Saturday, March 29, 2008

Playin' Darts With The Bat

The scene opens like this: it's Friday night, around 3AM, in a relatively crowded after hours bar in downtown Philadelphia. The room is smoke-filled and poorly lit, the kind of place only certain types of individuals inhabit. It's a place for restaurant workers to get a drink (or six) after they get done, though the guy at the door isn't particularly strict when it comes to letting you in. I do happen to work in a bar, but if I quit tomorrow, I could show up 10 years from now and they'd probably still let me in.

There are no windows. There's just a bar, some tables, a juke box, and a crock pot full of hotdogs that you don't go near unless you've had 11 too many. A friend of mine once described it as "Hell's waiting room", and that sounds about right. It's not a place I find myself in often, but sometimes, sometimes last call just isn't late enough. It isn't my fault bars here close at 2.

Anyway, my buddy and I are hanging out in the back, shooting darts at the electric board there that still only costs a quarter to play. My buddy - lets just call him L. Simpson... no that's too obvious, let's call him Lisa S. - is considerably drunker than I am because he'd been drinking all night whereas I had been working. I'm beating him pretty badly, when this man approaches us:

He looks at the score and says, "This is a slaughter!", and his face lets me know that he wants the game to end so he can play. I stop to look at him, and sure enough, he looks pretty damn familiar. His identity comes to me pretty quickly and I say, "You're Pat Burrell." He says yeah, and shakes my hand as I introduce myself. He then turns to the three girls he is with and says, "These are my girlfriends." It took a lot of restraint not to utter, "Oh? Do they know you're wife?", but he's a pretty big guy and has been know to have a few anger management issues. Besides, it's ultimately none of my business.

Anyway, these "girlfriends" were all very nice, very attractive, and all quite overdressed. It was pretty clear that Pat had met them earlier at a much nicer bar and convinced them to come to an after hours place he knew about. It was also clear that Pat neglected to mention the fact that the aforementioned bar was full of chain-smoking, tattoo-covered degenerates who only get dressed up when some dies or gets married, because the girls left within 10 minutes of arriving.

As the girls are leaving and Burrell is making one last attempt to convince them to stay, I set up the next game of darts and Pat's friend, a guy named Brian, introduces himself. I have no idea who this guy was, but he sure wasn't a ball player. As the game starts, I ask Burrell - who was drinking Miller Lite, for those who may be interested - "How was spring training?". He replies "I don't remember", and shoots his darts. (NOT a good sign.) After about two rounds, Burrell and Brian arrive at the conclusion that shooting darts at 3 AM with a couple of random guys - one of whom thinks Burrell is Matt Williams; more on this in a minute - is not the best way to further their evening. Burrell says to me, "Alright, we're gettin' out of here." I shake his hand again and tell him to have a good season. He thanks me, as though I was saying that because I care about him. He shakes a few more hands on his way out and disappears into the Philly night, his destination a mystery, though I'd be willing to bet he wasn't heading home yet.

And as he left, I couldn't help but laugh. After all, I had heard the stories, but I had yet to see him in action for myself. Now I have. And while he was pretty well behaved in the bar, the fact that he was even there lets me know that his inner party animal isn't dead yet. I don't know if that's a good thing.

Before I go, allow me to explain why my buddy, who is from the Bay Area in Cali and hasn't paid much attention to sports over the past few years, thought Burrell was indeed some other ball player. After Burrell left, my buddy, who was several sheets to the wind, turns to me and this exchange followed:

My Friend: That guy plays 3rd, right?
Me: He did in the minors. He plays left field now.
My Friend: No, but didn't he play third for the Diamondbacks?
Me: Um, no man. The Phillies drafted him.
My Friend: Then who am I thinking of?
Me: (racking my brain for Phillies that played for the Diamondbacks and could be mistaken for Pat Burrell, or vice versa) Um, Travis Lee?
My Friend: No...
Me: (racking my brain for Diamondback third baseman, and taking into account the fact that my buddy is a Giants fan) Are you thinking of Matt Williams?
My Friend: Yes!
Me: You're an idiot.

And that was that. The Bat was gone as quickly as he had arrived, destined to have no real recollection of me or my drunk friend. But that's okay. I'll remember him. I just hope his wife isn't reading this.

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