Yep, that pretty much sums up my feelings about the World Series so far. I really don’t care. I admit that I haven’t even watched any of it, other than any highlights that happened to be shown on my local news coverage. Following the LCS and WS games in the newspaper would have been difficult, as well, since all but one or two games have “ended too late for this edition.” Reading about it the day after the day after just isn’t the same.
Apparently the Inquirer’s editors have as much enthusiasm for it as I do. 😉
That being said, if I absolutely had to choose a favorite or be threatened with bodily harm, I suppose I’d go with Texas. Why, you ask? Well, a few reasons:
- Texas has never won a World Series; St. Louis has won 10 (OK, not exactly a Yankee-like number, but still more than every other team that is not the Yankees).
- Prior to last year, the Rangers had never even been to the WS; this year marks the Cardinals’ 18th visit to the Fall Classic.
- I know people who live in Texas; I don’t know anyone in St. Louis (or even all of Missouri, for that matter).
- Tony LaRussa and his micromanaging ways really annoy me.
- Joe Buck really, really annoys me, and even though he was actually born in Florida, he’s basically from St. Louis.
- A Wild Card team should not win the World Series. It just shouldn’t.
Currently up 3 games to 2, Texas could win it all tonight. I’ll try to muster a little interest, and perhaps sneak a peek at the game. Or not.
After Saturday night’s authoritative 11-6 thumping of the Cardinals (which really should have been 11-3 but for three meaningless runs scored in the top of the 9th), I had high hopes for Game 2 of the NLDS on Sunday.
The Phils jumped on Chris Carpenter for four early runs, and I was liking the chances of going up 2 games to none on the Cards. But then the unthinkable happened – Cliff Lee blew a four run lead. Granted, he didn’t seem to be at his sharpest last night – he allowed a leadoff triple in the first, and a leadoff double in the second, but managed to wiggle out of those jams. Things would start to unravel in the fourth, when the Cards pulled to within one run, and go further downhill from there.
In the meantime, Carpenter was yanked after three innings, and the parade of relievers must have lulled the Phillies into one of their all-too-frequent offensive stupors.
The Cardinal bullpen yielded only one hit the rest of the way, a single by Jimmy Rollins, which was quickly nullified when Rollins got picked off to end the seventh.
I should have known better than to get too optimistic. After all, the Cardinals are the only NL team to have a winning record against the Phils this year, so I certainly shouldn’t expect this series to be a cakewalk. Also, I’m a Phillies fan – a member of a group of people known for their pessimistic tendencies. I’m pretty sure it must be a chemical they put in our water ;-).
Today is an off day, so let’s hope the Phillies snap out of it, and get back to hitting (and winning) tomorrow in St. Louis. Especially you, Carlos Ruiz, and you, Placido Polanco, both hitless thus far! Let’s get to work!
As I predicted in my last post, the Phillies did indeed clinch the NL East over the weekend, prior to my attending of Monday night’s game against the Cardinals. By the looks of things during the game, you would have thought they were still hung over two days after the celebration.
It’s not that they didn’t have baserunners all night; in fact, they had the bases loaded in the bottom of the third with one out, but both Raul Ibanez and Placido Polanco struck out to eliminate any threat of scoring.
Then, after lulling the crowd into a semi-stupor, the Phils mounted just enough of a comeback in the bottom of the ninth to get our hopes up, only to fall just short of victory (or at least tying the game). Deja vu, this kind of thing happened the last time I was here, on August 26!
Bottom line, Phils lose, 4-3. Bleh!
A few Random Thoughts occurred to me during the game:
- of the four games I’ve attended this season (a pitiful stat in itself), the Phils are 1-3. The only time they won was when I didn’t have my camera with me, due to rain. Probably just coincidence, but still annoying that my camera seems to bring bad luck.
- I am never so fortunate as to have a small child seated in front of me; rather, they tend to be taller than average adults (sometimes excessively so).
- Unlike me, most people seem to be incapable of sitting in their seat for the duration of the game. These people will inevitably step in front of me at the very moment I’m trying to take a picture.
