On Monday, the husband, kids, and myself attended the 21st annual Phillies Phestival at Citizens Bank Park. The Phestival benefits the Philadelphia chapter of the ALS Association, and raised over $800,000 this year. Click here and here for coverage on the Phillies website.
Although it was drizzling slightly when we arrived at the ballpark, it did not last long, and it turned into a pleasant evening. Since we had about an hour until the players would begin signing autographs at their booths, we decided to take a walk around the concourse and get something to eat, rather than stand in line while nothing was going on. Then again, we weren’t lucky enough to get tickets to the “big name” booths, i.e. Howard, Utley, Rollins, etc., so there was no burning need to get in line early.
First stop was Brad Lidge’s booth, as all three of us had this ticket. My husband feels no need to get autographs, and really, why would we both need one? So he is the designated bag holder while the kids and myself are in the lines.
So what brilliant thing did I blurt out as I was handing Brad a baseball to sign? “Hi, how’s the elbow?” Like he hadn’t heard that hundreds of times already! Duh! By the way, he said it was feeling great. As I thanked him and moved on, I overheard the guy behind me in line come up to the table – “Hi Brad, how’s the elbow?” I wonder if he got really tired of that question by the end of the evening.
My daughter had a ticket for the Kyle Kendrick/Ben Francisco booth, so my husband went with her while my son followed me around as I was taking pictures of the players at some of the other booths. He didn’t enjoy this part of the evening.
My next stop was the Cuban station, otherwise known as the Danys Baez/Jose Contreras autograph booth. Neither of them was particularly talkative – I can understand Contreras wouldn’t be, as he doesn’t speak much (any?) English and Baez usually acts as his “interpreter”. Maybe Baez wasn’t quite sure what to make of all of it.
My son had a ticket for the Placido Polanco station, but decided not to use it since he already had a Polanco autograph from the first Phestival I took him to about six years ago, during Polanco’s first stint as a Phillie. Since I also had a ball signed back then, I had Placido sign a photo of him that I had taken in Spring Training:
While I was doing this, my husband took the kids to buy some grab bags, and also go in the clubhouse store. My son wanted to buy a Polanco t-shirt, but being a male, can’t be bothered to look at the tag to see what size it is. So he held one up in front of him, asking dad if he thought he’d “grow into it”. Lord only knows if my husband was actually paying attention, because when we got home, he tried it on and it fit like a dress. I took a look at the tag and said of course it was too big, it was an adult extra-large. So yeah, he’ll grow into it, maybe by the time he graduates high school! So I guess it’s mine for now. 🙂
So here are some photos from the evening, of the players whose booths I could get to. Some were in locations where only people with tickets to those booths could get through, or were not easily accessible, such as Raul Ibanez, Jayson Werth, and Ryan Howard. Cole Hamels and Roy Halladay were in photo booths, which required purchase of a separate ticket.
Brad Lidge’s elbow was feeling great, hopefully he didn’t get writer’s cramp!
Chase Utley is much better looking without his hair all gooped back.
Kyle Kendrick has a really big forehead, which I never noticed with his cap on.
Ben Francisco was making his first Phestival appearance.
Why does Milt Thompson look so serious? Milt didn’t smile much in last year’s photo, and he still isn’t in this year’s version.
Since I had my camera turned vertically, J.C. Romero decided to turn his head, too. 🙂
Joe Blanton strikes a no-nonsense look.
Jimmy Rollins always looks like he’s having fun. Jimmy was one of several players on the DL who still chose to participate in the Phestival – kudos to them!
David Herndon signs a card for a fan.
I hope Ryan Madson’s toe was carefully tucked under the table, so no one stepped on it.
I warned Danys Baez I was going to take a picture, but he still doesn’t quite look ready for it.
Jose Contreras signs a baseball for me.
Team president and CEO David Montgomery was on hand to help out. He later walked past my husband while I was at the grab bag table with the kids, and thanked him (and us) for coming out.
Placido Polanco smiles for my camera.
