I’d hear him stumble up the stairs, my tiny hands held tightly over my younger brother’s eyes so as to shield him from the hulking, drunken slob my father had become. The stink of whiskey riding on his every breath as he calmly sat down and told me that I was the reason he’d lost his job at the plant. That my cursed green fur had brought indelible shame upon his family name, cost him friends and fortune and brought nothing but black sheets of torrent to our home. He’d take that goddam Phillies bat from the corner of the room and hold it over his head, stumbling toward me as my brother scrambled under the bed for cover, gripping his teddy bear and staring in abject horror. And I sat there and took it. Took every last ounce of punishment that drunken f@#ker wanted to pour out. Because I knew it was making me harder. Stronger. A better man–or, in my case, beast–than he’d ever be. The beatings were invigorating, because they reminded me that no matter how many people cast their glances at me, snickered as my oversized green feet shuffled down the street, or turned up their noses at my elongated snout, they’d never, ever break me.
One night, I decided I’d had enough. I knew the old man had just cashed his check, and would be heading to the track after work. I waited for him in the garage, my brother clutching the same Phillies bat that Dad used to work us over with, and when he arrived… we gave him a little payback, Philadelphia style. Then we took his cash, his car keys, and his rare collection of Mike Nesmith 45s. And we never looked back.
Eventually, I hooked up with the Phillies. A chance to turn a painful childhood memory into something positive. And it’s been a good ride. Partying with pro athletes. Hitting the town with my fellow mascots. Cutting a swath through every coked-up whore in this town. Because I’m not that tiny freak in the corner, cowering in my size 24s while daddy climbs the stairs. I’m the Phillie Phanatic. And that’s how I roll.
So what does this mean to you, the average Red Sox fan? Let’s say you just watched your boys take a whipping at the hands of my Phillies. You see Mike Timlin fail… miserably. You see Manny, Lowell and Varitek swat maddeningly at empty air. You see Bartolo Colon amble off the mound with a stiff back, and wonder if this team will ever find its heart on foreign turf.
Fact is, tomorrow’s another game. And another after that. Then another. That’s how you’ve got to see it. There’s something better coming somewhere and every day you’re getting a little bit closer to it. It’s the way you have to be, my friends, to keep your soul from crumbling.
Yet we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.
Also, f@#k Giambi.