- With the exception of the people seated in front of me. They never move.
But the evening was not without some pluses. For one thing, I was able to satisfy my desire for more bobbleheads (yeah, I’m a sucker for them).
Due to an apparent surplus of Placido Polanco bobbleheads, one was given away free with each 2011 Phillies Yearbook purchased. Wouldn’t you know, I had gotten a yearbook last time. After some thought, I decided I’d probably be willing to pay 10 bucks for a bobblehead anyway, so I bought it. I now have a brand new 2011 yearbook for sale, a $10 value, half price if anyone’s interested. 🙂
But enough of my ranting and raving. Forthwith, my photos from the game.
Update: Phinally! The Phils beat the Mets yesterday to break an eight game (!) losing streak.
(all photos by me)
When they occur to somebody else, that is.
Last night, I didn’t get a chance to sit down and watch the Phillies face the Cardinals until seven innings had been played. I knew the Phils had been trailing 1-0 earlier in the evening, and after seven they were still down, 2-1. But it turns out I was just in time for all the fun.
Fun for the Phillies. Not so fun for the Cards.
Call it what you want – meltdown, implosion, epic fail – the Cardinals’ bullpen had one of the ugliest half-innings I have ever witnessed.
It lasted almost 45 minutes.
There were two hit batsmen (one with the bases loaded); four walks (two with the bases loaded); and four RBI singles. Nine runs scored – eight of them after there were two outs.
They needed five pitchers to get through it.
Two of those pitchers did not record any outs.
Trever Miller started the inning in relief of Kyle McClellan, who had held the Phils to one run thus far. After retiring the first batter, he allowed a single and a walk to put two men on base.
Curiously, Jason Motte, a hard-throwing righty, was brought in to replace lefty Miller and face Ryan Howard. Motte proceeded to hit Howard to load the bases, then hit Placido Polanco to force in the tying run.
Brian Tallet entered next, and got Raul Ibanez to strike out. After giving up an RBI single to Ben Francisco, he was replaced by Miguel Batista. Batista apparently needed a map to find the strike zone – he promptly walked two batters to force in two more runs, and followed that by allowing an RBI single to Jimmy Rollins.
Maikel Cleto was next in the parade of pitchers. He walked Shane Victorino to reload the bases, gave up two RBI singles to Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, and then mercifully for the Cards, retired Wilson Valdez to finally end their inning from hell with the Phils now leading 10-2.
Lost in all this were two fine performances by the starting pitchers, Roy Halladay and Kyle McClellan, who each surrendered one run, only to be rewarded with no-decisions for their efforts.
Thank you, Cardinals bullpen, for handing us that win on a silver platter. I hope you’ll understand if the Phillies do not reciprocate tonight.
The past week was a really busy one for me. In addition to seeing three different levels of Phillies (AA, AAA, and majors), my son had two baseball games, and the cold water valve in my laundry room broke, sending a geyser of water all over, and down through the floor vent into the finished basement. Fortunately, it broke while I was in the act of turning it on, instead of when I was unaware and off doing something else, so I was able to find the main shutoff valve without too much panicking and minimal water damage. On the plus side, the floor behind my washer and dryer is now cleaner than it’s been in years!
This entry is going to be a bit long, so please bear with me.
Tuesday, May 4 – Lehigh Valley IronPigs vs Indianapolis Indians
The IronPigs held the first of two Education Days scheduled for this month. Education Day just means that the game starts at 10:35 am, and there are lots of school groups in attendance. My own children were, in fact, at school that day; we just had lots of other people’s kids surrounding us.
As they were last year, the IronPigs player head shots were drawings by local school students:
Leadoff batter Rich Thompson looks very serious in this rendition. In need of a little Prozac?
Luis Maza, on the other hand, looks quite happy.
Has John Mayberry been getting the Michael Jackson treatment? He looks a bit pale.
This artist even included Andy Tracy’s stubble.
Not a bad likeness.
Neil Sellers could be forgiven for going 0-for-4 today, since it looks like he might have trouble seeing straight.
