This past weekend, the Phillies held their annual Holiday Sale at the Majestic Clubhouse Store at Citizens Bank Park. Saturday featured appearances by Chris Wheeler, Milt Thompson, and Dickie Noles, as well as a tree lighting ceremony. Both days featured photos with Phanta Claus, and a memorabilia sale to benefit Phillies Charities.
We decided to go on Sunday, figuring it would be less crowded. First order of business was getting a picture of the kids with Phanta.
I was hoping that my daughter would be willing to then forego the trip to the mall to see Santa, since (in my opinion) Phanta is much better. But no such luck, as soon as we were done she asked if she could still go see Santa. Aargh – I hate the mall this time of year!
Next, we browsed a room of various collectibles, DVDs, and publications. I bought a Phanta figurine, rationalizing the purchase with the fact that it was a Christmas decoration. The kids both wanted Phanatic bobbleheads, which I agreed to with the understanding that they were part of their Christmas presents (note to self – must remember to get bobbleheads wrapped, and out from under my bed).
One of the Phillies employees manning the bobbleheads was wearing his World Series ring, which he kindly allowed me to get a closer look at, and even try on.
In my excitement at actually putting it on, I never looked to see which way it was facing. Thankfully, as you can see, it was right-side up. Also thankfully, it was really big, so there was no danger of getting it stuck on my finger. Now that would have created a problem!
There were more items for sale (autographed balls, bats, game-used stuff) in the Hall of Fame Club, which normal peons like me never get into. So it was worth looking just for the chance to step inside. Also, they were handing out free chocolate-chip cookies – yum!
The prices, surprisingly, were not outrageous. Some items had even been marked down! I treated myself to a champagne bottle from the NL East clinching celebration (empty, of course, and unfortunately not one of the marked down items). Hey, maybe there is some Phillie DNA on it – still daydreaming about that cloning plan.
One of the bargains to be had was an autographed Adam Eaton baseball for $5. I thought they should be giving those away, so I jokingly asked the girl behind the table if anyone was actually willing to spend even $5 on it. She replied that on the day before, a man bought 5 of them, along with two Eaton caps. When he asked her if she was wondering why he was buying all of them, she replied that yes, she was wondering. He apparently was planning on using them as gag gifts for Christmas. Now there’s a new way to threaten your kids for bad behavior – instead of coal in your stocking, you’ll get an Eaton ball! (poor Adam Eaton – I almost feel bad for him, but it was still pretty funny)
On the way out, we paused for another photo op in front of the Christmas tree, which was currently unlit even though it had blazed into life the night before.
Just a few (well, four) more months until baseball is back at the ballpark. *sigh*
A Little Bit of Actual Baseball News
Not a big splash, but more of a tiny ripple – the Phillies have finished filling out their bench by signing Ross Gload, previously with the Marlins, to a two-year contract. The left-handed batting Gload hit .318 as a pinch-hitter in 2009.
Welcome Ross, good luck as a Phillie!
Got home from the store in time to catch the end of the Phillies’ ring ceremony prior to today’s game. These rings are some serious bling!
And on TV they looked HUGE! Of course, don’t they always say the camera adds 10 lbs? Ryan Howard put his on and modeled it for the camera, and I swear it took up the whole space between his knuckles.
Check out Todd Zolecki’s ZoZone for some bigger pictures.
Pat Burrell was there to get his, and got a huge ovation from the crowd. I also noticed Adam Eaton on the field – I missed his introduction, but I can imagine his reception wasn’t as warm as Burrell’s.
According to the announcers, the rings are 14 kt white gold, and contain 103 diamonds, to represent the total number of victories last season (including the postseason).
A few questions come to mind:
– How much do they weigh? Like I said, they’re big.
– Just how much does each one cost? A small fortune, I’d imagine.
– And they don’t really look very comfortable, but then again, I doubt they tool around town while wearing them.
So far, though, I’m not holding my breath for that first “W” – the Phils are currently down 9-3 in the top of the seventh.
Though the Braves made it 10-3 after the top of the seventh, the Phillies came back to score 8 runs in the bottom! They added an insurance run in the eighth to make it 12-10. Brad Lidge is about to come in for the top of the ninth for his first save opportunity of the season.
Although Matt Diaz hit a solo homer, the Phils win 12-11! What a wild game! The Phillies Phaithful can finally breathe a sigh of relief.
