Results tagged ‘ NLDS ’

Grieving the Phillies 2011 Season – Stage 3: Bargaining

Stage 3 of my mourning the 2011 Phillies season has reached the bargaining stage.  The only problem is that the season is already gone, leaving nothing but “why’s,” “what if’s” and “if only’s.”

For instance,

  • What if…the Phillies had just let the Braves win the last two games of the season, thereby eliminating the Cardinals from the Wild Card?
  • What if…Cliff Lee did not blow a 4 run lead in NLDS game 2?
  • If only…I had a magic wand to make it all better.
  • What if…the Phillies offense actually showed up?
  • If only…I had a time machine (*sigh*).
  • If only…this team had stayed healthy.
  • What if…Charlie Manuel had a clue about when to pull his starters?
  • If only…wishing made it so :O(

Are there any deals left to be made?  Can I bargain with the devil to rewind this horrendous end to the season?  Ok, maybe not the devil.  But how about the angry, rabid and totally evil Busch Stadium Squirrel?  Clearly, this rodent has super powers that helped propel the Cards to the World Series.

Evil squirrel

The World Freakin’ Series?  The Cardinals?  A team that had literally no shot at a playoff run just weeks before the postseason?  If they win it all, they should dedicate the trophy to the Phillies, who beat the Braves, putting them in playoffs.  And the Phils then laid down and let the Cards walk all over them in the NLDS.

Not that the Cards did not earn it…they certainly did.  But the Phillies barely put up a fight, which still makes me want to travel back in time, violently shake each Phils player and scream until they WAKE UP!

Someone please wake me up…I must still be dreaming.  And oh, what a nightmare this has been.

Stay tuned for Stage 4…

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

Grieving the Phillies 2011 Season – Stage 2: Anger

I can no longer deny that the season is OVER for the Phillies.  And over in the most awful way possible.  So  now, I am pissed.

Anger managementSeriously, WTF were these players thinking when they proceeded to swing at bad pitches and watch good ones fly past?  You know the old saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it?”  Well, isn’t the opposite true as well?  WHY, in the name of all that is unholy, did the Phillies offense stay the course with what was NOT working and skip any attempt to FIX the problem?

There were a variety of ridiculous press conferences this week where players, manager Charlie Manuel and GM Ruben Amaro Jr. all admitted that something has to change.  They talked about players having a “better approach” at the plate and more “patience” and “discipline.”

If you ask me, this is one of the most undisciplined Phillies teams in recent memory.  Manuel’s nice guy approach is refreshing, but when things are going bad, it is also counterproductive.  Sometimes, players need a kick in the rear.  Sometimes, actual coaching is required.  And most times, discipline is a very, very good thing.

Manuel says he is a good ” hitting coach.”  But his “coaching” seems to come across to many experienced players as “suggestions” rather than  correction or direction.  But are some of these players too damn old and set in their ways to be coached?  If they are, MOVE ON.

Because what exactly is going to change next year?  Ryan Howard is still going to swing at a ball in the dirt on a 3-0 count no matter what you tell him.  That is who he is.  I am not saying dump Howard (which frankly, would be impossible now) or anyone else, but DO let these guys know they need to do as they are told or bench them!

I do not care how much money they are making.  If they cannot follow directions, teach them that there ARE consequences.  If I suck at my job, I will get fired.  If I do not follow directions or at least TRY things my boss tells me to, I am in BIG trouble.  And my paycheck is crap…these guys are making millions and still do not feel like they need to listen to their boss?  WTF!

If Manuel tells a guy to move closer to the plate, he needs to let the player know this is an ORDER, not a suggestion!  If it doesn’t work, fine, he tried.

Lee yellingabThis is probably the most disgusted I have ever been with a Phillies team in 30 years.  Even all those years when they were losing consistently, it was easier to take because they did not have a lot of talent.  This 2011 team was loaded with talent and they just plain blew it!

