Results tagged ‘ Joe Blanton ’

Phillies May Be Riding A Mud Slide Out of Houston

There are several adjectives that come to mind when mentally reviewing these last few Phillies games against the Astros; sloppy, messy, disgusting, lackadaisical and slothful, are just a few.

Some low-lights from Monday night’s 1-5 loss include:

  • Michael Martinez watched a bouncing grounder fly past his glove at third base.
  • Raul Ibanez dropped a low fly ball to left that bounced out of his glove.
  • Covering first base, Roy Oswalt missed an descent throw on what looked like an easy out.
  •  Jimmy Rollins and Pete Orr collided near second base on what should have been an easy double play if they had simply remembered who was covering what area.

But the fun did not end there.  On Tuesday night, the Phillies tried to out-sloppy their Monday night performance with these gems:

  • John Mayberry Jr. watched a ground ball to center roll mysteriously under his glove.
  • Mayberry recovered, tossed to Martinez and then Martinez proceeded to make one of the crappiest throws to third that you have ever seen.  With a good throw, the runner would have been out, despite the Mayberry error.  Instead, the guy winds up on third.
  • Ryan Howard dropped an easy ground ball to first, allowing the Astros pitcher to be safe at first and move a runner to third.  This lead to four runs in the inning, including a 3-run homer hit off Cole Hamels.

In these two games, the Phillies faced many of their old teammates, including pitchers Brett Myers and J.A. Happ.  Neither pitcher was having a good year, but the Phillies may have just single-handedly revived both their seasons.

Also in the Phillies – Astros trade merry-go-round, both Roy Oswalt and Hunter Pence made their first trip back to Houston since coming to Philly.  Oswalt had a bad game Monday, allowing five runs in seven innings.

As for Pence, he seemed to be the only Phillie interested in winning these games.  Pence went 2-for-4 Monday with a double.  And he also hit a solo homer on Tuesday.

The only other good news is that Joe Blanton pitched in Monday’s game for the first time since May 14th.  He allowed one hit but looked pretty good overall.

What I am wondering now is, where have the Phillies gone?  Because this is not the same team we have been watching all year.  They seem to be in a coma.  It may not seem like they have much to play for right now, but home field advantage can be a big boost in the playoffs.

So come on Phillies…wake up!  Get your behinds off the mud slide and back onto solid ground.  Thank you in advance. ;o)

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Player photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

Vance Worley Needs To Stay in Philadelphia…For Now

In Tuesday night’s 7-2 victory over the Giants, Phillies pitcher Vance Worley earned his seventh win of the year and lowered his ERA to 2.02.  It was also the rookie’s first career complete game.

In 11 starts for the Phillies this season, Worley has just one loss and a WHIP of 1.09.  He has also shown steady improvement between starts and gotten much better at keeping his pitch count down.

Filling in for the injured Joe Blanton, Worley has been outstanding.  As for Blanton, a recent report from Matt Snyder at CBS Sports indicates that Blanton has nerve damage in his elbow and he may be done for the year.

Once Roy Oswalt returns to the rotation, the Phillies will be using Worley as the fifth starter.  Kyle Kendrick is also available, but he has been more useful in a long relief role.  In nine starts, Kendrick has a 3-2 record and 3.97 ERA.  In relief, his ERA drops to 2.49.

Arguments to trade Worley include his rookie status, which some think gives him an edge as most teams have not faced him.  If that is the case, it is thought he may not be as good next year so the Phillies should trade him now.  J.A. Happ encountered the rookie curse after being traded to Houston where he has performed very poorly since a sparkling rookie campaign.

If Worley is traded now, while he is performing well, certainly he will be worth more.  However, if Worley continues to excel from now until the end of the season, he will be worth just as much in a trade during the offseason, before he has a chance to suffer from the sophomore slump.

With this in mind, it makes sense to keep him for the year, especially with the news on Blanton.

The Phillies could use an upgrade in the form of a right-handed bat, but losing Worley seems to steep a price right now.  If the Phillies could get Hunter Pence, Domonic Brown would be a better trade piece, along with some prospects.  Pence would be under team control, like Brown is now, and both the defense and offense would improve.

