NHL lockout in sight, the most entertaining athlete in town, goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, has taken his musings about the universe, monkeys in space, and why Siberian huskies are like hot women to Russia. Unfortunately, he also took his lackluster play, giving up four goals in his first and only KHL appearance. Memo to Bryz: start playing hu-mang-ous big and please, I beg you, more tweets.
3. Eagles Bye Week
Looking forward to four Eagles games this month to take your mind off the first Phillies post-season absence since 2006? Thanks to the ill-timed bye week, we’re only getting three. A football-free Sunday during our time of need is just cruel. Somewhere, a replacement ref is laughing.
2. The Gnats
As if it weren’t torturous enough to watch the Washington Nationals clinch the NL East against the Phillies, leave it to them to add one more indignity. During the goofy Presidents Race on the season’s final day, Teddy Roosevelt won for the first time in 534 attempts. The reason? A low-budget Phanatic impersonator ran onto the field and knocked the other presidents down. The stunt didn’t make sense, from a rivalry standpoint—everyone roots for Teddy, so in effect, the fake Phanatic did their beloved underdog a favor. Even the Nats players are sick of their fans talking more about a 10-foot foam dead president than their team. That’s one of the many reasons why I’m weary of those Natitools working so hard to stoke the flames of a rivalry. One winning season does not make them a powerhouse or worthy of our contempt. Yet their playoff appearance is a most bitter pill. But hey—to paraphrase Phils radio analyst Larry Andersen, maybe they’ll finally sell out a game now. Burn!
1. Hoping My Dry Cleaner Doesn’t Ask Why I’m Dropping Off a Bag Full of Tear-Stained Officially Licensed Phillies Gear
Let’s never discuss this again.