This season was a huge waste of time, money and superior pitching.  Heck, even the great pitching sucked in 2 out of 5 games in the NLDS.  And I love Cliff Lee, but if he was in front of right this second, I might bash him repeatedly over the head with a soft, fluffy pillow.  I saw pillow because I prefer to express my anger and disappointment without actually causing injury ;o)

For Roy Oswalt, my plan is to drop to the ground at his feet, cry hysterically and shout, “You ruined my life!  HOW could you do that?  What kind of a cruel person are you! Waaaaaaaaa!”  While none of that is really accurate, it would brighten my mood to make him feel bad for a few seconds ;o)

Ok, so I know they all feel terrible as it is, so all of that is really unnecessary, but damn, I am pissed!  Aren’t you?

And that concludes my angry and slightly insane rant during my extended period of mourning.  Stay tuned for Stage 3…

 

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 Lee photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

2011 Phillies Season Ends in a Total Disaster

First, congratulations to the St. Louis Cardinals.  They played well and deserved to win this series.  And that statement may be the only light moment in this post today…

I am angry, disappointed and thoroughly disgusted by this loss and the effort this Phillies team put forth in this NLDS series.  I apologize in advance if anyone is offended by what I am about to say, but I need a good rant to get this off my chest.

I do not want to hear, “We’ll get them next year.”  I do not want to hear, “Hindsight is 20/20.”  Because frankly, the issues on this Phillies team are not hindsight.  They are glaring problems that were obvious to me before the series even began.  If they were obvious to me, what I want to know, is why weren’t they to manager Charlie Manuel?

As my first example, take Placido Polanco.  This is a guy who normally hits at least .300 every year.  But he has been playing on a hip that will require surgery this offseason.  Manuel said after the game that Polly was in pain, but still able to play.  Just because he is ABLE to play, does not mean he should have.

Polanco batted .105 in the series and should have been benched both for his lack of production and for his health.  Putting a guy with a bum hip in the line-up every day was almost a guarantee of an 0-4 day.  Wilson Valdez played in 99 games in the regular season and came through many times in big situations.  Valdez would have at least accidentally run into a hit at some point. 

I am not saying Valdez should have played every game, but Polly certainly should not have stayed in the line-up once it was obvious that he was unable to hit with this injury.  This was a huge mistake.

Another huge mistake was Ryan Howard.  Can anyone think of a good reason for Howard to be tinkering with his stance and location in the batter’s box during a playoff series?  No?  Neither can I.  He did pretty well the 1st two games and then suddenly by Game 3, he had moved so far back in the batter’s box that he was almost in New Jersey.

100811-howard-NLDS-400 Howard messed with his approached and screwed both himself and this team, going 0 for his last 15 at-bats.  And why is a guy who is not hitting giving the 3-0 green light?  WTF.  Seriously.

So Howard made the final out of the postseason again, two years in a row, in the most pathetic manner possible.  He hurt his Achilles and went down like a sack of potatoes trying to exit the batter’s box.  He had to be helped off the field.  Fittingly, the look on his face matched the feeling of every Phillies fans in attendance and watching at home; sheer agony.

Next up, Chase Utley….you all know I love Mr. Utley.  But WHY is he taking a chance trying to steal a base in a 1-0 elimination game against Yadier Molina who throws just about everyone he faces out in that situation?

And my new favorite topic of discussion is Jimmy Rollins.  Rollins may be the only player who had a pretty good series until the final game.  He openly scolded fans about being too quiet after Game 2 and asked them to give it their all in Game 5.  Ok, fine.  The fans more than obliged and Rollins proceeded to go 0-4 in the game.  The fans brought it, why didn’t Rollins?  After the game, Rollins would not speak to reporters.  Go figure.

And then there is Raul Ibanez.  I can see letting him start most games, but when he started swinging at balls 2 feet out of the strike zone, this is a sign.  Ibanez goes hot and cold like the flip of a switch.  When he is obviously cold, take him out!  Give John Mayberry Jr. a shot.  TRY something to kick start this horrid offense!

