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)
The lucky shirt’s power continues. I almost forgot to put it on – we turned on the TV just as the game was beginning, and there it was lying nicely folded on my bed, next to all the other laundry currently being folded. I quickly changed and all was (eventually) right with the world.
The game was a nail-biter (metaphorically speaking, thankfully that is not one of my bad habits), but we did not have to resort to actually turning the TV off at any point.
I’m not going to recap the whole game – that info is out there elsewhere if you want it – but I will share some of my random thoughts from the game.
– Here we are in the entertainment capital of the world, and the best they can do for the National Anthem is Billy Ray Cyrus!?!? The guy best known at the moment as Hannah Montana’s, um, I mean Miley Cyrus’s dad? Why not at least have them do a duet? It’s not like he’s even a native of SoCal – wait, is anyone actually a native of SoCal? Hopefully this Kentucky native’s heart wasn’t too achy-breaky after the Dodgers dropped Game 1.
– At one point during the game, Russell Martin slipped while putting on the brakes after rounding third, and the announcer (not sure which one) mentioned that it had rained the day before. Rain in SoCal – hmm, I guess Albert Hammond lied to us when he sang that “It Never Rains In Southern California”. Well, he is from London, so I guess he can be forgiven for not really knowing.
– Cole Hamels once again lost his composure on the mound, thowing his hands in the air after Rollins and Utley failed to turn an inning-ending double play. This allowed Manny Ramirez to come to the plate and deliver a two-run bomb. Come on Cole, get your head on straight!
– Speaking of Manny’s bomb, is it ever a good idea to throw three straight change-ups, as Cole did to Manny in this at-bat? Isn’t the whole point of a change-up that it is a different speed from the previous pitches? If you throw three in a row there is nothing for it to “change-up” from.
– I would love to sneak up behind ManRam with a big pair of scissors. Like the Biblical Samson, would he lose all his power if I cut off his hair?
– Is it just me, or does Chan Ho Park truly look like a “deer in the headlights” on the mound while looking in for the signs? Nonetheless, he looked great for having not pitched in almost a month. Way to go, Chan Ho! I’m sorry I doubted you earlier in the season.
– Choooooch! Rauuuuul! Are there two more fun names to say after a pair of three-run jacks? I think not.
– Lastly, we are still tortured with the announcers on TBS. Thankfully it is not the same crew as the NLDS (they were about as exciting as watching paint dry), but now I must listen to Buck Martinez, who inexplicably reminds me of the (fictional) announcer Jimmy Shorts from my son’s MLB Slugfest 2003 game.
Game 2 starts in less than four hours, with Pedro Martinez taking the mound for the Phils against former Phil Vicente Padilla. Should be interesting, to say the least. The lucky shirt is ready.
They say that “hitting is timing”.
According to Warren Spahn, “pitching is upsetting timing”.
Thanks to Cole and Heidi Hamels, we now can surmise that “timing of wife going into labor is upsetting pitching”. Cole was not sharp in yesterday’s 5-4 loss to the Rockies, giving up four runs in five innings.
Ah yes, timing. Cole Hamels, who seems to already have his whole career planned out, was certainly not thinking ahead when he and Heidi decided to engage in some baby-making, presumable back in January. Would it have been that hard to realize that January plus nine months equals new baby smack in the middle of playoffs? Maybe he was assuming the Phillies wouldn’t make it to the postseason?
(alright, yes that last paragraph was typed with tongue planted in cheek, but still…)
As for Baby Hamels, I haven’t been able to find any confirmation this morning that the baby actually arrived. Nonetheless, congrats to the new parents.
Which leads me to wonder why Charlie even decided to have Cole start this game, if labor was that imminent. Sure, we can say that professional athletes should be able to set their personal lives aside while on the field, but who knows how much that might have affected his concentration?
And then there’s Cole’s abysmal record in day games this season: 0-6 with a 5.44 ERA. What’s up with that? His performance in night games is markedly better, at 10-5 with a 3.95 ERA. No wonder he was whining to the press earlier this week about the ridiculous start times of Games 1 and 2.
So why not start Happ or Blanton? Okay, Happ had pitched two innings in the final regular season game on October 4th, but Blanton had last pitched on October 2nd. As it turned out, both Happ and Blanton were used out of the bullpen, so now the Phils have burned through three starters in one game.
That would seem to leave Pedro Martinez as the Game 3 starter, though Charlie has not yet made his decision, saying Blanton is still in the mix, according to phillies.com. Happ says he would be ready too, even though he took a liner off the leg yesterday from the first batter he faced.