There are a number of other possibilities as well.  But if Worley goes in exchange for a right-handed bat, where would that person play?  Brown needs playing time if the Phillies plan on keeping him and developing him.  The rest of the positions seem pretty well set for the year, barring further injuries.

There is another option as well.  The Phillies do not have to make a trade if the right situation does not present itself.

The offense has improved since the All-Star break and bench players like John Mayberry Jr. and Michael Martinez have shown promise.  Mayberry is a power right-hander and Martinez is a switch hitter.  Also, Ben Francisco is batting .353 as a pinch-hitter.

Whether the Phillies decide to make a move or not, hopefully, Worley will be staying in Philadelphia…at least for now.

 

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

Philadelphia Phillies 2011 First Half Report Card

Having ended the first half of the season with a 57-34 record, the best in baseball, the Philadelphia Phillies have much to look forward to in the second half.  And although many injuries and questions still loom in the background, the first half of play was very successful for this team.

What makes the first half even more remarkable is that the Phillies were able to win despite injuries and missed time from a bucket-full of All-Star caliber players including Chase Utley, Roy Oswalt, Shane Victorino and Placido Polanco.

In the bullpen, the Phillies are currently on their fourth closer of the year as the first three all went on the DL.  First Brad Lidge, then Jose Contreras and finally, Ryan Madson.

The rest of the pen has been run primarily by rookies and inexperienced players over the last several month.  But these players have stepped up and are keeping hope alive.

The following  is a look at the Phillies 2011 First Half Report Card.

Starting Pitching:  A+

The Phillies ended the first half with the best ERA in baseball at 3.02, the fewest earned runs allowed with 279 plus 11 complete games and 13 shut-outs, both of which are also the most in baseball.

Both Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels have earned 11 wins each and their ERA’s are 2.45 and 2.32, respectively.  Those numbers have prompted talk of a Cy Young award for one of the two pitchers.  Cliff Lee has been outstanding as well with a 2.82 ERA and nine wins.

The starters have suffered some major injuries, including Roy Oswalt and Joe Blanton, both of whom are on the DL.  But the rookie Vance Worley has filled in admirably with an occasional spot start from Kyle Kendrick.

Bullpen:   B+

The Phillies bullpen has had some real challenges this year, including a plethora of injuries.  But thanks to some very young, very solid talent, the pen has endured.

What was thought to be a major team weakness at the start of the year has turned into a strength in many ways.

Lefty Antonio Bastardo has been outstanding and probably should have earned an All-Star nod.  In 33 innings, Bastardo has allowed only three earned runs and has a microscopic ERA of 0.82.  He has also gone 5-for-5 in save attempts since the Phillies sent their first three closer to the DL.

Michael Stutes and Juan Perez have also been very nice surprises.  If Brad Lidge and Ryan Madson can come back healthy in the second half, the bullpen will only be that much stronger.

Offense:  C-

The Phillies offense for the first half ranks 20th in all of baseball and 10th in the National League with a .250 team batting average.  Statistically, this puts them below average.

But their 377 RBI moves them up the list a little, ranking 11th among all teams and 10th in on-base percentage with .323.

The first couple months were rough without Chase Utley, who is hitting .280 since his return.  But other top team hitters like Shane Victorino and Placido Polanco have missed time with injuries as well, making it difficult for manager Charlie Manuel to post any sort of consistent line-up on a regular basis.

Ryan Howard is tied for the league lead in RBI with 72, which has helped carry this weakened offense.  But with so many rookies in the line-up because of injuries, the other veteran players will need to step up in the second half.

Defense:  A-

Statistically, the Phillies have the best defense in the National League and are around fourth best in all of baseball with 45 errors and a .987 fielding percentage.  Many teams have similar numbers, but looking at the major categories, I would put them in about fourth place.

Among position players, Carlos Ruiz and Ryan Howard have the highest fielding percentages on the team with .996 and .995, respectively.  Howard has improved his defense greatly over the past couple of years.

