Results tagged ‘ Cliff Lee ’

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

Beckett No-Hits the Phillies

Phillies pitcher A.J. Burnett had a bad day against the LA Dodgers on Sunday.  Yet, it really didn’t matter.  Because the Phillies offense could not hit the broad side of a barn.  And Dodgers pitcher Josh Beckett took full advantage in the no-hitter and the Phils’ 7th shut-out loss this year.
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Not to take anything away from Beckett, but the Phillies just plain sucked. Even when Beckett was having issues throwing strikes and the Phillies collected 3 walks, they still could not make anything happen.  After one of the walks, Domonic Brown stepped to the plate and swung at the first pitch he saw, flying out to center.

When that stupidity was not happening, the Phillies were just swinging and missing.
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By the 5th inning, I was nearly in a coma due to extreme boredom.  The only thing keeping me awake was an annoying 6 year boy next to me who kept kicking me in the leg.  And he was a Dodgers fan…thanks, kid.  Thanks to your ignorant parents as well.

So while the Phils got beaten on the field and I got beaten by a small child, the Dodgers just kept hitting.  At least the Phillies defense was kept busy, I guess.  Bright side?  ….Nah.
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The sky may actually be falling.  Cliff Lee is on the DL and today, Cody Asche joined him with a hamstring injury.  It also looks like Burnett may be having more issues with that hernia, judging from his last two outings.  With a 21-26 record, things are not going well for the Phillies.  Understatement?  Yup, probably.

Care to relive today’s no-hit massacre?  Check out the full Photo Album.  At least I got some pre-game shots of new rookie pitcher David Buchanan, so it was not a total loss.

The Rockies are in town tomorrow.  Game time is 5:05pm.

Happy Memorial Day everyone!

 

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Offense Comes Alive Against the Reds

After a very long dry spell where the Phillies were shut-out in 4 out of 10 games, the Phillies offense finally woke up this weekend against the Reds.  On Saturday, they pounded the Reds by a score of 12-1 and Cole Hamels finally got win #100 of his career.  Then on Sunday, it was an 8-3 win that sent fans home happy.

Cliff Lee had an interesting outing, ultimately pitching 6.2 innings and allowing 2 runs.  After he walked the first batter of the game and gave up 2 runs in the 1st inning, it was obvious we were in for a battle.
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But immediately, the Phillies got those 2 runs back.  Jimmy Rollins and Will Nieves went deep with back-to-back homers to start the game in the Phillies half of the 1st.
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The game remained tied until the 5th inning when Lee took matters into his own hands offensively, leading off the inning with a single. Rollins moved him over the second after Todd Frazier bobbled the ball at third and failed to throw Lee out.  Then Nieves dropped a sac bunt to move them over and Chase Utley knocked in Lee with a ground out to first.
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And the hits kept coming.  Marlon Byrd hit a solo homer in the 6th and then Cody Asche smacked a 3-run homer in the 8th to give the Phillies ample breathing room with an 8-2 lead.  Byrd, Asche and Nieves each had 2 hits in the game and Rollins and Ryan Howard each walked twice.  It was a full team effort at the plate.
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It was also the Phanatic’s annual birthday bash on Sunday, which added to the festive vibe with the powered-up offense, 4 home runs and 2 wins in a row!  Add a bunch of silly mascots, the Zooperstars and some dude who paints with his hands, and it was a real party.
Phanatic Bday

The Phillies are off tomorrow for the Phillies Phestival.  After that, they travel to Miami for a short 3-game series and then back home again.

In the meantime, here is the full Photo Album from the game and birthday celebration.

 

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

Jays Canadian Bacon Phillies Fry

There was a barbeque in Canada this week and the Phillies were the main course.  In 4 straight losses to the Blue Jays, the Phillies were fried up like a plate of Canadian Bacon.  You could smell the greasy smoke from Toronto all the way to Philly.

canadian-bacon1And the Phillies did not just lose four games; they were slaughtered unmercifully.  The 0-3 and 5-6 losses in the Philly half of the series were bad enough, especially after they lost on Tuesday despite a Cody Asche grand slam to tie the game.  But in the Toronto half of the series, the Phillies went down in spectacularly bad fashion by scores of 0-10 and 6-12.  It was ugly.

