Archive for the ‘ Philadelphia Phillies ’ Category

The Phillies Night Before Christmas 2014

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Twas the night before Christmas, when all over the field,

Not a player was stirring, as the 2014 season had been sealed.

The bats were stacked in the clubhouse with care,

In hopes that a winning season soon would be there.

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The Phillies were nestled all snug in their beds,

While visions of trophies danced in their heads.

And Ruben without a contract tucked under his cap,

Had just settled down for a long off-season nap.

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When outside of his house, there arose such a clatter,

Ruben sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the window he stumbled, half asleep,

Having woke from a nightmare of a 2014 repeat.

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The man in the moon stared down in discontent,

As he wondered why nothing good came of all the money Ruben had spent.

When what to his weary eyes should appear,

But a miniature sleigh filled with many kegs of beer.

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With many little pint glasses, so shiny and thick,

He knew in a moment, this would do the trick.

More rapid than the trade deadline, forward the new recruits all came,

And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

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“Now, Trout! Now, Stanton! Now, Kershaw and Hernandez!

Hey, Dodgers! Hey, Red Sox! Please trade us some talent!

To the top of my wish list! To the top of them all!

Now sign away! Sign away! And play some Phillies baseball!”

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And then, in a twinkling, Ruben heard, “You are one crazy man!”

From the shouting of drunken All-Star players who have better plans.

As he drew in his head, and was turning around,

Down the chimney, Pat Gillick came with a bound.

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He was dressed all in pinstripes, from his head to his foot,

And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.

With a bundle of money he had flung on his back,

He looked like an interim president, ready to go on the attack.

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Gillick spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,

Cleaning up Ruben’s mess, who has been such a jerk.

And with thunderous joy, the fans clapped their hands,

Only one more year of Ruben means soon there might be a better plan!

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Gillick then sprang to the sleigh, and to his team gave a call,

“Hang in there everyone, soon we will have better baseball!”

But they heard him exclaim, as he drove out of sight,

“Happy Holiday’s to all and to all a good night!”

 

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Photo from http://www.csnphilly.com/

Jimmy Rollins Goes West

J-Roll says hi crIt took the departure of Jimmy Rollins to wake me from my offseason slumber.  And it was indeed a rude awakening.  The trade of Rollins to the Dodgers signals the end of a Phillies era, which is sad.  It also seems that more big changes are on the way.

I do think the trade was the right move, but that does not make it any less depressing.  During his 15 years with the team, Rollins provided fans with exciting moments, frustrating moments and everything in between.  He became the team’s all-time hits leader, won an MVP and helped bring Philadelphia a World Series.  If you follow this team closely as I have done over the years, watching J-Roll head to the west coast is akin to a family member moving away.  Love him or hate him, life will never be the same without Rollins.

The Phillies Phollowers official mascot, J-Roll Smurf, was hit the hardest.  He immediately took to the phone to call his agent and make sure he was not also being shipped out.  A blue uniform would totally clash with his blue skin.  It is not a good look.  J-Roll Smurf then drown his sorrows in sugar by raiding the cookie jar.  I have assured him he will always have a home here, as will the real Rollins.

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It has not yet been announced what the Phillies will get in return for J-Roll, but it is assumed to be two minor league pitchers.  The Phillies acquired another new pitcher yesterday when they traded Antonio Bastardo to the Pirates for another lefty, Joely Rodriguez.  Rodriguez went 6-11 with a 4.84 ERA in 30 games this past year with Double-A Altoona and is considered to be one of their top prospects.

The question now is who will the ax fall on next?  Many hope it will be Ryan Howard, but who wants him, really?  His contract is too large and his production too little.  Cole Hamels may be next, but the Phillies have to hit a grand slam with that trade if it happens or risk losing the fan base.  And I do not even want to mention Chase Utley…I cannot imagine a Phillies team without him.

We now wait and see what will happen next.  In the meantime, I wish Jimmy the best and hope the move works out for him.

 

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Photos by Jenn Zambri

Aphillyated – Philadelphia Themed Apparel

Hey there Philly fans!  I just wanted to take a moment to tell everyone about an awesome online store, Aphillyated.  They sell both men’s and women’s urban and Philly-themed tees, sweatshirts, tanks and headwear.  This is one of my favorite designs:
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The detail is incredible.  If you read the “LOVE” design typography, you will find many different Philly neighborhoods listed.  The actual neighborhoods even are listed on their website.
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If you looking for a unique gift for yourself or another Philly fan, this is the place to go.  Check out their website at http://www.aphillyated.com/.

