Results tagged ‘ Todd Zolecki ’

Book Review – “The Rotation: A Season with the Phillies and the Greatest Pitching Staff Ever Assembled”

The new Phillies book, “The Rotation: A Season with the Phillies and the Greatest Pitching Staff Ever Assembled” was written by Phillies beat reporters Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com and Todd Zolecki of “The Zo Zone.”  The book offers an inside view  of the much-hyped 2011 Phillies starting pitching staff led by Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels.

As an avid Phillies fan, the two major things I look for in any book about the team are as follows: 1 – Does it tell me anything that I did not already know?  2 – Is it entertaining?  Both of those questions, I can answer with an emphatic, “Yes.”

The thing that really stood out in this book was the amount of behind-the-scenes details.  The authors provide a true inside look at multiple aspects of the game, including the modern day player-reporter relationship, front office dealings, personal lives of “The Rotation” and what really makes each person tick.

The Cliff Lee chapter was my favorite.  This segment gives an in-depth account of the initial Lee acquisition, the trade to Seattle and the re-signing of Lee.  There are verbal accounts from everyone involved including Lee, his agent, the Phillies front office staff and other involved parties.  An actual e-email sent to Dave Montgomery prior to re-signing Lee is even posted in the book.

After reading all about the gut-wrenching details and roller coaster of emotions involved in these trades and signings, I actually felt sorry for those people, including Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. and especially assistant GM Scott Proefrock.  You will have to read it for yourself to believe it.  What these men went through with their families, co-workers and the press is much more intricate than it appeared in the news.

And those are exactly the kind of details that make this book truly stand out.  It includes everything you ever wanted to know and then some.

Even the month by month recount of “The Rotation” during the 2011 season goes above and beyond.  It not only provides statistics and baseball details, but the authors also bring the characters to life with personal stories and locker room banter.  For example, the veil of Halladay’s steel demeanor is slightly peeled back when his first game back in Toronto as a Phillie is recounted.  And did you know that Lee made a bet with Kyle Kendrick that involved a belt and smacking each other with it?

What we do know is exactly how the story ends.  And that is the only issue with this book, which can hardly be blamed on the authors.  We all would have preferred the “happy” ending but it was just not meant to be.  Perhaps they can write that happy ending after the 2012 season?  I am sure every member of the 2012 rotation is thinking the exact same thing.

If you do not yet have a copy of the book, get it here!  Also, Jim Salisbury and Todd Zolecki will be signing copies of their book in various locations as follows:

•March 19: Bright House Field in Clearwater, FL, 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.

•April 2: Barnes & Noble in Plymouth Meeting, PA, 7 p.m.

•April 3: Chester County Book Company in West Chester, PA, 7 p.m.

•April 26: Barnes & Noble in Marlton, NJ, 7 p.m.

 

 

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Opening Day Arrives in Philly

After yesterday’s 4-1 loss to the Braves, the Phillies have now lost 4 straight Opening Day games, three of which have been behind Brett Myers.  The good news is, they lost last year too and still won the World Series.  The slightly bad news is, it appears our left-handed heavy line-up may need some shaking up.  Get to that in a moment; first, some pictures from the Opening Day pomp and circumstance which include the pre-game line-up; cake in the Diamond Club; Mitch Williams joking around with Shane Victorino; Ryan Howard doing an interview; Chase Utley warming up:

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More pre-game excitement:  The entire Phillies team actually entered the stadium from OUTSIDE the ballpark, walking in behind a high school marching band.  They wandered through Ashburn Alley above the centerfield seats, walked through the outfield seating section and down a set of very scary looking metal steps while high-fiving the fans they passed by; they were then greeted by more fans on the field, draped along a red carpet leading to mid-field.  The photos below show the Army opening up the American flag; the decent to the outfield stairs; the raising of the World Series flag; the red carpet of fans; Matt Stairs poking himself in the belly and laughing (I guess he thinks he is the Pillsbury DoughBoy?); and finally, Army paratroopers entering the stadium with the game ball.  Fun note – the first parachute guy missed the stadium and landed somewhere in the parking lot – oops!

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Before the game, I spoke with our friend Todd Zolecki from The Zo Zone, who was happy to be back in Philly and getting on with the season, as we all are. 
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I also spoke to Larry Shenk from Phillies Insider who was equally excited to get the season started.  To the right is a photo of me with Todd; I also took a picture with Larry, which I cropped myself out of and Photo-shopped him next to me and Todd.  Larry looks great, but I had a really dumb look on my face; besides, we don’t need any more pictures of me ;O)

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Anyway, the game did get off to a somewhat ominous start when, after the raising of the World Series flag, manager Charlie Manuel began walking down the aisle towards the outfield steps to make his way onto the field behind the players.  But in a strange turn of events, just as Manuel neared the wobbly looking metal stair case, the CBP employees pulled the steps up from the field!  Yes, they took the stairs right out from under him, leaving him stranded amongst hundreds of excited fans.  Poor Charlie had to hike it back up the aisle and figure out another way onto the field.  A bad omen for the day, perhaps?

The game began with Brett Myers giving up 3 home runs in the first 2 innings for 4 runs total.  Myers has become notorious for his early inning struggles, but after those 2 innings, he settled in and pitched 4 more scoreless innings.  However, Derek Lowe for the Braves was lights out all night, with the Phillies getting only 2 hits off him.  Lowe had a shut-out going into the 9th inning, but much to everyone’s surprise, he was not sent out to finish the game. 

Instead, lefty Mike Gonzalez took over in the 9th and quickly got into trouble against our few right-handed bats.  With 1 out, pinch-hitter Eric Bruntlett lined a ball down the left field line for a double and then Jayson Werth sent him home with a single.  And here come the lefties:  Utley managed to draw a walk, but then Ryan Howard got caught looking at strike 3 and newcomer, Raul Ibanez went down swinging; game over.  The left handed bats killed the rally, which is the nightmare Philly fans have been envisioning all off-season.  But again, it is only one game; no need to panic or even be slightly bummed out about it.  Lowe pitched an amazing game and sometimes when that happens, there is not much anyone can do. 

So, Phillies fans are left with the following questions to ponder:  Will this mostly left-handed line-up figure out how to get it done?  Is Ibanez going to have a rough time endearing himself to the fans after starting out 0-4 on Opening Day?  Will Myers solve the early innings puzzle?  Well, we have 161 more games to figure that all out.  Just chill…  :O)

In the meantime, more photos!  Below, you will see Myers pitching; Ibanez catching a fly ball; Utley in mid-air after a quick throw to first; the Phanatic and friend as a cheer squad; and a close-up of the fancy gold-trimmed Opening Day jerseys which you can buy at the park for a who*pping $240 (excuse the * edit as this program thinks it is a bad word)!!

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I have put together a photo album with these and many more shots from Opening Day which you can see HERE.  Hope you like them :O)  One more for you though; This is my Photo of the Day.  It is Jayson Werth, apparently, kissing a tree frog; taken from the Phillies Phanavision. :O)P4058289 Werth.jpg

The Phillies have the day off today to recuperate from another disappointing Opening Day and then it is back at it with the Braves on Tuesday night; game time is 7:05pm.

(Photos by Jenn)

 

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