Results tagged ‘ Chris Wheeler ’

I’m Back – Can the Same Be Said for the Phillies?

After a very long vacation from blogging, I’m back. I have just a quick list of excuses for my absence. For starters, I have experienced a complete life “do-over.” After some hair-raising experiences including the deaths of 3 friends/family, I changed jobs, relationships, bought a house and am going back to school to work on my Master’s degree. Change is good. Trust me on this one.

Change for the Phillies thus far this offseason, however, has been minimal. It was less change and more resurrecting history when the Phils signed Marlon Byrd, Bobby Abreu (minor league deal), Larry Bowa (bench coach) and Charlie Manual, rehired as an advisor. Not to mention dumping Chris Wheeler and Gary Matthews in favor of Matt Stairs and Jamie Moyer in the broadcasting booth. And don’t forget Mike Schmidt on air for Sunday games. It’s a reunion!

Did you realize there are now no less than 4 Phillies managers back with the 2014 team? The current manager, obviously, is Ryne Sandberg. Former managers on staff also include Manual, Bowa and Dallas Green (front office). That is incredible. If you want to be with a team for life, sign with the Phillies!

With all of these blasts from the past, the season will at the very least be interesting to watch. But my initial impressions so far in watching Spring Training games are not too encouraging. The offense is still in hiding, as it has been for about 3+ years now. Ok, I know it is only Spring Training, but the Braves have no problem putting up 8-9 runs a game right now so why can’t the Phils? Also, many pitchers, like Cole Hamels, are already or still hurt. But hey, the defense looks pretty good J

Of the few moves the Phillies did make this offseason, I actually like the return of Marlon Byrd. He did well with the Pirates last year, he has been open about his previous suspension and above all, he has something to prove. I love his attitude so far and he appears to have at least brought some smiles back to camp.

Beyond that, not much stands out. Ryan Howard has proclaimed his perfect health. That is nice, but we will have to wait to see if results follow. Howard will be under even more pressure this year now that he and the team are adamant that he is 100%. If he falters early, I shudder to think of the reaction from the press and the fans. They will tear the Big Piece into little pieces. I do not envy his position.

I have begun counting the days until the first real pitch of the season to see what this team really has to offer. Is the winning team back or just a rerun of last year? More thoughts on Spring Training to come…stay tuned.

Former Phillies broadcaster Andy Musser Passes Away at Age 74

A Phillies broadcaster for 26 years from 1976 to 2001, Andy Musser, 74, passed away on Sunday.  Musser called games not just for the Phillies, but also the Eagles, 76ers and several other organizations throughout his career.

Phillies fans will remember that Musser worked alongside Harry Kalas, Richie Ashburn and Chris Wheeler in the booth.  Wheeler is the last remaining broadcaster of the foursome.

Musser was a Philadelphia-area native and an Army veteran, making him a popular home-grown addition to the Philadelphia sports circuit.  He worked as a broadcaster during many great moments including two World Series, two Super Bowls and two Masters Championships.  Musser also called the division-clinching Mike Schmidt homer in 1980.

This is another sad day for the Phillies family.  Musser was well-liked and respected and he will be missed.  My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends during this very difficult time.

The memorial service for Musser will be held at Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church, 625 Montgomery Ave., Bryn Mawr, PA at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 31. Donations may be made to the church in lieu of flowers.

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Photo by Tom Gralish / Philly.com

Phillies Shut-Out The Astros

The first four games of 2010 have been very good for the Phillies bats.  As a team, the have at least 10 hits in each game so far which is the first time that has been done by a Phillies team since 1926.  The top 5 batters in the order are on fire, especially Placido Polanco who had 4 hits tonight, 2 RBI and is batting .579 in 4 games.  Those 4 hits helped the Phillies to an 8-0 shut-out win over the Astros.


Thumbnail image for P8248836 Rollins.jpgJimmy Rollins
is also off to a fast start with 7 hits in the first 4 games, batting .467.  Chase Utley and Ryan Howard are not far behind, batting .438 and .400, respectively.  On Wednesday, Howard moved into 5th place on the Phillies all-time home run leaders list, passing Greg Luzinski.  In today’s game, he racked up 2 hits and an RBI.