Final Game of 2014 – Mirror Image of Entire Season

The Phillies season ended today in the same fashion they played throughout the year.  There was no offense to be found and lackluster effort.  The Phillies were 1 run away from a win with the 2-1 loss to the Braves; pitcher Cole Hamels was 1 win away from double-digit wins for the season; and Ben Revere ended the season 1 base short of 50 stolen bases on the year.  Jimmy Rollins spoke before the game, telling fans, “Before we’re done this year, we’d like to say thank you for showing up.  We know it was rough, but hopefully we made you guys smile.”  Etch that on a tombstone and you have the Phillies 2014 eulogy.
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As is tradition for the last home game of the year, today was dubbed “Fan Appreciation Day.”  Players signed autographs and jested with fans cheerfully and prizes were given away.
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But I’ll tell you when I will feel truly appreciated; when the tickets prices go down to a level worthy of watching a last place team.  Don’t worry; I won’t hold my breath.

After all the happy exchanges, the game began and it was more of the same.  Poor Cole Hamels did not get even 10 wins this year thanks to an absent offense.  Adding insult to injury, Hamels had a team-leading 2 hits in the game but no one could drive him in.  He even got whacked on the face with a batted ball and suffered a minor bloody lip.  That about summed up his season.

The offense was so bad, players were literally throwing their bats away.  Chase Utley, Maikel Franco and Braves pitcher James Russell all tossed their bats mid-swing at different points in the game.  I guess they weren’t really using them anyway.
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And so ends a dreary Phillies season with little hope for quick recovery.  Oh sure, they fired Assistant GM Marti Wolever.  But all that really means in Ruben Amaro Jr. keeps his job.  And I guess more heads are going to roll, which is appropriate.  But how much difference will it make and when?  I hope to take a guess at answering some of those questions in the weeks to come.  In the meantime, here is my final 2014 Photo Album.  Here hoping for a happy off-season!

 

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Papelbon Implodes in Shocking Phillies Loss

The day started out so well.  It was sunny outside, people seemed happy…even Chase Utley was smiling on the field during warm-ups.  Anyone who follows this team knows what a rare moment that is.  It just seemed like a good day where a sweep of the Marlins was totally possible.  Heck, there was even breakdancing during the game!  It was all going well until the 9th inning…
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Before that frightening 9th inning, starting pitcher, David Buchanan pitched very well, allowing only 1 run on a solo homer through 6 1/3 innings.  Although, he did almost have his head taken off while attempting to bunt, which was a bit scary.
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But baseball carried on and the Phillies racked up hits, stolen bases and Ryan Howard even showed patience at the plate, drawing a walk in the 4th inning.
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I finally got to see Maikel Franco play in person.  He had an interesting day that included a broken bat RBI single where he was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double.  He also had this play at third where he bobbled the ball, recovered and still got the out:
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By the 9th inning, the Phillies had a 4-1 lead.  But then Jonathan Papelbon came into the game.  Granted, he has been mostly good all season.  And anyone can blow a save…it happens (unless it is 2008 and you are Brad Lidge).  When one blows a save however, that person should expect to get boo’ed.  In fact, that person should boo themselves for sucking on that occasion.  Instead, Papelbon decided to look into the crowd as he walked to the dugout and grab his crotch demonstratively in reply to the boo’s.  After the game, he said he was “adjusting” himself.  Really?  And he could not wait 10 more steps to do so?  I am not buying it.

His attitude just sucks.  And his response was way out of line.  After ejecting Papelbon for the gesture, umpire Joe West grabbed Papelbon by the shirt and shoved him.  I cannot wait to see the blow back from that…stay tuned.

So the Phillies will ride this smelly, stinky 4-5 loss all the way across the country to San Diego where they start a 4 game series with the Padres tomorrow.  For now, here is the Photo Album from today’s game which includes the happier moments.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies First Combined No-Hitter

Congratulations to Phillies pitchers Cole Hamels, Jake Diekman, Ken Giles and Jonathan Papelbon and catcher Carlos Ruiz on Monday’s combined no-hitter against the Braves.  It is the 12th no-hitter in Phillies history and the first combined no-hitter.  Altogether, there have been only 11 teams in baseball history to record a combined no-hitter.

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One other fun note is that this is the 3rd no-hitter caught by Carlos Ruiz in his career.  He is ties for second all-time behind Jason Varitek, who caught four no-hitters for the Red Sox from 2001-2008.

Oddly enough, Hamels had what appeared to be one of his most difficult outings of the year, even though he did not allow a hit.  His pitches were all over the place and he walked 5 batters.  I am guessing this erratic performance completely confused Braves hitters.

Overshadowed in the 7-0 no-hit victory was a 5-RBI day for Ben Revere, who is now batting .310.  Jimmy Rollins had 3 hits and Chase Utley walked twice.  It was a nice day offensively, but the no-hitter took the front page news, as is appropriate.

