OK, so I borrowed that little cliche from the Philadelphia Inquirer, who informed us this morning that the Phils’ sweep of the Astros marked the first time since 1970 that the team has begun a season with three home wins.
What a great way to start off a highly anticipated season of Phillies baseball!
Last Friday, though, I was feeling more apprehension than anticipation. First, it was April Fool’s Day, which just doesn’t strike me as a good day to begin the baseball season. Second, upon awakening that morning, I was greeted not with warmth and sunshine, but with the sight of snowflakes falling outside. Not just any snowflakes – giant, mutant snowflakes that began sticking to things. Third, the Phillies were facing the Astros, who are – get this! – the only NL team with a winning record against the Phils since 2004, and owners of a gaudy 16-7 record at Citizens Bank Park during that span (!). OK, so now it’s 16-10, but still…
But we had Roy Halladay on the mound, while they countered with Brett Myers. This seemed like a good thing. Roy is the reigning NL Cy Young winner, and Brett Myers is, well, Brett Myers.
Halladay breezed through the first eight Astros batters, but then Brett Myers – Brett Myers! – singled for the first Astros hit of the game. Myers would get another hit in the fifth, so of the five hits Halladay surrendered, two of them were to the opposing pitcher.
As if that weren’t painful enough for me to stomach, Myers was the one who looked more ace-like, needing only 85 pitches though 7 innings, while Halladay threw 101 in 6. Still, Halladay had given up only one run.
Then the bullpen got into the game, and promptly gave up three more runs. With the Astros up 4-0 in the seventh, some of those watching at home may have given in to the urge to turn off the TV, thus saving themselves from further distress.
O ye of little faith.
Make that me. Yes, it pains me to admit that I turned it off. I couldn’t bear to watch anymore! I later found out that the Phillies cut the lead in half in the bottom of the seventh, and then staged a ninth inning comeback with a barrage of singles to end up winning 5-4.
Thankfully, the next two games of the series were much less stressful to watch. 🙂 Cliff Lee struck out 11 as the Phils won, 9-4; Roy Oswalt was victorious over his old team in a 7-3 win for the Phils.
Today is an off day, and tomorrow the Mets come to town, facing fourth ace Cole Hamels to start off a three-game set. C’mon, Cole, let’s keep that momentum going!!
If you recall my last post, I had gotten…shall we say…my undergarments into a state of disarray over the salary figures that had been exchanged by the Phillies and Joe Blanton.
And all for naught, as it turns out.
The Phillies and Blanton had reached an agreement on a three-year, $24 million contract extension on Monday, but because Blanton had not yet passed a physical, the arbitration figures had to be filed on Tuesday. So it seems it was more a formality than anything else.
I wish that little part of the story could have been included in the initial reports, so Phillies fans, myself included, could have avoided getting our collective panties in a bunch. Said panties will now need to be carefully extricated, with surgical precision, as demonstrated here:
[Nah, that’s not actually me. It’s Hillary Duff, thanks to eonline.com, but I don’t think she was upset about Joe Blanton.]
Shane Victorino and Carlos Ruiz have also signed three-year deals. Hmm, a trio of three-year deals. According to Schoolhouse Rock, three “is a magic number.” That’s got to mean something for the coming season. I hope.
In addition to those three, the Phillies and Chad Durbin had previously come to agreement on a one-year deal. That means all four arbitration-eligible Phillies have now signed contracts.
“You say goodbye, and I say hello”
Today’s Philadelphia Inquirer had a handy summary of the comings and goings on the Phillies roster since the end of last season. Here’s a recap, not including minor leaguers:
So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, goodbye…
Pedro Feliz: has signed with Houston – I’ll miss his great glove;
Cliff Lee: yes, I’m still upset about his trade to Seattle;
Eric Bruntlett: signed with Washington – sorry, Eric, I won’t miss your abysmal .171 BA;
Clay Condrey: signed with Minnesota;
Brett Myers: also signed with Houston;
Matt Stairs: signed with San Diego – Matt, your .194 wasn’t much to be proud of, either;
Scott Eyre: decided to retire.
