700 Level Memories: Cheap $5 Phillies tix at the Vet


700 Level Memories: Cheap $5 Phillies tix at the Vet

The 700 Level (the infamous upper section of the Vet for which this blog was named, not the blog itself) was notorious for its lawlessness, its dumptruck-looking fans and its constant smell of urine and disappointment.

My favorite 700 Level memory (again, the Hamsterdam of the old stadium, not the incredibly successful blog staffed by the city’s best-looking writers) came at an Eagles game in the middle of winter, when I saw a guy sneak a toaster oven up to his seat (not sure if he was looking to heat up his gloves or bake some Stouffer’s french bread pizza), but when he got there he realized that he forgot his extension cord back at his car. So instead of shrugging his shoulders and moving on with his life like a normal person would do, he chucked the toaster oven over the railing in front of him and down 50 feet below onto the head of an unsuspecting Redskins fan.

Now while that story is mostly made up (I did once see a guy sneak a toaster oven in, but I blacked out before I could see what he did with it) you must admit that based on what you know about The 700 Level, it might be true. In fact, it perfectly exemplifies the ridiculousness of the Vet experience. However (big however here!), the 700 Level, when not being used as a giant urinal for Eagles fans, was also used as a giant urinal for Phillies fans. And during disgusting summer days, The 700 Level’s high altitude and cool breezes became an oasis of calm and tranquility. An empty sanctuary to escape the chaos of the city, while catching stage-4 melanoma because of its close proximity to the sun.

Before the Phillies were good (and I recognize that the Phillies are no longer good, but before they were bad, they were good, like, very good, so before that), you could roll up to the Vet five minutes before opening pitch and get a ticket to the game. And not just any ticket -- a $5 ticket. I’m not talkin’ back at Connie Mack Stadium in 19 ought 6. I’m talkin’ 13 years ago. 2003. When toaster ovens were still a thing.

All you had to do was give a guy five American dollars (and I sometimes paid in change, oh I definitely sometimes paid in change), and you could have an entire section to yourself. Sure, you'd have to hike up 40,000 feet to get there, going up and up and around and around the ramps, so many ramps, like 47 ramps, dragging your feet like a vagabond in the desert, leaning forward with your head over your toes like a Norwegian ski jumper, pausing to turn around and see if your buddies were following behind you, seeing them slumped over the railing, barfing, ohhhh the barfing, the uncontrollable barfing, while you shouted down to them to do whatever you could to motivate them to keep moving forward.

“Only 3,000 more ramps to go, Tony!”

“But there’s so much barf! SO MUCH BARF.”

But Tony would persevere. Glassy-eyed and dazed. Spit dangling from his chin. Armpits a total mess. Just an absolute mess. Let’s face it, the guy was embarrassing. Just an embarrassing, disgusting little man. But he was determined to make it up to his seat. To claim his little five dollar slice of heaven.

And oh what a seat it was!

Take your pick. You literally had the entire upper bowl to choose from. It was like Lewis and Clark discovering North Dakota. Did Lewis and Clark even discover North Dakota? Who cares! Bismarck can suck a butt. And Sacagawea was so hot!

You could sit in row 8, while your buddy sat in row 11, and your other buddy sat in the next section over in row THIRTY SEVEN. Not because it made sense, but because you COULD. Spreading out with your arms over the chairs next to you, your feet up on the seats in front of you, your shirt off, tied around your head, nipples locked and loaded at two and ten. Could you see the game? Noooooooo. Of course not. Maybe you could make out Von Hayes in centerfield. And his sloppy, stupid haircut. But that might’ve been Bob Dernier. You certainly couldn’t see the Phanavision, that’s for sure. But the space. Ohhhhhh, the space. My wife wonders why when we go to the movies these days I insist on sitting three seats away from her. It’s because I fart like a Doberman. And I was raised at the Vet. Pissing into a Gatorade bottle. That I snuck in under my shirt. Filled with the cheapest whiskey a young man could drink.

I mean, obviously there were negatives about The 700 Level too. Like I said, you couldn’t see the goddamn game. At all. I mean, I guess you could, but you certainly couldn’t tell balls from strikes. Not that that matters in Philadelphia. And that’s not what it was all about anyway. It was about the whiskey. And the warm summer nights, with your shoes off, starving, absolutely starving, because there was no way the hot dog guy would be trekking up those #ramps. And concession stands? Stop it. Every single one of ‘em was closed. The only open concession stand I ever saw up there was because a guy threw a brick through it.

Don’t get me wrong. I like Citizens Bank Park. It’s fine. It’s nice. Those cup holders are pretty cool. And I like those onion crankers that spit out fresh chopped onions right onto your dog. But it’s so damn TIGHT in there. You’re crammed into your seat next to 38,000 idiots, shoulder to shoulder, knees jammed up to your chest like you're having a waterbirth, in danger of getting blasted by a foul ball at any moment, and unable to spark that bubonic chronic without a seven-year-old staring you down like Nancy Reagan.