So in an otherwise awful Phillies season, this was a very nice moment for the team and the fans.  Fans do have a little more fun ahead as September call-ups start streaming in.  It looks like Maikel Franco will finally get a shot in the Bigs.  We will also get our first look at Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, the Cuban righty that the Phillies spent a fortune on and, so far, have little to show for it.  Also, Mike Adams and Tony Gwynn Jr. will return.

I look forward to seeing the line-up for tonight’s game.  First pitch is at 7:10pm and Kyle Kendrick will pitch.  That is a nice gift to the Braves following the no-hitter.  Just sayin’…

 

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

A New Staff Ace for the Phillies?

Is Jerome Williams for real?  After 3 starts with his third team of the year, Williams has 2 wins for the Phillies and a 1.77 ERA.  He has out-pitched everyone on the Phils starting staff, including Cole Hamels.  And on top of that, he even laid down a perfect safety squeeze in the 2nd inning, collecting only the 2nd RBI of his major league career.  Williams has officially resurrected his previously dead career.  And the Phillies went on to beat the Cardinals by a score of 7-4, taking 2 outs of 3 games in the series.
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Another bright spot in this otherwise miserable season has been Ben Revere.  All the Revere haters have now been silenced.  Despite his weak arm, Revere worked hard and has improved his defense and is also now batting .314.  He is in a 1st place tie for the best average in the National League with Justin Morneau.  Although he can be frustrating at times, I had faith in Revere because he is a positive guy who always hustles and gives his best effort.  The same cannot be said all of the Phillies outfielders.  Keep it up, Ben!  I am rooting for you!
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Speaking of the outfield, can anyone tell me WHY Domonic Brown is still starting?  Have we not yet seen enough?  Whether he feels he is or not, Brown appears lazy and distracted in left field.  His batting average is down to .226.  It is time to give someone else a shot…it has been time for a while now.   You have to wonder who is really calling the shots with the line-up; Ryne Sandberg or Ruben Amaro Jr.?  If it is Sandberg, I have to seriously question his judgment.  If it is Amaro, then Sandberg needs to stand up and explain to his GM that this is HIS team to run.  Because this is getting very old.

Aside from that annoyance, the Phillies offense finally put some runs on the board, which was a nice change for a Sunday afternoon.  Everyone except Ryan Howard had a hit and Jimmy Rollins smacked a 2-run homer.
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The Phillies start a 3-game series with the Nationals Monday night.  Maybe they can spoil the Nats 1st place fun?  In the meantime, here is the Photo Album from today’s win.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Utley Delivers; Howard Ends Game with a Walk-Off

The Phillies went more than 5 innings today against the Mets with only 1 hit; a Chase Utley home run.  When they finally added a second hit in the 6th inning, it was an Utley single.  He later also hit a triple and ended the game just a double short of the cycle.
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Until later in the game, Utley’s heroics seemed for naught.  Kyle Kendrick stunk up the ball park with yet another horrible outing that included allowing back-to-back home runs and a 2rd straight hit to the Mets in the 5th.  Chants of “You suck, Kyle!” rang throughout the stands.  It was ugly.
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But after Domonic Brown drove in two runs late in the 6th inning, the tide began to turn.  Of course, I would be remiss if I did not mention that Brown missed a routine ball in left earlier in the game due to a lack of hustle.  What is up with his defense?  Ugh.  At any rate, the 6th inning hit started a rally.
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Utley knocked in the next two runs with his triple in the 7th.  That brought the Phillies to within a run and the bullpen held the Mets down.  Finally in the 9th, Marlon Byrd drove in Cody Asche to tie the game.  After Utley was walked, Ryan Howard stepped in with the big walk-off single to right.  He was subsequently mauled at first base, knocked off his feet and beat senseless by his teammates.  All in good fun, of course.  Finally, a game that did not totally suck!

Before the game, Phillies alumni took to the field, including former centerfielder Aaron Rowand.  In a pregame chat, he had this to say to me:
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Awww!  I know there are still people out there who do not get my little obsession with Rowand.  Too bad.  I love this guy for his passion for the game, something that has been lacking the last several years around here.

So he and Charlie Manual, Darren Daulton, Steve Carlton, Mike Schmidt and others enjoyed a nice pregame moment.  Then Manuel threw the first pitch to Utley, which was fun to watch.
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The Phillies have one more game with the Mets; a day game tomorrow that starts at 1:05pm.  Then they will fly to Los Angeles for a short 5-game West Coast road trip.

Here is the rest of the Photo Album from today’s game.

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Where Did All the Fun Go?

After watching Cliff Lee walk off the mound last night in pain with another elbow injury, I was pretty depressed.  I was depressed earlier in the day after the Phillies did absolutely nothing at the trade deadline.  But this was a whole new level of sadness.  Because at that moment, I realized something; watching Phillies baseball just isn’t fun anymore.

