Results tagged ‘ Charlie Manuel ’

Magic Moments of Phillies Spring Training

The first official Spring Training game for the Phillies will take place on Saturday.  I am excited for baseball!  But there is also a little sadness that I cannot be in Clearwater this year to enjoy the first crack of the bat under the warm Florida sunshine.  If you are lucky enough to be heading south, enjoy it!

Spring Training is a magical moment in time where players are generally happy, relaxed and having a good time.  The fan-friendly atmosphere and nice weather draws big crowds each year.  And while the games are interesting, they really don’t mean much.  The real reason to head to Clearwater is to mingle with other fans, chat with players, get autographs and photos and, most importantly, get a closer look at how major leaguers behave when their guard is down.

You may notice a lot of smiles, laughter and silly hijinks.  To demonstrate, and also to get you in the Spring Training frame of mind, here are some of my favorite photos and moments from years past in Clearwater:

First up, the normally quiet and reserved Chase Utley laughs out loud and on another occasion, poses and smiles for me:

Jimmy Rollins waves hello and later attempts to play golf with his bat and ball:

Phillies alum Mike Schmidt has some fun with Reggie Jackson; Charlie Manuel jokes around with his players:

Remember Fan Fest?  For some reason, the Phillies have cancelled this annual tradition of meeting players and getting autographs.  But it was amazing while it lasted.  Here are Chad Durbin and Kyle Kendrick signing and posing for me:

I attended a few Team USA games while in Clearwater.  The most memorable moment was watching Jimmy Rollins and Derek Jeter of the Yankees field balls side-by-side during warm-ups.  The second photo is Chooch, Carlos Ruiz, making an odd face at batting practice:

Here we have the Big Man, Ryan Howard, yucking it up on the field and later doing his impersonation of an airplane (or maybe he was just playing 1st base?):

And finally, just me and my camera hanging out by the field before batting practice.  You can see how close fans can get to the field:

Are you ready to pack your bags yet?  Wishing I was….sigh.  Maybe next year :O)

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies 2013 New Year Resolutions

In what has become an annual tradition, I usually post New Year Resolutions for Phillies fans at about this time.  But it seems that as a fan base, most of us do seem to have our act together.  As for the 2012 Phillies team, the same cannot be said.  They need some serious help.

So this year, I would like to propose a set of New Year Resolutions for the team instead:

Jimmy Rollins – I resolve to stop swinging for the fences and hitting pop-ups.  I will stick to line-drives and grounders.

Roy Halladay, Chase Utley & Ryan Howard – We all resolve to be healthy, productive members of this team!  No more bum shoulders, ankles or knees!

Kyle Kendrick – I will not mope when I feel disrespected and just keep pitching.  I will put on my big-boy pants and wear them all year long.

Carlos Ruiz – My goal is to repeat my 2012 performance, without the performance-enhancing ADHD pills, thereby regaining the respect I lost after getting suspended.

Ben Revere – I resolve to hit my first major league home run in Citizens Bank Park.  If Juan Pierre can hit a homer here, then so shall I!

Ruben Amaro Jr. – No matter how tempted I am to save money, I will not sign former Phillies relief pitcher Ugueth Urbina.  Yes, he paid his debt to society.  However, he did attempt to murder 5 ranch hands by setting them on fire and chopping at them with a machete.  Perhaps we should pass on this one.

Domonic Brown – I resolve to reach my full potential this year and prove I belong in the big leagues, preferably by May.

Mike Adams – I resolve to be fully recovered from surgery and return to my All-Star relief-pitcher form in order to be deemed worthy of my giant $12 million contract.

Charlie Manuel – I will go out on top this year!  World Series or bust…

I wish you all a safe and happy New Year!

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The Phillies Night Before Christmas 2012

 

The Phillies Night Before Christmas

 

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

Not a player was stirring, as the 2012 season had been sealed.

The bats were stacked in the clubhouse with care,

In hopes that a Championship 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 Charlie with his new line-up 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,

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

Away to the window he stumbled, half asleep,

Having woke from a nightmare of his bullpen being taken deep.