Davey Lopes reaches for a ball from a fan. Davey also looks very serious all the time – he and Milt need to smile more often! 🙂
Jamie Moyer appears to be letting his hair get a little shaggier than usual.
Shane Victorino has a big grin – hmm, what is he up to?
J.A. Happ was another player on the DL who chose to appear at the Phestival.
Is there a rule that coaches don’t smile? Rich Dubee follows the lead of Milt and Davey.
Carlos Ruiz signs a jersey.
I felt kind of bad for Wilson Valdez. Paired with Ruiz at a booth, many people walked right past him without stopping. He’s even holding two pens, ready and waiting to sign something. His photo was in the program, people! He did light up with a smile when I called his name for a photo op.
Is it wise to hand your children over to Larry Andersen and Gary Matthews? And when did L.A. shave his beard?? He just looks so…so…different.
My daughter and I pose with the 2008 World Series trophy and the 2009 National League champion trophy.
Why are my son and husband grinning like that? Certainly not because they’re thinking about all the money we just spent on tickets, grab bags, food, and the gift shop (though it is going towards a good cause). No, apparently my daughter was sticking her fingers up in “rabbit ears” behind my head, unbeknownst to me.
Speaking of the gift shop, one of my purchases was the new Phillies coffee-table book, Phillies: An Extraordinary Tradition.
I’ve only just begun to casually flip through it, but it looks to be a real visual feast, with plenty of photos covering the entire spectrum of Phillies history.
You may have noticed that I haven’t had much to say about the Phillies actual play recently. Well, that’s because I haven’t been too happy with it. The offense again failed to show up last night, as they were shut out 8-0 by the (ugh!) Mets.
Though I may frequently spew negative comments to my family while watching the games, I don’t really like to commit such thoughts to the permanency of the internet. I may be forced to break this self-imposed rule if they don’t start scoring some runs and winning some more games pretty soon! Only three games separate the first- and last-place teams in the NL East right now. Please, Phillies, I don’t deal with stress very well – enlarge that lead or I will eat way too much junk food, and it will be all your fault!
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 holidays are over, it’s cold outside, I overate so much I wish I could hibernate, and I’ve been MIA around the blogosphere lately. This is due mostly to:
1. Lots of Actual Work to do (which is good, I get paid for that and not this).
2. Not much exciting going on in Phillies-land.
Not that nothing’s been going on, the Phillies did sign Danys Baez to a two-year deal. Hmm. After missing the 2008 season following Tommy John surgery, Baez went 4-6 with a 4.02 ERA for Baltimore last season. Reports on the signing like to point out that Baez has closing experience, which could come in handy if Brad Lidge is not ready to start the season following his own elbow surgery. But wait, his last successful season as a closer was back in 2005 with the Rays! In 2006, while splitting time between L.A. and Atlanta, he blew 8 of 17 save opportunities.
<begin sarcasm> Gee, I can’t wait to watch Baez pitch for the Phillies! <end sarcasm>
OK, enough ranting.
A number of weeks ago, Ben of Ben’s Biz Blog asked his readers to send any minor league mascot photos his way. Since mascots are one of my favorite photo subjects at the ballpark, I sent Ben a supply of photos. Apparently, yesterday was a slow day for him, so he decided to use many of them in his post, which you can view here in it’s full glory.
So now the countdown begins. In a mere 63 days I will be winging my way to sunny Florida!
I don’t know which is worse – the anticipation of Christmas as a child, or the anticipation of Spring Training as an adult! Patience, unfortunately, has never been one of my virtues.
After a three year break for no real reason from visiting stadiums, we started back up in August 2005 by taking a vacation to St. Petersburg, Florida. While there, we planned on visiting Tropicana Field, among other things.
Oh wait. That’s not Tropicana Field. That’s the beach at Fort DeSoto Park. Okay, so it’s not baseball, but we went to the beach too, and I thought it was a good picture.
It’s important to note at this point that between our last stadium trip to Toronto, and this one, my photography entered the digital age. Therefore, I took way more pictures than before, so I have many to choose from for including here.