This team has a very solid defense.  There were a few games this year where sloppy play brought that into question, but they are humans, not robots.  Overall, it was a very good first half for the defense.

Attendance:  A+

The Phillies ended the first half on Sunday with their 172nd consecutive home sellout.  They are also first in total attendance for all of baseball with 2,228,630 fans so far this year, according to ESPN.  The Yankees were second with 2,173,619 fans.

The Phillies keep winning, and the fans keep the party going. 

1st Half MVP:  Roy Halladay

Because their numbers are very similar, I was tempted to go with Cole Hamels on this one.  But with six complete games and the most innings pitched in the National League, I am giving the first half MVP to Roy Halladay.

This man is a beast.  In Tuesday night’s All-Star game, Brian Wilson of the Giants called Halladay a “Cyborg.”  That seems fitting.

There is nothing Halladay won’t do to help his team win.  With 11 wins, a 2.45 ERA and team-leading 138 strike-outs, Halladay is the MVP.

Most Memorable 1st Half Moment:  Tie, Wilson Valdez & Cliff Lee

This one had to be a draw, because both players provided Phillies fans with some amazing memories this year so far.

First, watching Wilson Valdez tow the rubber in the May 25th 5-4 win in 19 innings over the Reds was simply unforgettable.  The Phillies ran out of pitchers and Valdez volunteered.  He pitched one perfect inning and the Phillies won the game in the bottom of the 19th as a result of his effort.

Before this win by Valdez, the last player to start a game in the field and get the win as a pitcher was Babe Ruth in 1921.  But the best part was hearing Valdez joke after the game that he could have gone three or four more innings if needed.

And then this past Saturday, pitcher Cliff Lee provided another memorable moment.  In the third inning, after a 10-pitch at-bat and six foul balls, Lee smashed his 1st career home run off the Braves pitcher Tommy Hanson, who watched in disbelief.

Lee spent most of his career in the American League, with few chances to hit.  But Lee has remarked on many occasions that he prefers the National League because he loves to hit.  And that joy was all over his face as he rounded the bases in front of thousands of screaming fans who gave him a standing ovation.

Watching a man who truly loves the game of baseball be rewarded in a way that is rarely seen was a real treat.  Pitchers do not hit many home runs and it is even less common among pitchers of Lee’s caliber. 

That was a moment that both Lee and all of the Philadelphia fans watching will not soon forget.

 

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

Madson Has a Bad Day in Loss to Reds

Ryan Madson had been plowing down hitters, allowing just one run all season until Tuesday night.  The Phillies lost to the Reds by a score of 6-3 after a hairy ninth inning.

Rookie Vance Worley started the game and was a little rusty after being switched from starter to reliever to the minors and back to starting again as Joe Blanton made his second trip to the DL this month.  Worley was still pretty good, considering the way he has been bounced around lately.

 

Over five innings, Worley allowed three runs on six hits and four walks.

Raul Ibanez and Carlos Ruiz carried the offense as both players are suddenly on fire.  Ibanez went 3-for-4 with an RBI and Ruiz was 2-for-3, also with an RBI. 

 

Chase Utley was in the line-up again since returning from the DL.  He was hitless on Monday, but finally got a hit Tuesday night.  That single turned out to be a momentum shift in the game, only not in the right direction.

 

Juan Samuel waived home Jimmy Rollins from second on the play for no apparent reason and he was a dead duck at home plate by about a mile.  There had been only one out in the inning at the time and losing that run seemed to kill the Phillies offense.

Utley was involved in a number of odd plays in the field as well, which sent him scrambling all over the place to track down balls hit into no-man’s land.  Here are a few of those plus some other plays:

 

But in the end, the game came down to the bullpen.  After a 13-inning scoreless streak, Ryan Madson finally had a bad day.  With one out in the ninth, Madson made a bad throw to first and things snowballed from there.

After loading the bases, Madson gave up a 3-run double to Jay Bruce.  The Reds had a 6-3 lead and the Phillies offense was unable to come back in the bottom of the inning.  Hopefully, Madson can start a new streak tonight.