And the ugly parts were, unfortunately, in every facet of the game; pitching, offense and defense were all horrible.  The worst defensive play of the series by far was from Ben Revere in Wednesday’s game.  In the 7th inning, he gave up on a fly ball to center that I supposed he thought was a home run.  It turned into a triple and Cliff Lee, after seeing his teammate bail on a catchable ball, appeared to unravel.  Lee is usually very calm and collected so anything that rattles him has to be serious.  That inning turned in NINE runs for Jays.  Wow.

Then last night, A.J. Burnett, who has been the best starter recently, was tagged for 6 earned runs.  Luis Garcia came in for the last two innings after his call-up from Triple-A.  It was said when he was called up that Garcia was outpitching everyone in the minors.  He had not allowed a run in 11 games.  So what happened last night in his first game back to the majors?  He was eaten up by the Jays like an evening snack, allowing 3 runs on back-to-back homers in the 7th.  2 more runs scored in the 8th after a lead-off walk and an error by Jayson Nix.

Some of the Phillies veteran players, like Cliff Lee, are probably beginning to realize this season may be a lost cause…again.  The fans have already figured that out as evidenced by 6,000 fewer season tickets sold compared to last year and a 7,070 tickets per game decrease.  The Phillies are losing fans, money and pretty soon, their players.   Because if this continues, you can bet Cliff Lee will be campaigning to move on at the trade deadline.  And who could blame him?

It is time for the Phillies to step out of the frying pan.  And they had better do it quickly before they burn.

 

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Lee & Burnett Leading the Way

The Phillies have taken the first 2 games in their series against the Dodgers in large part due to great starting pitching.  Both Cliff Lee and A.J. Burnett have set an example for all Phillies pitchers and given them something to aspire to.  It has been a real treat to watch.

On Monday night, Lee went 8 innings, allowing no runs, 4 hits and striking out 10 baffled Dodgers batters.  Since his awful Opening Day start, Lee has been nearly unhittable.  And the intangibles he brings to the team are priceless.

This is a guy who never gets rattled.  His drama-free attitude and generosity towards fans has endeared him to all who observe how he goes about his business.  If you do not love Cliff Lee, go to the doctor and make sure your heart is still beating.
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And then there is one of the newest Phillies, A. J. Burnett.  Tuesday night he pitched 6 2/3 innings allowing only 2 runs on 6 hits and a walk.  He also had 3 hits in the game!  The week before that, he pitched 7 scoreless inning against the Braves.  And he did all of this while nursing a painful inguinal hernia.

The fact that Burnett is willing to play through the pain is admirable.  And as long as he keeps pitching well, I have no problem with this.  But he is not just tough, he is also quite the jokester, as witnessed after his first hit last night.  After Yasiel Puig attempted to throw him out at first all the way from right field, Burnett turned and motioned with his hands to Puig to settle down.  There is a great GIF of this on Philly.com.  You gotta love a man with a sense of humor.

The Phillies other ace pitcher, Cole Hamels, is set to come off the DL and pitch tonight.  Could the Phillies actually have 3 studs in a row once again?  And, although I hate to say this too loudly, this team appears to be mostly healthy…gasp!  Shhhhh!  Don’t tell the universe…too dangerous.

Have you also noticed the improvement on offense?  The big 3 there, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins, are all hitting well.  And Ben Revere is heating up again, like he did last year before getting hurt.  The one thorn left in the Phillies side is the bullpen, which did actually hold up the last few games.  Keep your fingers crossed for that trend to continue.

If Lee, Burnett and Hamels can pitch like they are capable of, the bullpen will certainly benefit.  It starts with the starters.  Hamels gets his first shot in 2014 tonight at 10:10pm.

 

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Weird Week

The Phillies finally squeaked out a win against the Braves yesterday.  Whew!  But that 1-0 win was not the only oddity of the week.

For starters, the Phillies lost by the exact same score the night before.  Cliff Lee pitched a gem and the Phils could not bother to score a single run.  Ugh.  Here are a few other weird notes from the week:

-          A.J. Burnett, Thursday’s winning pitcher, claims that his newly formed hernia is helping him pitch better.  Maybe the offense should start straining themselves to achieve a similar injury and then they can score more than 1 run per game?  Genius!

papelbon gas-          Speaking of genius, Jonathan Papelbon does not see pitch velocity as an issue.  Granted, he has been much better of late.  But really?  Can I pitch then?  I can probably hit around 60mph on the gun and since speed does not matter, I should do just fine against major league hitters.  Put me in, coach!