Brian Schneider: a capable backup to Carlos Ruiz;
Placido Polanco: welcome back!
Juan Castro: will help solidify the bench;
Ross Gload: an excellent pinch hitter;
Roy Halladay: Woo hoo! What more can I say than that?
Danys Baez: some bullpen help with closing experience;
Jose Contreras: expected to be a long reliever, with the occasional spot start.
Sitting in limbo…
Chan Ho Park, Pedro Martinez and Paul Bako all remain unsigned free agents.
Speaking of Brett Myers (which I wasn’t really, but I did mention him in the list of departures), does anyone remember when he was young, thin, and had hair? In case you don’t recall, here’s a scan of a photo I recently came across in my albums, from an appearance back in January 2003.
Yep, a lot can change in seven years.
There seems to be a plague of hip problems around the majors leagues. Mike Lowell, Chase Utley, Alex Rodriguez, Alex Gordon, Carlos Delgado . . . all have undergone the knife recently for hip injuries. Brett Myers may be joining that list soon. Myers had an MRI which revealed fraying and a possible tear of the labrum, and is planning to get a second opinion before making a final decision.
With so many hip issues flying around, sometimes I think we’re talking about a kennel full of golden retrievers and German shepherds, rather than a team of baseball players. Maybe they could have avoided problems by taking this:
Oh, wait a minute … that is for dogs. How about this instead:
The label says it’s good for shoulders and hips, too.
Speaking of Brett Myers, his hip began bothering him during Wednesday night’s loss to the Marlins. After taking two of three from the Yankees (and really, it should have been a sweep but for Brad Lidge’s implosion on Saturday), the Phils dropped two of three to the Marlins. Aaargh. Before leaving the game, Myers gave up long balls to two of my least favorite Marlins, Dan
Ugly, oops, I mean Uggla, and Cody Ross, who always reminds me of a Christmas elf.
See, don’t you think he looks a bit elfin? (kind of a scary elf, actually)
So, let’s recap. Phils drop two of three to the Fish and fall behind the
Mutts Mets, Myers may need surgery, and oh yeah, my husband is going to the game this Saturday (that makes two for him, none for me so far). What can make me smile and chuckle? It’s time for the…
Strange Photo of the Day
How about this picture that was on the front of the Inquirer sports page today?
Kevin Kolb goes through a drill. He enjoys rookie camp because it
provides work normally reserved for the No. 1 quarterback.
OK, so it’s football, not baseball. But what kind of drill looks like this? The “end zone celebration” drill? The “I’m about to take a dump” drill? The “shake a tail feather” drill? Is he doin’ “Da’ Butt”? The possibilities seem endless.
The Phillies open a weekend series at home against the Nationals tonight. Though on the surface that would seem to be a good thing, given the Nationals’ woeful 13-33 record, for some reason the Phillies often have trouble against them. J.A. Happ will take the mound – if he pitches as well as he did against the Yankees, I’ll be a “happ”y girl.
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)
Bombs Away in the Bronx
I was a bit apprehensive about the Phillies’ visit to the new Yankee Stadium, given the way balls have been flying out of it, coupled with the propensity of Phillies pitchers to give up those gopher balls. True to expectations, seven balls left the yard tonight.
Jimmy Rollins set the tone for the night by going deep on the very first pitch of the game. There was no looking back after that, as the Phillies never trailed during this game. How many times has that happened so far this season? Don’t know off the top of my head, but I don’t think it’s a very big number.
Carlos Ruiz, Jayson Werth, and Raul Ibanez joined Rollins in the hit parade, with Ibanez hitting his league-leading 16th long ball. This chick is starting to dig it!