Now the series moves to Denver, where the forecast for Game 3 includes temperatures in the 30’s and snow showers (!). That’s football weather, not baseball. At least I’ll be watching from the cozy comfort of my home.
Some quick thoughts on yesterday’s game, before I settle in to watch Game 2 on TV. No visual aids today.
The “August” version of Cliff Lee was in the park yesterday, going the distance as the Phils beat the Rockies 5-1. Thank goodness it wasn’t “September” Lee that showed up! Today Cole Hamels takes the mound – let’s hope we get “2008 Postseason” Cole, and not the inconsistent 2009 version.
Though it looked like a nice sunny day, the gusting, swirling winds made for some entertaining fielding. On one pop-up, the ball must have taken a U-turn while in flight, as Jimmy Rollins first ran out to short left, then abruptly ran back towards third base before making the catch. The wind also robbed Jayson Werth, and possibly Ryan Howard, of homers.
I can breathe a little easier with the Phillies victory yesterday, but if they can win today I will definitely feel more comfortable.
Speaking of TV, I despise the coverage by TBS. They seemed to be having some sort of technical difficulties yesterday, as the sound kept cutting out. I also have it on good authority from Jenn of Phillies Phollowers, who was there in person, that the crowd was REALLY LOUD. You would not have known that from the broadcast – the crowd sounds were buried in the mix, leaving the announcers all too easy to hear. Maybe I should try muting the TV and listening to the local radio broadcast :-).
In my last entry, I was a bit pessimistic about the Phillies’ chances against the Mets. In the wake of their being swept by the Braves, I was happy that they’d at least won the first game to avoid being swept again. In retrospect, what was I worried about? This time, the cleat was on the other feet, and the Mets were the ones being swept!!
It does my heart good to see the Mets looking as frustrated as this:
The Mutts, oops, Mets were only able to muster a grand total of 3 runs over the 3-game sweep, as the Phillies won by scores of 7-2, 4-1, and 2-0.
Last night, the Phils opened a 4-game series against the Reds by absolutely erupting
for 22 runs, 10 of which came in the first inning! I almost felt a teeny bit bad for Johnny Cueto, who gave up 9 of those runs in a mere 2/3 of an inning. Amazingly, 8 of the 10 runs came after there were two outs and no one on base!
Cole Hamels gave up a solo homer to Jonny Gomes, but that was it for the Reds. Things got so bad for them, they brought infielder Paul Janish in to pitch the bottom of the eighth, his second such appearance this year. Apparently the first outing was less than stellar, as he gave up 5 runs. This time would be no different, as Janish coughed up six runs, including a Jayson Werth grand slam. Poor Janish now has an ERA of 49.50 to show for his efforts.
Now for tonight. More often than not, it seems that after the Phillies have an outburst like this, the next night they are asleep at the wheel. I hope that this time they can continue with the offensive heroics, and keep their winning streak going.
On Sunday, we took the kids to the Reading Phillies for Kids Club Game #2, where they were happy to receive their Crazy Hot Dog Vendor pillowcases.
There was also a pre-game Mascot Meet and Greet – the R-Phils have no less than 5 mascots! I can understand mascots with names like Blooper, Change-Up, and Screwball (a dog, turtle, and mutant Mr. Red/Met combo, respectively), but I’m not so sure about Quack (duck) and Bucky (beaver). I think it’s just so they have enough to complete the Mascot Band, which performs live before Saturday games.
Yohan Flande was on the mound for the R-Phils, making his second start at AA since being called up from Clearwater.
The Connecticut Defenders (S.F. Giants affiliate) countered with prospect Tim Alderson.
The Defenders would come out on top, winning by a score of 12-5. They ran rampant on Flande and catcher Tuffy Gosewisch, stealing six bases altogether, including two double-steals in the second inning, resulting in two runs scored. Here is one of those runs:
One more favorite shot from the game – in this one, Connecticut shortstop Sharlon Schoop’s bubble bursts, both literally and figuratively, as he is unable to make a play on a hard ground ball that had caused him to stumble while fielding it.
More Things That Make You Go “Hmmm”
On the way home from Reading, we passed a restaurant that was advertising a “Bridal Tasting” later this month. One assumes/hopes that this is a chance for brides and grooms to sample menu options available for rehearsal dinners or receptions. Otherwise, the choice of wording leads to some unusual mental images.
(all photos by me except where noted; erupting baseball is the logo for the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes)
Thank goodness interleague play is over, as the Phillies were a rather disapointing 6-12 against AL East opponents. Did I say “disappointing”? I think “dreadful” might be a better word.
