No, taking two out of three from both the Mets and the Braves ain’t bad at all; in fact, I’d say it’s very good.
(and darn it, now there’s another song stuck in my head! Last week, it was AC/DC, now it’s Meat Loaf)
In both series, the Phillies dropped the first game when one of the four aces wasn’t very ace-like. Cole Hamels stunk it up against the Mets last Tuesday (Note to Cole: Giving up two hits to the opposing pitcher in the same inning is never a good idea) as the Phillies lost 7-1. Cliff Lee obviously did not have his best stuff in a 6-3 loss to the Braves.
Cole was able to redeem himself yesterday, going seven strong innings against the Braves as the Phillies won, 3-0.
In the second game against the Mets, Joe Blanton very nearly managed to lose the game after blowing a seven-run lead (Note to Joe: Please don’t do that again. Ever.). Joe was saved from a loss by four scoreless innings from the bullpen, and some timely hitting from the offense for a 10-7 win.
Both series also featured the stress-relieving blowout, courtesy of the Roys. Well, stress-relieving for me, not fans of the opposition. Roy Halladay pitched the Phils to a 11-0 rout of the Mets, and Roy Oswalt got his first-ever regular season win over Atlanta in a 10-2 butt-whuppin’.
Let’s hope the Phils can maintain that momentum, as they head to Washington following today’s off-day.
Funny Photo of the Week
Brad Emaus looks like he’s trying to do a little dance last Thursday (Note to Brad: don’t try out for Riverdance anytime soon).
Don’t know if he made a little love and got down that night.
Aack! More 70’s music is getting stuck in my head! Must…make it…stop!
…as the Phillies completed a three-game sweep of the Braves last night! The Phils now have a six-game lead over the second-place Braves, and their magic number to clinch the division now stands at 4. 🙂
Hubby and I were fortunate enough to be at Monday night’s game, thanks to our friends Carrie and Ed, who had two extra tickets available. We met up with them by the third-base gate and headed into the ballpark. Upon entering, were greeted by the sight of 20 statues of the Phanatic, painted in various themes by local artists, and currently being auctioned off for charity.
Carrie and I posed with one painted to look like the Liberty Bell.
Just in time for Halloween, it’s “Phrankenstein’s Mascot”! This one is among the four currently up for bids. Bidding ends later today, and apparently there are a lot of people with way more money than they know what to do with! The current high bid for this one is just under $10,000, and another is over $15,000 (!).
Millerrrrr Light, anyone? This friendly (?) beer vendorrr was working the stands prior to the start of the game. Aaargh!
Poor rookies! Pitcher Vance Worley makes his way to the bullpen with his Fancy Nancy backpack.
My daughter would have had a field day in the Braves’ bullpen, with all these beauties to choose from!
Cole Hamels was in fine form, giving up just one run over eight innings of work.
Though he hit homers on Sunday and Tuesday, the “dirty hawt” Jayson Werth did not hit one this night.
Contrary to certain people’s opinions (I’m talkin’ to you, Patti), this is just not at attractive look.
Brandon Beachy, making his first major league start for the Braves, made several throws to first in an attempt to hold Shane Victorino close to the bag.
All was for naught, however, as Shane successfully stole second, and evaded the tag with this slide.
Wilson Valdez has been more than capable defensively while filling in for the injured Jimmy Rollins – he has a gun for an arm, and helped turn two double-plays for the Phillies. The Phils had a total of three DPs this night in support of Hamels.
Carlos Ruiz has been having a fine offensive year for the Phils, contributing an RBI double in this game.
Brad Lidge came on in the ninth to get the save. The rally towels were waving so furiously, all the little white lint particles flying around looked like snowflakes! Well, sort of. Anyway, Brad had a 1-2-3 inning, and the Phils won 3-1!
I was waving my towel with gusto as well, hence no photos of Brad. 😦
After three tight games (3-1, 5-3, 1-0), the Phillies are off tonight with a much-deserved break. They’d best be resting up for the Mets, who come into town Friday for the last regular-season home games. Let’s go Phillies!
(all photos by me) (well, not exactly, my husband took the one with me in it)
March 14 – Day 4
The Phillies had a road game today against the Orioles in Sarasota. We opted not to make the drive to Ed Smith Stadium, having been there once a number of years ago. It is not a picturesque ballpark. In fact, the exterior somewhat resembles a motel. I’ll have to dig out a photo from those pre-digital days, and scan it in for tomorrow.
Instead, we decided to take in a Blue Jays – Braves game in Dunedin, with a stop by the Phillies’ Carpenter Complex beforehand to check out some of the minor-league training camp action.