Paul Hoover looks rather demonic. Hoover has just been called up to the parent club to replace backup catcher Brian Schneider, who is currently on the DL.
Brian Bocock, that is not a good batting average!
Drew Carpenter, hitless so far this year (he didn’t get one this day, either).
Dewayne Wise needs a neck reduction!
The IronPigs were hosting the Indianapolis Indians, AAA affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Drew Carpenter started for the ‘Pigs, giving up one run in six innings, striking out five:
Carpenter was opposed on the mound by Daniel McCutchen (no relation to Andrew – obviously). He makes pitching look almost painful with this expression:
Paul Hoover is out at second, but the throw from Indians shortstop Argenis Diaz was not in time to turn the double play:
No IronPigs game is complete without the Pork Racers – Hambone, Chris P. Bacon, and Diggity:
John Mayberry is safe at second on a steal attempt:
Mike Zagurski came into the game in relief of Carpenter. I recall listening to the radio broadcast of his major league debut a few years ago, when Larry Andersen described him as looking “a little Kruk-y”:
Antonio Bastardo was called upon to get the final out of the eighth inning:
Scott Mathieson came in to close the game and get the save. Mathieson is attempting to come back from not one, but two, Tommy John surgeries. He looked pretty good, hitting 95 and 96 mph on the stadium radar gun (though who knows how accurate those are?):
Final score: IronPigs 3, Indians 1.
Wednesday, May 5 – Phillies vs Cardinals
Finally, my first Phillies game of the season! Not only that, but we had some amazing seats (thanks, Eric and Michelle!), just past the Phillies dugout in the fifth row. We missed the first inning, however, due to absolutely nightmarish traffic resulting from simultaneous Phillies and Flyers games. I hate when (hmph!) secondary sports like hockey interfere with my plans!
Nonetheless, with adult beverage in hand, we settled in for the start of the second inning. Kyle Kendrick was on the mound, and he pitched masterfully for seven innings, scattering six hits and giving up no runs:
The Cardinals countered with Brad Penny, shown here rockin’ the high-socks look. The little white blur is the ball going past him:
Brendan Ryan led off the third for the Cards, and was called out at first on this play:
I think the Phils got a lucky break here, as it sure doesn’t look like Howard has the ball yet. This brought Tony LaRussa out of the dugout for the second time in the game. He had earlier come out in the second inning to argue Colby Rasmus’ being called out at third on an attempted steal. Unfortunately for LaRussa, both arguments were to no avail:
Placido Polanco got the Phils on the board in the fourth with a two-run homer. Shane Victorino was on base at the time, and congratulates Polanco as he crosses the plate. Victorino would also hit a solo homer in the sixth:
Chase Utley prepares to field a ground ball:
Cards third baseman David Freese tracks down a popup in foul territory. The expressions on the faces of the fans in the vicinity of the play are priceless:
Is Albert Pujols pondering the Cards’ lack of offense in this game? The Phillies pitchers kept Pujols in check through the first three games of the four-game series, with Pujols going 3-for-13 with no RBIs:
Chase Utley makes the pivot on a 6-4-3 double play to end the top of the seventh:
Danys Baez and Jose Contreras pitched perfect eighth and ninth innings, respectively, to close out the victory for Kendrick.
Final score: Phillies 4, Cardinals 0.
Saturday, May 8 – Reading Phillies vs Akron Aeros
The Reading Phillies were holding their annual Spam carving contest this past Saturday. I had no intention of taking part in this, I just simply planned on snapping a few photos of other people’s Spam creations.
My daughter, motivated by the prospect of the $250 prize, had other plans.
At her urging, I handed over the $5 entry fee (proceeds benefitting a charity called Opportunity House) and we received our can of Spam. What to carve? I was a bit unprepared, as I’ve mentioned, this was not part of my original plan. We decided upon the R-Phils mascot, Screwball.
Step one: figure out how to get the Spam out of the can intact. Eww. My experience with Spam ended many years ago during childhood, when my mom would occasionally serve it. I have never willingly touched Spam since then.
