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Defeats hitters in a dark chamber, where his focus can't be shaken
Nearly saved the metropolis in 2009; he's back to finish the job
Here are the flowers. The f------ flowers, Vicente Padilla, the Nicaraguan righthander, used to call them. He'd hold out his left forearm as if it were that floozy of a leftfield wall at Citizens Bank Park, then send his flat right hand skimming over it: another five-cent home run plunging into the box of blue pansies just beyond the railing. Another power pitcher who thought he could tame one of the game's homer-happiest yards. The f------ flowers, Charlie, he'd spit to his skipper and scowl.
It's early March. The ballpark's still groggy, yet to dress or put on makeup, just rolling out of her winter bed. The f------ flowers are but a few forlorn purple petals. The warning track's one long puddle from the thaw. A groundskeeper, casting fertilizer across the frost-burned infield grass, pauses and looks up. They'll be surging through those gates soon, 44,000 strong, and when they do, he says, they'll make this place feel like a box.
They remember what John Smoltz said. If you ask me, they can't ever win in Philadelphia.... There's no way free-agent pitchers are going to go there.... I'm not even going to call it a baseball field.... It's a joke.
They remember what Curt Schilling said. F--- this f------ park.
They remember the Giants' Juan Uribe choking their windpipes last October with an eighth-inning fly ball that just cleared the railing in right.