The calendar says that Opening Day is only a little over a month away. But you wouldn’t know it if you looked out my window this morning. This was the lovely view from my blogging chair:
Blechh! Snow – and lots of it.
I’ve discovered that with each passing year, I’m less and less tolerant of things like snow and cold weather. In fact, I fantasize about the day when my children are out of the house, or at least in college, and my husband and I become “snowbirds”. We’ll get a condo in Clearwater Beach, be a couple of retirees working at the ballpark during Spring Training, and not have to deal with those evil white flakes from the sky.
Okay, that’s not happening any time soon, as our youngest is only in second grade. But one can dream! 🙂
Another sure sign that spring is on the way, in addition to the Phillies’ annual migration south, is the Philadelphia Flower Show. Or, as you’ll see in a moment, maybe I should call it the Phlower Show.
Every March, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society puts on what is one of the oldest and largest flower shows in the country. The past few years I have been a volunteer photographer at the show – in exchange for spending a couple hours photographing the blue-ribbon winners in the horticultural society’s competitive classes, I get free admission to the show, a savings of $28! Not a bad deal – after I’m done with the prize winners, I can spend the rest of the day wandering around the show, taking in the sights and smells of spring.
Every year, the show has a different theme. This year’s theme was Bella Italia, so all the major exhibits had a definite Italian flavor. As you can see, they did a great job of transforming the cavernous interior of the Pennsylvania Convention Center into beautiful Roman-style gardens.
One of the exhibitors, though, must be a baseball fan. As I was about to call it a day, I spied this well-attired statue:
Speaking of the Phils, they must have read my plea last Friday to wake up their bats from their winter slumber. They jumped all over the Rays on Saturday to win 12-5, with homers from Ryan Howard, John Mayberry, Jr., and Miguel Cairo. Yesterday, they beat the Braves 7-3 for their second exhibition victory.
Saturday’s game against the Rays was televised, the first one so far this spring. It was kind of weird to see Pat Burrell in another team’s uniform, but it was nice to see him get such a warm welcome from the fans in Clearwater. Burrell got an ovation from the crowd before his first at-bat, and tipped his helmet to the fans. Good luck, Pat, with the Rays this year!
Also of note over the weekend was the signing of Adam Eaton to a minor-league deal by the Baltimore Orioles. I suppose I could say that the Orioles must be really, really desperate for pitching, but I’ll refrain. On second thought, I guess I just said it after all. 😉
The Phillies dropped their second exhibition game yesterday, losing to the Blue Jays 6-2. The good news from the game was that Carlos Carrasco and J.A. Happ each pitched two scoreless innings. Carrasco struck out three, without giving up any hits, and Happ struck out one while giving up one hit. So it looks like the competition for the fifth starters’ spot is already off to a blazing start.
What is not off to a blazing start is the Phils’ batting. Rather, the bats still seem to be hibernating. According to Charlie Manuel, “Our hitting is behind. But we haven’t seen a lot of live hitting yet. Our players didn’t get here until the 17th.”
Um, Charlie, wouldn’t the other teams be in the same boat too? The Pirates’ and Blue Jays’ bats apparently aren’t so far behind.
OK, I know these games don’t matter, etc. etc., and the runs have been given up not by the starting rotation guys, but by the non-roster invitees. But the Phils weren’t facing the other teams’ aces either, so let’s wake up those bats, please!
Breaking news! The Phillies have released Adam Eaton. Looks like the team will end up eating $9 million on Eaton: $8.5 million for this season, plus a $500,000 club option for 2010. I’d still love to know why the front office thought that signing a pitcher whose ERA has never been below 4.00 was a good idea. For three years, no less! I will be interested to see if he ends up getting picked up by another team.
Book Review time
Earlier this week, I finished reading Jane Heller’s book Confessions of a She-Fan. Keep in mind that I was only familiar with Jane from her MLBlog of the same name, and then only since the beginning of February when I started this blog.
I was initially taken aback (slightly) by the true depth of Jane’s vitriol towards the Red Sox and their Nation. Of course, Jane can’t use some of the words directed at said players and fans here on the blogs without getting in trouble!