Let’s just say it’s a bit, um, slimy. Best not to think about what’s actually in it. It’s also not the easiest medium to work with. And after your hands are covered with Spam juice, it’s not easy to control your carving utensils (a plastic knife and toothpicks).
Anyway, here is our entry, “Spamball”:
Here’s the real Screwball for comparison:
OK, so not a perfect likeness, but like I said, Spam isn’t the easiest thing to work with.
Mmm, a Spamdog!
These two contestants are working on separate halves of what would eventually be the winning entry, “Screwball’s Spamtastic Opportunity House”:
Prior to the winner being announced after the seventh inning, judges narrowed the entries to six finalists. Ours was one of the six! Fans then cast their votes for their favorite. The finalists got to walk out on the field accompanying their entry. Sadly, I do not have any pictures of this, since I was on the field and couldn’t very well take a picture of myself.
The winners, pictured above, got the cash, and the rest of the finalists got a cap and t-shirt as consolation prizes. My daughter claimed the cap, since the shirt was extremely large and would have looked like a dress on her.
I only managed a few pictures of the game, as it was incredibly windy and cold, making it hard to hold the camera steady.
R-Phils starter Yohan Flande:
Aeros starter Eric Berger contorts himself:
R-Phils centerfielder Quintin Berry reminds me of a t-ball player who needs to use the bathroom:
The R-Phils lost, 5-2, though we left before then since it was so windy and cold. The kids didn’t even mind missing the post-game fireworks, they were so uncomfortable.
Whew! Now I’m caught up. Hope to be blogging more regularly this month.
(all photos by me, except the can of Spam)
Last night, the Phillies took on the NL Central-leading Cardinals in St. Louis, and emerged victorious. Joe Blanton held the Cards to just one run over six innings, and managed to wiggle out of a one-out, bases loaded jam in the bottom of the sixth.
After getting a groundout to start the inning, Blanton walked Ryan Ludwick and hit Rick Ankiel to put runners on first and second. The next batter hit a grounder to Pedro Feliz, who proceeded to have a brain cramp, and apparently couldn’t decide whether to tag the lead runner coming towards him, or throw the ball to second.
He hesitated, and we all know what they say about he who hesitates.
“He who hesitates loads the bases.” No, wait, that’s not it. “He who hesitates incurs the wrath of the Phans.” Oh, that’s not it either. Actually it’s “He who hesitates is lost,” but that just doesn’t sound as interesting.
Anyway, the next two batters struck out and grounded into a fielders choice, respectively, to end the inning. The bullpen once again pitched three scoreless relief innings, and Blanton got the win as the Phillies came out on top, 6-1.
Ryan Howard had reason to be smiling after this game, as he hit his second grand slam of the season in the fifth inning. This was Howard’s seventh career slam, tying him with Mike Schmidt for the franchise record. I’m sure this is a record that will be broken, as Howard still has plenty of seasons ahead of him.
Scary Moment of the Game
In the top of the eighth, St. Louis centerfielder Rick Ankiel ran face-first into the outfield wall after catching a fly ball off the bat of Feliz. The ball rolled away from his hand as he fell to the ground, and it was not immediately clear if Feliz was out or not (he was).
Ankiel was taken to the hospital after being carted off the field. X-rays and scans were negative, but he was kept overnight for observation. Thankfully, it seems that he will be OK, and he has since been released from the hospital.
I will admit that I am not a fan of Ankiel, but I would never want to see an opposing player seriously hurt during a game. What’s really unbelievable to me is some of the comments that I have seen posted to coverage of the incident – derogatory comments directed to Ankiel, or people only wanting him to be OK because he is on their fantasy team. What is wrong with these people?!
Anyway, tonight is the conclusion of this quick two-game series, and then it’s on to New York for two games at Citi Field. Two more chances to kick some Met butt for me, guys! I know you can do it!