Brandon Duckworth, last with the Phillies in 2003, has returned to the organization on a minor-league contract after stints with Houston and Kansas City. As noted in Larry Shenk’s Phillies Insider blog, and evident in this photo, all the minor-leaguers wear their socks knee-high. No baggy “pajama” pants for these guys!
Two minor-league shortstops work on fielding drills on one of the four practice fields in the complex:
Minor-league pitchers wait between the batting cages to take their turn at a bunting drill:
Prospect Anthony Hewitt, the Phils’ top pick in 2008, awaits his turn in the batting cage (is it just me, or do his feet look really big?):
After checking out the workouts for about an hour, we made the approximately 10 minute drive to Dunedin, spring home of the Blue Jays. Sometimes going to a game in which I have no rooting interest is a nice break – I can relax and enjoy the game action without getting worked up about the outcome.
Brandon Morrow was on the hill for Toronto. Not a great day for him – he gave up six hits and four earned runs in three innings of work:
Braves top prospect Jason Heyward makes contact early in the game. He had a good day, going 2 for 4 and scoring a run:
Kris Medlen started the game for the Braves, pitching two shutout innings:
The Blue Jays watch from the dugout as Aaron Hill makes contact:
The Jays’ Jose Bautista was nearly caught in a rundown, but somehow managed to elude the tag of Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman to make it back safely to first:
Some people will do just about anything to get a foul ball. Even the umpire seems to be watching the kid, and not the game:
Blue Jays outfielder Chris Lubanski is out at second. Lubanski is a non-roster invitee to the Jays camp, having been signed to a minor-league deal after spending the past 6 seasons in the Royals organization. I’ve always kind of followed his progress, as he is a local guy from my area. Having signed right out of high school, he’s still pretty young, only 24:
The Jays ended up dropping this game to the Braves, 8-5. After the game we enjoyed a refreshing postgame brew at the Dunedin Brewery, before enjoying Mexican food for dinner at one of our favorite restaurants when we are in Florida, Casa Tina.
March 15 – Day 5
From St. Petersburg, Bradenton is an easy drive of 40 minutes or so south over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. The Pirates were hosting the Phillies today, so we made the drive and got there just before the gates opened.
I parked myself in a prime spot right by the end of the Phillies dugout near the backstop. My husband is left to wander around the ballpark carrying my extra stuff while I’m clicking away at all the activity on the field.
The Phillies came out to stretch while the Pirates were finishing up their portion of batting practice. One anonymous Phillie decided to stick out from the crowd during this drill:
As the players were walking in and out of the dugout, they were mere feet away from me (and everyone else). Most of them seemed to try to not even look up and make eye contact. New Phillie Brian Schneider did come over and sign some autographs for the fans, as did coach Davey Lopes and manager Charlie Manuel – thanks guys! Jayson Werth signed one or two autographs, no more, but I did manage to catch a glimpse of his stylin’ shades:
ESPN’s Dick Vitale and the Schwab were on hand. Dick seemed to be getting a lesson on gloves from Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins. Dick then came over to the dugout and signed autographs for anybody who wanted one:
Zach Duke was on the mound for the Pirates. Duke gave up one run and two hits in 3 2/3 innings. He struck out four, but also walked three:
Roy Halladay pitched for the Phils. He gave up three hits and one run (his first of the spring) in five innings. He struck out six, and walked two:
John Mayberry, Jr., making a start in center field, connects on this pitch to drive in a run with a sacrifice fly:
Ryan Howard “admires” (not) his mile-high pop-up:
Placido Polanco is helped off the field after injuring his knee. He stumbled near the mound while tracking down a wind-blown pop-up. Thankfully, the injury was not serious, as Polanco is now back in action after a few days of rest:
Lastings Milledge is forced out at second, as Jimmy Rollins throws to first to try for the double play (the throw was not in time):
The Pirate Parrot appears to be using a Phillies fan as a footrest. Yo, Parrot, what’s up with that?
Chase Utley chases down a fly ball in the infield on a very windy day. He made the catch, though it wasn’t particularly graceful:
The Phils came out on top in this game, winning 5-1. Another Phillies victory on another sunny, though windy, day!
On our way out of McKechnie Field, we stopped for a quick photo op at the large AT&T advertisement with a cutout where Zach Duke’s head would be. How do I look?
Afterwards, we took a scenic detour to check out the beaches on Anna Maria Island before heading back to St. Pete. We even stopped to stick our feet into the sparkling Gulf waters, but that water is not very warm in March! That explained why we didn’t see anybody actually swimming.
Next up, the third (and final) installment, covering our last two games in Clearwater before we reluctantly had to head home.