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The moonlight lit up the old ‘08 trophy, causing it to glow,

Giving the illusion of a night game on the grass down below.

When what to his wondering eyes should appear,

But a miniature sleigh filled with ballplayers in good cheer.

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With his General Manager and ace pitchers in tow,

He knew in a moment it must be Ruben Amaro.

More rapid than the trade deadline, forward they all came,

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

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“Now, Hamels! Now, Howard! Now, Rollins and Utley!

On, Brown! On, Halladay! On, Papelbon and Lee!

To the top of the National League! To the top of them all!

Now run away! Run away! And play some baseball!”

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And then, in a twinkling, Charlie heard, “You The Man!”

From the shouting and cheering of each happy fan.

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

Down the chimney, Ryan Howard came with a bound.

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

Having tossed his old ankle brace, which was tarnished, with ashes and soot.

But he arrived with a smile and Charlie gave him a pat on his back,

Surely the fully healed Achilles would put him right back on track.

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Howard spoke many words, and after tightening his shoe lace,

He welcomed Michael Young, who will now man third base.

And with thunderous joy, the fans clapped their hands,

With a few shiny new toys, 2013 is sure to be grand!

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

“You guys are the best ballplayers of all!”

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

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

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Photoshopping and re-wording by Jenn Zambri Photography

Loss to Braves Kills Phillies Playoff Hopes

While they are not “officially” out of it yet, the Phillies have dropped to 5 games out of the Wild Card race after 2 straight losses to the Braves.  With 4 teams in front of them and only 9 games to go, the Phillies playoff hopes are all but dead.

On the mound today, Cliff Lee put forward a valiant effort, working in and out of trouble throughout the game.  Despite his many challenges, he kept the Phillies in striking distance.  Lee struck out 11 and allowed only 1 earned run over 8 innings.  But the offense did little to help him.

Tim Hudson is a great pitcher, but the Phillies made him look totally unhittable.  John Mayberry Jr. and Kevin Frandsen accounted for the only hits in the game for the Phils; yes, 2 hits…total.  The only run they scored involved a walk to Jimmy Rollins, a Braves error, a sac bunt and a sac fly.

The sun was quite an issue today as well as clouds rolled in and out over the ballpark.  Some plays in the field were solid, and others looked a bit complicated as the shadows wreaked havoc.

And then there was a little controversy over whether or not Frandsen was out of the box when he bunted.  He was called out and manager Charlie Manuel apparently thought holding the umpires hand might help his cause:

Or maybe not…

So the Phillies went on to lose the game by a score of 2-1, all but eliminating their playoff hopes.

Here is the full Photo Album from the game.

And the only good news of the day…I won a signed Cole Hamels bat in the Sunday Season Ticket holder Fan Appreciation Day event!  Whoo hoo! 

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Howard’s 300th; One Win and a Loss Against the Braves

The Phillies won their 4th straight game Friday night in the opener against the Braves that included a pre-game salute to Chipper Jones.  Jones will retire after 19 years with the Braves after this season.  The Phillies gave Jones a painting of one of many home runs he hit in Citizens Bank Park.

Jones received a number of salutes while the Braves traveled to away games this year.  And to thank the Phillies, Jones went 0-for-4 in the home teams’ 6-2 win over his Braves.  Thanks, Larry.  And Happy Retirement ;o)

However, the tables were turned on Saturday afternoon.  The Braves found their bats and Roy Halladay hit another brick wall.  Clearly, not all is well with Halladay as he claims.  He has had only a few good starts since coming off the DL; the rest have been very un-Doc like.

This afternoon, Halladay did not even make it through 2 innings.  His final line had 7 earned runs in 1.2 innings on 5 hits and 3 walks.  It was ugly.  Charlie Manuel looked on in disbelief before he finally ran out to the mound to lift Doc from the game.