On August 20, 2005, we made our way to the Trop, home of the Devil Rays. Remember, the Devil hadn’t been exorcised from the team yet! 🙂
Ah yes, more palm trees. I love palm trees! If they would grow in Pennsylvania I’d surround my house with them. Oops, sorry I got off track there. Back to the game.
First off, I was actually glad that the Trop is a domed stadium. Florida in August (and probably the rest of the summer, for that matter) is hot, and very humid. After sweating like pigs at some Florida State League (single A) games, we welcomed the air-conditioned environment of the Trop.
The Devil Rays in 2005 were, to put it mildly, not very good. Consequently, the crowds were usually pretty small. This day, however, drew almost twice as many people as the night before, 19,041 vs. 10,188, mostly because there was some sort of Christian music concert prior to the game, and many of the attendees stayed for the game as well.
Our seats were way up in the upper level, directly behind home plate. Not only were they cheap, they offered a great view of the entire field.
My husband sometimes prefers these seats over ones closer to the field, as from this vantage point you can watch the entire play unfolding below.
The pitching matchup for tonight featured Joaquin Benoit for the Texas Rangers, and in his first full season, Scott Kazmir for the Rays.
A 2-run homer by Jorge Cantu would help give Kazmir a 4-1 lead in 6 innings of work. The lone run he gave up was on a solo shot by Gary Matthews, Jr. In the 9th, Danys Baez would give up another solo homer to Alfonso Soriano to make it 4-2, but would hold on for the save. Benoit took the loss for the Rangers.
On our way out after the game, we saw this along the concourse – a giant player crashing through the wall.
Interestingly, there is another giant player on the outside of the stadium. Not sure what it is about these giant players. Too bad they couldn’t have come down off the wall to help the team to a few more wins!
We made a return visit to the Trop in 2008, on June 22. Amazingly, Tropicana Field had not changed its name in the interim (unlike the three most recent stadiums I’ve written about)! The team, however, had changed its name. Gone was the Devil, and with a new name came a new logo and new uniform colors.
On this particular day, the Rays were celebrating their mascot Raymond’s birthday. Multiple mascots were milling around the main entry rotunda. My daughter, who loves mascots, was in her glory, wanting a picture with each of them. Here she is with the birthday boy:
Since we were there really early, we had plenty of time to wander around and check out the rays touch tank in center field.
Not sure why my daughter looks rather unhappy. Anyway, the tank is filled with lots of these guys, leisurely swimming by and waiting to be touched:
After we were done with the rays, we went back to our seats. This time we decided to try an outfield view. We noticed a single yellow seat amid a sea of blue ones a few rows in front of us, and wondered what it signified. It turned out to mark the location of the first home run hit in (Devil) Rays history, by Wade Boggs, on March 31, 1998. So of course I made my kids sit next to it so I could take a picture.
The Rays were hosting the Houston Astros this day, with Brandon Backe pitching for the Astros, and Scott Kazmir (once again) for the Rays. The Rays jumped out to an early 2-0 lead on a 2-run homer by Evan Longoria in the second inning (on this swing!).
Unfortunately, the lead would not hold up, as Kazmir then proceeded to give up three runs, all coming on long balls. Hunter Pence hit a solo shot in the 5th, and Carlos Lee added a 2-run homer in the 6th. There would be no further scoring, as Houston held on for the 3-2 victory.
You’ll notice in the above pictures that my son decided he needed a Rays cap while at the game. Of course, we are Phillies fans. Little did we know at the time that the Phillies and Rays would be meeting in October. On the day of Game 1, he decided to wear his Rays cap to school, along with his Cole Hamels jersey. Unable to pick sides, I guess.
As we were leaving after the game, we noticed that the sun had come out. During the game, there were some brutal thunderstorms going on outside – again, glad we were in the dome. I think this is one of the prettiest walkways at a stadium that I have seen. And of course, there are palm trees!
Join me next time, when we visit PNC Park.
(all photos by me)