Raul Ibanez has struggled, but looks to be coming out of the funk with 3 hits and 3 RBI today.  Shane Victorino, on the other hand, hit several balls really well but still came up empty; he even hit into a double play.  Victorino is batting .111 so far this season.

JA Happ got his first start of the year today and pitched 5 scoreless innings.  He had a lot of base runners, so his pitch count kept rising; as a result, he only made it to the start of the 6th inning.  The thing that stands out about Happ though is that he never gets rattled.  In the 3rd, he had 2 runners on with no outs and still managed to pitch his way out of the jam unscathed.  Happ continues to impress.

David Herndon made his mark today as well, pitching 2 innings in relief of Happ without allowing a run.  Today was his 3rd appearance with the Phils and so far, the rookie has yet to give up a run.  If he keeps this up, the Phils are going to have some tough decisions to make when Brad Lidge and JC Romero return from the DL.


DSCF5052 wheels.jpgSo things are feeling pretty loose around the Phillies this week; even the broadcasters are keeping the mood light.  Gary Matthews and Tom McCarthy presented fellow broadcaster Chris Wheeler with a birthday cake and presents today during the game, even though it is not really his birthday.  Wheels got his own birthday wrong in his new book, “A View From The Booth,” on the very first page of the book.  He wrote April 9th instead of August 9th.  Oops.  So, Happy Un-Birthday, Wheels!  Don’t feel bad…we are all entitled to typos once and a while ;o)

 

Game two in Houston tomorrow!  First pitch is at 7:05pm.

 

Photos by Jenn

 

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

 

Holiday Sale 2009

The Phillies held their annual Holiday Sale this weekend at the ballpark and as usual, it was an interesting event.  Phillies Charities holds the event each year, selling game-used merchandise, autographed items, left over programs and books, photos, etc…  Although, this year was not nearly as crowded as last year because of the World Series loss. 

This means less money for Phillies Charities, which is sad.  In fact, the people selling many of the charity items were actually haggling to get rid of merchandise.  A Scott Eyre signed jersey marked $125 went for $100 after the buyer decided $125 was too much and decided to walk away.  Now that is something I have never seen in all the years I have attended.  But plenty of other items raked in big bucks, like game used bats, balls, street banners and empty Champagne bottles from the playoff celebrations.

I picked out a locker name plate grab bag for $30 and wound up with Carlos Ruiz, Miguel Cairo and Mick Billmeyer (bullpen coach).  The Ruiz plate was worth the $30, so I was happy with that.  I have also been working on a collection of signed 2008 World Series balls and am trying to get every player on the team.  But some players who have gone, like So Taguchi, may be impossible to get now.  So I decided to try to buy a Taguchi signed regular ball, which they had a box of there, but by the time I got up front in the line, they were sold out.  Yes folks, an entire box of Taguchi signed balls, gone.  Did everyone else have the same idea I had or are there just huge numbers of Taguchi fans out there that I do not know about?  I can tell you, he was not popular here in Philly at all, so I thought that was a bit weird.  Maybe because they were only $5 people didn’t care who signed it ;o)

While there were not any players there, everyone did have a chance to meet with broadcasters Tom McCarthy and Chris Wheeler, who was signing his new book, “View From the Booth.”  I think Dickie Noles was there too, but I did not see him.  And Milt Thompson was scheduled to sign copies of a hitting DVD he put out later that day.  I ran into Tom in the clubhouse store and chatted with him for a while, then got my book signed by Chris.  Here I am below with Wheels, plus a shot of a Holiday tree and Phanta Claus, who was entertaining the kids:

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It was a dreary day outside, which may have kept some shoppers home.  Rain, slush and snow also dampened the Philadelphia Santa Claus parade, which made its way around the ballpark with fire engines, sirens and bright lights, although the only people silly enough to be outside were those of us waiting in line to get into the Holiday Sale.  Not sure if the Phillies tree lighting went off as planned as I cut out early, but here is a photo of the tree taken from inside the Hall of Fame club:

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I also walked around the concourse a bit to see what the off-season ballpark looked like.  Turns out, they wrap the mobile concession stands with giant tubes of Saran Wrap.  This is either to protect them from the elements, or the stands have been put on some weird plastic wrap weight-loss plan:cling film.jpg

