Overlooking the game in progress, Pete Mackanin chews sunflower seeds. To his right sits Larry Bowa, just staring into space. They watch the game between the Red Sox and the Phillies listlessly, two men either enjoying a summer night, enjoying doing nothing, or maybe enjoying both. Larry speaks first.
BOWA: Okay, so, tell me again about the Phillies in the 2009 postseason.
MACKANIN: Okay, what do you wanna know?
BOWA: Well, good baseball is encouraged there, right?
In the distance, Mookie Betts doubles and comes around to score on Brock Holt and Xander Bogaerts hits, completing the Hamels/Lee trade rumor perfecta.
MACKANIN: Yeah, it's encouraged, but it isn't one hundred percent encouraged. I mean, you can't just walk into the seventh inning, put in your closer, and start shutting down a high leverage situation. They want you to use all your players in the designated place.
BOWA: And that's the 7-9 innings?
Adam Morgan quietly escapes further damage and the teams trade zeroes until an infield single to Cesar Hernandez and a HBP to Aaron Altherr puts two on. Ryan Howard grounds out, though Darnell Sweeney manages to do the same but productively, scoring Cesar. Bowa and Mackanin briefly pause and whistle as Darin Ruf beats out an infield hit for the second run of the inning.
MACKANIN: Yeah, it breaks down like this. Okay, it's legal to have a big bullpen. It's legal to use that bullpen however you want. And if you're a pitching coach in the 7th, 8th, or 9th innings, it's legal to let them pitch. It's legal to have designated pinch runners too, but...heh, but that doesn't matter, 'cause, get a load of this; all right, if your guy's called safe in 2009, it's illegal for them to do a replay. I mean that's a right the refs in 2009 don't have.
The game quiets down for a while to let the men talk, until that famous Betts-Holt connection hooks up in the bottom of the fifth with a double and a sac-fly. Despite Morgan's nice start, he's trailing 3-2.
BOWA: Oh man, I'm goin, that's all there is to it, I'm fuckin goin.
MACKANIN: I know baby, you'd dig 2009 the most. But you know what the funniest thing about the 2009 Phillies is?
MACKANIN: It's the little differences. A lot of the same shit we got here, they got there, but they're a little different.
MACKANIN: Okay, when you...when you play the Mets in 2009, you can beat them. And I don't mean like a 2-1 squeaker every so often. You get to demoralize them, you get to name a corner of their ballpark. And in Washington, you're lucky if they spell the team name right. And you know what they call an Odubel Herrera?
The game has flown by to the bottom of the seventh, and that means it's time for the MJ Baumann Businessperson's special, as Jackie Bradley, Jr. cracks the game open, homering to make it 4-2 before Bogaerts, David Ortiz, and Travis Shaw, with the help of a friendly Darin Ruf error, tack on runs of their own to make it 7-2. The managers, weirdly, have not noticed.
BOWA: They don't call it an Odubel Herrera?
MACKANIN: No, they got no Rangers minor leaguers back then, they wouldn't know what the fuck an Odubel Herrera was.
BOWA: So what do they call him?
MACKANIN: They call it a Shane Victorino.
BOWA: Shane Victorino. What do they call Ryan Howard? Big Piece?
MACKANIN: Big Piece is Big Piece, but they call him Le Big Piece.
BOWA: Le Big Piece, oh hoh hoh hoh! What do they call the Dodgers' third base coach?
MACKANIN: I dunno, don't even really remember going to LA.
The Phillies step up in the top of the ninth, down five. Suddenly they've used their first two outs.
MACKANIN: But you know what they do instead of giving up runs and not scoring them?
Out of nowhere, Freddy Galvis finds his way on base, and is followed by an Odubel Herrera homer to cut the lead to three.
A Hernandez single and an Altherr double break the deficit down further -- 7-5!
MACKANIN: They strike guys out and score runs!
Aaron Altherr rushes to third on fielder's indifference.
BOWA: God damn!
MACKANIN: I seen em do it man.
Ryan Howard strikes out swinging; the game is over. The team dejectedly walks into the dugout and down the stairs. Mackanin and Bowa begin packing up as they finish their conversation.
MACKANIN: They fuckin drown the other team in runs and strikeouts.
BOWA [clearly repulsed and skeptical]: Eugh!!