Results tagged ‘ Matt Stairs ’

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.

Worley Whips The Nats

Game two against the Nationals was a very good day for young pitcher Vance Worley.  Filling in for the injured starter, Joe Blanton, Worley made his second start of the year tonight and notched his second win. 

Through six innings, Worley allowed only one run on four hits with one hit batter.  He also smacked a single into left and later scored in the fifth inning.  Worley has been so good, some may be wishing that Blanton really takes his time coming back.

By the way, have you all seen the new Vance Worley fan club?  They call themselves “Worley’s Warriors.” So is it just me, or do they look less like warriors and more like a Mariachi Band? 

 

Anyway, the offense did their job tonight as well.  Raul Ibanez put the final touches on a newly busted slump, going 3 for 4 with a solo homer.  While his batting average will take some time to recover, currently at .194, the hitting funk is officially over.

Jimmy Rollins had a nice day as well, relishing his return to the lead-off spot with two hits, an RBI and a walk.  Also with two hits, Brian Schneider continues to fill in for the ailing Carlos Ruiz.  And Shane Victorino collected two RBI.

The best part of the offense tonight was watching the Phillies go around the diamond one base at a time in the sixth inning to score four runs.  The small ball is back and the Phillies are scoring again.

Another return tonight was that of J.C. Romero, fresh off a rehab assignment.  Romero pitched a clean seventh inning and appears to be in very good shape.  Upon being added to the roster, pitcher David Herndon, who has been struggling, was optioned to AAA.

The Phillies went on to win by a score of 7-4 after Danys Baez allowed a 3-run homer in the 9th.  Ugh.

FYI – Our old buddy Jayson Werth has had only one hit in the series so far. 

The final game of the series is Thursday night at 7:05pm.  Roy Halladay will pitch.

Side note: Matt Stairs, now with the Nationals, got his 100th career pinch hit tonight.  Congrats, Matt!

 

***Important Blog FYI:  The entire MLBlogs community is going to be switched to a WordPress format beginning on Friday, May 6.  The transition may last through Monday night, May 9.  All MLBlogs writers will be unable to post and you will be unable to access any MLBlogs during this transition.  So do not panic if this and other blogs suddenly disappear during that weekend…we will be back :O)***

 

Go Phillies!

Halladay Never Quits As He Dodges A Big Bullet

Tonight’s Phillies game against the Nationals looked more like a game of dodgeball than baseball.  Bats and balls were flying everywhere as players dodged out of the way or dropped the ball like it was on fire.

In the fourth inning, Jimmy Rollins reached base when Ian Desmond dropped an easy ground ball.  One batter later, Desmond nearly football tackled Rollins who was on his way to third base.  As J-Roll rolled to the ground, the umpire called interference on Desmond and Rollins was safe at third.

Both Rollins and Ryan Howard had ball-handling issues as well.  The ball got stuck in each of their gloves at one point but they each recovered.

More flying objects threatened in the bottom of the fourth inning.  Danny Espinosa shattered his bat on a swing and pieces of the bat flew right at Roy Halladay, who was standing defenseless on the mound.  Luckily, the bat just grazed his glove.  Right behind him, Wilson Valdez fielded the ball cleanly despite the flying debris an turned and amazing double play to end the inning.

 

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Ryan Howard tried to dodge a ball in the fifth when pitcher John Lannan hit him in the hand.  Nightmares of Chase Utley’s broken hand in 2007, who was also hit by Lannan, swirled in the air.  But Howard was fine and a run was walked home as a result.

Oh, and Roy Halladay was pretty good tonight, too.  With the offense spotting him three runs, Halladay mowed down Nats batters one by one.  Even Jayson Werth, who was great on Tuesday night, could not dodge the bullets from his former teammate.

Werth finally got a hit in the ninth inning, as Halladay was then the one trying to dodge a bullet.  With one run in, Werth on third and only one out in a 3-1 game, Charlie Manuel went to the mound to get Halladay who it appears, refused to leave.  Manuel gave Halladay his wish and left him in.  The next batter hit an infield single to cut the Phils lead to 3-2.

Still, Halladay stayed on the mound.  Next up was another former Phillies, Matt Stairs.  Normally one who swings away, Stairs froze as three straight strikes flew by.  Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez suffered the same fate as he struck out looking to end the game, despite protests to the umpire.

The Phillies won by a score of 3-2.  As for Roy Halladay, bullet dodged.