-          In other Pap news, Crossing Broad had reported that the Phillies closer not only went off verbally on the media about his velocity, but that he actually aimed a fart in their direction.  Monty Python, Holy Grail fans are loving this (”I fart in your general direction!”)  If you have never seen this move, I highly recommend it.

-          In the same article, Crossing Broad also claims that Cliff Lee belched at the media.  It seems there is a lot of hot air in the Phillies locker room.

-          It looks like whoever yells the loudest really does win.  Because after Brewers manager Ron Roenicke complained that Logan Schafer’s 8th inning at-bat on 4/9/14 was not scored a hit, MLB overturned the error originally given to Ryan Howard.  Wow.

-          And while this is not Phillies news, I am sure all Phillies fans will enjoy it.  The new book, Yes, It’s Hot in Here: Adventures in the Weird, Woolly World of Sports Mascots, reveals that the Secret Service actually threatened to kill Mr. Met, the Mets bulbous-headed mascot.  Seriously.  That may be the best story ever in the history of baseball.  You will have to read the excerpt to believe it.

The Phillies start a 10 game West Coast road trip tonight against the Rockies.  Game time is 8:40pm.

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Take First Two in Chicago

After a devastating loss on Wednesday, the Phillies have bounced back in the next series, winning their first 2 games against the Cubs.  Friday’s game was a 7-2 score and today they won 2-0 as Cliff Lee stunned the Cubbies.

Lee was able to lower his horrible 14.40 Opening Day ERA to only 6.00 with this 7 inning effort.  So all is well again with the Phillies ace…yeah!

And the offense is not too shabby to start the season.  Chase Utley is absolutely on fire after a very slow Spring Training.  In the last 2 games, Utley has 5 hits and 4 RBI including 2 home runs.  He also hit his 300th career double today and ended the game just a triple shy of the cycle.

Domonic Brown has also come to life with 4 hits, 2 walks and 3 RBI in these 2 games, plus ZERO strikeouts.  Nada.  That alone tells me he is in the zone.

P7073923Another interesting note is that we are learning some things about the Phillies manager, Ryne Sandberg, early in the season.  First, he is totally in love with Jake Diekman.  Diekman has pitched in 4 out of 5 games so far this season while fellow reliever Brad Lincoln has yet to throw a pitch.  Justin DeFratus has pitched 1 inning and Jeff Manship has thrown exactly 2 pitches total.

Sandberg says he is trying to establish who fits in which spots in the bullpen.  By the way, is that not what Spring Training was for?  Just saying.  And if he is looking for good fits, does this mean those 3 pitchers that have not been or barely been used do not “fit” anywhere?  Hmmmm…

We have also learned that Sandberg is not totally sold on Roberto Hernandez.  In Friday’s game, Hernandez appeared to be cruising in the 6th inning when, after one out was recorded, Sandberg pulled him and put in Diekman.  Hernandez had given up 2 runs in the first 5 innings, but his pitch count was low (73).  That was a weird move.

One last thing I like to mention about today’s game…Jonathan Papelbon saved a game!  Miracles never cease!  Yes, that comment is dripping with sarcasm.  When he saves 3 or 4 in a row with minimal drama, I will curb my smart remarks.  Until then, congrats Pap!  You live to fight another day!

Can the Phillies sweep this series?  Hope so!  Game 3 is Sunday at 2:20pm and A.J. Burnett will pitch.

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Opening Day Slug Fest

The Phillies first game of the regular season began with a bang to the tune of 14 runs on 17 hits including 3 homers, one of which was a Grand Slam.  It was a record-setting day on many levels.

First, Phillies ace Cliff Lee allowed 8 earned runs and still got the win.  That is only the 8th time in MLB history that a pitcher gave up 8 runs in at least 5 innings and still won.  It is also only the 3rd time in history that happened on Opening Day.

Then in his first Opening Day start, Cody Asche ended the game just a triple short of the cycle.  With his parents looking on, Asche had a career day with 3 hits, 2 RBI including a solo homer, a walk and 4 runs scored.

But the biggest day record-wise was had by Jimmy Rollins who belted a Grand Slam in the 2nd inning, marking his 200th career homer.  That home run made him only the 19th player in baseball history to have 400 or more doubles, 100 or more triples and 200 or more home runs in a career.  He also tied a record with Cal Ripken Jr. for 14 consecutive Opening Day starts at shortstop with the same team.