(Howard photo by me; other photo by Jeff Roberson/AP)
My original plan was to write about Fenway Park yesterday, and Dodger Stadium today, so they would be separate entries. But my son commandeered the computer last night to work on a school project. I begrudgingly admitted to myself that that was more important than blogging. Since he didn’t finish until 10 pm, and I don’t think too clearly after that, I decided to just combine the two today.
I also want to give a little shout-out to The Ken (that’s what it says in the “Read About Me” section) over at How About Dem O’s, Hun! I “borrowed” the idea of the stadium travelogue from some of his recent entries about parks he’s been to – check it out!
Our stadium quest picked up steam in 1996, with eight new parks visited in a two year span. The first on the list was Fenway Park.
A friend of mine who had once worked in the cubicle next to me had moved to Massachusetts, and we decided to go visit her for a long weekend. While there, we thought it would be fun to check out the storied home of the Red Sox, Fenway Park. So we asked her to order some tickets to a game, since in 1996 there weren’t as many easy options for buying tickets online as there are today.
So on April 27, 1996, we made our visit to Fenway. We got a later than expected start that morning, and just missed one train and had to wait awhile for the next. Once we got to the stadium, we didn’t have any time to wander around and explore Yawkey Way or any of the surrounding areas, and had to find the will-call window to pick up the tickets.
After we made our way to our seats, we realized that one of the many support beams that hold up Fenway was directly in our field of view (note to self – in the future, always order your own tickets). And because we were in the shade and it was only April, it was a little chilly.
I hate to admit that I really don’t have too many memories of the actual game. Nothing notable happened, and the Sox got blown out 10-0 by the Kansas City Royals. Future Sox (and Yankee) centerfielder Johnny Damon was patrolling the outfield for the Royals that day.
Here are a couple pictures I took of the field:
This one shows the Green Monster before seats were added on top of it:
The only benefit of this lopsided score was that many fans left early, so we moved to a vacant area of the right field seats that was in the sun, and therefore much warmer. Here’s a photo of a warmed-up me, with a lot more hair than I currently have (I’m the one on the left):
We will definitely need to make a return trip to Fenway one of these days!
Our next stop was later that year, when I had a business trip to Los Angeles. Since my site visit was on a Monday, I decided to go out early and spend the weekend, so my husband could accompany me. So on September 15, 1996, we went to see the Dodgers play the Cardinals at Dodger Stadium.
One of the unusual things about Dodger Stadium is that it’s easy to miss if you don’t know exactly where you’re going. Whereas most stadiums are rather large and easy to spot from afar, Dodger Stadium is sort of nestled in between some hills, and not visible from Sunset Boulevard, the road we took from our hotel. Having actually been there several years earlier with a friend, I knew this.
On my first visit, my friend and I were also driving down Sunset, and unknowingly drove right past the stadium, even though the concierge at our hotel told us to “drive down Sunset, and you can’t miss it on your left.” Well, we missed it and pretty soon were driving into a rather seedy-looking area of L.A. We turned around and did eventually find it – you would think there would be a large sign saying “Dodger Stadium” with an arrow, but no, all we saw was a tiny square sign on the side of the road with a stadium-shaped symbol on it. So this time I was ready.
[This may not be the case anymore, but at the time I thought they would have better signage.]
We got there without an unintended side trip, parked the car and went to buy tickets. The weather was beautiful – warm sun, comfortable temperature. We were in the first row of the upper deck, just to the first base side of home plate, with a great view of the field.
Looking back at the box score of that game, what is pretty amazing is that at that time, the previous four N.L. Rookies of the Year were Dodgers – Eric Karros (1992), Mike Piazza (’93), Raul Mondesi (’94), and Hideo Nomo (’95). Also on the field that day was Todd Hollandsworth, who would later be named N.L. ROY for 1996. Though Nomo was not pitching that day, Karros, Mondesi and Hollandsworth were all in the lineup. Piazza came in as a pinch hitter in the bottom of the eighth, and was called out on strikes to end the inning:
The Dodgers held on to win the game, 6-5. All in all, an enjoyable day at the ballpark. Dodger Stadium is another ballpark that I would like to make a return visit to in the future.
Up next, Coors Field.
(all photos mine)