With the Cardinals win today, the Phillies could ill afford any more losses.  But the offense was weak today against the Braves pitching.  The only excitement came when Ryan Howard hit a milestone home run; it was the 300th of his career, putting him in 2nd place behind Mike Schmidt all time for the Phillies.

Howard has now hit a home run in 4 straight games.  Seeing his bat wake up again is a pleasant site.  However, the Phillies are still in a dire situation as far as the playoffs are concerned.  The loss today knocks them back to 4 games out of the Wild Card behind 3 other teams with only 10 games to go.

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Howard head shot by Jenn Zambri Photography

The Chase’s Are Wild as Phillies Trump the Fish

The Wild Card chase is back on for the Phillies who have won 6 in a row.  They now sit only 4 games out of a potential playoff spot.  The other Chase, that being Chase Utley, is starting to look like the guy we all remember.  Despite a costly error in the game against the Marlins, Utley went 3-for-3 last night with 2 walks and an RBI.  He reached base in all 5 of his at-bats.

Juan Pierre also continues to produce; he also had 3 hits in the game, plus an RBI.  And Jimmy Rollins took advantage of a huge error by the Marlins catcher who dropped what appeared to be Jimmy’s 5,000th or so pop-up this year.  Ok, maybe I exaggerate…but J-Roll followed the dropped pop-up with a 2-run homer on the next pitch.  Rollins ended the night with 3 RBI on 2 hits.

But as the runs continued to pour in, Phillies pitchers continued to give them right back.  Roy Halladay did not look great again, allowing 5 runs in 6 ½ innings while walking 3 batters.  Just when it looks like Halladay is doing well again, he has a game like this.

But the bullpen was not much better.  Manager Charlie Manuel had to use 4 pitchers to get though the 7th inning as it seemed no one wanted to get the final out.  Halladay and the pen combined to allow 4 runs that inning.

In the bottom of the 7th, things got progressively weirder.  After Rollins collected his 3rd RBI of the night, the Marlins manager apparently suffered a momentary lapse of reason.  Ozzie Guillen, already considered one of the strangest men in baseball, made yet another move to solidify his crazy-man reputation.  He ordered an intentional walk of Kevin Frandsen to pitch to Utley instead.

To break it down, Guillen decided he wanted to pitch to a guy who already had 3 hits in the game instead of a guy with a stress fracture in his left leg.  Forget the left-handed, right-handed theory; a broken leg VS. 3-for-3…and broken leg won.  Wow.  Utley wound up walking as well and no damage was done, but that was a seriously weird chain of events.

The 9-7 put the Phillies back at the .500 mark for the season so far.  That is a small miracle considering how bad most of the season has gone.  Could a large miracle be in the works?  It is a long-shot, but if the Phillies keep winning, who knows?

Game 3 with the Marlins starts early today at 4:05pm.  Let’s go for the sweep!

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

9th Inning Walk-Off Gives Phillies a Win Over the Rockies

The start of Friday night’s Phillies game against the Rockies was painful to watch.  Cliff Lee did not start off very well, allowing 2 runs on 3 hits in the 1st inning.  Michael Martinez made an error at 3rd base, which extended the inning.  In all, not a great beginning.

But Lee settled down after the 1st inning snafu.  However, the Phillies offense seemed content to keep blowing opportunities.  Ty Wigginton got a rare start at 1st base, but the rust from sitting on the bench was very apparent.  He struck out in all 3 at-bats, twice when there was 1 out and a runner on 3rd base.  Worse, Juan Pierre was on base both times and managed to steal 2 base the second time around.  Still, Wigginton could not get the runs home.

Clearly not his night, manager Charlie Manuel decided to pinch hit for Wigginton in the 7th.  That move proved to be a momentum changer as Laynce Nix smashed a 2-run double to tie the score.  Then 4 bullpen guys held the lead from the 7th to the 9th inning, giving the Phillies a chance to win.