Here is the full Photo Album from the game.  The third game with the Reds is tonight at 7:05pm.

 

Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

 

Oswalt Loses at Citizens Bank Park for the First Time

It  looks like #13 was unlucky for Roy Oswalt.  In his 13th career start at Citizens Bank Park, Oswalt lost his first game in the ballpark thanks to a non-existent offense.  It was a 2-0 shut-out by the Rangers.

 

Let me rephrase:  The Phillies did have bats and some did swing them, but no runs ever crossed the plate.  In the last nine games, the Phillies are averaging FIVE hits a game.  Yes, five hits, not runs.  They hit over 5 runs only twice in that spam.

Sunday was no different.  Five hits, NO runs.  This has been a bad case of déjà vu for the starting pitchers, who have been the victims of the invisible run support.

Today, there were a lot of pop-ups, swings at bad pitches, no swings at good pitches, confused looks and ball hit right at fielders:

 

The déjà vu continued as catcher Dane Sardinha got on base in both the 3rd and 5th innings.  Both times, Oswalt bunted him to second.  And both times, with one out and a runner in scoring position, Jimmy Rollins popped out.

 

Oswalt continued to pitch well, despite the disappointing offense.  He went seven innings, allowing only one run.  And the Phillies had some nice defensive plays as well, including a pair of double plays and some acrobatics by Wilson Valdez.

 

And then there was this play, where Rollins tagged out Elvis Andrus, but the umpire missed the tag.  It did not matter anyway, as Oswalt got out of the inning.

 

The second Rangers run was charged to J.C. Romero.  But again, it did not really matter as the Phillies batters were hitting anything.

The good news is that Chase Utley is back!  Pete Orr was sent to the minors to make room and Utley will make his 2011 debut on Monday night against the Reds.  The Phillies are counting on Utley to light a fire under this offense.

Joe Blanton was placed on the DL as expected and Vance Worley will replace him, pitching on Tuesday night.

The Phils also signed veteran outfielder Scott Podsednik to a minor-league deal as a back-up plan after the Blue Jays released him.  Podsednik is a lifetime .279 hitter but he has had issues with plantar fasciitis in his foot, which is why the Jays let him go.  If he can take time to heal, he could be useful later in the season.

The Reds game starts at 7:05pm tomorrow night.  In the meantime, here is the full Photo Album from today’s massacre…I mean, game.

 

Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

 

Giambi Picks Apart Weakened Phillies Team as Injuries Continue to Pile Up

People on the internet have been freaking out about Saturday being the end of the world.  For the Phillies, it may actually be true.               

 The first casualties of the week are Joe Blanton and Shane Victorino.  Blanton was on the DL in April and the beginning of May with right elbow soreness.  Upon his return, Blanton said the elbow was still sore, but he could pitch.

My first issue with this is why did the Phillies allow him to go on when he was still sore?  Second, why did Blanton hide how bad the elbow obviously was?  I can maybe answer the second question.  Blanton saw his job in jeopardy with how well Vance Worley pitched in his absence and felt that he need to come back soon.  That is my guess.

Blanton bailed on the Phillies 20 minutes before Thursday night’s game, saying it was too painful to go on.  He then spoke to reporters at Comcast Sportsnet and admitted he came back from the DL too early and that maybe he should have been “more honest” about his condition.

As a result of Blanton’s last minute bail, Kyle Kendrick was forced to start the game with no preparation at all.  He gave up five runs, including two of Jason Giambi’s homers.  Danyz Baez gave up the third.  Shocking, I know (insert your own sarcastic comment here).  The Phillies lost the game, 7-1.

All seven Rockies runs were scored thanks to the three home runs by Jason Giambi, which led me to these thoughts:

You Might Be A Steroid User If:

- You have grey hair and you hit three home runs in one game

- Your batting average was .115 before hitting three home runs in one game

- Your name is “Jason Giambi”

- Your batting average was .115 yesterday and your name is used in the same sentence as “Babe Ruth.”