(all photos by me)
Boy, I go on vacation and the Phillies just go totally sucky against the A.L. East last week. I guess it’s a good thing I wasn’t paying attention to them while I was away, or I would have been in a really foul mood.
So what was I doing in the meantime? Here’s the rundown on my recent vacation.
“Bakin’ potatoes, bakin’ in the sun…”
First stop was a Sunday afternoon game in Baltimore, with the O’s hosting the Braves for an interleague matchup. Driving south from Philly, the sun came out and it looked to be a beautiful day. No traffic problems, either, so things were going well.
Until we got off the exit for Camden Yards, and the ramp split with no indication of which one we should take. Of course, our first choice was the wrong one. It put us onto the street, unable to turn into the parking area. After getting turned around, we thought the problem was solved, but no, we were in the wrong lane to turn into the parking lots, and the road turned back into a ramp which put us right back on 95 South. Aargh! After getting off at the next exit and maneuvering through the cloverleaf of ramps, we ended up heading north again, and this time took the other split after exiting. This dropped us right into the parking areas, but unfortunately these were the “preferred” parking areas, not for us peons. As there are absolutely no signs directing traffic to the general parking areas, we stopped several times to ask various people who looked like they should know. Finally, we finally parked the car and began making our way to the ballpark.
Note to Baltimore: better signage would be nice!
Fortunately, we had allowed ourselves plenty of time to get there, and still had ample opportunity to get something to eat before the game started. On the advice of She-Fan, Jane Heller, we both got the turkey platter from Boog’s BBQ. They were excellent – thanks Jane!
Finally, we made our way to our seats to enjoy the game.
Brad Bergesen was on the mound for the O’s, and quickly retired the side to start the game. Derek Lowe, starting for the Braves, was not so lucky. He gave up 7 runs in 2 1/3 innings.
The Orioles clobbered the Braves, 11-2. The Braves’ only runs came on a pair of solo homers by backup catcher David Ross, who replaced Brian McCann midway through the game.
Before the game, while walking along Eutaw Street on our way to eat, I’d noticed brass markers in the ground noting where various home runs had landed. Here is one for Jim Thome, on the left below:
While walking out after the game, I noticed people pointing at something on the wall of the warehouse building, and taking a picture of it. So of course I had to see what it was. Embedded in the wall is a marker showing where Ken Griffey Jr. hit the warehouse on the fly, shown above right. Wow, what a shot that must have been!
Back to the car, then, and we continued south towards Myrtle Beach.
“The way the beach is kissed by the sea…”
My husband has an uncle who lives in Myrtle Beach, and he so kindly invited us to stay at his house. Woo hoo, free lodging! I have to say that Myrtle Beach itself is not quite what I expected, kind of like a southern version of Wildwood, for those familiar with the Jersey shore. But some of the surrounding areas are beautiful, such as Pawleys Island.
After some sightseeing, we took in a minor league game at BB&T Coastal Field, between the Myrtle Beach Pelicans and the visiting Lynchburg Hillcats.
The Pelicans and Hillcats are the advanced-A teams for the Braves and Pirates, respectively, in the Carolina League.
The game turned out to be a double-header due to an earlier rainout, and was scheduled to start at 6 pm. But of course, there was a little more rain, and things finally got underway around 7. So I had a little time to wander around and check things out.
By the looks of this Hillcat, the relief pitchers don’t do a whole lot before the games. While his teammates were dutifully stretching on the field, he was looking pretty relaxed in the bullpen:
One of the unique events at Pelicans’ games occurs between innings, when Deuce, a yellow lab, delivers new balls to the umpire. Fortunately, Deuce did his duty (but not doody) without incident:
Game 1 was a quick, well-pitched affair, which was won by the Pelicans, 1-0. Minor league double-headers are only seven innings per game, and this one clocked in at a brisk 1:59. There was a half-hour break between games, though, so we only stayed for a couple innings of Game 2, since by now it was getting pretty late. The Hillcats took this one, 10-3.
“Don’t know much about history…”
The next day we took a drive to Charleston, about an hour and a half south of Myrtle Beach. Charleston is a really picturesque city, full of southern charm, and also very historical. We decided to take a ferry ride to visit Fort Sumter, the site of the first shots of the Civil War. Located at the confluence of Charleston Harbor and the Atlantic Ocean, the fort was ideally situated to protect the port of Charleston from attack via the ocean. Under Federal control in 1861, it was fired upon and seized by the Confederates, thus starting the Civil War.
