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)
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!
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)
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)
I know, I haven’t posted much lately. It’s just that there’s not a whole lot going on right now, baseball-wise, and there’s been plenty of non-baseball holiday preparations to keep me busy. Oh sure, the off-season signings are starting up, but the addition of Brian Schneider and Placido Polanco to the Phillies’ roster is not exactly ground-shaking news.
Schneider will serve as backup to Carlos Ruiz. He’s practically a hometown boy, having grown up in the Allentown area. Schneider spent the past two seasons with the Mets, so hopefully he will quickly cleanse himself of all Mets-cooties before Spring Training begins.
Welcome Brian, and good luck to you this year!
Polanco is no stranger to Philly, having played second for the Phils from mid-2002 until mid-2005. He will be replacing Pedro Feliz at third. Though he does not possess the power normally associated with third basemen, he rarely strikes out – over the past five seasons, just once in every 17.5 plate appearances! Second best in the majors over that time span! What a refreshing change that will be from certain other Phillies who will remain nameless.
Welcome back, Placido! I wish you and your amazingly round head good luck this year also!
In more disturbing news, former Phillie fan favorite (or should I say “phan phavorite”?) Chris Coste has crossed over to the dark side, oops, I mean signed with the Mets. Bleh!
Yesterday, I started thinking about the old Michael Keaton film, “Multiplicity”. Keaton’s character doesn’t have enough time to get everything done, so he finds someone who will clone him. Hilarity ensues, of course, but eventually he realizes that cloning is not the perfect answer he thought it would be.
But what if it could be done? What if, for instance, we could have cloned Cliff Lee during the postseason?
Instead of this four-man rotation:
the Yankees could have faced a rotation of Cliff Lees (let’s call them Number 1, Number 2, Number 3, and Number 4).
We could even make a Number 5, to fill out the rotation during the regular season.
But how to do this? I came across this product online:
Cloning Gel. Hmm. Just rub it all over Cliff, and a new Cliff magically grows?
Unfortunately, the tiny print indicates that it is “rooting & propagation gel” and “stimulates root development for all cuttings”. The thought of Cliff growing roots seems detrimental, and removal of a “cutting” might not be a good idea either. I guess the cloning idea is just wishful thinking, though I’m sure Jenn wouldn’t mind trying to clone Chase Utley by rubbing gel on him. 😉
Since the Phillies lost on Wednesday night to the Nationals in rather uninspiring fashion, I didn’t really feel moved to write about it yesterday. Yesterday was also an off day, so I had plenty of free time to let my mind wander.
Today’s blog is a culmination of that wandering.
Some of you out there may watch “Desperate Housewives.” As I watched the most recent episode this past Sunday, I was struck by the similarities in hairstyle between the character Orson Hodge (played by Kyle McLachlan) and our own Phillie, Cole Hamels. See for yourself:
They’re even dressed similarly, with sport coat and open collared shirt! Are they both reading the same men’s fashion magazines? Do they share a stylist? Just something to mull over…
Recalling a mention of oddly shaped heads in one of Jane’s recent She-Fan entries, my mind next wandered to the pairing of Placido Polanco and Phil Collins:
I can’t decide which produce item they more closely resemble. Is it:
or the pumpkin?
For what it’s worth, the first two are members of the melon family, while the pumpkin is a gourd.
Also for what it’s worth, the title of today’s entry is also the title of a really bad Styx song from the 1981 album “Paradise Theatre”, which I hesitate to admit I actually owned way back in high school. My taste in music was really bad then.
Tonight, the Phillies take on the Mets at Citizen’s Bank Park. C’mon guys, let’s kick some Met butt! Make me a happy girl!