Results tagged ‘ baseball ’

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.
092814 Hamels Revere

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:
091414 Franco

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.

2014.09.01 no hitter

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

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

Back to Reality as Nats Pound the Phillies

P7131631WDid you get your hopes up after that 5-game winning streak?  And the 5-game winning streak last month?  Well, today was a statement game for the Phillies in their last outing before the All-Star break.  And the statement, summed up in the nice photo to the right of Marlon Byrd getting hit by a pitch with nothing to show for it, was this: “We suck; let the trading begin.”

So just how bad was today’s game?  Let us count the ways…for starters, Kyle Kendrick apparently cannot get out of any 1st inning without allowing at least 3 runs.  And today he did that against the Nationals without recording a single out.  So we were treated to this lovely home run and tongue lashing by our old pal, Jayson Werth.
071314 Kendrick Werth

Later in the game, Kendrick was pulled after 88 pitches which, even though I have obvious reservations about KK, I felt was a big mistake in that spot. Kendrick had already struck out Bryce Harper twice in the game.  So why when Harper came up again was Kendrick pulled in favor of Mario Hollands?  Hollands proceeded to give up a single to him.  Harper scored later that inning and we got yet another Nationals treat, Harper’s hair rounding the bases.  Thanks, Mario!
071314 Hollands Harper

And then there was the Phillies offense, or lack thereof.  Most of the offense consisted of players looking straight up into the air to admire their pop-ups or looking down at foul balls.  It was not pretty.  In the end, they squeezed out 3 runs, but it was far too little, too late as the Nats scored 10 runs.
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Pretty much the only entertainment in this game was watching Byrd chug some mystery red substance before the game (5-Hour Energy, perhaps?  If so, it didn’t work well.) and watching Chase Utley dig dirt out of his cleats.
071314 Byrd Utley

Here is the full Photo Album from Sunday’s game.  The Phillies will return from the All-Star break on 7/18/14 with yet another likely depressing series against the Braves.  Despite showing signs of life here and there, this team is going nowhere.  Now we must all brace ourselves for big changes…they are coming soon.

 

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Braves Get Revenge with 4-Game Sweep of Phillies

Just a few weeks ago, the Phillies swept the Braves in a 3-game series in Atlanta.  This weekend, the Braves returned the favor and 1-up’d the Phillies with a 4-game sweep.  Ugh.  So for anyone holding out hope that the Phillies 5 game win streak on the road was a sign of life, you can wipe that thought from your mind.  No surprise…this team still sucks.

Rookie pitcher David Buchanan had an ok game, with 5 walks issued and 3 runs over 5 innings.  He has serious control issues.  A work in progress, I suppose…

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The entire game on Sunday was an exercise in futility.  The Phillies left 10 men on base and went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position.  There were many swings and misses and possibly the worst bunt ever in the history of baseball laid down by 4th string catcher, Koyie Hill.
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The real telling moment came in the 7th after Jimmy Rollins singled and Chase Utley singled for his 1,500th career hit (yeah!).  Ryan Howard stepped to the plate…weren’t we all thinking, here is the BIG 3!  Rollins, Utley and Howard…the former dream team.  If they cannot get it done, this team is doomed.  Howard then proceeded to hit into an inning ending double play.  And that, my Phillies friends, is this team in a nutshell.  They are toast.
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The defense was awful again, too.  Domonic Brown and Ben Revere both misplayed balls in the outfield, something that has become a regular and expected occurrence.  Justin DeFratus and Rollins both had errors in the game as well.
062914 Defense

The only bright spot was Marlon Byrd.  He hit 2 home runs, which were the Phillies only 2 runs of the game.  But really, all that means is his trade value just went way up.
062914 Byrd

It is a bit depressing to be a Phillies fan right now, as stated by the semi-polite Braves fan sitting next to me.  All of the sun-baked babies in the stands concurred with their heat-exhausted whimpers as well.  Seriously…there were 3 babies in my section all under 6 months old literally baking in the sun as their moron parents paid no mind.  One kid had on nothing but a diaper…because apparently, sunscreen is invincible and protects against heat stroke too…magic!  Sorry I ran off on a tangent there…but please people, leave your infants at home in 88 degree temperatures!  That makes me insane…had to vent.

Anyway, here is the Photo Album from Sunday’s game.  The team is off on Monday and will go to Miami for a 3-game series starting on Tuesday night.

 

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

1960’s Weekend Ends in Series Loss to Cubs

In the final game of the Phillies retro 1960’s celebration, the Phillies had little to celebrate.  With a 0-3 loss to the Cubs, they dropped 2 of 3 games this weekend.

As an added annoyance, I was forced to try and track the game on a 1960’s-style scoreboard and all images on the big screen were in black and white…blah.  But the uniforms (grounds crew, too) were nice and even Art Garfunkel dropped in for a rendition of God Bless America.
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This was also the 50-year anniversary of Jim Bunning’s perfect game against the Mets on Father’s Day in 1964.  He was joined on the field for the first pitch by teammates Cookie Rojas and Dick Allen.  And later in the game, Bunning’s entire family went onto the field to dance with the Phanatic.
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It was also Father’s Day, 2014.  Ben Revere’s parents joined him on the field before the game and every Dad (or male human over 14 years old – hoping they are not all Dad’s) got a Phillies fedora, which were seen all over the ballpark.
061514 Fathers Day

And then there was the game.  A.J. Burnett had a quality start with 3 runs allowed over 8 innings.
061514 Burnett

But that mattered little as the Phillies did almost nothing at the plate.  By the 6th inning, I was beginning to think I was going to see my 2nd no-hitter in the last month against the Phils.  Luckily, Revere broke up the no-hitter…whew!

There were many swings, but very few productive ones.  In fact, Burnett even tossed his bat away striking out in the 6th inning (see below).
061514 hitting

On the bright side, it was a bright, sunny day outside…and that is where the good news ends.  Bummer.

Here is the Photo Album from Sunday’s game.  The Phillies start a series in Atlanta on Monday against the Braves.  The game starts at 7:10pm and Cole Hamels will pitch.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Jimmy Rollins: Phillies All-Time Hits Leader with 2,235

Congratulations to Jimmy Rollins who broke Mike Schmidt’s record to become the Phillies hits leader with 2,235 hits.  It is a well-deserved honor.  In celebration, here are some of my favorite J-Roll photos / moments from the last decade.  The top photo is a poster I made in 2007 that Jimmy signed for me.  And for those who regularly follow my blog, you know that J-Roll Smurf is the official blog mascot so he appears here as well.  When Jimmy met his mini-me, he told me that “back in the day” people called him “Papa Smurf.”  Just a fun fact for you.

Congrats, Jimmy!  Here’s to many more hits to come…

Jroll hits leader

 

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

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