Rollins may have had some extra inspiration yesterday as he is on baby-watch.  His wife Johari is expecting their second child any minute now.  Rollins stayed an extra day in Philly in case she went into labor and then joined the team in Texas on Sunday night, one day after the team arrived.

Records aside, many Phillies had big days in this game.  Both Chase Utley and Ben Revere had 3 hits, Marlon Byrd went 2-for-6 with a solo homer and Ryan Howard had 2 hits and a walk.  Maybe the biggest hit of the day, besides the grand slam, was a pinch hit 2-run double in the 5th inning by John Mayberry Jr.  In his first big move of the season, manager Ryne Sandberg had a gut feeling to switch Junior’s; Mayberry Jr. in place of Tony Gwynn Jr.  That double broke a 7-7 tie and propelled the Phillies to the win with some much needed momentum.

While I do not think the Phillies are going to score 14 runs again soon, this was an uplifting start the season.  Enjoy it!  Tonight, A.J. Burnett will make his Phillies debut; game time is 8:05pm.

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

2014 Opening Day Roster

The Phillies have announced their Opening Day roster and were few surprises.  Here is how it worked out:

Pitchers (12): Right-handers A.J. Burnett, Justin De Fratus, Roberto Hernandez, Kyle Kendrick, Brad Lincoln, Jeff Manship, Jonathan Papelbon and B.J. Rosenberg and left-handers Antonio Bastardo, Jake Diekman, Mario Hollands and Cliff Lee.

Catchers (2): Wil Nieves and Carlos Ruiz.

Infielders (6): Cody Asche, Cesar Hernandez, Ryan Howard, Jayson Nix, Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley.

Outfielders (5): Domonic Brown, Marlon Byrd, Tony Gwynn Jr., John Mayberry Jr. and Ben Revere.

They also resigned Ronny Cedeno to a minor league deal so he will be at Triple-A until he is needed.  And Jayson Nix, brother of former Phillies Laynce Nix, was signed a few days ago and put on the roster as an extra infielder.

Also of note, the Phillies will begin with only 4 starting pitchers as, due to off days, that is all they will need the first few weeks of the season.  Relief pitcher Mario Hollands was a bit of a surprise to make the roster as he has pitched in only 3 games above Double-A ball (2012, AAA Iron Pigs).  But he was impressive in camp; he will be interesting to watch.

The final spring tune-up on Sunday was canceled due to rain L  That was a bummer as I was hoping to meet some of the new players before the game.  So I wound up going to the 76ers game instead later that night.

The Sixers finally broke their 26-game losing streak in a dominating performance over the Detroit Pistons.  And that win prevented them from becoming the all-time worst team in all major sports.  Instead, they are tied.  But still worse than the 1961 Phillies, so that is an achievement.

Sixers fans were so relieved, with 5 minutes left in the game, chants of “Thank You Detroit” rang out all over the stadium.  Nicely done, Philly fans.

As for the Phillies, Cliff Lee will take the mound in Texas tomorrow against the Rangers for 2014 Opening Day.  Finally, some real baseball!  Game time is 2:05pm.

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Sandberg Signed; Phils Swept by Mets

It’s official – The Phillies announced today that Ryne Sandberg is no longer the “interim” manager.  He has been signed to a 3-year deal, with a club option for a 4th year.  With a new manager in place, everyone was smiling and laughing before the game.

But the smiles faded as the day wore on.  It is a shame the Phillies could not scrape out a win for Sandberg today; they got swept by the Mets in a 3-game series.

For the first 3 innings, Cliff Lee was so sharp, it looked like he may pitch a no-hitter.  But he ran into trouble in the 4th inning and allowed a run.  He wound up allowing 2 runs over 7 innings, which is still great, but only helpful if the offense does its part.

At the plate, the Phillies left too many runners on base (8) and went 3 for 13 with runners in scoring position.  There were a few amusing moments, like when Cliff Lee swung the bat so hard, it split in two, even though he did not hit the ball (see photo).  And Chase Utley apparently got a big chuckle out of the Mets pick-off attempt.

There were also many adventures in the outfield with balls played off the wall that could have been caught, Domonic Brown bobbling a ball which allowed an extra run to score and the Phanatic lost his shirt again.

And in the end, the Phillies could not muster a win.  I suppose that was a fitting end to the home games in a sad 2013 season.

Here is the full Photo Album from today’s game, including pre-game shots.

The Phillies go to Miami on Monday for the second-to-last series of the year.  Game time is 7:10pm.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

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