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!
Good question. Bet you thought it was Jamie Moyer.
Hah! He’s only 47. Not even close to this guy:
That’s right, it’s Jose Molina! And here you thought Bengie was the oldest Molina brother.
If the Toronto Blue Jays Spring Training program is to be believed – and why would they lie? – Jose is about to celebrate his 215th birthday in a couple of months.
Hey, Jose, how about sharing some of your longevity secrets with the rest of us mere mortals?
[special thanks to my husband for spotting this gem]
Special Programming Note:
You may have noticed that I have not really said much about the Phillies so far this season. Well, they were off to such a good start, that I was afraid to say anything and possibly jinx it. It seemed too good to be true. But, like all Philadelphia fans, I am genetically predisposed to expect the worst, and last night it happened.
Kyle Kendrick pitched masterfully through eight innings, and the Phillies entered the ninth leading the Braves 3-0. With two outs, Madson allowed a two-run homer to Troy Glaus, followed immediately by a solo shot from Jason Heyward. Game tied, save blown.
Jose Contreras gave up the winning run in the tenth, another solo homer to the supremely annoying Nate McLouth, but really, the main culprit here is Madson. This game should have been over, with one more notch under the “W” column for the Phillies.
Ryan Madson can NOT close games!!!
Madson’s ERA last year in non-save situations: 2.56
His ERA last year in save situations: 5.82!
That would have been ideal entrance music last night when Raul Ibanez came up to bat in the top of the tenth, with the score knotted at 3-3. For the second night in a row, the Phils battled back to tie the game and go to extra innings. Instead of Chase Utley, though, it was Ibanez’s bat that went boom, and sent a 3-run homer into the seats to put the Phils up 6-3. Ryan Madson again held the Mets scoreless in the bottom of the frame to give the Phils the win, and the series, 2 games to 1.
That deserves an encore from SpongeBob: Sweet, sweet victory, yeah!
Still no bids on the Shea Stadium wrecking ball! Bidding ends on June 14 for this truly unique item.
Phils host Red Sox in Interleague play
The Phillies open a 3-game weekend series tonight against the Red Sox, who’ve just come off a 3-game sweep of the Yankees. Personally, I am not a huge fan of interleague games. I think the novelty of it has long since worn off. I’d rather see more games against teams from the NL Central and West, some of whom make only one series appearance in Philly the entire season. But since I’m not in charge of these things, I guess I’m stuck with it for now.
“Alex, I’d Like to Buy a Vowel”
Here’s a guy whose name recently caught my eye when the New Hampshire Fisher Cats played against the Reading Phillies:
Pitcher Marc Rzepczynski. I’m not even going to begin to try to pronounce that one. And imagine trying to learn how to spell that as a preschooler! Wonder if he ever dreams about being named Smith or Jones?
Just like the Stone Roses, the hubby and I will be heading south this weekend for a bit of vacation time. I will not be blogging from the road, as I hate typing on a laptop – it just doesn’t feel right to me. We’re hoping to catch some major and minor league action on this trip, and I will be posting coverage of it upon my return next week.
(photo from http://www.nhfishercats.com/)
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.
In last night’s 13-11 victory over the Nationals, the Phillies hit not one, but two – count ’em – two grand slams. It’s only the fourth time in team history that two Phillies have hit slams in the same game.
Ryan Howard deposited the first one in the ivy in center field in the fifth inning, to tie the score at 6-6. Each team scored once in the seventh, but in the top of the eighth, Scott Eyre came in and absolutely stunk it up. Eyre gave up four runs without recording a single out – his ERA is now a dismal 10.80. Nats are now up, 11-7.
But did the Phillies give up? No! They recorded 6 runs of their own, capped off by Raul Ibanez’s own slam to put the Phillies up 13-11. Ryan Madson pitched a scoreless ninth to get the save.
– If nothing else, we’ve learned never to count the Phillies out, even when they’re down late in the game. Other than Sunday’s comfortable win, all their victories have been of the come-from-behind variety.
– Jimmy Rollins is on record in this morning’s paper as stating that “I’m ready to hit .400 for the next month.” Is that a prediction, Jimmy? His powers of prognostication seem pretty good, having accurately called the Phils the team to beat in the NL East in 2007, and calling for 100 wins in 2008 (103 including the postseason). The Inquirer also managed to unearth one from 2005, when Jimmy stated he would hit .400 for the month of September, and then went out and hit .402 for the month with a 36-game hitting streak. Hmm. Maybe I should have Jimmy pick a few lottery numbers for me. 🙂
Not so happy stuff
– Brad Lidge is experiencing swelling in his right knee, and was unavailable last night. Is this why Lidge has looked a bit shaky so far this season? Let’s hope it clears up soon, and Lidge returns to his 2008 form.
– Pity the poor Nationals. They hit five home runs last night, scored 11 runs, and still lost the game.
In case you were wondering
The other three grand slam combos in Phillies history are:
1921 – Ralph Miller and Lee Meadows (never heard of either of them)
1997 – Billy McMillon and Mike Lieberthal (Lieby! I remember him)
2003 – Tomas Perez and Jason Michaels (Tomas’ only career grand slam!)
Photo fun: something fishy going on
Yesterday’s photo of Cody Ross examining/admiring his hands is only part of the unusual tableau I captured during pre-game warmups a few years ago at Shea Stadium. Here it is in its full glory:
Do we really want to know exactly what’s going on here? I’m sure there’s a funny caption lurking here, too. Share your best efforts in the comments!
There’s also a second strange photo from this same game, which I’ll include tomorrow. Gotta keep ya coming back, after all!
(photo by me)
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)
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)