Archive for the ‘ MLB ’ Category

Phillies vs. Future Phillies

Yesterday, the Phillies took on “Future Phillies” in a pre-season exhibition game at Citizen’s Bank Park.  Before the game, several current and future players wandered around the ballpark signing autographs and taking photos with fans.  I managed to snag 5 autos and 2 photos with players.  I also met both Opening Day starters; Jeremy Hellickson, who will start the official Opening Day tomorrow and Aaron Nola, who will get the home opener.
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It was strange having to root for both teams playing, but entertaining.  The youngsters keep the game very close and both sides appeared to be having a good time.
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Pitcher Charlie Morton did not look very sharp, as the future players collected 4 runs on 7 hits and 3 walks over 4 2/3 innings.  But the game didn’t really count, so no worries.
2016.04.02 Morton

Two other pitchers who looked really sharp were Brett Oberholtzer and James Russell.  Both guys are large and intimidating, and Russell just made this team a bit hairier.  As a side note, Oberholtzer is from Delaware; he spent parts of the last 3 seasons with the Astros.  And Russell is a 6-year veteran who spent most of his time with the Cubs.
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Some other newbies also seem promising.  Tyler Goeddel is a Rule 5 player, just like Odubel Hererra was last year; he went 2 for 5 and stole a base.  And Cedric Hunter, who has been languishing in the San Diego minors for 6 years, is going to get a real shot at the big leagues.  It was announced today that he made the team, 10 long years after being drafted and playing only 6 games in the majors during that time.
2016.04.02 Hunter Goeddel

So the full roster is going to look like this:

P4027670CFPitchers (12): Right-handers Jerad Eickhoff, Jeanmar Gomez, Jeremy Hellickson, David Hernandez, Dalier Hinojosa, Charlie Morton, Hector Neris, Aaron Nola and Vince Velasquez, and left-handers Brett Oberholtzer, James Russell and Daniel Stumpf

Catchers (2): Carlos Ruiz and Cameron Rupp

Infielders (7): Andres Blanco, Emmanuel Burriss, Maikel Franco, Freddy Galvis, Cesar Hernandez, Ryan Howard and Darin Ruf

Outfielders (4): Peter Bourjos, Tyler Goeddel, Odubel Herrera and Cedric Hunter

The team is not going to be great, with all the young players, but they may not be as bad as everyone thinks.  It will at least be an interesting season, full of growing pains and likely a few nice surprises.  Here is the Photo Album from the game.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri

Phillies Offseason in Review So Far

Good

  • Pete Mackanin as manager – The guys like Pete and he is smart baseball man; I think he will do as well as can be expected with a team full of average players.

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  • Micky Morandini as the new first base coach – A welcome blast from the past.
  • The end of the Domonic Brown experiment – I was really at the end of my rope with this guy. Sorry, he will not be missed.

 

Bad

  • Ken Giles – Seriously, Giles was the ONLY reason I though watching the 2016 would be bearable, and now he is gone. Who else am I supposed to root for (maybe Aaron Nola)?  And this is a clear sign the Phillies are still many years away from competing.
  • No more Jeff Francour? WTH?  It is not official, but with the addition of so many new outfielders, one can surmise that Frenchy will not be back.  He was the only other entertaining guy on this roster…boo!!
  • We are still stuck with Ryan Howard’s salary – I don’t mind Howard himself, I just wish the Phillies didn’t still owe him like a bazillion dollars.

 

Not Sure Yet

  • New GM Matt Klentak – I thought this was a good idea until the Giles trade, which reeks of a move Ruben Amaro Jr. would have made. Is this younger, hipper guy just Ruben 2.0 in disguise?  That may be a bit harsh; we shall see.
  • New President Andy MacPhail – I hesitate to be excited about this because of the above mentioned issue with Klentak. But also, frankly, because the guy’s name includes the word “PHAIL (fail).”  Not to mention that MacPhail has not seen any major success since the Twins won the World Series in 1987 and 1991.

 

Who Cares

  • Everyone picked up in the Ken Giles trade – these do not appear to be impact players and could be a waste of time.
  • Adding Peter Bourjos (wait, who?) – Outfielder Bourjos hit .241 in two seasons in the majors.
  • The signing of 32-year old righty Charlie Morton – meh.

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri

Phillies Fans New Year’s Resolutions

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Is it just me, or is everyone glad 2015 is over?  This was a rough year for Phillies fans, and unfortunately, 2016 does not look much more promising.  But perhaps making a few New Year’s Resolutions will help set the tone in a more positive direction.  These are my own personal resolutions, but they are open to all Phillies fans who wish to join me!