Phillies Overcome Another Lidge Disaster To Win In 12

Every time someone mentions the name “Brad Lidge” now, I instantly feel sick to my stomach.  It has become a Pavlovian response.  And while I am not a dog, I do get a tad bitchy around the “Lidge” references.  The last two years of the Phillies-Lidge experiment have been a rollercoaster ride…and not a pleasant one.

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Last night, the Phils managed to squeak out 2 runs against the Padres amazing pitching staff while Roy Oswalt held their offense to just one run.  Oswalt had an amazing game; the kind of game everyone hoped he would bring to Philly.  But leave it to Lidge to try to sour the evening.

The 9th inning save attempt turned into another Lidge disaster.  Former Phillie Matt Stairs singled to start the inning and a pinch runner came in.  But Lidge got the first two outs without a problem after that.  And then, the wheels fell off the wagon.

After an intentional walk to slugger Adrian Gonzalez, Lidge was ahead 0-2 to Ryan Ludwick.  Yes, ahead in the count.  So what does Lidge do on the next pitch?  He hits Ludwick to load the bases.  As if that were not bad enough, Chase Headly steps to the plate and Lidge BALKS a run home.  And it was not one of those picky balk calls; it was blatantly obvious and without explanation.  Lidge was not holding anyone on base; the bases were loaded!  WHAT was he thinking?  Wow.  That was blown save #5 for Lidge this year.

The then tied 2-2 game went into extra innings.  Thanks to Jimmy Rollins and Chad Durbin, the Phillies pulled out a win.  Rollins led off the 12th with a double and scored on a Placido Polanco single.  It was a scary play as Rollins danced around the tag at home plate and just barely got his hand on the plate to score safely.  And Durbin pitched 2 scoreless innings to record the 3-2 win.

But runs were not easy to come by in the game and the Phillies still have issues hitting, especially with runners in scoring position.  In the 3rd, singles by Rollins, Polanco and Chase Utley scored the 1st run but, with two men on base, Ryan Howard struck out…again.  Shane Victorino had a chance to add on in the 8th with one out and the bases loaded.  A sac fly would have been nice, but instead, Victorino swung at the first pitch; the weak grounder was thrown home for the force out. 

Jayson Werth grounded into a double play in the 12th with 2 men on base, which blew a prime opportunity for an insurance run.  Werth went 0-5 with 2 strikeouts and in an odd twist, he even fell down the dugout stairs after a bad at-bat.  He appeared to be ok afterwards.  I hate to keep picking on Werth as I have all week, but his lack of focus is simply astounding.  He is not the only one, but he has been the most obvious about it.

So while a win is a great thing, especially after losing 4 straight to the Astros, the Phillies bats had better wake up today before this road trip takes a turn for the worst.  They did gain one game on the Braves with the win, so this is the time to step on the gas pedal and getting moving.  Game 2 with the Padres is this afternoon at 4:10pm.

By the way, pitcher Danys Baez was placed on the DL yesterday with back spasms.  Lefty Antonio Bastardo was called up to take his place.

 

Player photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

 

Phillies Cruise 2010 Update

It is the middle of day 2 in our Phillies Phantastic Voyage and so far, it has been an adventure.  Leaving Fort Lauderdale yesterday we ran into some “weather” and rather bumpy seas right at the beginning of the Phillies cocktail party.  JC Romero, Ryan Madson and Greg Luzinski did not seem bothered by the rocking, but poor Shane Victorino got sea sick and only stayed at the party for a few minutes.

So while Shane and a few other guests tried out a new shade of green, the rest of us held on to anything stationary, trying to remain upright.  But that did not impede the fun; Ryan, JC and Greg worked the crowd like pros and chatted with the fans.  Ryan especially seems thrilled to be there after hearing from JC what a great time we all had last year.  Here are a few photos:  Shane is sporting a beard!  Then you will see Greg, Ryan, me with JC and the Phanatic:Cruise1.jpg

The only bummer on the day was learning that Matt Stairs was unable to join us :O(  Matt was offered a minor league contract to stay with the Phillies but has decided to pursue options with other clubs in order to sign again in the majors.  Matt is well loved in Philly and he will be missed dearly, not only on the cruise this week, but in 2010.  I wish him the best of luck in his search!

More photos here…Ryan with Scott Palmer, Shane at the bar before taking ill, me chatting with Erin Romero and you can see Ryan in the background and Ryan, JC and Scott talking to the fans:

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Later this afternoon, we will have our official photo session with the players and then a Q&A with them as well.  Tomorrow, we are off to Grand Turk!  Got to run and get back to my vacation now :O)  Talk to you all again soon!