Phillies TombstoneBaseball is supposed to be fun.  Remember when Roy Halladay said, “It’s only gonna get funner”?  Ah, memories…  Because where did all the fun go?  Even when the Phillies sucked back in the early 1990’ and early 2000’s, it was still fun to watch.  And on those teams, the players had fun playing, even when they were awful.  Remember in 2003 when a bunch of players dyed their hair bleach blonde?  They sucked…but it was fun!  I still had a good time going to those games.  But now, it feels like going to a funeral.  So why is it so different now?

I have come up with two reasons: 1) There was hope back then.  2) The 2008 World Series changed the landscape of Phillies baseball.

Phillies fans have lost hope.  Why?  Because the current incarnation of this team and their management have made the same mistakes over and over and over.  They refuse to make big changes and when they do make changes, the results are bad.  Go back to the Cliff Lee trade.  You know what the Phillies got for him…nothing.  Ok, count Phillippe Aumont if you must, but he is a head case who is going nowhere.  They traded Hunter Pence and got nothing.  Here are a few other not-so-fun names to remember…Freddie Garcia, Adam Eaton, the contracts of Ryan Howard, Jonathan Papelbon and others, no trade clauses, etc. And the list goes on…

When you do the same thing repeatedly, how can you expect different results?  You can’t.  And therein lays the total lack of hope.  As long as the same people are in charge and the same scouts are making bad decisions, nothing will change.  And that is truly depressing.

And about that 2008 World Series…the Phillies have been on a steady decline since they lost the series in 2009.  Phillies fans got a short taste of success and now, we expect it.  Maybe that is not fair, but such is life.

Frankly, the way they Phillies have raised ticket prices every year and cancelled events (like the Phan Fest at Spring Training), giving us less access to players, is also a sore spot for fans.  If you are going to take away some of my season ticket holder benefits, charge me more and give me less, then I EXPECT a superior product.  And in that way, I feel fans are justified in their rage.  Now that the team is awful, do you think ticket prices will go down?  No way…because they have to PAY for all of their mistakes and ridiculous contracts.  Or should I say, we the fans will pay?  Or we will just stop coming to games as many have done already.

Because why should I have to pay to attend a funeral?  Why should I pay to see players who are just as depressed as I am?  And there you have it…NO FUN.

If the Phillies want to bring back the fun, they need to fire everyone in the front office and all of the scouts and start over.  Give us something to look forward to.  Give us a little hope.  It is either that, or prepare to play to an empty stadium.

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

A Phillies Miracle – They Win on a Sunday

The Phillies were beginning to give new meaning to the phrase “Day of Rest” after losing their last 9 Sunday games.  It has been less rest, and more of a coma.  But today a miracle occurred and they won a Sunday game, beating the Diamondbacks by a score of 4-2.  Yippee!

Roberto Hernandez had a very good day, allowing only 2 runs over 7 innings.  I should qualify that by saying he had a good day pitching because, have you seen this guy swing a bat?  He looks like a 3 year old holding a 20 pound piece of lumber.  At one point, he actually swung at a pitch after the ball was already in the catcher’s glove and the catcher was reaching in to take the ball out.  Seriously.  But hey, nice job on the mound, Roberto!  And thanks for the extra entertainment.
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The offense was kicked into gear by Ryan Howard, who is out to prove something after being benched for 3 games earlier this week.  He smacked a 2-run homer in the 1st inning; it was his first homer in Philly since June 1st.
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Howard was also involved in a home plate controversy later in the game.  After not immediately hustling around the bases on a Marlon Byrd fly ball, Howard finally sped up when the ball was dropped.  While he should have been out at home (by a mile), the out call was overturned on replay as the D-Backs catcher was blocking the plate.  While I am happy the Phillies got the run, I have to say this home plate no-collision / no blocking rule is utterly ridiculous.  No way should Howard have been safe, but he got by on a technicality.  Can’t we just go back to bowling over the catchers and be done with this silliness?

So the Phillies did go on to score another, non-controversial run as Wil Nieves scored on a double by Ben Revere.  And yes, the Phillies managed to win a game with only 4 hits, thanks to several D-Backs errors.  The Phillies defense was solid and kept them in the game.
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There were some other great non-baseball moments today, including armed services members being honored, as the Phillies do every Sunday.  But this one almost brought everyone to tears as a little boy was reunited with his mother after a deployment and video of the boy crying hysterically were shown on the big screen.  Kudos to the Phillies for a very touching moment.
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Here is the full Photo Album from Sunday’s game.  The Phillies start a series in New York tomorrow against the Mets.  And the trade deadline is almost here…who will stay and who will go?  We shall see…

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

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