 

  • I promise not to cry every time I look over at second base and realize Chase Utley is not there….ok, maybe I will cry just a few times.

 

  • No matter how hard someone pushes me, I will not take performance enhancing drugs to improve my Phillies baseball viewing experience in what looks to be another bad year.  Unless Valium counts, because I will need that to suppress my Utley crying episodes.

 

  • I will learn the names of all the new players…unless they suck.  Then I make no promises.

 

  • I will attempt to keep my complaints about the new, extended protective netting at the ballpark to a minimum.  I mean, WHY can’t people just pay attention to the game?  Why do I have to suffer with my pictures being blocked by this annoying webbed crap?  Ok, I think I broke that resolution already…

 

  • I will try not to make ageist remarks about the new GM, Matt Klentak.  Is this guy even out of diapers yet?  Oh, sorry…do-over:  At least he is old enough to drink; he will be very thankful for that this year.

 

  • I will throw a party every time ex-Phillie Jonathan Papelbon gets into a fight with one of his new Nationals teammates (or whatever team he gets traded to next).  There will be open bar if the brawl involves Bryce Harper.  This is going to be a super-fun year!!

 

Happy New Year, everyone!

 

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The Phillies 2015 Night Before Christmas

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

Not a player was stirring, as the 2015 season had been sealed.

The bats were stacked in the clubhouse with care,

In hopes that a winning season someday would be there.

The Phillies were nestled all snug in their beds,

While visions of trophies danced in their heads.

And Pete Mackanin, with a managerial contract tucked under his cap,

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

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

Pete 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 2015 repeat.

The man in the moon stared down in discontent,

As he wondered what the crazy Ken Giles trade really meant.

When what to his weary eyes should appear,

But a miniature sleigh filled with many kegs of beer.

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 all the new no-name players came,

And he whistled, and shouted, and attempted to call them by name!

“Now, Marion! I mean Morton! Now, wait, what was your name?!

Hey, old guy! Hey, player I’ve never heard of! Why are you here?!

To the top the roster! To the bottom of the league!

Now run away! Run away! And have a drink on me!”

And then, in a twinkling, Pete heard, “Should I pitch or just warm the bench?!”

From the shouting of drunken, no-name players recently dug out of a trench.

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

Down the chimney, Phanta Claus came with a bound.

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 coal baseballs he had flung on his back,

It looked a lot like it may be time for some fans to deliver payback.

Phanta Claus spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,

Handing out balls to the fans, who have grown tired of players not doing their homework.

And with thunderous joy, the fans tossed the balls,

And yelled, “Practice!  Please, practice! Before this team hits another wall!”

Phanta Claus then sprang to the sleigh, and to the team and fans gave a call,

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

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

“Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

 

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

Phillies Fan Appreciation Day Video Clips

Here are a few video clips from the 10/4/15 game including Jerome Williams playing catch with a young fan; Roy Halladay congratulating Carlos Ruiz on his no-hitters caught (with his special Chooch pillow); and Cody Asche thanks the fans:

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Photos by Jenn Zambri

Phillies Beat Marlins to Avoid 100 Loss Season

The Phillies have 99 problems but 100 losses ain’t one.  Sorry, could not resist.  So yeah, the Phillies escaped the dreaded 100 loss season today by the skin of their teeth with a 7-2 win over the Marlins that included many odd and interesting moments.  For starters, Roy Halladay made an appearance on Phantavision with his stuffed Chooch pillow to congratulate Carlos Ruiz on being honored for the four no-hitters he has caught for the Phillies.  Charlie Manuel joined Chooch on the field to celebrate.

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A few not-so-great moments occurred once the game began.  For example, Jeff Francour missed what appeared to be a routine fly ball to give the Marlins a lead.  And as if so disgusted by his play, a bird apparently committed suicide and had to be carted off the field by Phillies security personnel.

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But things began to brighten up when it started looking like David Buchanan might actually get a win.  Not only did he pitch well, he also had 2 hits in the game and scored a run.

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Suddenly, players began smiling and sliding into bases and collecting extra base hits.  When you sit through a 99-loss season, seeing this in the last game of the season was somewhat miraculous.

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But the strangest part of the day had to be seeing future Hall of Famer Ichiro Suzuki make his major league pitching debut in the 8th inning.  Apparently, it was a long-time dream of Ichiro’s to pitch so he asked his manager to put him in.  It was a treat for the crowd as well.  Ichiro gave up 1 run to the Phillies on 2 doubles; he tossed a total of 18 pitches.