Hunter Pence and Carlos Ruiz were just as bad in this series.  After ending the season with a .314 average, Pence hit only .211 in the NLDS.  Ruiz was worse, going 1-17 which equates to a .059 average.

Shane Victorino and Rollins were they only two guys who hit with any sort of consistency, but Rollins crashed and burned in the final game.

And then there is the line-up as a whole.  Manuel moved Utley to the 2-hole and Pence to the 3-hole.  This worked well for all of maybe 3 games total? – A few in at the end of the regular season and Game 1 of the NLDS?  Howard hit well before with Pence behind him.  Why mess with that once it stopped working?

Manuel is big on  what he calls playing the guys who got them to this point.  I’ve got news for Charlie…Valdez, Mayberry and sometimes Michael Martinez were a HUGE part of what got this team there, filling in for injured players and making big plays.  But he started Mayberry once and totally ignored the other guys.

And now for the pitching…Roy Halladay gave everything he had and gave up only one run.  He would have bled for this team if he thought it would help.  But the team let him down and could not score even one lousy run for the one guy who has carried them all year.  Disgusting.  After the game, Halladay said that the worst part of the loss was letting down the fans who were so supportive all year.  For me, the person I feel the worst for is Halladay.  He deserved a win; he earned it.  This team should be ashamed of letting him down like this.

And among the rest of the four aces, only Cole Hamels pitched well.  Cliff Lee blew a 4-run lead in Game 2, which was the real turning point of the series.  Once that happened, the Cards knew they had the Phils by the balls.  It was all downhill from there.

The Game 3 win was a freak accident, thanks to a Ben Francisco homer.  But the Phillies did not really earn that win.  And in Game 4, Roy Oswalt choked and gave up 5 runs.  So much for four aces.  Because the Cardinals had the royal flush.

This is possible the biggest let-down for any Phillies team in history since Black Friday on October 7, 1977 when Davey Lopes with the Dodgers was called safe and the momentum propelled the Dodgers to win the series.  So Friday October 7, 2011 (yes, the same day) may go down in history as Black Friday II.

With the pitching staff the Phillies assembled this year and the overall talent on this team, to see them lose the NLDS is a gut-wrenching tragedy.  I would not be surprised to see GM Ruben Amaro Jr. at the top of a very tall building today contemplating where it all went wrong.

I feel sorry for Ruben – he did his job, got them the players they needed and has nothing to show for it.  In fact, this Phillies team since the 2008 World Series win has taken one huge step backwards each year following: in 2009 they lost the World Series; in 2010 they lost the NLCS; and now in 2011, they lost the NLDS.  One step further back each year – if the trend continues, they will not even make the playoffs next year.

The window of opportunity for this team to win is about to close, which is the worst part of this horrible loss.  The main players are getting older, they are more injury prone and many may not even be back next year.  This may officially wind up being the worst offseason in Phillies recent history.

So I am ready to spit nails, how about you?  Please share your thoughts in the comments section. 

 

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Photo by Philly.com

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

Opportunity Lost As Cards Tie Series

So far in this NLDS, two of the Phillies heralded four aces have been hugely disappointing.  In Game 2, Cliff Lee gave up 5 runs in 6 innings.  Tonight in Game 4, Roy Oswalt did exactly the same.

Those two starts, and even yesterday’s Game 3 win, only served to amplify another Phillies major issue: the offense.  The bats have been mostly quiet in every game except the first one.  The Phillies snuck by with 3 runs for a win in Game 3 thanks only to a Ben Francisco homer.

It looked like the Phils might put a hurting on the Cardinals early tonight, scoring two quick runs in the 1st.  But instead of piling on, Ryan Howard struck out and on the same pitch, Hunter Pence got nailed going to second, although on replay, he was safe.  No matter, because that one strike out / throw out killed the rally and the offense died after that.