Brett Myers pitched masterfully, going eight strong innings while giving up three runs. All three came on the Yanks’ share of the dingers tonight, but thankfully all three were of the solo variety, by Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, and Mark Teixeira.
Phils win, 7-3. Yay!
Flushed Away in Flushing
You may have already heard about this, but I can’t resist bringing it up. Since it involves a Mets fan and a toilet, I’m surprised the Philadelphia columnists didn’t have a field day with it. Nonetheless, I learned about it on Thursday in a totally non-baseball blog called Lost in Suburbia, written by Tracy Beckerman, published author and fellow Penn Stater. Click HERE to read her take on it.
Seems that at a game last week at Citi Field, a female Mets fan lost a gold tooth in the toilet. For reasons known only to her, she tried to retrieve it, getting her arm stuck in the toilet in the process. According to other coverage, the toilet continued flushing over her arm the whole time, which appears to have been rather lengthy, as EMTs were unable to pry her loose and workers from the company that installed the toilets had to be called in to help. She was eventually freed, but the tooth was not recovered.
OK, how does this happen? If you feel a tooth about to fall out, would you lean over the toilet? And even if it is gold, it’s a toilet, for crying out loud! A public toilet in a ballpark, no less. Unlike your home toilet, Lord knows what’s been in there. Just let it go, and make an appointment with your dentist the next day!
I Need Your Opinion
While lamenting my inability to make the Latest Leader’s List in a comment on the community blog, I noticed a comment from another blogger that thought there were too many blogs with the word “rant” in the title.
I’m familiar with, and often visit, Julia’s Rants and the Rockpile Rant, but how many more are there? Just a quick look uncovered Rainiers Rants, Wrigley Rants, Phillies Cheers/Rants, Random Reds Rants, and the daily rant (who I guess doesn’t feel the need for capitalization). And how many more might there be?
So the question I’m now contemplating is whether or not I should change the title of my blog. Maybe all these different rants are confusing to the blog readers. Do I need something clever to catch the eye? Let me know what you think.
Happy Memorial Day Weekend!
I will be incommunicado this weekend, traveling with the family to the Jersey Shore (or as they say in Philly, going “down the shore”) for a visit with relatives. Here’s wishing everyone a happy and safe holiday weekend!
The Phillies somehow managed to sweep the Nationals in four games over the weekend, despite more shaky starting pitching.
On Friday, Joe Blanton gave up 4 earned runs in 5 innings, and did not get a decision. However, the Phillies won, 10-6, in extra innings, thanks to a four-run top of the 12th.
In the first game of Saturday’s day-night double-header, Brett Myers turned in the only quality start of the weekend, giving up 2 earned runs in 7 innings to get the win. Incidentally, both runs were the result of solo home runs – only one other hit was recorded off Myers. The bullpen gave up 3 runs in the 8th to make the game a little closer, but Brad Lidge finally had a solid outing to nail down the 8-5 victory.
In the rain-shortened second game, Andrew Carpenter made his major-league debut and proceeded to give up 5 earned runs in 4 1/3 innings, but amazingly earned the win anyway. Carpenter was the lucky beneficiary of a relatively new and little-known rule which allows the win to go to a pitcher who has pitched less than 5 innings if the game itself is shortened to 5. He was also the beneficiary of a two-run Ryan Howard homer and a three-run Raul Ibanez blast, propelling the Phillies to a 7-5 win.
And lastly, Chan Ho Park gave up 5 earned runs in a mere 1 1/3 innings on Sunday. Thanks to the bullpen, the Phillies were able to record a 8-6 victory.
So How About Those Starters?
In my last entry, I took a look at the ERAs of the starting pitchers. So how did the four-game sweep of the Nationals affect their stats? Incredibly, two of the three regular starters made their ERAs worse!
Only Brett Myers improved, lowering his ERA from 4.81 to 4.50. Joe Blanton’s went up ever so slightly, from 6.82 to 6.86. And Chan Ho Park, after two recent good outings, again stunk it up, with the resulting jump in ERA from 6.00 to 7.08.
