Results tagged ‘ Chase Utley ’

Chase Utley is Still the Man

There is no denying it; Philadelphia still loves Chase Utley, despite the blue uniform.  I heard on the news this morning that someone said Utley could “punch my mom in the face” and they would still root for him.  After what I witnessed last night, that sounds about right.
2016.08.16 Welcome

The ovation as he stepped to the plate was ridiculously long, as I expected.  Utley tipped his capped to everyone in the ballpark, including his old teammates.
2016.08.16 Intro

Cameron Rupp understandably took the time to anoint his hand with the special blessings of the Utley rump:
2016.08.16 Rupp

Grown men fought back tears (seriously, I saw this) and women tried to snap photos with trembling hands (ok, that was me).  Between that and the dreaded netting behind home plate, some shots are a tad blurry, but I got what I came for; lots and lots of Mr. Utley.
2016.08.16 Lots

Watching Utley on the bases interact with his former teammates warmed the heart.  But I have say, after the home run he hit in the 5th inning, I did not see the curtain call coming.  I have never seen that in an opposing team’s ballpark.  It was magical.
2016.08.16 Chase and Howie

Then another curtain call came after the Grand Slam he hit in the 7th inning!  Despite watching their home team get trampled, Phillies fans cheered him on anyway.  Their love for Chase simply knows no bounds; I can personally attest to that.
2016.08.16 slam

Of course, the game would have been much improved if, for example, Elvis Araujo did not walk in 3 runs (1 hit batter) in the 7th inning.  And it would have been nice if the Phillies offense did better than 2 for 7 with runners in scoring position.  And maybe the entire bullpen could, just thinking out loud here, not suck.

But since none of those wishes came true, we all settled for the Utley euphoria.  And I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Here is the full, Utley-tastic Photo Album from the game.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri

Phillies Sweep the Rockies

The Phillies swept the Rockies yesterday, collecting their 4th straight win and prompting “Wild Card” talk around town (Don’t hold your breath though…the Dodgers are up next). The day started out on a positive note. Placido Polanco signed with the team for the day so he could retire and then threw out the game’s first pitch. Later, fellow alumni Randy Wolf helped the Phanatic shoot hot dogs at the fans.

2016.08.14 Alumni

Once the game began, the intense heat appeared to be baking player brains. It was a sloppy affair, for sure. Odubel Hererra gave a clinic on how not to catch a baseball:

2016.08.14 Hererra

Cesar Hernandez missed an easy tag in the 3rd, which led to a run for the Rockies. And Adam Morgan, recently called back up due to an injury to Zac Eflin, was not terribly sharp. He racked up a high pitch count early and then managed to get whacked in the arm with a line drive. Morgan exited after only 3 innings and then Severino Gonzalez took over. Gonzalez immediately balked runners into scoring position (*sigh*).

2016.08.14 Morgan

But the Rockies had their share of heat-induced blunders as well, which the Phillies took advantage of. And Hererra made up for his earlier gaff with a home run saving catch later in the game.

2016.08.14 defense

The offense scored in every inning from the 2nd to the 6th, which was nice to see. Also very nice to see was some Ryan Howard hustle around the bases. He seems to have new life suddenly.

2016.08.14 Howard Rupp

Buy the big bangs of the day came from an unexpected source, Jimmy Paredes. He went 3 for 4 with 3 RBI and raised his average from below .200 to .226 in one game.

The 9th inning, however, was quite an adventure. Jeanmar Gomez gave up 2 hits, 2 walks and 2 runs making it a very close game at 7-6. Luckily, he got out alive and the Phillies held on for the win. We will chalk that up to the heat as well.

Here is the full Photo Album from the game.

By the way, CHASE UTLEY returns to Philly on Tuesday night!! And I will be there, right behind home plate, cheering him on (sort of…lol). I shall return with photos 

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Photos by Jenn Zambri

Phillies Fans New Year’s Resolutions

Happy-New-Year-Banner-Png-09

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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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

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

Pitching Brings Phillies back to Earth

Today, with the bases loaded, 2 outs and Ryan “Steroids” Braun at the plate, friggin’ Aaron “I hang ‘em, you bang ‘em” Harang gave up a grand slam home run.  The Brewers were them up 0-6 by the 5th inning.  And this is a perfect example of how bad Phillies pitching has been.