Photos by Jenn

2010 Phillies Cruise Preview

The countdown has begun!  Only 2 days until the Phillies Phantastic Cruise sets sail for the Caribbean.  Joining us on board will be JC Romero, Shane Victorino, Ryan Madson, Matt Stairs, the Phanatic, former Phillie Greg “The Bull” Luzinski and broadcaster Scott Palmer.  I went on the cruise last year as well and it was a blast!  Sailing out of Fort Lauderdale, FL, this year we will be stopping at Grand Turk, Puerto Rico, St. Thomas and the Bahamas.

The Phillies events will include photo and autograph sessions, Q&A session, cocktail parties with the Phillies players and more!  Here is the video slideshow I put together of last year’s cruise:

Larry Andersen went with us last year but was unable to attend this time around.  He told me a few months back that he had a lot going on this month, not the least of which is Phillies Phantasy Camp where he will spend an entire week.  We will miss him!

While I am away, I will try to post updates and photos as the cruise progresses and as time allows.  If anyone else is going, feel free to drop me an email and let me know or just track me down on the boat and say hello!

Photos by Jenn

 

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

 

Catch & Toss

The Phillies found a back-up catcher today when they signed Brian Schneider to a $2.75 million, 2 year deal.  Schneider spent the last 2 years with the Mets and the previous 8 seasons with the Nationals/Expos.  The best news here is that Schneider was notorious for being a Phillie killer; pitching to him has been a 10 year nightmare.  Overall, Schneider is  a .251 hitter and should fit nicely into the back-up spot vacated by Paul Bako and Chris Coste before that.

And in a very odd twist to the situation, Coste has just been signed by the Mets!  P6216152 CCoste.jpgCoste started the 2009 season with the Phillies before being tossed and subsequently picked up off waivers by Houston in July.  The self-proclaimed 33-year old rookie is now in enemy threads which is sure to send shockwaves throughout Philadelphia.  Coste was well loved in Philly and many were unhappy with his departure.  Not to mention, many would rather see him retire than play in a Mets uniform.  It is a sad, sad day for Coste fans.  But look at the bright side; at least we will get to see him a lot next year :O)

As for the other holes in the line-up, like third base, no word yet except that midnight tonight is the deadline for all teams to offer salary arbitration to their free agents.  The Phillies are likely to offer arbitration to Chan Ho Park as they have stated they want him back next year.  Park may decline and decide to look around for a starting pitching spot as several teams have seemed interested in him.  If he accepts, he will be with the Phillies for 2010 and probably get a raise.  As for the other free agents, Bako and Eric Bruntlett are out of the picture with their replacements already signed in Brian Schneider and Juan CastroBrett Myers has already been shown the door, as has Jack TaschnerPedro Feliz, Pedro Martinez, Matt Stairs and Miguel Cairo are also unlikely, although Stairs and Cairo may be offered minor league deals. 

Ticket Prices

So, have we all looked at our season ticket invoices yet?  This is not a huge shock, but Phillies ticket prices went up again this year by $2- $4 per ticket.  Not only that, but some season ticket holders received worse seat assignments.  Someone I know got bumped backwards 2 rows in the same section.  So, we are now paying more for less?  While 2 rows is not earth shattering, traditionally, season ticket holders have been rewarded for their loyalty with better seats from year to year, not punished.

So yes, the World Series win in 2008 plus the return trip in 2009 do affect the prices, unfortunately.  But that does not make it any easier to swallow.  The money does not go towards improving the team or free agency; it is just more in the pockets of the owners.   And with the team winning now, they do it simply because they can.

Prices over the recent years have increased tremendously.  A seat that cost $42 in 2004 is now $58 for 2010.  The last year of the vet for the same seat was $26.   What I am wondering though is what happens when the team sucks again?  Do we become the Nationals with a stadium that is only 25% full?  I follow the team win or lose, but I will not pay those prices to see them lose when I can do that at home for free.  Then again, maybe they will never suck again…one can dream ;o)

So, did anyone else get there ticket invoice and wonder what happened?  Did you get the same seats or did you get bumped back?  What do you think about the prices?  Let me know in the comment section below.

Coste photo by Jenn

 

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

 

A Frightening Performance

Last year on Halloween Day, the Phillies were celebrating by parading down Broad Street.  This year on Halloween Day, they took a spanking from the New York Yankees in Game 3 of the World Series with an 8-5 loss after a 1 hour and 20 minute rain delay.  Cole Hamels did not follow my instructions and wear his “Hamels: Version 2008” costume for the occasion.  Instead, Hamels 2009 took the mound and gave up 5 runs in 4 1/3 innings on 5 hits and 2 walks.  A scary Halloween, indeed, complete with cloudy skies, rain and a 1-2 game deficit in the series.