In the bottom of the 9th, Jimmy Rollins worked out a lead-off walk and Pierre, already with 3 hits on the night, put down a sacrifice bunt to move the runner over.  The Rockies intentionally walked Chase Utley and Nate Schierholtz stepped to the plate as a pinch hitter.  A wild pitch moved Rollins to 3rd and Schierholtz then singled to right, scoring Rollins for the walk-off win.

This has been a tough year for Schierholtz who got traded here from the Giants mid-season, giving him hope of more playing time and a chance to prove himself.  But a broken toe sidelined him in mid-August, just as he was getting comfortable in the line-up.  Schierholtz was activated off the DL on September 1st and had not had a hit since returning until last night.  That walk-off single had to be quite a relief for him.

The Phillies have two more games with the Rockies; Cole Hamels will pitch tonight and then Tyler Cloyd on Sunday.  I will be attending both games and hope to return with some photos if the weather cooperates.  Game time tonight is 7:05pm.

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Beat Nats in Opener; Schwimer in Trouble Again

The Phillies beat the 1st place Nationals Friday night by a score of 4-2.  It was a very satisfying win considering that these teams have essentially switched places this year, with the Phillies going from 1st to worst for most of the season.

It was probably also very satisfying for Kyle Kendrick who pitched very well for his 3rd start in a row.  Kendrick has received a lot of well deserved criticism for his mostly inconsistent play.  But he does seem to have finally turned things around and fixed whatever issues he was having.  Sadly though, his 21-inning scoreless streak was snapped last night when he gave up a 2-run bomb in the 7th.

Kendrick still pitched a very good game, allowing only 4 hits and 2 walks in 6 2/3 innings.  And the offense helped him out with a couple runs sprinkled here and there.  They did, however, leave a number  men on base again, which seems to be a recurring theme.

But the 4 runs and seven pitchers (yes, 7) were enough to get the win.  Manager Charlie Manuel played bullpen roulette in the 8th inning, going through one pitcher after another to get to Jonathan Papelbon in the 9th.

Luckily, the moves paid off and the Phillies grabbed Game 1 from the Nats.

Before the game, there were whispers of some drama going on behind the scenes regarding relief pitcher Michael Schwimer, who was demoted to Triple-A on Thursday.  Schwimer pitched on Sunday, but now claims to be injured with a sore bicep.  Upset about the demotion, Schwimer is apparently saying he should be on the DL, not in Triple-A.  However, the reasoning behind this complaint may be because, if he is put on the DL, he keeps his major league paycheck and time clock in the bigs running.

So is he really hurt or is he just pissed and wants his money?  The Phillies seem to think he is just fine.  All pitchers have soreness throughout the year; that does not necessarily constitute an injury.  But Schwimer intends to fight the demotion; he did not report to Triple-A and is instead seeking another medical opinion.

Remember back in May when Schwimer got into trouble with the Phillies for this Tweet:

He announced moves that had not been released to the public yet, prompting a strict talking to from GM Ruben Amaro Jr.  On top of that, his performances on the field  since then have ranged from good to awful.  The lack of consistent play, and perhaps his attitude, may be the most likely culprits behind the demotion.

If that is the case, Schwimer is making a huge mess of what was previously a good opportunity for him.  If he is in fact hurt, fine, he has every right to complain.  But if not, with this being the 2nd time he has pissed off Phillies management, Schwimer may be in very hot water…scalding, actually.  I hope for his sake that this ends well.

On to tonight’s game!  Game time is 7:05pm and I will return sometime on Sunday with photos…see you there!

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

11th Inning Walk-Off Gives Phillies a Series Split with the Reds

It took a torrential downpour to start the game, 4 runs, 11 innings and 4 ½ hours, but the Phillies finally pulled off a win against the Reds for a series split.  The win also vaulted them into 3rd place in the division.  Imagine being happy about 3rd place back in April…this has been a crazy year.