So what could this possibly have to do with baseball? Check out this plaque, honoring the Union garrison defending the fort during the initial bombardment:
Hard to read, hmm? A closer look reveals this:
Abner Doubleday, purported inventor of baseball! No, I didn’t stand there and read the whole plaque to find this, and no, I didn’t know it was there. These kinds of things just jump out at me and catch my eye.
Though the myth of Doubleday’s invention of baseball has been pretty much disproved, he had a successful military career, retiring with the rank of Major General, having taken part in the battles of Bull Run, Antietam, Fredericksburg, and Gettysburg.
“Here comes the rain, here she comes again…”
Due to the uncooperativeness of Mother Nature, our plans to see a Nationals game last weekend never came to fruition.
“You make me laugh, give me your autograph…”
On Monday, we took the kids to the annual Phillies Phestival. For my son and I, it was our fifth time at this great event, but my daughter and husband were Phestival virgins. I warned them to be prepared to wait in lines, but everything went very smoothly.
The Phestival is the Phillies’ annual fundraiser to help fight ALS, otherwise known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. This year’s Phestival raised a record total of $867,670; since 1984 the Phillies have raised over $11 million to help fight ALS.
Here are some of my photos of various Phillies:
John Mayberry, Jr. – John seemed happy just to be here;
Cole Hamels – I’m sorry Cole, but you need a haircut!;
Pedro Feliz – for some reason, Pedro spent much of the time standing rather than sitting.
Antonio Bastardo – this is about as much of a smile as I saw from him;
J.C. Romero – paired with Bastardo, J.C. was the opposite, very smiley;
Matt Stairs – he looks like someone who should be fixing my appliances, rather than playing baseball.
Chase Utley – not sure who he’s looking at, but it wasn’t me 😦
Ryan Madson – Ryan has one of the most illegible signatures I’ve seen;
Jayson Werth – why all the sunglasses on these guys?
Joe Blanton – Joe wasn’t expecting my camera when he looked up;
Chan Ho Park – those are some scary eyebrows!;
Jack Taschner – love those twinkly eyes! I didn’t realize he’s actually pretty good looking.
Tyler Walker – the Phillies are his fourth team since 2002;
Davey Lopes – Davey looks pretty sharp in his crisp white shirt;
Milt Thompson – c’mon Milt, smile!
My creative fan award goes to this guy, who was waiting in the line to have his picture taken with the 1980 and 2008 World Series trophies:
Later on, I ran into Jenn from Phillies Phollowers. Always good to run into fellow bloggers! After that, it was time to call it a night, and we headed home with our goodies. My kids are now looking forward to next year’s event already!
“School’s out for the summer…”
Yep, until September the kids are home all day. In an effort to keep peace in the house, and keep my sanity, my blogging will be less frequent. But rest assured I’ll be here (just not every day).
(since I had so much fun with lyric snippets last time, I decided to do it again. Whoever can identify the most songs will get a shout-out in my next post!)
(all photos by me)
After looking totally lifeless in Sunday night’s opener, I had hoped that the Phillies’ bats might perk up a little bit. But no, they looked just as lifeless last night, too. Granted, I usually miss an inning or two in the middle of the game to get my kids to go to bed, so maybe I missed a little hint of action, but from what I did see I am currently underwhelmed.
I was also glad to be watching from home last night, as the temperature hovered around 40 degrees, with a stiff wind blowing. Has Mother Nature not gotten the memo that Spring is here?
Following last season’s M.O., when they did manage to get some baserunners, they were left stranded. 11 of them last night, and not a single one scored. Atlanta won the game 4-0.
Atlanta starters have not given up any runs these first two games, while the Phillies’ starters have given up 8.
Alright, I know, it’s only the second game.
In an effort to not be totally negative today (I’ll leave that to the Philly sportswriters), I’ll mention a few positives. Few being the operative word.
– Raul Ibanez made a great throw from left and Carlos Ruiz made a great play at the plate in the top of the fourth to nail Casey Kotchman to end the inning.
– Ryan Howard made solid contact on two hits, and was robbed of a hit up the middle by the darn overshift defenses always employ against him.
– in four innings of relief, Chan Ho Park, Jack Taschner, and Clay Condrey held the Braves hitless. Taschner, Scott Eyre, Chad Durbin, and Brad Lidge also combined for three hitless innings on Sunday. Maybe we should let the bullpen start the games! 🙂 Ha, just kidding.
The Phillies will get their World Series rings in a ceremony before today’s game. Joe Blanton goes up against Javier Vazquez at 3:05 pm. Please guys, one for the “W” column?
(no photos today, I had to make this a quick entry as I have actual work to do)
In my mind, I’m using a much stronger word, but if I put it in here it will probably get asterisked out. So feel free to substitute other words for “stunk”.