100415 Ichiro

So after a very bad season, the Phillies end on a high note.  And they also get the 1st round draft pick as well for being so awful.  Bonus.  Here is the Photo Album from the game.  Also, here is another album for anyone who is interested; I took a tour of Petco Park in San Diego last month.  There was a charity event that day so the field was littered with stationary bikes, but the view is still cool.

I also took some video today of Halladay’s speech, Cody Asche addressing the crowd and a few other things.  I hope to have that uploaded in the next week or so.  Goodnight for now!

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Photos by Jenn Zambri

Phillies Choose Their 2016 Manager

Today the Phillies chose their 53rd manager by promoting Pete Mackanin from Interim Manager to the permanent role…at least for the next year.  Pete played for the Phillies in the late 1970’s and is now the 8th person to have managed, coached and played for the team.  Larry Bowa, who is the current bench coach, is also a member of that club.

This move is not a surprise.  The team really began to come to life after Mackanin took over when Ryne Sandberg ran off.  While youth, trades and injuries have made it impossible for them to win much, the Phillies have at least looked like a team that is trying since Mackanin was put in charge.  He has also kept the youngsters in line, like when he benched Odubel Herrera this past Sunday for throwing a tantrum after an at-bat.  Herrera seems to have taken the lesson to heart and apologized to Mackanin earlier today.  This is a good sign that Mackanin can bridge the gap with this team from awful to, hopefully, competing again in a few years.

So, totally off topic, I recently went to Los Angeles to a Dodgers game to see Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins play in blue uniforms.  I took a tour of the stadium before hand, which was very interesting.  The stadium itself is huge and not easy to find your way around, but Emma from Dodger Blue World was nice enough to give me a quick tour of the upper deck, which was very cool.  The view from above is amazing!  Thank you, Emma!

DSCN0562BMThe game itself was a very strange one.  The guy sitting next to me said he had been going to Dodgers games for 30 years and that day was the first time it had rained while he was there.  Yes, I went all the way to L.A. to get rained on.  So by the 4th inning, the camera was put away for good as I did not bring my usual Philly rain gear.  But I did manage to get some pictures before the 16 INNING ordeal ended.  Yes, 16 innings….and the Dodgers lost.  But I had photos to Chase and J-Roll to cheer me up!  I also saw Davy Lopes and….believe it or not…GREG DOBBS!  I have no idea why he was there watching the game, but I got a shot of him too.  It was an ex-Phillies reunion. 2015.09 Dodgers game

If anyone is interested, here is the full Photo Album from the pre-game tour and the start of the game.  I also visited Petco Park in San Diego, but am still working on those photos; I will post those in the next week or so.  In the meantime, it looks like the Phillies might actually win a game tonight….shhhh!  I should not say that too loudly.  Cross your fingers that the Marlins stay quiet.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri

Amaro is OUT – Finally!

Apparently, the Pope’s impending visit to Philadelphia has already brought blessings upon us.  In preparing the proverbial landscape for the Holy Man’s visit, the Phillies finally released GM Ruben Amaro Jr.  It is a papal miracle!  I was tempted to go back to being a practicing Catholic after hearing the news, but the whole “thou shall not do anything fun” is still kind of in the way of that transition😉

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While I am thrilled that the Phillies may be making an attempt to move into the correct century with their baseball operations logic, I feel a little bit sorry for Amaro who spent practically his entire life with the team.  He grew up in the area, his Dad played for and coached for the Phillies; Ruben also played for the Phillies and was even the bat boy as a youngster.  That is a lot of time spent in one place.

But my sympathy has to end there.  He made so many bad, disastrous moves over the years that it is hard not to rejoice at this news.  Remember the Cliff Lee trade in 2009?  What a mega-disaster that was!  The Phillies probably would have gone the distance in 2010 if they had both Lee and Roy Halladay in the rotation.  Instead, Amaro squandered that opportunity and got 3 horrible “prospects” who contributed nothing…except a cocaine arrest (Tyson Gillies) and multiple tantrums when they did not get their way (Phillippe Aumont).

The HUGE, ridiculous contracts given to Ryan Howard and Jonathan Papelbon were just a few other terrible moves Amaro made.  Not to mention letting Ryan Vogelsong go in 2010 (he is now a multiple World Series champ) and trading Hunter Pence for next to nothing (he is now also part of the Vogelsong / Giants dynasty).  And don’t even get me started on the $12 million he threw away on Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez who has been so bad in the minors that the Phillies finally took him off the 40-man roster.  This year, he spent most of his time on the DL and in the lousy 5.2 innings he did pitch in Triple-A, he ended up with a 14.29 ERA.