Yes, Giambi is now one of only four players over the age of 40 to ever hit three home runs in a game.  The others are Babe Ruth, Stan Musial and Reggie Jackson.  While this is an impressive feat, I think that Kendrick and Baez pitching may have had a little to do with it.

So Blanton is headed to the DL and now, so is Shane Victorino.  An MRI revealed that Victorino has a second degree hamstring strain. He will be the 12th Phillie on the DL this year.  The Phillies will announce later who will replace each player.

Hold on to your seats, Phillies fans.  This ride is about to get bumpier.

 

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
 
*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

 

Hamels Ends Phillies Losing Streak

After losing four games in a row, the Phillies needed someone to stop the bleeding.  Cole Hamels, with help from his defense and second baseman Wilson Valdez, was able to get the Phillies a 2-1 win over the Rockies on Wednesday night.

Hamels tossed eight innings of one-run ball, allowing only five hits.  In short, he was spectacular.  His five wins this season tie Roy Halladay and his 2.92 ERA is second, also behind Halladay.

The defense played well behind him, with John Mayberry Jr. getting a key out in the first inning.  On a single hit to right field, Mayberry threw out  Alfredo Amezaga going to third base.  The next batter hit a fly ball to center so, Amezaga would have tagged up and scored had been safe at third.

And although the Phillies offense continues to struggle, Wilson Valdez came up big on a number of occasions.  He went 2 for 3 in the game with an RBI-single in the fifth.  In the eighth, Valdez singled again.  Shane Victorino bunted him over to second and then Valdez advanced to third on a wild pitch.  He then scored the go-ahead run on a Jimmy Rollins sac fly.

It was nice to see Victorino in a game, however, he is still having issues running and is scheduled for an MRI on Thursday.

As for the unlikely hero, Valdez, he is hitting .400 with runners in scoring position and .667 with the bases loaded.  Both of those stats lead the team.  It is hard to expect much more out of a guy who has filled in for Chase Utley all year.  Valdez has been amazing.

The second and final game with the Rockies is tonight at 7:05pm.  Joe Blanton will pitch.

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

Will Injuries Derail The Phillies Season?

As of May 13, 2011, the Phillies are 25-13 and two games ahead of the Florida Marlins for first place in the NL East.  However, Phillies players are dropping like flies.  Can they maintain this pace in spite of all the injuries?

So far the Phillies have lost their starting short stop, both catchers, two starting pitchers, a bunch of relief pitchers and more.  Starter Joe Blanton came off the DL but looks like he needs to go back as he is still in pain and losing speed on his pitches.  Starter Roy Oswalt is coming back this week, but also looks like he is not 100% after a rehab start on Thursday.

Then in Saturday’s 5-3 loss to the Braves, centerfielder Shane Victorino left the game early with a hamstring pull.  It ended his 15-game hitting streak.

The Phillies anemic offense managed only three hits in the game, a trend which has continued throughout the season so far.  The pitching has helped the Phillies win games, but the loses due to a lack of hitting are starting to pile up.

At the same time, the pitcher’s are now coming up lame.  If the injuries continue and the Phillies wind up with both weak pitching and weak hitting at the same time, this spells trouble.

Here is a look at the injuries so far this year:

 

If Victorino winds up on the DL, the Phillies may have been able to fill the roster spot by calling Domonic Brown back up since he has recovered from hand surgery.  However, earlier in the week, Brown sprained the thumb on the same hand he had surgery on and is unavailable to play right now.

Currently in right field, Ben Francisco has been terrible in the month of May.  He is hitting just .071 since May 1.  Ryan Howard is hitting .217 in May.  Placido Polanco’s May numbers are down as well, hitting .234.  Brian Schneider’s bat was starting to heat up when he got hurt and was sent to the DL.  Carlos Ruiz is back, but rusty, and he is still looking for his first hit this month.

The bench players have filled in admirably where they are able to.  But if this trend continues where the offense slumps and the pitching can no longer bail them out, the Phillies could lose their grasp on first place quickly.

The Phillies season is at a crossroads now.  Either they will be able to continue to battle through the injuries or they will not.