I miss the Vet so much. I miss the stench. I miss the slop. I miss the catholic girls circling the inner loop with their oversized flannel shirts tied around their undersized waists. I miss not having to pay $35 to see a shi**y baseball team piss all over themselves. And I just looked at the Phillies website, and apparently you can get a ticket these days for 17 bones, which is not horrible, it’s really not, but it’s just not the same. These days, you can’t roll down with six of your buddies the night of the game and escape to The 700 Level oasis. You can’t get a group of people to take over a section like the Wolf Pack did. Or Person’s People (Robert Person!). Or The Daal’s house (Omar Daal!!!!). You can’t fall asleep with your pants around your ankles and not end up on YouTube 20 minutes later. Catholic girls are seriously amazing.

So I’m sorry, fine people of Citizen’s Bank, but I will not be visiting your park this summer. I prefer to spend my nights on the couch, reminiscing about the past, with some piping hot french bread pizza in my belly, and the skin ripped off the roof of my mouth, and whatever program my wife wants to watch on the television.

Because I am a slave to her. And my youth is gone.

Someone please bash me in the face with a toaster.

Bryce Harper meets some Philly sports legends at the Sixers game

Bryce Harper meets some Philly sports legends at the Sixers game

The new big man in town, Bryce Harper, went to the Wells Fargo Center on Thursday night to take in the Sixers game against the Milwaukee Bucks. He rubbed shoulders with some of the previous biggest (little) men in town.

Harper was in attendance and rang the bell prior to tip-off — something he'll surely do many times during Phillies games across the street this summer.

When Harper made his way to his seat in a suite, he was seated alongside Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz. Rhys Hoskins was also in the suite as were all of the aforementioned players' significant others. Talk about some serious Philly sports firepower right there.

And then later in the game, the Sixers shared an image of a couple of legendary No. 3s meeting in the bowels of the Center. I'd love to hear the conversation between Allen Iverson and Harper.

Eagles wide receiver Alshon Jeffery was also in the building, sitting a bit closer to the court. Rapper Meek Mill was also in the building and took a photo with A.I. Which got me wondering: What's the perfect storm of Philly sports stardom in a Rat Pack sort of way? Obviously you had Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid on the court last night. In terms of the Flyers, aside from Gritty, you'd have to go Claude Giroux or maybe a fun-loving guy like Scott Hartnell from years past? Recently retired players that could fit the bill from other teams would have to include Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and maybe Pat Burrell just for fun. Is anyone in recent Eagles memory a bigger name than Brian Dawkins? He'd fill the fedora quotient. Nick Foles could be fun in a clean and wholesome sort of way.

My Philly sports Rat Pack would consist of A.I., Simmons, Embiid, Kendall Jenner, Wentz, Jason Kelce and Gritty. We got a good portion of that in the building last night.

Who is in your Philly sports Rat Pack?

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Nationals fans don’t get to be mad at Bryce Harper

Nationals fans don’t get to be mad at Bryce Harper

They can boo him. They can even hate him. But there’s absolutely no way Washington Nationals fans can fault Bryce Harper.

Sportswriters instructed Nats fans not to show up to the stadium unless they plan to boo Harper. Metro TV personalities smashed a pinata with the six-time All-Star’s photograph. Fans destroyed their No. 34 jerseys and showed up to the ballpark with signs that read “traitor.” The mayor of Washington D.C. took to social media to compare a baseball player to Benedict Arnold.

And yet, on Monday it was revealed in The Washington Post that the Nationals didn't just offer Harper less money and fewer years than the Phillies. The structure of the 10-year, $300 million contract proposed in September would’ve deferred payment on $100 million – 33 percent of the total value – until 2052. Then, in January, the club followed up with an even worse deal: 12 years, $250 million that wouldn’t be fully paid until the year 2072.

Harper would be 79 in 2072, assuming he lived that long.

There’s loyalty and hometown discounts. Then there’s situations that just don’t make sense.

Now seems like a good time to point out the Nationals are owned by Ted Lerner, whose own net worth is estimated to be in the multi billions. The team has done pretty well for itself at the gate, finishing 11th in Major League Baseball in average attendance in 2018 despite some of the highest ticket prices in the game. And while the TV contract is in dispute, the organization will eventually claim hundreds of millions of dollars in right fees dating back to 2012.

The money was there. Even without Harper, the Nationals have the seventh-largest payroll in baseball this season – never mind management’s inability to construct a winning team with that checkbook.

Why is this coming back on the player?

It’s one thing for fans to suggest a professional athlete should consider taking less money. It’s quite another to argue the athlete should sign a contract where a sizable portion of the cash might be paid when he’s living in a nursing home.

On some level, this is all reminiscent of when Jayson Werth pulled a reverse-Harper and left the Phillies to sign with the NL East rival Nationals in in 2011. The Phillies chose to allocate finances in such a way the club decided it would only retain Werth for below-market value, so he left. Fans weren’t happy, and he was booed every time he came to town.

But Werth wasn’t a generational talent. He was a cog, people ultimately understood he got a better deal, plus letting him go meant the Phillies could re-sign Cliff Lee, for example.

The Nationals let the face of baseball leave D.C. without a serious offer, and all they got was the money to sign Patrick Corbin.

Hey, it happens, and Nats fans should boo Harper for all 13 years in red pinstripes, the same as any Philly fan would in their shoes.

Just don’t cry Harper is a traitor. He’s in a Phils uniform because the Nationals screwed up, and the only place fingers need to be pointed is directly at the front office.

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