Even Andrew Carpenter’s performance, despite getting the win, gave him a less-than-stellar 10.38.
Cole Hamels and Jamie Moyer did not pitch in this series, so their ERAs remain unchanged (5.04 and 8.15, respectively).
Again, infer what you want from this information.
Jackie Robinson, Rain Maker?
The Phillies and Nationals were originally scheduled to honor Jackie Robinson on April 15, along with the rest of MLB. But that game was rained out.
So as part of the rescheduled game, the players all donned the number 42 for Saturday’s second game. Guess what happened?
At least they were able to get five innings in before the skies opened, making for an official, though rain-shortened, game.
Tomorrow, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs have an unusually early day game, scheduled to start at 10:35 in the morning. The weather forecast is calling for a very pleasant day, and since the kids will be in school, my husband is playing hooky from work and the two of us will be enjoying a day at the ballpark.
Although, even though we will be without our own kids, we will likely be surrounded by other people’s kids, as it is Education Day at Lehigh Valley, hence the unusual start time. I’m guessing the park will be full of school groups, though I’m not sure how taking kids to a baseball game instead of school is educational. Maybe there will be statistics lessons between innings?
The Phillies are off today. They open a six-game road trip tomorrow night in Cincinnati, and then travel to New York for three interleague games against the Yankees.
In what has become a disturbing trend so far in this season for the Phillies, starter Brett Myers gave up 3 runs to the Marlins in the first inning tonight on a 3-run homer to Dan Uggla. Cripes, guys, what’s with all the long balls? I’m getting a little tired of it, as I’m sure pitching coach Rich Dubee is, too.
The Fish retained that 3-0 lead through eight innings. Things looked bleak for the Phillies heading into the ninth, as Ryan Howard was retired to start things off. But then Jayson Werth doubled, Raul Ibanez walked, and Matt Stairs singled to drive in a run. Lou Marson walked to load the bases, but then Eric Bruntlett struck out. Next up was Jimmy Rollins, who walked to force in another run, making it 3-2. Shane Victorino picked an opportune time to have his bat awaken, as he then hit a grand slam to give the Phils a 6-3 lead. Chase Utley would add a solo shot of his own for good measure, to make it 7-3.
Ryan Madson took over in the bottom of the ninth, and though he allowed a walk and a double, he retired the side with no further scoring. Phillies win!
No crotch shots in today’s newspaper – darn! Two worthy captions for yesterday’s photo were submitted, they appear below.
“No, if you cover it up like this no one can see the stain”
– OR –
“Hey, get that away from my best friend!!!”
(photo by Steven M. Falk/Philadelphia Inquirer)
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)
Aah, Wrigley Field, one of the most hallowed of major-league ballparks. After our extra-inning night in Milwaukee, we attended a day game in the Friendly Confines on August 22, 1997.
And what a day – beautiful, sunny, comfortable, a great view from the front of the upper deck:
What’s not to like? The outfield ivy was in full greenery. The hand-operated scoreboard in center field showed that this was the only day game going on at the moment:
We saw Harry Carey doing his traditional rendition of “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” during the seventh inning stretch:
Little did we know that we were lucky to be there in 1997, as sadly, Harry would pass away during the off-season, on February 18, 1998. There is now a statue honoring him outside the ballpark:
Oh, yeah, there was a ballgame going on that day. The Cubs were playing the Montreal Expos. Dustin Hermanson was on the mound for the Expos, and pitching for the Cubs that day was the Human Rain Delay, Steve Trachsel. Oddly enough, this game clocked in at a relatively brisk 2:31.
Sammy Sosa hit a two-run homer for the Cubbies in the seventh. Doug Strange hit a solo shot for the Expos in the eighth. [Strange – ha! Another name that could provide ample opportunity for merciless teasing during childhood.] The Cubs would tack on an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth, and hold on to win 3-1.