Sure, the Phillies had the best record in baseball coming out of the All-Star break up until about a week ago.  Well, they have now returned to earth, mostly thanks to crapping pitching.  After sweeping the Padres last weekend, the Phillies lost 2 of 3 to the Diamondbacks and will now get swept by the Brewers (they are losing 0-6 in the 7th as of the time I post this).  Aaron Harang is a large part of the problem, with a 7.75 ERA in his last 7 games prior to today’s game.

But he is not the only one.  Jerome Williams, although better his last few starts, still has a 6.00 ERA in his last 15 games.  David Buchanan was finally sent down to the minors with a 9.00 ERA, also in his last 15 games.  After allowing 25 earned runs in 3 games, I am not even sure he belongs in the minors; perhaps bagging groceries is in his future?  Rounding out the starting pitching nightmare are Aaron Nola and Adam Morgan, who have been okay, as far as rookies go.
P4261085TA few guys in the bullpen look awful as well.  Justin DeFratus is pitching himself back to the minors with an 8.68 ERA in 7 games.  Adam Loewen has a 15.43 ERA in his first two appearances for the Phillies, prior to today.  Luckily, the rest of the pen has been ok, but with all the starters leaving games early, that may change due to exhaustion. And while the offense is still racking up hits, they are suddenly having trouble scoring those runners.  The bad starting pitching has put more stress on the hitters and they are shrinking under the pressure, which is not unusual for a young team. P4261235AP

But what really has me stressed out is the impending departure of my favorite player, Chase Utley.  Nothing is certain yet, but it does look like a lot of teams are bidding on him since he cleared waivers.  Since coming off the disabled list, Utley is batting .500 with 5 doubles, a homer and 5 RBI in 26 at-bats, proving he is healthy again and upping his trade value.  Sure, trading him is the right thing to do so he will have a shot at another championship, but it doesn’t make it suck any less.  I have been admiring Utley for 13 years; this team will not be the same without him.  But for now, he is still here…stayed tuned!

The Phillies are off on Monday and then play two games against the Blue Jays starting on Tuesday.  Game time is 7:05pm.

Halfway through 2015: Down the Rabbit Hole

A recent article in The New Yorker described going down the rabbit hole as “a bizarre and disorienting alternate reality.”  That perfectly describes how many Phillies fans feel at the halfway point of the 2015 season.  We followed the Phillies here and have now fallen into the proverbial, Alice in Wonderland-esque rabbit hole.

This team is such a departure from that of the 2008-2011 teams that watching them really does feel like a bad acid trip.  The Phillies are dead last in all of baseball with a 29-62 record.  Their closer, Jonathan Papelbon, cannot stop yelling to the media about how badly he wants to be traded.  Cole Hamels is pitching like a man who has given up on life.  And their manager, Ryne Sandberg, ran screaming from his duties, despite the obvious detriment to his career by doing so.

Sad Phillies (2)But the most depressing part of the season has been the lightning fast decline of Chase Utley’s career.  According to the general manager, Utley is no longer the starting second baseman, even after he comes off the disabled list.  This is officially the end of Phillies baseball as we knew it.  Indeed, an alternate reality that is painful to watch.

But even with Utley’s downfall, there was no reason to think the Phillies would be THIS bad, as in 62 losses bad, the worst half way mark in team history.  There is a lot of young talent here, like Maikel FrancoBen Revere is hitting .297 with 21 stolen bases and 45 runs scored.  Ryan Howard has hit 15 home runs and has 45 RBI, which is really pretty good considering he is on the tail end of his career.  Papelbon has been perfect in saves, although he has had limited opportunities.    But most of the pitching has be atrocious.  Even so, this team should have won more than 29 games, given their talent.

Perhaps Pat Gillick’s pre-season declaration about this team not being able to compete for several years has created a culture of losing?  And not only that, but the team seems to have accepted this.  They are not showing any fight, maybe because they simply expect to lose.  They are just collecting their fat paychecks and then going home.  And if this attitude continues, attendance will continue to drop to levels where you can hear crickets chirping.  Hopefully, the Phillies will emerge from their slumber in the second half and at least put on a good show.  Then again, that could just be the psychedelic acid talking.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri

Tension Still Building Despite Phillies Win

At the beginning of the year, we knew this Phillies team would be bad; but I do not think anyone expected them to be THIS bad.  By “this bad” I mean 24-47 near the end of June, dead last in all of baseball.  I also mean a team that constantly makes mental errors, missing bases and forgetting to put the bullpen phone back on the hook (yes, that happened).  And also a team that got Chase Utley so mad, the usually quiet and calm second baseman screamed at the pitching coach during a mound visit this past Tuesday. Oh yeah, THAT team.