Being neither a Yankees nor a Red Sox fan, I was able to enjoy the book without reliving the heartbreak of the 2007 season (for Yankees fans), or being offended (for Red Sox fans). In fact, quite a few times while reading I was laughing out loud, to the point that my husband or children were asking me what was so funny. I don’t want to give anything away here to any of you who haven’t read the book yet, so I won’t go into specifics, but suffice it to say that she-fans of any team will enjoy it!
The book is more than just a recap of the Yankees’ 2007 season, and Jane’s experiences following the team across the country for the second half of that season. She deftly interweaves stories of her early years of Yankee love, and her personal life as well, into the week by week travelogues.
Also woven into the mix are the various attempts by Jane to gain access to the pressbox and the team, and how she seems to be thwarted at every turn by one Jason Zillo, the Yankees’ media relations director. All she wants is to talk to just one Yankee! By the end of the book, any Yankee will do.
Though the book is subtitled “The Course of True Love With the New York Yankees”, it also touches on the course of true love with her real-life husband, Michael, who has accompanied Jane on this adventure. We see the ups and downs of her relationships with both Michael and the Yankees. As the old quote goes, “The course of true love never did run smooth.”
My favorite parts of the story are like bookends – one at the beginning (in the prologue), when Jane sights A-Rod in a Toronto restaurant, and one near the end, when Jane ventures into enemy territory at Fenway Park. After having been told to be on her best behavior and not draw attention to herself as a Yankee fan, what Jane finally does at the end of the game is worthy of a You-Tube moment!
Jane, I have found a comfortable home for your book here on my bookshelf, nestled in between Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth:
in order to avoid any karmic rage that could come down upon me! 🙂
(Carrasco/Happ photos by Miles Kennedy/Phillies)
Friday at the Phillies training camp in Clearwater had quite the photo shoot, featuring the team, manager, and coaches decked out in tuxedos, posing with the World Series trophy. Here’s a picture of them that ran in this morning’s Philadelphia Inquirer, as they get ready for the shoot:
The final shot will grace the cover of Phillies Magazine. To maintain exclusivity, only the official photographer was allowed to participate in the actual shoot. There is a video, parts of which are pretty funny, showing the players getting ready for the photo. Since I don’t know how to link video into my posts, here’s a link to the story on phillies.com.
What’s actually pretty amazing is that 23 out of 25 of the guys on the World Series roster are still Phillies this year. Only Pat Burrell and So Taguchi are no longer with the Phils – Pat of course having signed with Tampa Bay as a free agent, and Taguchi is a non-roster invitee of the Cubs this spring.
Many of the players and coaches had not worn a tux since their wedding day, and for Chris Coste it had been even longer. He last wore a tux to his high school prom, having gotten married while wearing a baseball uniform! Here is a picture of that special moment, from his book The 33-Year-Old Rookie:
Other Spring Training tidbits
Marcus Giles, a non-roster invitee, has been working out at third base. He could get some time there while Pedro Feliz continues to recover from off-season back surgery. Right now, Feliz’s status for opening day is uncertain.
According to pitching coach Rich Dubee, Adam Eaton “will get his time on the mound” even though he is not in the running for the fifth starter’s position. One can only hope that he will pitch well enough this spring to draw some trade interest.
Will Eaton go down as one of the worst Phillies signings ever? Let’s see, a three-year, $24.5 million contract, and what do we have to show for it? A record of 14 wins and 18 losses, an ERA hovering around 6.10. You decide.
On My Reading List
My Amazon shipment finally came on Thursday (yay!), with Jane Heller’s Confessions of a She-Fan and Joe Torre’s The Yankee Years. I have to say that when I was placing my order, it just felt kind of, oh, wrong to be ordering two books about the Yankees, being that I’m not a Yankee fan. But I do have other non-Phillie books, so I got over it.
Hmm, which to read first? I decided on Jane, and cracked open the book as soon as I took it out of the box, while standing in my kitchen. I was laughing (well, snorting – I tend to do that when I laugh) out loud by page 2! I’m trying not to read it too fast – I want to savor it.
If any of you other she-fans out there haven’t gotten it yet – what are you waiting for!? In fact, I think it’s easier to appreciate when you aren’t a Yankee fan – you don’t have to relive all the heartbreak of the 2007 season along with Jane. I’ll give a more in-depth review once I’ve finished it.
(tux photo by Eric Mencher, Philadelphia Inquirer; Coste photo by Julie’s Photography, from The 33-Year-Old Rookie; Eaton photo mine)