The slow, painful death of the Phils offense this postseason could signal the premature end of their playoff run.  Even with Roy Halladay to pitch in the final Game 5 of the NLDS on Friday, if the Phils do not score, what Halladay does will not matter.

The only light moment in tonight’s disgusting loss was the reappearance of the Busch Stadium squirrel.  The BS Squirrel enjoyed a run around the field in Game 3.  In Game 4, he interrupted an Oswalt pitch by running straight across home plate.

The umpire had no sympathy for Oswalt.  Shocking, I know.

The Phillies will head back home, in a 2-2 series tie.  Friday night is a case of win or go home…start praying that the Phillies find their bats before then.

 

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

Big Ben Unlikely Hero In Game 3 Win

With the NLDS series tied 1-1 between the Phillies and the Cardinals, Game 3 was going to be big for the winner.  The Phillies had not been able to hit Cards starter Jaime Garcia in previous meetings, so for the Phillies, this was not an easy task.

Equally intimidating, Cole Hamels pitched for the Phillies.  Over 6 innings, he did not allow a single run.  But multiple base runners and deep counts ran Hamels out of the game earlier than the Phillies would have liked.

Big Ben Francisco There was no score by the time Hamels was out of the game, but an unlikely hero emerged in the top of the 7th inning to keep Hamels in-line for the win.  Shane Victorino singled to start the inning and later, Carlos Ruiz was intentionally walked to bring up Big Ben Francisco.

Outfielder Francisco  was a relative non-factor most of the year after the emergence of John Mayberry Jr. and the acquisition of Hunter Pence.  He hit only 6 homers the entire regular season and saw limited at-bats.

But on the one night the Phillies really needed a hero, Big Ben stepped up with a 3-run blast in the 7th.  Even better, the bomb came off a pitch from Garcia who suddenly lost some of his command in that inning.  Finally, the Phillies hit Garcia and took a 3-0 lead.

The Phillies bullpen made the final 3 inning a real adventure though.  Vance Worley gave up a run in the 7th.  Then he and Brad Lidge combined to load the bases in the 8th.  But Ryan Madson, brought into the game earlier than usual, coaxed a double play ball to end the threat.  Madson did give up a run later in the 9th, but still earned the save.

This was a huge win for the Phillies who now need only one more win to erase the Cards and advance to the NLCSRoy Oswalt will pitch tomorrow night; game time is 6:00pm.

 

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Photoshopping by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

Major Lee Let-Down in Game 2

P7096974BH If I had not watched the game last night and you told me this morning that Cliff Lee blew a 4-run lead in a playoff game, I would have assumed that someone put crack in your cornflakes.  But alas, I did see the game and yes, the unbeLEEable happened.

Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa looked like a serious moron in the first two innings, pitching Chris Carpenter on only 3 days rest.  The Phillies beat him up to the tune of 4 runs.  With Lee on the mound, this was a sure win, right?  Wrong.

Because Lee imploded , allowing 3 runs in the 3rd and two more over the 6th and 7th.  Frankly, he never should have been sent back out for the 7th after it was clear in the 6th that this was not his day.

But the Phillies offense also blew a lot of opportunities.  After scoring 3 in the 1st, Placido Polanco hit into a double play with 2 men on base to end the inning.  It was still a good first inning, but they could have really put the game away here and did not.  They left runners on base in the 2nd as well.

Polanco is 0-8 in the series so far.  So is Carlos Ruiz.  Ruiz took a huge shot at the plate to save a run yesterday, but his bat has come up empty.  And Hunter Pence, although he has gotten a few big hits, has also left 5 men on base in the series and hit into a fielder choice in a key situation last night in the 8th, killing the momentum.

So the game cannot all be blamed on Lee, but it certainly is a huge disappointment based on what we all know Lee is capable of.