103109a.jpgThis has been the story for Cole all year long; he simply cannot be counted on.  He pitched well for 3 innings and then lost composure on a walk to Mark Teixeira that he felt should have been a strikeout in the 4th.  A-Rod batted next and launched a controversial home run; the ball hit a FOX TV camera which was sticking out over the field.  Instant Replay showed the hit and by rule, the interference made it a home run.  This brings up another point: why is a TV camera sticking out over the field?  They cannot back up a few inches?  That simply should not be allowed.  Way to go FOX.

It all fell apart after that.  Once again, even though Cole showed signs of impending disaster, manager Charlie Manuel sent him out for the 5th and again, left him in way too long.  He even allowed an RBI single to the pitcher, Andy Pettitte, who almost never picks up a bat.  3 runs later and this game was going downhill fast.  The bullpen could not hold the Yanks to those 5 either.  The next 3 relievers allowed one run a piece in each of the next 3 innings.


103109b.jpgAdd to that the horrible offensive display and Phillies fans are having flashbacks to slumps from earlier in the season.  The Yankees who had not been hitting in this series, like A-Rod and Nick Swisher, found Hamels to be the cure.  And the Phillies who were performing all post-season long, like NLCS MVP Ryan Howard, have seemingly lost their bats and cannot find them anywhere.

Jayson Werth looked to be the only Phillie interested in hitting; he knocked two solo home runs in the game.  Carlos Ruiz also hit a solo homer and walked twice.  The other 2 runs came off a walk to Jimmy Rollins with the bases loaded and a Shane Victorino sac fly.  And that was basically the sum total of the offense.


103109c.jpgAnother item that irks me here:  Eric Bruntlett was put in as a pinch hitter with a man on base in a situation where a home run was really what they needed.  Why not Matt Stairs?  Bruntlett should never be used as a pinch hitter unless they are looking to bunt.  He had a terrible season and looks like he could not hit the side of a barn.  Not to mention, he almost never hits homers.

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As for Hamels, he is lined up to pitch Game 7, if it goes that far.  In my opinion, this should not even be a consideration.  Hamels has proven all year that he cannot get the job done, especially under pressure.  He should be done.  Come up with a mystery injury, replace him on the roster with another bullpen arm or bench player and send in Cliff Lee on short rest with JA Happ as his back-up.  If I was in charge, that is what would happen.  But since I am not in charge, hang on Phillies fans, it is going to be a bumpy ride if this goes 7 games.

The Phillies can try to tie up the series tonight with a win, but it will be Joe Blanton against CC Sabathia.  Blanton has not done very well this post-season and is sporting a 4.66 ERA.  Sabathia is the better pitcher, but does have awful memories of last post-season to overcome, including his lost battles with Brett Myers at the plate, a Grand Slam by Victorino and the banter of the home crowd.  Plus he is on 3 days rest, same as that game last year where the Phillies beat up on him when he was with the Brewers. 

My tummy hurts just thinking about this.  Plus, I have an awful hangover from last night’s game, and I did not drink anything but water.  Yet somehow, the nausea and headache still persist.  Hmmmmm….wonder why? ;o)

Here is the full Photo Album from Game 3.  I took a lot of photos of both teams, something I normally do not do.  I also got some great pre-games shots which include Hall of Famers and old-timers, Reggie Jackson, Mike Schmidt, Greg Luzinski and Garry Maddox.  Some are a tad blurry as it rained most of the game and I had water on my lens :O(  But I still did pretty well.  At least this will be more enjoyable than the game was :O)

Photos by Jenn

 

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

 

Series Tied Up

The World Series is now tied at 1 game each as the Yankees came up with a 3-1 win over the Phillies last night.  Starting pitchers Pedro Martinez and AJ Burnett both pitched well, but Burnett did a bit better.  Burnett was trying to do his best Cliff Lee impersonation and except for 2 hits and a run in the 2nd inning, he did just that.

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Martinez allowed 3 runs over 6 innings, but the 3rd run probably should not have happened.  Martinez looked like he was done after 6 innings, but Charlie Manuel sent him out for the 7th where he allowed 2 hits with no outs and then had be to taken out.  With a bullpen full of fresh arms that had not pitched in 8 days, plus the fact that Martinez has been sick for several days, he never should have started that inning.  A one run lead may have been possible to overcome against the Yanks closer, Mariano Rivera, but two runs were insurmountable.  Chan Ho Park allowed that 3rd run to score when he came in to relieve Martinez.

