July 22-24, 2005
BDBL Weekend VI:
Top row (l-r): Billy
Romaniello, Jim Doyle, Mike Glander, Tony Chamra,
Brian Potrafka, Greg Newgard and Ed McGowan
Bottom row (l-r): John Duel, Tony Badger, Jeff Paulson, John Bochicchio,
Tom DiStefano and Ken Kaminski
PHILADELPHIA, PA -- As usual, the Ozzie
League proved to be the more impressive, more sociable, more intelligent
and more attractive of the two BDBL divisions at BDBL Weekend VI.
Of the twelve Ozzie League teams, eleven were represented (with that
bastard Matt Clemm being the only abstainer.) The antisocial Eck
League, meanwhile, was represented by only two faithful members: Tom
DiStefano and Tony Chamra. It was the largest turnout ever for a
BDBL Weekend, and the result was an unforgettable time had by all.
The festivities began on Friday
afternoon, with a trip into the heart of Philadelphia for lunch at a
local Philly cheesesteak place (which, of course, claimed to serve the
"best" cheesesteaks in Philly.) Lunch was followed by a lengthy
visit to an Irish pub around the corner. There, we enjoyed pints
of Guinness and Harp, talked a lot of baseball (well...most of us talked
baseball while Jim Doyle rambled on about classic literature) and played
some pool. After being subjected to one too many of Doyle's
selections on the jukebox, the gang decided it was time to get some
So, we walked down the road a few
blocks, passing Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell along the way.
Then, we walked some more, then walked a little further. Finally,
we reached our destination (with a little help from a few members of the
Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce): Maggiano's Italian Restaurant.
After a hearty dinner of pasta and
steak, we then split up into two groups. The mama's boys in the
group headed back to the hotel to put on their pajamas and drink some
warm milk before beddy-bye. The rest of us spent a night out on
the town visiting a local family-friendly sports-themed establishment.
The following morning, the group met
for breakfast in the hotel, where Billy Baseball joined the party.
For the first time in history, thirteen members of the BDBL -- more than
half the league -- were gathered together in one place. From our
humble beginnings as an internet start-up league in the winter of 1998,
this was a monumental moment in league history.
With time running short, plans to run
up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art (a.k.a. the Rocky steps)
were scrapped. Instead, we headed out to the world-famous Pat's
Steaks that afternoon for lunch. Pat's is one of three cheesesteak
places (Geno's and Jim's being the other two) who each claim to be the
originators of the cheesesteak. We never did uncover which of the
three is the original, but we did determine that Pat's is, without a
doubt, the best.
From there, we departed for the game at
Citizen's Bank Park between the Phillies and San Diego Padres.
With its wide-open concourses, comfortable seating, gorgeous backdrop of
the Philadelphia skyline and plentiful food options, Citizen's Bank Park
is among the most fan-friendly parks in baseball. Denied of the
opportunity to heckle Sean Burroughs (as he was demoted to Triple-A that
morning, unbeknownst to us), we simply watched batting practice while
touring every inch of the stadium before the game.
The pitching match-up was the stuff of
BDBL legend. On the mound for the Phillies was Robinson Tejeda, a
youngster picked up by the Los Altos Undertakers during the prior
chapter (who was sporting a 31/33 BB/K ratio prior to the game.)
And on the mound for the visiting Padres was none-other-than BDBL legend
Pedro Astacio. Adding more intrigue to the game was the delicious
possibility of seeing the biggest BDBL legend of them all -- Clay
Condrey -- enter the game as a reliever. Unfortunately, to the
disappointment of the entire group, that didn't happen.
Oddly enough, despite that pitching
match-up, there was no score after the first three innings. Philly
second baseman Chase Utley then broke the ice with a solo home run in
the fourth. That, and a Ryan Howard sacrifice in the sixth, would
be the only scoring we'd see on this day, as the home team won by a
score of 2-0 in front of a crowd of 33,992 that seemed either bored or
tired (or both.)
After the game, we headed straight to
Dave & Buster's -- a combination pool hall/arcade/sports bar. We
played some pool, video games, shuffleboard and even some snooker.
We drank some beer and ate some junk food. And we shared lots of
laughs, and bonded together as brothers from all walks of life with a
common love for the game of baseball and the shared goal of winning a
trophy. It just doesn't get any better than that.