The Phillies head to St. Louis now and will put Cole Hamels on the mound against Jaime Garcia, who the Phillies have not been able to hit at all in the past.  Game time on Tuesday is 5:00pm.

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

Phillies Clip Cardinals’ Wings in Game 1

Game 1 of the Phillies – Cardinals NLDS looked like a party before the game began:

100111 deco

Then after scoring 3 runs off Phillies ace Roy Halladay in the first inning, the Cardinals were given false hopes of possibly winning the game.  After all, Halladay does not usually implode in this fashion, so those 3 runs looked like a killer blow.

100111 Halladay

The fans were very quiet after that, especially when the Phillies offense got themselves out, making Kyle Lohse toss only 6 pitches in each of the first two innings.  The mood was so depressing, it felt like a funeral.

But in the bottom of the 4th, the Phillies offense showed signs of life, with a little help from a Cards error.  Chase Utley doubled, Ryan Howard walked and then Shane Victorino hit what should have been an easy pop-up.  But David Freese dropped the ball, giving Victorino a second chance.  He took advantage with an RBI-single for the Phillies first run of the game.

100111 other

By the 6th inning, the Phillies had finally figured out Lohse.  After Jimmy Rollins and Hunter Pence singles, Howard delivered a huge blow with a 3-run bomb, giving the Phils a 4-3 lead.  Raul Ibanez added on with a 2-run shot later in the inning.

100111 Homers

As the Phillies added on, Halladay found his groove.  He did not allow a single hit to the Cards after the 2nd inning.  Halladay went eight innings, allowing only the 3 runs in the 1st.  This guy is amazing.

With an 11-3 lead, the Phillies decided to save Halladay’s arm for another day and gave the 9th inning to Michael Stutes.  It seemed like a good situation to baptize the rookie into his 1st postseason appearance.  However, it did not work out too well for Stutes.

Stutes wound up getting charged with 3 runs in 1/3 of an inning and closer Ryan Madson had to be brought in to clean up the mess.  So the final score was 11-6.  Worse for Stutes, this huge blunder has pretty much rendered him useless for the rest of the series.

So on to Game 2 Sunday night at 8:37pm.  The good mood of the Phillies players Phillies and coaches yesterday is sure to carry over:

100111 Hello

Here is the full Photo Album from Game 1…enjoy!

Go Phillies!

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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*

Roster in Place, the Phillies Are Ready for the NLDS

Game 1 of the NLDS is scheduled for a 5:07 start tonight.  Here is the post-season roster for the Phillies:

  • Catchers (2): Carlos Ruiz and Brian Schneider.
  • Infielders (6): Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Placido Polanco, Jimmy Rollins, Wilson Valdez and Michael Martinez.
  • Outfielders (6): Raul Ibanez, Shane Victorino, Hunter Pence, John Mayberry Jr., Ben Francisco and Ross Gload.
  • Pitchers (11): Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Roy Oswalt, Ryan Madson, Brad Lidge, Antonio Bastardo, Mike Stutes, Vance Worley, Kyle Kendrick and Joe Blanton.
  • Extras: Infielder Pete Orr and Catcher Erik Kratz will travel with the team. RHP Justin De Fratus, LHP Joe Savery and outfielder Domonic Brown will work out in Clearwater, FL and Outfielders John Bowker and Brandon Moss and RHP Michael Schwimer have been sent home.

The only slightly interesting move here is that Blanton was chosen for the roster instead of David Herndon, despite missing most of the season with injuries.  The Phillies chose experience over a younger guy, even though Herndon was with the team most of the year.

As for the pitching match-ups in the series, here are the probable starters for the Phillies and Cardinals:

  • Game 1: Roy Halladay vs. Kyle Lohse (ex-Phillie)
  • Game 2: Cliff Lee vs. Chris Carpenter (on 3 days rest)
  • Game 3: Cole Hamels vs. Jaime Garcia

These are some odd moves by Tony LaRussa.  It will either turn out to be genius, or a huge mistake.  The Phillies should be able to handle Lohse and will then get Carpenter on short rest.  That is another situation they can probably take advantage of.