Several Phillies have been taken ill these last few weeks.  Greg Dobbs was sent back to Philly early as he has the flu; Scott Eyre and Shane Victorino have both been battling illnesses as well.  Eyre was in the hospital Thursday night with the flu.  So with Martinez catching the bug as well, why push him?

The Phillies did get to Rivera, who was sent in for a two inning save.  They managed 2 hits and a walk, proving that Mo is not untouchable.  But the decision to not send the runners with two on and two strikes on Utley, who usually makes contact, cost them.  The Yankees turned a double play to end the inning, although the replay showed Utley was safe at first.

Prior to that, Matt Stairs had the only RBI for the Phillies after a Raul Ibanez double.  The Phillies never figured out Burnett and Ryan Howard even struck out 4 times.  3 of the top 4 hitters did not get a hit and as a team, the Phillies had 6 hits total.

So the good news is, we do not have to see Burnett again for a while and hopefully, not at all.  The other good news is the Phillies are headed home where they have played extremely well this post-season.  Cole Hamels will pitch on Saturday, which is Halloween.  I think Cole should dress up for Halloween as “Hamels: Version 2008.”  Hopefully, he can scare the Yanks right out of that game.

Go Phillies!

Photos by Jenn

 

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

 

Unbelievable 9th Inning Comeback

Down 4-5 in Game 4 of the NLCS against the Dodgers, the Phillies were down to their last out and their last 2 strikes when Jimmy Rollins stepped to the plate with 2 runners on.  Win, and the Phillies would have a huge 3-1 games advantage.  Lose, and the series would be tied 2-2.  What took place next was not only improbable, but it absolutely stunned the Dodgers.

Things looked good when the game started and Ryan Howard nailed a 2-run shot in the 1st inning.  But the bats went quiet as ex-Phillies Randy Wolf bore down and kept the Dodgers in the game.  Joe Blanton started for the Phillies and got roughed up a bit in the middle innings.  By the end of the 6th, Blanton had allowed the 2-run lead slip away into a 2-4 deficit.

The bullpen took over in the 7th and held the Dodgers to those four runs.  Chan Ho Park, Ryan Madson, Scott Eyre and Brad Lidge got the job done.  However, the offense still seemed sleepy after that 11-0 rout the previous day, so a comeback was looking unlikely.

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But then Matt Stairs stepped the plate with one out in the 9th and everyone began hoping for the same miracle that occurred in Game 4 of the 2008 NLCS: Stairs nailed a 2-run homer in the 8th inning of that 2008 game to give the Phillies the lead.  Could this be a repeat performance?

Well, not quite.  Facing the very same pitcher he got that hit off in 2008, Jonathan Broxton, Stairs felt confident.  Broxton may not have felt quite as confident as he threw Stairs four straight balls.  Eric Bruntlett was put in as a pinch runner.  Broxton then proceeded to hit Carlos Ruiz with a pitch.101909b.jpg 

But Greg Dobbs lined out for the 2nd out and things were looking good for the Dodgers J-Roll stepped to the plate with one final out remaining and 2 runners on base.  With a 1-1 count, Rollins whacked a line drive into the hole in right-center field.  Bruntlett and Ruiz tore up the base path, scoring 2 runs to win the game for the Phillies.  Phillies fans screamed in celebration while Dodgers fans squirmed in agony.

As amazing and uplifting as this win was for the Phillies, on the other side of the spectrum it was equally as painful and gut-wrenching for the Dodgers.  This was a killer blow, putting the Phillies at a 3-1 advantage; they now need only one more win in 3 possible tries to lock up a second consecutive trip to the World Series with a chance to repeat.

This win also shows why the Phillies are the defending World Champions.  They believe they will win, they support one another and they never give up until the final out is recorded.  To be able to witness this is the greatest joy of any fans life.  Repeat or no repeat, Phillies fans should be proud of their team!  What a year this has been…and it is not over yet.

Here is the Photo Album from the game…Go Phillies!!!

PS:  Thank you to all my readers for making Phillies Phollowers the#1 Phillies fan blog on the MLB site for the entire 2009 season!  And I am #8 overall for ALL fan blogs!  Your support is greatly appreciated; it is an honor to bring you the Phillies through my eyes…Thank you!

Photos by Jenn

 

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

 

 

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