But this is an issue they have dealt with for many years running now.  This Phillies team knows how to carry on when star players hit the skids.  Hopefully, knowing that they have overcome injuries in the past will be enough to propel them into the future as a winning team.

Friday the 13th Was Good Luck For The Phillies

Friday the 13th turned out to be a reversal of fortune for the Phillies, on a day that is traditionally known for bad luck.  It was also a day where some very young, unproven pitchers were tossed into the fire and emerged unscathed.

Cole Hamels was to start the game, but before he took the mound, Ryan Howard blasted a three-run homer to give him a nice lead to work with.  And although Hamels gave a run back to the Braves in the first inning, it looked like he was on cruise control after that, at least until the fifth inning.

A single and two straight doubles by the Braves in the fifth tied the game at 3-3.  In the sixth, Hamels uncorked a wild pitch with a runner on third to give the Braves a 4-3 lead.  After six innings, Hamels had allowed four runs on eight hits while both Hamels and Placido Polanco committed errors in the game.

It was starting to look like a real Friday the 13th nightmare until Shane Victorino hit an RBI-single in the seventh to tie the game again.  But as quickly as things began to look up, they went downhill again fast.

Relief pitcher J.C. Romero started the bottom of the seventh and got into big trouble quickly.  Martin Prado doubled; it seemed like he could not fail to get on base after doing so four straight times in this game.  After a sac bunt that moved Prado to third, Romero walked the next two batters to load the bases.

With one out and the bases juiced, the rookie Michael Stutes took over, looking like fresh meat tossed into a pack of wolves.  Stutes was not rattled and he struck out Dan Uggla, making it look easy.  Antonio Bastardo was up next and before you could blink, the count was a scary 3-0.  But the young lefty refocused and came back to strike out a very frustrated Freddie Freeman, who began slamming equipment to the ground.

The Phillies were able to retake the lead in the eighth after Howard doubled and Raul Ibanez singled to score him.  With a very slim 5-4 lead, another rookie would be called upon to hold the Braves down.  Vance Worley took the mound and on one pitch, gave up a single.  Still not shaken, Worley got the next three outs, including Prado, who failed to reach base for the first time all night.

Ryan Madson closed out the game and is now 6-for-6 in save attempts.  But the best news of the night was seeing a very young group of bullpen pitchers pass the biggest test of their budding careers.  Stutes, Bastardo and Worley were outstanding and there can be no question now that they all have what it takes to pitch in the majors.

Game two with the Braves is at 1:10pm Saturday and Joe Blanton will pitch.

 

 

Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

 

Phillies Win A Wild One In Miami

Call it a game if you must, but tonight’s Phillies – Marlins match-up looked more like batting practice for both teams.  It featured the Phillies worst starter, fresh off a DL stint, in Joe Blanton and the Marlins worst starter, Javier Vazquez.  As hitters walked to the plate, they were literally salivating like a pack of ravenous hyenas standing over a fresh kill.

No one was more excited than Ross Gload, who has gotten very little playing time as a bench player this year.  With a rare start in right field, Gload finally had an opportunity to do some damage.  He took full advantage with two hits and two RBI.

A lot of Phillies had multi-hit games against the struggling Vazquez and some of the Marlins’ bullpen.  Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard and even Raul Ibanez came up with at least two hits in the game, along with Gload.

The pitching was another story.  Knowing he had the youngster Vance Worley nipping at his heels, Blanton must have been in a rush to get back to the team after going on the DL.  He did not even pitch in a rehab game.

In his race to get healthy, Blanton looked like a guy seriously out of practice.  But the defense bailed him out a number of times and he wound up with five innings, three runs allowed, two walks and eight hits.

Worley did wind up pitching in the game, taking over in the sixth.  He got though two scoreless innings and then in the eight, allowed a solo homer to Gaby Sanchez.  After Worley’s three innings of work, the score was then 6-4, surprisingly low for the number of hacks taken during the game.

The Phillies went on to win by the same score, with Ryan Madson collecting the save.  Roy Halladay will pitch Tuesday night.  Game time is 7:10pm.

 

 

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

 

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