The pitcher the Phils have the most trouble with is Garcia, who was pushed back to Game 3 because his home numbers are much better than his road numbers.

This all seems to add up to a Phillies advantage, however, that remains to be seen.  Also of note, Game 2 has been pushed back to 8:37pm (ugh) on Sunday due to the Yankees – Tigers rain postponement.

I also wanted to share with you an article I just read about how Danys Baez has helped Antonio Bastardo out of his recent pitching funk.  Baez was released by the Phillies in July and was not picked up by another team.  He has been sitting at home in Miami watching and noticed Bastardo, a player he previously mentored, was having problems.  He reached out to Bastardo and helped him find the issues in his mechanics.

Bastardo has bounced back since then and it seems that Baez is the reason.  The story made me a little sad, thinking about how much criticism Baez took while he was in Philly from fans and media.  For him to swallow his pride and reach out to an ex-teammate like that is a sign of true character.  He may not have been the bullpen solution the Phillies hoped for, but he gets huge brownie points in my book for just being a great guy.

Hope to see you all at the game tonight!  Go Phillies!

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

Phillies Make History With 102 Wins

The Phillies ended the 2011 regular season with 102 wins after a 13 inning  4-3 victory over the Braves.  The 3-game sweep knocked the Braves out of the playoffs and also set a new record for the Phillies.  The franchise mark of 101 wins in a season has been surpassed, making this 2011 team statistically the best in Phillies history.

It also made Charlie Manuel the best manager in Phillies history.  His 646th win with the team surpassed the previous record of 656 held by Gene Mauch.

And as usual, the Phillies fought for their manager until the very end.  The game lasted 4 1/2 hours and 13 innings with 17 total pitchers used between the two teams.  The pitching was very good all around for both and hits were hard to come by; 11 for the Phils and 10 for the Braves.

In the 13th, Hunter Pence finally broke up the stalemate, knocking in the winning run with an RBI-single.  He had two hits in the game, as did Chase Utley, Placido Polanco and Ryan Howard.

By beating the Braves, the Phillies basically chose their own opponent.  The win handed the Wild Card spot to the Cardinals.  The Phillies struggled against the Cards in the regular season, winning only 3 games out of 9.  But coming off the momentum of this 3-game sweep and making Phillies history, the team should be ready to face the Cards again.

In the American League, the Red Sox are out, having lost what was previously and 8.5 game lead in the Wild Card race.  As they crashed and burned against the lowly Orioles again, the Tampa Bay Rays climbed out of a 7-0 hole to beat the Yankees and take the Wild Card spot.

So here is how the NLDS and ALDS line-up:

  • Phillies vs. Cardinals
  • Brewers vs. Diamondbacks
  • Yankees vs. Tigers
  • Rangers vs. Rays

The first game for the Phillies is this Saturday; no time has been announced yet.

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

2010 Phillies Photo Tribute

I normally do not have this video done before Christmas, but it is amazing how much extra time that the lack of a World Series provides ;o)  For those who have missed it previous years, at the end of every season, I pick out my favorite Phillies photos from that year and put them into a video slideshow.  These photos were all taken by me and my giant zoom lens, from the stands, at both home and away games throughout the season.

In the 2010 season, I attended 27 games and 7 Phillies-related special events, like the Phestival and the Phillies Cruise.  Yes, it was down year for me due to a lack of funds ;o)   Going through the digital files on my computer, I calculate that I shot more than 18,000 photos at Phillies games this year.  If you add in the special events, the total is over 25,000.  Of those, I picked out and published around 5,000.  The slideshow contains the best of the game shots for a total of 257 photos. 

I am eternally grateful for the invention of the digital camera.  Remember the days when we had to use film?  That was one expensive habit.  Well, here it is…enjoy!

 

 

Thank you for stopping by!

 

Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

 

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