Urban: Impressions of Philly

October 17, 2010, 8:28 pm
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Oct. 17, 2010
Mychael Urban

PHILADELPHIA -- Im not in the habit of arriving at the ballpark five-plus hours before the first pitch, I swear. In the playoffs its particularly silly; the clubhouses, open 3 12 hours before a regular-season game, arent open at all before postseason games. Today is an exception, though, because were in Philly, and the Eagles are playing, and the Eagles play across the street from the Phillies, and traffic and blah and blah and blah. You dont care about my sad little reporter story, do you?Dude, youre covering the Giants -- the team that fostered your love for baseball as a child -- in the National League Championship Series. Im at home in Morgan Hill, battling my 3.5 kids for the remote on NFL Sunday and trying to tune out my nagging spouse, who swears taking the recycling bins to the curb is of the utmost importance at this very moment. Quitcherbitchin.Fair enough, but Im not complaining. Seriously. I understand that Im a lucky man, and that point was hammered home last night at 2:22 a.m., Philly time.Philly is a 2 a.m. town; last call is at 1:40 or so. Thats a problem for many of us in the media when were covering a game that starts late, goes three hours, and requires your presence on multiple postgame platforms before youre set free for the night.Heres something you need to know: Winding down is an essential part of being a sportswriter, and thats what I am at the core. Your brain is on fire from the moment the game starts until two to three hours after it ends, and its hard to douse the flame. But you must -- and theres no better way to douse a flame than with liquids, ifyouknowwhatImeanandIthinkyoudo. Anyway, we got out of Citizens Bank Park at 1 a.m. last night (this morning), and thanks to our Philly-raised producer, whom youd think would have a pretty good handle on the ins and outs of downtowns one-way streets, we spent more time idling in traffic than moving while winding our way back to our hotel, and we didnt get back until 1:50 a.m.But thanks to our Philly-raised producer, who redeemed himself the way Bob Brenly did in that crazy game at the Stick way back when, I was treated to one of the most surreal, cool, and plain freaky nights of my career.Theres an after-hours place in downtown Philly, two blocks from our hotel, called the Pen & Pencil. Its a members-only club, and all you need to be a member-for-a-night, our producer told us, is some sort of proof that you make your living with -- duh -- a pen or a pencil.So we walked the two blocks and found the nondescript door. I could have been the entrance to an alley, to a run-down apartment, to an hourly-rate motel, to an untimely death. But it wasnt. It was the door to heaven.It opened, we walked in. And there stood another door. You half-expected a shaft to open at eye level, with some Marty Feldman type asking for the password. Instead, a burly, only-in-Philly badass opened the door and quizzically eyes the obvious out-of-town rubes.Who you here with?I didnt have an answer. But I had my NLCS credential, and that meant I was in. We all were in. And as soon as we got in, we saw and exchanged can-you-believe-this greeting with a bunch of other media types from the Bay Area. And we all had an absolute blast. Not all of us had the boiled-in-a-crock-pot hot dogs that the producer told us about, though. He tends to tell us that all things Philly are the best (insert noun here) ever! But homeboy dogged me -- pun half-intended -- and ate the last one, removing him from consideration for best host ever. But thats beside the point. The point, at this point, should be clear. The Pen & Pencil is the best late-night spot wait for it EVER!