Before I get into my coverage of our final two games, you may recall me mentioning in my last entry that I thought Ed Smith Stadium looks like a motel. Well, I dug through my old photo albums, and found a photo from our visit in March 2000. At the time, it was the spring home of the Reds. Since then, the Reds have relocated to Arizona for Spring Training, and Ed Smith is now home to the Orioles. Here it is:
Unless it’s been refurbished in the past 10 years, this is what the exterior of the part behind home plate looks like. All those railings and doors look just like a motel to me.
March 16 – Day 6
After yet another mouth-watering breakfast at the Inn at the Bay, we made our way to Bright House Field for today’s Phillies-Tigers game. If I haven’t already mentioned it, the Inn at the Bay serves the most awesome breakfasts. We’ve stayed there five times, and we’ve almost never had the same breakfast twice. They are so filling, most days we don’t even need lunch!
Once again, we arrived when the gates opened. New Tiger Johnny Damon signed some autographs (for Phillies fans!) during batting practice. I’m still not too happy with Johnny over that stolen-base-thing last October:
Cole Hamels was on the mound for the Phillies, going five innings with 2 hits, 1 run, and 4 stikeouts. He was looking pretty good this day:
Detroit’s Justin Verlander didn’t have such a great day, giving up home runs to Domonic Brown and Ryan Howard. Overall, he went 3 1/3 innings, with 4 runs on 3 hits:
Speaking of Howard’s homer (his first of the spring), it came on the swing immediately following this shot:
During a pitching change, Johnny Damon, Adam Everett, and Brandon Inge discuss the fly ball that got lost in the sun and just dropped into the Bermuda Triangle of turf between all three of them for a hit. They all appear to have sunglasses – guys, weren’t you using them?
Phil Coke came on in relief of Verlander, and proceeded to give up Domonic Brown’s second homer of the day, a two-run shot. Phil’s pants look like they have enough extra fabric at the bottom for a whole ‘nuther pair:
Domonic Brown had a great day at the plate, going 3-for-3 with two homers and an RBI single. As thanks, he got reassigned to the minor league camp after the game:
New Phillie Danys Baez came on to pitch a scoreless inning in relief:
Greg Dobbs, playing third in place of the injured Placido Polanco, makes contact. Dobbs went 1-for-3 and scored a run:
Jimmy Rollins stops to sign some autographs on his way to the clubhouse. This may have been a mistake, as he was stuck there for the next 10 minutes while fans continued to flock down the aisle. Jimmy is actually one of the most fan-friendly Phillies, so he didn’t seem to mind:
Something I hadn’t seen before was a post-game batting practice. After the final out, the cage was wheeled back on the field, and Raul Ibanez, Carlos Ruiz, and Shane Victorino took additional BP. Shane seemed to be working on his bunting. Afterwards, Raul Ibanez and his son walk to the clubhouse with Charlie Manuel:
On the way out, we stopped for a photo of me in front of the entrance to the ballpark. Since I’m always the one taking the pictures, we need visual proof I was actually on this vacation:
March 17 – Day 7
St. Patrick’s Day dawned rather gray and dreary. On our way to the ballpark, it even rained a little bit. This had me concerned, because our “seats” for today were on the berm, the grassy area beyond the outfield fence. I wasn’t looking forward to sitting on soggy sod.
Not to fear though. By gametime, the skies had cleared and it turned into a sunny, pleasant afternoon for our final day in Florida.
During Phillies BP, Charlie Manuel had a chance to check out the mini-sized Charlie Manuel bat that will be given out to kids on July 6:
Randy Winn and Brian Schneider are loitering behind the batting cage. Something has made Winn grin, though Schneider looks like he just ate a bug:
This trio of trouble is yukking it up at the expense of their fellow fielder, who just muffed a grounder during pre-game warmups:
Mark Texiera and Alex Rodriguez wait their turns in the batting cage. Just what is that huge wad hiding in A-Rod’s cheek? Gum? Sunflower seeds? Some chew? His ego?