After much pregame pomp and circumstance, the defending World Champion Phillies began their quest for a repeat last night, hosting the Atlanta Braves. Brett Myers got the nod for the Phillies, filling in for ace Cole Hamels, who was not quite ready after a brief spring setback with a tender elbow.
In 2008, Myers was like Jekyll and Hyde. First Half Myers pitched so poorly, he was sent down to the minors mid-season to work out a few things. Second Half Myers came back up to the big club, and pitched superbly down the stretch and in the postseason.
Unfortunately for the Phils, First Half Myers was apparently on the mound the first two innings last night. After retiring the first two batters, F.H.M. allowed a single by Chipper Jones (when will he retire, already!?), followed by a blast into the second deck in right by Brian McCann.
In the second inning, Jeff Francoeur smacked a leadoff homer to left, followed two batters later by another solo shot, this one off the bat of rookie centerfielder Jordan Schafer. No cheapie over the short leftfield flower beds, it went to the deepest part of center. I don’t normally feel bad for the opposition, but ESPN guy Jon Miller kept calling him “Logan” during the broadcast. He did eventually correct himself.
Second Half Myers came back out for innings three through six, but the damage had already been done.
The Phillies’ bats had nothing on Derek Lowe, who only gave up two hits through eight innings. The Phils were able to score in the ninth against Mike Gonzalez, thereby avoiding the shutout, but it was too little, too late. Phils drop the opener, 4-1.
Today is an off day, and it’s probably just as well, because the weather isn’t supposed to be very nice. On Tuesday, Jamie Moyer will face Jair Jurrjens, and hopefully nail down the first win of the season.
(Myers photo by me)
After visits to Comiskey Park, Milwaukee County Stadium, and Wrigley Field, the final stop on our 2007 ballpark tour was at Turner Field, home of the Atlanta Braves. The stadium that would become Turner Field was built for the 2006 Summer Olympic Games, after which it was converted into a baseball stadium in time for the 2007 season, which was the Braves’ first season playing there.
Turner Field is named after Braves owner Ted Turner, who likes to name things after himself – you know, Turner Broadcasting System (TBS), Turner Network Television (TNT), Turner Classic Movies. I’m not a fan of Ted Turner, what with that whole colorizing of classic movies thing, but anyway.
Turner Field is situated next to the site of the old Fulton County Stadium. During our visit, the carcass of it was still visible from Turner Field – this area eventually became a parking lot.
We were in Atlanta for two games, August 23 and 24, 1997, against the Cincinnati Reds. Both were day games. Let’s just say that it is really hot in Atlanta in August, hence the nickname “Hotlanta”.
Prior to the first game we walked around the ballpark to check it out. Here is a look at the field during pre-game warmups:
On the very upper concourse in left field is a giant Coke bottle made of all sorts of baseball equipment. Coca-cola is headquartered in Atlanta, and of course is a big sponsor.
Fun non-baseball thing to do in Atlanta: visit The World of Coca-Cola, and learn all about the history of Coke, and taste the various products Coca-Cola markets throughout the world. The first tasting room on the self-guided tour lets you sample all the usual products – Coke, Sprite, Dr. Pepper, etc. Then you go into a room with all the international products. There are way too many to try them all, so we randomly picked a few. The Latin American products tended to be incredibly sweet. Then there was one from Italy, called Bitter Aperitif (the name itself should have been a red flag), that was so bitter that I had to run back into the prior room to cleanse my palate with classic Coke! Not sure why anyone would willingly drink this stuff – I’m guessing it’s an acquired taste.
The first game pitted the Braves’ Denny Neagle against the Reds’ Brett Tomko (or as She-Fan, Jane Heller, likes to call him, Bombko). Tomko only gave up one bomb-ko this day, a leadoff home run in the bottom of the first to Kenny Lofton. Neagle would get the win, and Tomko the loss, as the Braves won this one, 10-3.
Starting pitchers for the second game were John Smoltz for the Braves, and Mike Morgan for the Reds. The game started off much the same way, with Kenny Lofton again hitting a leadoff homer in the bottom of the first. The outcome, however, was much different, with the Braves losing 6-4 in 10 innings. Jeff Shaw got the win and Stan Belinda the save for the Reds, with Chad Fox charged with the loss for the Braves.
Our seats for both games were down the left field line in foul territory, with a view into the Reds’ bullpen:
Not too much shade in there!
After this trip, there would be no new stadiums visited until 2000. There would end up being a three year hiatus for the birth of kid number one, the one who was sick yesterday. He’s much better today, by the way, back to picking on his sister.
Up next time, the quest resumes at Yankee Stadium.
(all photos mine)