Results tagged ‘ Jimmy Rollins ’

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

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

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.
092814 fan appr

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

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.
082414 Williams

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!
082414 revere

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.
082414 offense

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

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…

062914 Buchanan

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.
062914 Utley

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

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

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.
051814 Lee

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.
051814 Rollins Nieves

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.
051814 Lee offense

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

 

Phillies Take 2 of 3 From the Nats

The Phillies just barely squeaked out a 1-0 win over the Nationals today thanks mostly to great pitching.  Cole Hamels was scheduled to start but was unable to go as he has the flu.  So Roberto Hernandez, who had not gotten out of the 6th inning yet this season, filled it.

Hernandez was outstanding, going 7 1/3 innings without allowing a run to score.  When he first started to pitch, it looked like he would not be able to throw a strike as he walked 2 batters in the first inning.  But he settled down and wound up with 3 walks and only 4 hits allowed.
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The lone Phillies run of the game came in the first inning.  After a Jimmy Rollins triple, Chase Utley singled to score Rollins.  Utley had a very strange day.  After that RBI, he sprinted around the bases on a Marlon Byrd pop fly and got doubled up.  Maybe he forgot there was only 1 out?  And then later he committed an error in the field when he totally missed the feed from Jayson Nix at third on what may have been a double play.

But those blunders did not come back to haunt the Phillies luckily.  And that is a very good thing especially considering the Phillies only managed 4 hits in the game, including a Ben Revere triple.  They also had some very nice plays in the field, which helped.
050414 fielding

The weather was very interesting as well.  It was cold, very windy and bits and pieces of wrappers, bags and dust were floating around everywhere.  Some of the shadows in the field were brutal by the time the relievers came in too.
050414 Relief

My eyes were so dry, at one point, I thought maybe I was seeing things.  See the first photo below to the left…there are 3 guys there, right.  Nope…check out the 2nd photo on the right.  I guess Nix is just so small he blended right in.
050414 field

Check out the full Photo Album from the game for more interesting stuff.  There are very nice photos of Domonic Brown with his mother and VERY pregnant girlfriend pre-game during the Mother’s Day celebration.  I also took some photos of our old friend, Kevin Frandsen.  Miss him….sigh!

So a weird 2-game home and away series stars tomorrow with the Blue Jays; 2 games here and 2 in Toronto.  Game time Monday is 7:05pm and Kyle Kendrick will pitch.

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

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.
Lee&Burnettjpg

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

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