BY DAVE ALLEN Like time, news waits for no man. Keeping up with the funny papers has always been an all-day job, even in the pre-Internets era. These days, however, it’s a two-man job. That’s right, these days you need someone to do your reading for you, or risk falling hopelessly behind and, as a result, increasing your chances of dying lonely and somewhat bitter. That’s why every week, PAPERBOY does your alt-weekly reading for you. We pore over those time-consuming cover stories and give you the takeaway, suss out the cover art, warn you off the ink-wasters and steer you towards the gooey center. Why? Because we love you!
ON THE COVER
CP: It’s the incredible return of the Great American Pastime. E. James Beale scopes out the 2009 edition of the Phightin’ Phils and sizes up their chances at a repeat. It’s smart, well-reasoned and just optimistic enough to generate booing and leave us feeling burned if we should relinquish the title.
On one hand, replicating last year’s success seems simple. The Phillies had a good blueprint, and by bringing back nearly every major player on the team — seven of the eight starting position players, the first four starters, the closer and back end of the bullpen all remain unchanged — they have a chance to use it again. Unlike recent champions who either rode aging veterans to one last hurrah of a title, or lost key contributors to free agency, the 2009 Phillies are a spitting image of the 2008 version. Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Jayson Werth, Shane Victorino, Cole Hamels, Brett Myers and Joe Blanton are all 30 or younger. Brad Lidge is 32. All are old enough that we shouldn’t expect drastic leaps forward, but also young enough that Howard’s decline and Utley’s move away from second base are still several years away. Will every Phillie duplicate his 2008 success? No, of course not. Some might be better.
Yeah, it’s super-inside baseball, including quotes from Baseball Propsectus and Scouts, Inc., but our city’s hopes and dreams, as always, hang in the balance. If the unconverted don’t want to parse stats or conjecture on disable-list stays, they can at least revel in the Roots-quoting headline and the sight ofPhanatic standing atop a pile of mascot corpses. I’ll make my own prediction here, as well: Wild-card (bitches), followed by an appearance – can’t say for sure if it’ll be a win – in theNLCS.
PW: A relapse and a revisiting: Steven Wells takes us through his struggle with cancer again, building on his angered, anguished entry from 2006. In this one, there’s a fair dose of tender-heartedness, despite his best efforts to seem aloof, indignant and, um, assy. He’s a “blubbering wreck” at first (over putting down a sick kitty), but he hardens when discussing his own illness, trying to jar us with descriptions of the state to which he’s been reduced.
I used to have a small penis jutting out from just above my belly button. Right now there’s a cute little vagina. The tiny cock drained the blood and puss out of the infected 6-inch wound the surgeon made when he hacked open my upper abdomen and cut out about a yard of cancerous intestine.
Now, with the plastic cock removed, I have to pack the wound three times a day with a gauze string, the tail of which dangles from the gash, looking for all the world like a weirdly misplaced tampon.
On Sat., Feb. 7, I enter the emergency room shivering savagely and positively glowing with a temperature of 106.
I’m called into triage the minute I complete registration. This visibly pisses some people off. One chap makes a show of standing about 4 feet away, arms folded, staring hard as he mutters “motherfucker.” He eventually walks off in disgust.
It’s clear he doesn’t want sympathy; he’d rather make us squirm than feel sorry for him. The article balances the poignant with the prickly nicely, though, and whether Wells is rooting against cancer or for it (an odd transformation at article’s end), it’s clear he’s going down swinging. I hope he doesn’t have to go down at all: Get well soon, Steve-O — and for God sakes man, put on some underpants!
INSIDE THE BOOK
CP: Ballpark chow makes no concessions. Throw up the horns for the biggest fictional cartoon metal band around. The gambling beat: He’s a reporter, not an activist. Hizzonor graces us with a PSA for Spring Cleanup.
PW: After Joe Swanson, my new wheelchair-bound hero. Putting the “deli” in “delicious”?: Not quite. I’ll have a Screaming Nazi Girl Scout from Hell, bartender. Murder most foul? We get enough of that in Philly already, thanks.
WINNER: Both papers are sporting redesigns this week (thumbs up for CP, a half-hearted “eh” to PW), but to me, it’s as clear-cut as the cover art. Naked man ass or a triumphant, Mr. Met-spearing Phanatic? No contest: CP takes it. Go Phils.