Maybe they can shrink the prices while they are at it?  Just a thought ;o) 

So, did anyone else go to the sale?  What did you think about it?  Feel free to comment below :O)

Wolf Devours Phils; Baseball 101 For Women

Since the game against our old pal Randy Wolf and the Dodgers was awful, let’s begin today with something fun!  Here is a recap of the Baseball 101 event for women held before the game yesterday:

P5133337 Werth.jpgThis now twice annual event included a behind the scenes tour, coaching from the Phillies staff, many guest speakers and an appearance by Jayson Werth.  Werth walked into the room and you would have thought it was Tom Cruise, judging from the reaction.  Women screamed and flash bulbs popped.  Werth talked openly to the group of 140 female fans and was surprisingly comical.  He talked about stealing home in Tuesday nights’ win over the Dodgers (turns out, it was all his idea and the 3rd base coach had no clue what was happening); Werth also gave us an overview of what it is like to travel as a Major League player, how he felt at the World Series parade, his baseball heritage and what it means to play as a team.  He was very impressive.

We also heard from Phillies broadcaster, Chris Wheeler, who walked us though his embarrassment of the strange dance he did behind Harry Kalas as he called the World Series win.  Wheels said he had no idea that he had actually looked that nuts until an hour and half later when he saw the replay.  Mitch Williams was also exceptionally informative, and very, very funny.  Williams should be a stand-up comic.  He had the room almost in tears as he discussed how we have not lived until we’ve seen John Kruk naked, how he (Williams) does not wear pants during his broadcasts and a variety of other topics.  And Larry Andersen, another former player and current broadcaster, was equally entertaining with his tales of Kalas and honest expressions of dislike for umpires.

Below, you will see Williams, Andersen and a very surreal moment as well; Tom Burgoyne, friend of the Phanatic, with the Phanatic!  A true “out of body” experience :O)

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At one point, all the women broke into teams and travelled around the stadium, with stops in the bullpen, the batting cages and on the field to run the bases and work on throwing and fielding with the Phillies coaching staff.  Sam Perlozzo and Davey Lopes directed us on the field; Milt Thompson and Pete Mackanin let us swing away in the cages; and Rich Dubee and Mick Billmeyer let us throw pitches off the mound in the pen.  They gave us the inside scoop, just like we were real major leaguers.  My favorite coach comment of the day came when I asked what changes we could expect to see when JC Romero returns to the team.  Billmeyer chimed in immediately with, “We will get better!”  Well said :O)

And a first for Baseball 101 was the behind the scenes tour of the player areas:  the clubhouse, their kitchen and even the training room.  I can tell you several things from this experience.  First, Chad Durbin has a sweet tooth and likes crossword puzzles; some players seem to have a shoe fetish; Ryan Howard uses the same baby powder that I do; and doing laundry for the Phillies is a very interesting job!  Here are a few sights from the clubhouse:

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I took tons of photos and was surprised by a few things I saw just “hanging” around.  I heard myself mutter as I peered into lockers, “Is that…(you fill in the blank)???  Oh my, yes it is.”  Use your imagination.  Nothing out of the baseball realm, but still a bit weird to see up close ;O)

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So after the all-day event which began at 8:45am, we sat down to watch the game which started at 7:05pm.  Sleepy, but it was worth it.  We had a good 3 innings and Jamie Moyer looked like he may knock out every Dodger that faced him, but come the 4th inning, the bottom dropped out and it all went downhill from there.  7 runs allowed in only 4 1/3 innings and Moyer still cannot find his 250th win.  However, I think that was the least of his worries last night.  With the struggles in this starting rotation, I would not be surprised to see some changes very soon.  Charlie Manuel has announced that JA Happ will start one of the games of the double-header on Saturday against the Nats; no word on what will happen after that.  Happ may be pitching that day for his chance to win a spot in the rotation.

On again to more pleasant things:  Here is the Photo Album from my day in baseball-land which includes the photos in this post and more.  And don’t forget to tune in to the game this afternoon, which is an early start of 1:05pm to finish the Dodgers series.  Hoping the Phillies can pull out a winning series!

Photos by Jenn

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