Also playing for the Cubs that day was Doug Glanville, who would later become a Phillie. Doug is shown here waiting on deck with Shawon Dunston:
In actuality, this should have been our second visit to Wrigley, rather than our first. In 1994, we were visiting friends in Chicago and had tickets to see the Cubs play the Phillies on September 10. How perfect! Except a little thing called the players strike, which began August 12, got in the way of my plans. Here we are in front of Wrigley holding our useless tickets, instead of seeing a game:
Oddly, my husband looks happy about this. One of the ticket windows was open, so at least we were able to get our money back that day.
We have been back to Wrigley since, to see three games (out of a four game series) between the Phillies and the Cubs in August 2006. We decided to try out three different seating areas of the ballpark.
For the first game, August 21, we gave the left-field bleachers a try. The bleachers in Wrigley are totally separated from the rest of the seating areas, and there is even a separate entrance:
The view from the bleachers is pretty nice. This photo was taken in the top of the first – it seems that there were a lot of late arriving fans that night:
This game featured home runs by Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley for the Phils, and Jacque Jones for the Cubs. This is also the game when Aaron Rowand broke his ankle after colliding with Chase Utley on a fly ball to shallow center field.
The Phils held on to win 6-5. Jon Lieber got the win, and Arthur Rhodes the save. Rich Hill took the loss for the Cubs.
The next night, August 22, we had seats in the lower level behind home plate. This is probably the only area I wouldn’t want to sit in again – the seats are really tight together, there are those annoying support beams that all old ballparks are blessed (cursed) with, and on a hot, humid night the air under there is very stagnant.
Jamie Moyer was making his first start for the Phillies – here is a shot of his first pitch:
No home runs this night, though Jimmy Rollins did hit a triple. The Phils would win 6-3, with Moyer getting the win and Ryan Madson the save. Ryan O’Malley took the loss for the Cubs.
The next night, August 23, we were again in the upper level to see Brett Myers take the mound for the Phils, and Angel Guzman for the Cubs. Here is a photo of Myers that night. He has a weird habit of not looking towards the plate as he releases the pitch:
Homers were hit by Ryan Howard for the Phils, and Matt Murton for the Cubs. The Phils would win again, this time by a score of 2-1. Myers got the win, and Geoff Geary got the save this night. Three saves, three different pitchers. Bob Howry would end up with the loss.
We would leave Chicago the next day, and thankfully not see Cole Hamels give up nine (!) runs in only two innings of work, though only five were earned. 😉 It would later be revealed that Hamels had cut the index finger on his left (pitching) hand with a Swiss Army knife while trying to cut a plastic zip tie in the days prior to the game, and he was unable to properly grip his change-up.
Note to Cole: stay away from cutting implements! Let Heidi do all the cutting!
Coming up next, Turner Field.
(all photos mine)
No, not the old Stephen King story about some poor guy cursed by a gypsy to keep losing weight ’til he wastes away. I’m talking about the Phillies – specifically Ryan Howard and Brett Myers. According to an article in today’s Philadelphia Inquirer, Howard has dropped 20 pounds, and Myers has dropped 30!
In fact, at first glance this morning, I thought the photo of Myers was actually Chase Utley. Mind you, he was only showing from the waist up above the fold of the paper. Then I flipped it over to read the caption, and thought, “When did Utley get that big tattoo on his leg?” I was actually kind of shocked to see it was Brett. Kudos to both of them for working their butts (and waists) off to get ready for the season.
I’ll be very interested to see how their newfound sveltness affects their performance to start this season – Ryan so far in his career has been a notoriously slow starter, and Brett’s poor start last season got him sent to the minors to get straightened out. I’ll be sending my positive vibes out to both of them!
Maybe they should publish a diet book together. They could call it “Phight Phlab with the Phillies”. I’d buy it if I could be guaranteed the same results!
(both photos by Eric Mencher/Philadelphia Inquirer)