Anyway, today is an off day, and tomorrow they return to action against their familiar NL East foe, Atlanta.
In the meantime, here are a few stray thoughts that struck me over the past week or so.
While paging through the 2009 Phillies Yearbook (one of the goodies that we picked up at last week’s Phestival), I noticed that some of the player profiles included an entry for “Last book you read”. As quite a few of the profiles did not even include this particular item, I can only assume that they haven’t actually read a book in recent memory. I did note that both Scott Eyre and Cole Hamels had the same answer to this one: Twilight by Stephanie Meyer.
Last time I checked, this book (and its sequels) had a target audience of teenage girls. It is a vampire love story, after all. As they used to say on Laugh-In, “Verrry interesting.”
Speaking of Cole Hamels, a column in the Inquirer last week noted that he and his wife Heidi are expecting their first child, and that it will be a boy. The couple still plans on adopting a child from Africa, with Hamels quoted as follows:
“We’re going to adopt a girl, and it will be great for her to grow up with a brother. They’ll be like twins.”
Cole is apparently using a different definition of the word “twins” than I am familiar with. Nonetheless, best wishes go out to the expectant parents.
Finally, this shout-out goes to Julia at Julia’s Rants, who correctly identified 5 of the 6 lyrical snippets used in my last entry. For the record, the answers are:
“Bakin’ potatoes, bakin’ in the sun…” – Rock Lobster, The B-52’s
“The way the beach is kissed by the sea…” – Love, Reign O’er Me – though I was thinking of the classic version by The Who, this song was also covered by Pearl Jam
“Don’t know much about history…” – Wonderful World, Sam Cooke
“Here comes the rain, here she comes again…” – Rain, The Cult
“You make me laugh, give me your autograph…” – Supersonic, Oasis
“School’s out for the summer…” – School’s Out, Alice Cooper
In between folding laundry and preventing the kids from seriously maiming each other, I periodically checked the Phillies/Mets game last night. Suffice it to say that Cole Hamels was not sharp. I mean, giving up a lead-off double to the pitcher?? Of course, this led to a run being scored. Thankfully, Chase Utley tied it up in the next inning, with a solo home run.
OK, so far I’m pretty calm. But then Hamels immediately gives a run, and more, right back, by allowing the Mets to score three runs in the bottom of the fourth. Now I’m not a happy camper, and with apologies to CCR, I felt a bad mood on the rise.
Lo and behold, the Phillies tie the game back up with three runs of their own in the top of the seventh. My mood was beginning to brighten. After scoreless eighth, ninth, and tenth innings, who should be leading off the 11th but Chase Utley. In answer to the prayers of Phillies phans everywhere, he obligingly deposited another ball in the right field seats to give the Phils a 5-4 lead. Ryan Madson, in his new role as closer of the moment, recorded a 1-2-3 bottom of the 11th for a save.
Like SpongeBob says, it’s sweet, sweet victory, yeah!
(OK, I’ve got two kids, I’ve seen waaay too much SpongeBob)
A fool and his money are soon parted
Is there actually a Mets fan out there who has $35,000 lying around that he/she doesn’t know what to do with? We’ll find out in two days, when bidding ends on eBay item 290322027654, the Shea Stadium Wrecking Ball.
Just how does one display a wrecking ball in their home? There are so many better things to do with $35,000 – they could always just send some to me, I would put it to good use! 🙂
So how many songs did you know?
Kudos to Julia, who identified all the songs my subheadings came from yesterday. For the record, they were:
“She’s mean and she’s evil, like that little old boll weevil…” – Little Sister, Elvis Presley;
“Doctor, doctor, give me the news…” – Bad Case of Lovin’ You (Doctor, Doctor), Robert Palmer;
“Hey now, you’re an all-star…” – All-Star, Smashmouth (an easy one);
“More, more, more…” – I was thinking of More, More, More by Andrea True Connection (yeah, I used to listen to disco back in the day) but my husband pointed out it could have come from Rebel Yell by Billy Idol (a college favorite, so I’m surprised I didn’t think of that myself);
“I’ve been drivin’ all night, my hands wet on the wheel…” – Radar Love, Golden Earring;
“But you don’t really care for music, do you?…” – Hallelujah. There are several different artists for this one. Leonard Cohen wrote it and recorded it first, though I prefer the version by Jeff Buckley. There is also a version by Rufus Wainwright, which appears in the movie Shrek.