Phillies broadcaster Chris Wheeler was on hand to sign copies of his book, “View From The Booth.” Yes, I bought one. There are some who don’t really like Wheels as a broadcaster, but I’ll be interested to read his take on things:
Just before the game started, I met up with Confession of a She-Fan‘s Jane Heller and got interviewed by her on the She-Fan Cam. Click here to read Jane’s coverage of the game, and see the video clip.
In between BP and game time, the Phillies changed from their usual red and white uniforms to their bright green St. Patty’s day jerseys. Joe Blanton took to the mound for the Phillies. Blanton had a Blanton-like outing, going 5 innings, scattering 7 hits and giving up 2 runs:
The last time my husband and I came to Spring Training, in 2007, we saw the Phillies host the Yankees on St. Patrick’s Day, and Andy Pettitte started for the Yankees. Three years later, we are seeing the Phillies host the Yankees on St. Patrick’s Day, and Andy Pettitte is starting for the Yankees. Deja vu!
Randy Winn scores for the Yankees, as the throw to Carlos Ruiz is late:
Ryan Howard tosses the ball to first to get the out:
The Flyin’ Hawaiian can’t fly quite far enough, as this ball got past Shane Victorino for an extra-base hit:
The Phillie O’Phanatic get a bit, um, friendly with the third-base umpire. The mind shudders to imagine the offspring that would result from such an unholy union:
The luck of the Irish was with Jayson Werth as he lauched a three-run homer, which sealed the outcome of the game in favor of the Phillies:
Final score: Phillies 6, Yankees 2
Later that evening, we met up for dinner with Jane and her husband Michael, as it turned out that they were staying just three blocks away from us in St. Petersburg. We all enjoyed a delicious meal, and great conversation. The time flew by, and since we all had flights home the next day, finally had to bid each other good night.
Our flight home was much better than the first – no turbulence, and my husband and I actually got to sit next to each other this time.
(all photos by me, except the one of me, which was taken by my husband)
Today’s entry is going to be a short one, because right now I’m developing a wicked headache. I’m not sure if I’m getting a cold, or my allergies are acting up, but all I know is that my sinuses are doing something which is resulting in post nasal drip, which is causing me to sneeze and cough. The coughing is now unfortunately giving me a headache.
Anyway, a few quick thoughts from the holiday weekend.
Phils Take 2 of 3 From Yankees
Brett Myers pitched well on Friday to lead the Phillies to a 7-3 win, which I recounted in my last entry.
On Saturday, J.A. Happ went 6 innings and would have been in line to get the win, as the Phillies were up 4-2 going into the bottom of the ninth. Then Brad Lidge entered the game and all hell broke loose. Johnny Damon walked to lead off the inning, and then with one out, A-Rod homered to tie it up. Robinson Cano then singled and subsequently stole second, so that Melky Cabrera’s bloop into short center allowed him to score the winning run. Yanks win, 5-4.
The way the Yankees reacted, you’d have thought they just won the World Series. Heck, even a come-from-behind-in-the-ninth win should be old news for them, as they lead the majors with 17 come-from-behind wins, with nine of those coming in the final at-bat.
Sunday, Cole Hamels allowed two runs in six innings of work. The Phillies had a slim 3-2 lead going into the bottom of the ninth, and once again, Brad Lidge blew the save. This time the game went into extra innings, with Carlos Ruiz knocking in the game-winning run in the top of the 11th, giving the Phillies a 4-3 victory.
John Mayberry, Jr. Makes His Debut
Mayberry made his major-league debut in Saturday’s game, and made a splash by hitting a 3-run homer for his first big-league hit. He also added a double, to go 2-for-3 on the day.
Why, just last Tuesday I saw John taking some big cuts at the Lehigh Valley IronPigs game:
What Is Up With Lidge?