One person who was not happy about the rain to start the game was Cole Hamels.  He stated after the game, “We have these things called radar detectors and if you can’t read them correctly I don’t know what’s going on.”  After getting into trouble and allowing a run in the 1st while it poured, Hamels was probably having bad flashbacks to Game 5 of the 2008 World Series.  Officials did not call that game until after Hamels relinquished 2 runs to tie the game due in part to the sloppy field conditions.

But that game turned out pretty well, although not until several days later.  The start of Thursday’s game was not delayed as it should have been, so his frustration is easy to understand.  But the extra-inning affair also worked out in the end.  Hamels went 6 innings and allowed 3 runs.

The offense had some issues as well.  It looked like no one could hit Reds pitcher Johnny Cueto until the 6th inning when the Phils finally scored 2 runs.  But once they got the game tied up at 3-3, things got every stranger.

The Phillies started getting on base, but there appear to be a brick wall at 3rd base that no one could pass.  In both the 8th and 9th innings, the Phillies had the bases loaded with only 1 out and did not score.  In the 9th Domonic Brown hit into a double play to end the inning, adding to the frustration.  They left 2 men on base with 1 out in the 10th as well. In all, the Phillies stranded 16 runners and went only 4-14 with runners in scoring position.

Throughout those many irritating innings though, the bullpen did an excellent job of holding the Reds at bay.  5 pitchers went 5 scoreless innings, including Phillippe Aumont who made his major league debut.  He tossed a scoreless 8th inning.

Aumont had been called up to replace Jeremy Horst who was on paternity leave.  But Horst returned, and also pitched, last night.  Aumont stayed and instead, Michael Schwimer was very quietly sent back to Triple-A.  So it appears the Phillies will get a longer look at Aumont to see what he can do.

With the bullpen’s solid effort, the table was set yet again for the Phillies in the 11th inning.  Finally, someone got a hit with the bases loaded.  John Mayberry Jr. singled to left to score Chase Utley for the walk-off victory.  After the game, Charlie Manuel expressed his frustration about all the previously stranded runners by saying, “I feel drained. Really. I kept waiting for somebody to come home.”   Everyone laughed, which is certainly a lot easier when you have won the game.

And now the 1st place Nationals come to town.  There is just something very wrong about that previous sentence…sigh.  Game time tonight is 7:05pm.

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

Hamels Halts Phillies Losing Skid

Not much has gone right for the Phillies this year.  But at least we know that when Cole Hamels takes the mound, they at least have a shot at a win.  After dropping 3 straight, the Phillies collected a win last night over the Brewers, thanks in large part to Hamels.

Hamels cruised through 7 2/3 innings allowing only 1 run until 1 bad pitch in the 8th ran him out of the game.  The Ryan Braun 2-run homer was 1 of 4 home runs Braun has hit in this series…so far.  I am sure Braun, who was said to be in a slump prior to this series, was thrilled to see the Phillies come to town.  And just think, he may not be done yet.

Despite that annoyance, Hamels had a very solid game.  The 4-3 win was nailed down by closer Jonathan Papelbon, who got 4 outs to seal the deal.  Manager Charlie Manuel was criticized for not using Papelbon in a similar situation on Thursday night.  On Saturday, he did not make the same mistake again.

The Brewers had a couple base running blunders, which helped the Phillies out.  One guy got caught in a rundown and another did something a bit unusual.  With 2 outs in the third, Braun again smashed what should have been a double to deep left field.  But Jonathan Lucroy, who was on first base, missed second base and then stood like a deer in headlights instead of stepping on the base and continuing to run.  By the time Braun reached second, all he could do was throw his hands in the air at Lucroy who was still there, looking dazed.  Braun was out; inning over.  Oops.

As for the Phillies offense, John Mayberry Jr. knocked a 2-run homer in the 2nd, followed by a solo shot from Erik KratzRyan Howard doubled in the 3rd to give the Phils the go-ahead run.

The Phils get one more shot at the Brewers this afternoon.  And they will also get another look at wannabe starter Kyle Kendrick.  Can he repeat his last performance of 7 shut-out innings against the Marlins last week?  Game time is 2:10pm.

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

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