So despite a rare 9-2 win today over the Cardinals, there were still disgruntled fans, players and even boo’s raining down from the stands.  Why?  Because manager Ryne Sandberg showed everyone that he cannot manage this team.  As if the “players-gone-wild” (Utley) vibe were not bad enough, Sandberg dug a deeper hole today by pulling rookie pitcher Adam Morgan with 2 outs in the 6th inning for no apparent reason.  The kid had pitched a great game, allowing 1 run, and only had 78 pitches.  Not to mention that the Phillies had a 5-1 lead.  Sure, Morgan had just walked a batter, but who cares?  He deserved to finish the inning.  At this point, winning and losing is of little consequence – this team sucks and will not make the playoffs.  So what is important is developing young players.  By taking Morgan out, Sandberg sent a message that he has no confidence in the young player, which can be devastating to a guy, especially in his major league debut.  Morgan got a standing ovation as he walked off, while Sandberg left to a chorus of boo’s.

062115 Morgan
And that was a real shame especially because the Phillies finally managed some offense today, which should have been cause to celebrate.  Instead, we are all left with a feeling of disappointment because it seems obvious (at least to me) that Sandberg is not cut out for the job.  He simply does not have the appropriate people skills to manage.  Don’t get me wrong; I have met Sandberg and he is a super nice guy.  But being nice does not a good manager make.  And with the GM’s job also in jeopardy, Sandberg may be out of time to find ways to improve.
062115 Offense

A few other items of note today involved Cole Hamels.  Before the game, he was seen cavorting with Cardinals players and even posing for photos.  One of these is Greg Garcia; I think the other is Xavier Scruggs.  I have seen players chat during warm-ups; this is not unusual.  But Hamels brought a photographer with him to the Cards dugout for a pre-meditated photo-op.  Now that is something I have never seen.  Seeing baseball etiquette pushed aside, I can’t help but wonder if maybe Cole has one foot out the door already?
062115 Hamels

And by the way, does anyone else find it suspicious that Hamels had a “minor” hamstring issue that caused him to miss pitching against the Cardinals and magically rescheduled him to pitch against the Yankees in New York on Wednesday?  It could be legit, but rumor has it that the Yankees are in dire need of starting pitching.  And this is the perfect way to showcase Hamels to the Yanks.  Just sayin’…

Here is the full Photo Album from today’s game.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri

A Few Good Signs

P4060114SThere were a few signs of life from the Phillies in last night’s 4-2 win over the Red Sox.  First, the fact that they won after a 0-8 beat down in the home opener is encouraging.  Second, pitcher Aaron Harrang dominated the Red Sox line-up.  No one was really sure what to expect from Harrang after a spring that seemed to be riddled with back issues.  But through 6 1/3 scoreless innings, Harrang proved he is ready to go.

Jeff Francoeur also had something to prove after spending nearly all of last year languishing the Padres minor leagues.   He gave the Phillies their first runs of the season with a 3-run homer in the 6th inning.  If Francoeur can continue to find some of his old, Braves-days magic, he could see some descent playing time.

Another good sign was the speedy Ben Revere, who turned a Sox error into 3 bases in the 7th inning.  His hustle led to a run after Chase Utley hit a sac fly.  And Carlos Ruiz had 2 hits on the day batting 2nd, which is also nice to see.

The one not-so-great sign was Ken Giles.  He was all over the place pitching in the 8th inning.  Giles gave up a hit and 3 walks, which accounted for both Red Sox runs.  After he walked a run home, manager Ryne Sandberg finally went out to get him and let Jonathan Papelbon earn a 4-out save against his old team.  Giles had some soreness in spring training.  His speed is down and his control is missing.  One has to wonder how healthy he is.

Tonight, David Buchanan gets his first start after a very encouraging spring.  Game time is 7:05pm.

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Photo by Jenn Zambri

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.

Smurfs

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