Brad Lidge blew two consecutive save opportunities this weekend. Is his knee more of a factor than he and the Phillies are letting on? Is the pressure of living up to the expectations that resulted from last season’s perfection getting into his head? Is it something else entirely? Whether the issue is physical or mental, I hope the Phillies and Lidge soon figure out what is wrong, and please, please, please take steps to remedy the problem. We need a healthy and effective Lidge!
Monday of the Marlins
Other than Ryan Howard, the Phillies offense was lackluster yesterday in a 5-3 loss to the Marlins. Howard provided all the offense, with a two-run homer in the first, and a solo shot in the sixth. Jamie Moyer allowed 4 runs, with three of them coming on a home run by Wes Helms in the fourth, after Moyer walked the first two batters of the inning. Helms went 3-for-4 on the day with 4 RBIs.
Hey Wes, how come you never had games like that when you were a Phillie?
The Phillies and Marlins meet again tonight, with Joe Blanton facing off against Andrew Miller. Come on, guys, let’s get back on the winning track!
(photo by me)
With yesterday’s revelation that Alex Rodriguez and 103 other currently anonymous players tested positive for steroids in 2003, it’s understandable that A-Rod/Roid is the current hot topic on many blogs. So many of you have expressed the anger and disappointment that we all are feeling, and said it so well, that I’m not even going to try to add my two cents. Besides, even though “Rants” is the first word of my blog title, I’m really much more of a “random thinker” than a “ranter”. It’s just that the name sounded good that way – very alliterative.
So since today is Sunday, I decided to do a little piece on one of the many fascinating characters to have played this great game, Billy Sunday. After being a popular outfielder for several teams during the 1880s, he is best known for becoming an influential evangelist in the early decades of the 20th century. And he played briefly for the Phillies, hence my interest.
William Ashley Sunday was born November 19, 1862 in Ames, Iowa. His father died five weeks later. At the age of 10, his mother was forced to send Billy and an older brother to an orphanage. It was at the orphanage that he realized he had athletic ability. By 1880, he was playing for the town baseball team in Marshalltown, Iowa. In 1883, he was signed to the Chicago White Stockings on the recommendation of Marshalltown native and future Hall of Famer Cap Anson.
Over the course of his eight-season major league career, Billy compiled a .248 batting average, and had 246 stolen bases. Though not an outstanding hitter, and an inconsistent fielder, he was known as an exceptionally fast baserunner. After playing five seasons in Chicago, he was sold to the Pittsburgh Alleghenys. He played two seasons and part of a third in Pittsburgh, and was then traded to the Philadelphia Phillies, appearing in 31 games in 1890.
At some point while playing in Chicago, Sunday received Christ (so, no, it wasn’t playing in Philadelphia that caused his conversion 😉 ). Then, at the start of the 1891 season, he turned down a $3,000 a year contract in order to take a position with a Chicago YMCA that paid $83 a month. In this capacity he frequently ministered to the sick and troubled for the next three years. His evangelistic career began to grow when he became an assistant to J. Wilbur Chapman in 1883. After striking out on this own in 1896, he traveled throughout Iowa and Illinois, preaching. As his fame grew, he traveled to larger and larger cities, and at the height of his career in the 1910s, his sermons were front page news in the cities where he appeared. Following World War I, Sunday’s popularity and health began to decline. He eventually died of a heart attack in 1935.
Billy had quit drinking when he was first converted, and was an ardent supporter of temperance. He also criticized such seemingly harmless activities as dancing, playing cards, attending the theater, and reading novels. However, he believed baseball was a healthy and even patriotic form of recreation, as long as it wasn’t played on Sunday.
Interesting, isn’t it, how sometimes a person’s name so perfectly fits their occupation. While I don’t agree with, and certainly don’t follow, all of Billy Sunday’s teachings (hard to imagine a lazy Sunday afternoon without a baseball game!), I’m sure he would have some choice words for some of today’s players!
(photos from billysundaybiography.com; baseball info from Baseball-Reference.com; biographical info from Wikipedia)