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)
Cripes, just when I think I’m getting back into a regular blogging roll, my train of thought gets all derailed. When I posted last Thursday, I was getting ready to go to my first-ever professional football game, a preseason matchup between the Eagles and the Patriots.
I never knew parking was so much more expensive for football games than for baseball games! Thank goodness we’d gotten the tickets themselves for free. The weather cleared up nicely, and we had a pleasant evening. The Patriots were looking pretty good, but the Eagles unfortunately were not.
On Sunday, we made our way to Reading for Kids Club Game #4 at the Reading Phillies. Upon entering the stadium the kids received the special giveaway that day, the Crazy Hot Dog Vendor laundry hamper.
The special activity for Kids Club members was a pregame question-and-answer session with several of the R-Phils players.
From left to right are catcher Kevin Nelson, pitchers Chance Chapman and Scott Mathieson, and outfielder Kevin Mahar. Instead of typical baseball-related questions you’d expect from adults, kids are apparently interested in all kinds of other information. Questions ranged from “What’s your favorite football/basketball/hockey team?” to “How much money do you make?” (answer: “Not enough!”) to “Where do you live during the off-season?” (Chapman sheepishly revealed he still lives with his parents).
So what burning questions did my offspring have? From my 11-year-old son came “What’s your favorite video game?” (NHL ’09 for Mahar, Rock Band for Chapman, and Mario Kart for Nelson. Mathieson didn’t seem to have a favorite.) and “What’s your favorite TV show?” (Mathieson: “The Office”; Chapman: “Lost”).
Nelson and Mahar had to leave for batting practice about halfway through.
My 8-year-old daughter needed to know “Do you have any pets?” (a cat and dog for Chapman, and a dog for Mathieson) and “Are you married?” (a resounding “No!” from Chapman, yes for Mathieson).
After the Q and A session, we had time to mosey around until the game started. Several R-Phils players stopped on their way between the field and the clubhouse to sign autographs, including top pitching prospect Kyle Drabek.
As Reading’s stadium has been around since 1951, it’s not the most modern. The players have to cross the public concourse to get between the field and the clubhouses.
Mike Stutes was on the mound for Reading:
and Eric Niesen took to the hill for the visiting Binghamton Mets.
Both starters pitched well, and the teams traded zeroes on the scoreboard throughout the afternoon.
Did I mention it was really hot? I would not have wanted to be dressed in these suits:
Yes, they are racing vegetables. In addition to the broccoli and cauliflower represented here, there were also lettuce and bagged veggies participating. My daughter was rooting for the broccoli, since it is the only vegetable she will actually eat, and indeed the broccoli emerged victorious.
An inning or two later, we were treated to the kid-sized food race:
The sundae (who was running barefoot) was the clear winner over the pizza slice and the popcorn.
Back to the game. It seemed neither team wanted to win, and the prospect of extra innings loomed as we went to the bottom of the ninth with the score 0-0. Highly touted prospect Domonic Brown
led off the inning. With only the fourth hit of the game for the R-Phils, Brown got things started when he smoked a double to left-center.
The next batter, who shall remain nameless after striking out in his first three at-bats, attempted a sacrifice bunt but popped out to the pitcher, forcing Brown to hold at second. The next batter was intentionally walked, bringing up Kevin Mahar, from our pregame Q and A. Mahar hit a hard grounder to the second baseman, who made a diving stop but then launched it over the head of the first baseman, allowing Brown to easily score the winning run. R-Phils win, 1-0!
The kids are now eagerly looking forward to the final Kids Club game of the season, on August 30, which will feature a pregame photo session with the players, and postgame fireworks.
In Part 2 of What I’ve Been Up To, hopefully forthcoming sooner rather than later, I’ll cover my day this past Wednesday at the Phillies Baseball 101 for Women event, featuring a photo op with the World Series trophy, on-field sessions with the Phillies coaches, Q and A sessions with J.A. Happ, Charlie Manuel, umpire Laz Diaz, and radio personalities Scott Franzke and Larry Andersen, and of course a ticket to that night’s game against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
(all photos by me)
I Saw The Trophy!
Finally, one of the stops of the Phillies World Series Trophy Tour was nearby and at an opportune time. On Monday, the Trophy made a visit to the 422 Sportsplex, an indoor sports facility about a 15-minute drive from my house. The public viewing was scheduled from 5:00 to 6:30 pm. Thankfully, the kids didn’t have much homework that night, and I was able to bribe them into it by promising dinner at Chick-fil-a afterwards.
I warned them that we might have to wait in line for a while, but it turned out not to be too bad. We got there a few minutes before 5:00, and as soon as the picture-taking commenced, the line moved fairly quickly.
Of course, my children can never be in each others’ company for more than a few minutes before they start poking, pushing, and picking at each other. My daughter then announced that she would not be in the same picture as her brother.
Since an official-looking person had already come through the line handing out numbered tickets to each group, and there would supposedly be only one photo per ticket, I told her she had no choice. I didn’t want to get to the front of the line, and then hold things up by requesting each kid get their own picture.
Her: “I don’t care, I don’t want to be in the same picture.”
Me: “Well, you are going to be.”
Her: “Then I’m not getting my picture taken.”
Me: “You can each stand on opposite sides, that way the trophy will be between you.”
I began to entertain hopes that this wasn’t the real trophy, and only a stunt double. Horrible visions of my offspring knocking the thing over and breaking it flashed through my mind. How would I explain that to my husband?
Fortunately none of that transpired and by the time it was our turn they were on speaking terms again. Here we are with the Trophy:
I realized afterward that even though I had been standing right next to it, and had actually had my hand resting on the back of the stand (the red velvet part, not the actual Trophy), that I never really got a good look at it! Well, from afar, but not up close and personal. Your time with the trophy is limited, since they obviously want as many fans as possible to get a photo op. But at least I have proof I was there!
The Rebuilding of Scott Mathieson
Scott Mathieson was at one time a top pitching prospect in the Phillies organization. Here he is in 2005 pitching for the single-A Clearwater Threshers:
and the following year pitching for the double-A Reading Phillies:
He also pitched for Team Canada in the 2006 World Baseball Classic, and made his major-league debut later that season.
Since then, he has had not one, but two Tommy John surgeries.
He is in Clearwater this spring, attempting to make a comeback. According to this story on the Phillies website, although he initially came through the minors as a starter, he would most likely find a home in the bullpen if his comeback is successful.
So Scott, here’s wishing you a successful rehab, and that you find a spot this year in the Phillies’ system!
(all photos mine)