Sure, he had some good moves over the years.  But ultimately, Amaro ran this team straight into the ground.  They now sit in last place in all of baseball with little sign of improvement in the near future.  Assistant general manager Scott Proefrock will fill in for Amaro until the new GM is chosen.  Let us all hope the Phillies are smart enough to find a modern GM, instead of another blast from the past.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri

Asher’s Debut Does Not Go As Planned

P8304487SYou know it has been a rough day when you look back and realize the game highlight was seeing the Phanatic pinch an umpires behind.  And yes, that was as good as it got today for the Phillies who went down in flames to the Padres by a score of 4-9.

I am pretty sure when Alec Asher pictured his major league debut, this was not what he had in mind.  Asher was not awful, but allowed 4 runs in 5 2/3 innings on 8 hits and a walk.  Three of those runs were due to home runs by Matt Kemp and Justin Upton.  On the plus side, Asher’s father was able to announce his first at-bat over the PA system.  Apparently, he used to be the announcer for the Lakeland Tiger’s Class A team. 083015 Asher

The rest of the team did little to help Asher’s cause.  Of course, Cameron Rupp, who is on a home run tear, smacked another one that was very impressive.  Odubel Hererra had 4 hits, but got thrown out stealing once and leaning too far off first another time.  Beyond that, not much positive was happening.
083015 miscIn fact, the bullpen was flat out horrendous.  Hector Neris gave up a home run in one inning of work.  And Adam Loewen allowed 4 runs without ever recording an out.  And just not to be left out, Justin DeFratus allowed yet another run to score in the 9th inning.  All 3 guys have ERA’s near or above 5, with Loewen’s 9.00 being the worst.  It is really too bad because he has such great hair.  I was rooting for the hair😉 083015 pen

So the Phillies are off to New York to face the dreaded Mets again.  And with this bullpen, the prospects are bleak.  Cross your fingers…

Here is the Photo Album from the game.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri

Utley to Dodgers – Noooooooo!

Ok, so I knew it was going to happen, but that does not make it suck any less.  My favorite player of all time, Chase Utley, is now a Los Angeles Dodger.  That is painful to write.  On the plus side, he is now reunited with double-play partner, Jimmy Rollins.  I guess this means I now have to cheer for the Dodgers, unless of course, they are playing the Phillies.

I purposely went to bed right after the Blue Jays game last night so I did not have to hear the “official” word on the trade before attempting to sleep.  But when I saw Utley tip his cap to the fans right after the game ended, my heart sank.  He knew he was leaving.  Of course, I am happy he will get to play for a contender and be close to home, so that is the bright spot.

Utley MontageI am not sure I am able to sum up what Chase Utley has meant to me and this team for the last 13 years.  I remember the first time I saw him play back in 2003, I said to a friend, that guy is going to be a star.  An argument then ensued.  He, of course, thought I was biased by Utley’s good looks.  And he thought Utley would not amount to anything as his defense was weak.  But my retort was, “Look at his eyes when he plays.  This guy has a passion for the game I have not seen in a long time.”  That fire is what I believed would propel Utley to greatness, and I was not wrong.  This guy was all about playing hard and I knew, with that kind of work ethic, he would get better.  A lot better…

And that is what I love about Chase Utley.  Sure, the looks don’t hurt.  But as a person who loves baseball, that same passion is what I look for in players.  I want to watch guys who give it everything they have and make no excuses.  This is the same reason I never really loved Cole Hamels (sorry folks); sure, I liked him as a pitcher.  Who wouldn’t?  But early in his career, he was Mr. Excuses…a prima donna.  He was sometimes very rude to fans, myself included.  And I will stress “sometimes,” because I know a lot of you had good experiences with him.  Overall, his attitude got better in time.  But I had a hard time getting past that behavior.

My point is that Utley is the example that all other players should follow.  Losing a guy like that is going to be very hard on this team; but luckily, some of his awesomeness should have rubbed off on the younger guys by now.


So next month, I will actually be in Southern California for a bit.  Looks like I am now going to have go to a Dodgers game to see my two guys, Utley and Rollins, together again.  Anyone been to that stadium and have any advice?  Please leave me some comments below.  I will leave you with a few final images, including my absolute favorite from the 2008 All-Star Home Run Derby; it is Dan Uggla grabbing himself some Utley…ah, memories!  MISS YOU ALREADY, CHASE!!! Utley collage

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Photos by Jenn Zambri

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