Since the theme for last week’s annual Philadelphia International Flower Show was “Hawaii – Islands of Aloha”, it seems only natural that there was a Phillie-themed display inspired by Shane Victorino:
The display, entitled “The Phillies’ Flyin’ Hawaiian”, won an award for outstanding blue ribbon winner in the mailbox classes for the Garden Club of Philadelphia.
It also got me even more impatient for the start of Games That Matter. Spring training games are great if you’re there in person, but watching them on TV just doesn’t cut it for me. Bring on the season!
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)
The Phillies closed out their Grapefruit League play today with a 7-6 win over the Astros, and will now head north to prepare for Friday’s season opener against those same Astros. In addition to leaving behind sun and warmth (both of which seem to be in short supply around these parts), let’s hope they also leave behind the proverbial injury bug.
The Phils’ spring clubhouse seems to have suffered a heavy infestation – Domonic Brown is out following surgery on a broken bone in his hand; Chase Utley was sidelined the entire spring with a creaky knee, with no timetable for his return to action; and Brad Lidge is likely to go on the DL with pain in his shoulder.
Additionally, Jose Contreras missed a couple days with a scratched cornea, Placido Polanco hyperextended his elbow, and Shane Victorino and Roy Oswalt luckily avoided serious injury after running into Raul Ibanez, and being hit in the back of the neck with a line drive, respectively.
Enough already! Be gone, damn bug!
But “bug” is a vague word. Is the injury bug an insect-bug?
Or a bacteria-bug?
Do we need to call in an exterminator?
Or a vaccinator?
At the moment, I don’t care which it is, I just want this team healthy! Right now!
…as the Phillies completed a three-game sweep of the Braves last night! The Phils now have a six-game lead over the second-place Braves, and their magic number to clinch the division now stands at 4. 🙂
Hubby and I were fortunate enough to be at Monday night’s game, thanks to our friends Carrie and Ed, who had two extra tickets available. We met up with them by the third-base gate and headed into the ballpark. Upon entering, were greeted by the sight of 20 statues of the Phanatic, painted in various themes by local artists, and currently being auctioned off for charity.
Carrie and I posed with one painted to look like the Liberty Bell.
Just in time for Halloween, it’s “Phrankenstein’s Mascot”! This one is among the four currently up for bids. Bidding ends later today, and apparently there are a lot of people with way more money than they know what to do with! The current high bid for this one is just under $10,000, and another is over $15,000 (!).
Millerrrrr Light, anyone? This friendly (?) beer vendorrr was working the stands prior to the start of the game. Aaargh!
Poor rookies! Pitcher Vance Worley makes his way to the bullpen with his Fancy Nancy backpack.
My daughter would have had a field day in the Braves’ bullpen, with all these beauties to choose from!
Cole Hamels was in fine form, giving up just one run over eight innings of work.
Though he hit homers on Sunday and Tuesday, the “dirty hawt” Jayson Werth did not hit one this night.
Contrary to certain people’s opinions (I’m talkin’ to you, Patti), this is just not at attractive look.
Brandon Beachy, making his first major league start for the Braves, made several throws to first in an attempt to hold Shane Victorino close to the bag.
All was for naught, however, as Shane successfully stole second, and evaded the tag with this slide.
Wilson Valdez has been more than capable defensively while filling in for the injured Jimmy Rollins – he has a gun for an arm, and helped turn two double-plays for the Phillies. The Phils had a total of three DPs this night in support of Hamels.
Carlos Ruiz has been having a fine offensive year for the Phils, contributing an RBI double in this game.
Brad Lidge came on in the ninth to get the save. The rally towels were waving so furiously, all the little white lint particles flying around looked like snowflakes! Well, sort of. Anyway, Brad had a 1-2-3 inning, and the Phils won 3-1!
I was waving my towel with gusto as well, hence no photos of Brad. 😦
After three tight games (3-1, 5-3, 1-0), the Phillies are off tonight with a much-deserved break. They’d best be resting up for the Mets, who come into town Friday for the last regular-season home games. Let’s go Phillies!
(all photos by me) (well, not exactly, my husband took the one with me in it)
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)
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)
I’ve finally had a chance to sit down and sort through the many (and I mean MANY) photos that I took during last week’s Florida trip. To make writing about it a less daunting task, I think I will break it apart into at least two, maybe even three, entries.
March 11 – Day 1
Since I’d neglected to go online and print out our boarding passes until very late the previous night, my husband and I were near the back of the line for boarding our Southwest flight from Philadelphia to Tampa. While waiting to board our plane, we realized that the Philadelphia Union soccer team was on our flight with us. Whereas MLB teams have their own charter flights, MLS teams (at least this one) fly on Southwest.
By the time hubby and I got on board, there were no seats left next to each other. So I ended up two rows ahead of him, in the middle seat between two of said soccer players. While soccer players are not exactly behemoths, they are by no means small people. The two I was sandwiched between were both over six feet tall.
OK, so this was going to be a bit cozy.
As there was a very large storm system apparently covering the entire eastern seaboard, we had the bumpiest flight I’ve ever experienced. I am not a fan of flying, especially during turbulence, and most especially when my husband is not next to me so I can squeeze the bejeesus out of his knee. Our approach to Tampa was particularly rough, and since I decided it would be inappropriate to grab the knees of total strangers, I made do with clutching the back of the seat in front of me. After we’d landed, we found out there had actually been tornado warnings in the Tampa Bay area just prior to our arrival. Yikes!
We picked up our rental car and proceeded without incident to our lodging for the week, the Inn at the Bay Bed & Breakfast in St. Petersburg. If you’re ever staying in the Tampa/St. Pete area, I highly recommend it. After checking in, we went for a walk around downtown St. Pete, checking out the empty Al Lang Field, former spring home of the Tampa Bay Rays. It must still be used for something, as the field was nice and green and obviously still being maintained. We made it back to the Inn just in time, as it then started to rain. Later on, we enjoyed an ice cream dinner at Cold Stone Creamery (we’d had a really late lunch and weren’t very hungry).
March 12 – Day 2
The Phillies had split squad games today, one in Lakeland against the Tigers and one in Port Charlotte against the Rays. We toyed with the idea of driving to Port Charlotte, but the weather forecast was not very promising. Eventually, we decided not to risk driving an hour and a half, paying for parking and tickets, and getting rained out.
Good thing, too, as both games did end up getting rained out. In fact, it rained just about the entire day.
We opted instead to drive to Bright House Field to do our shopping in the team store on a non-game day, to avoid waiting in the long line that usually forms at games. We also stopped for lunch at the renowned Lenny’s, and left very full.
March 13 – Day 3
Our first game action! Yay! The Phillies were hosting the Twins today at Bright House Field. We arrived nice and early to be there when the gates opened. Here are some of the better pictures from the day.
Former Phillie Clay Condrey stops by to say “hi” during batting practice:
J.C. Romero peeks out of the clubhouse to check things out during the Twins’ BP. Looks like he’s still eating his dessert:
After March, Bright House Field is home to the Phillies single-A affiliate, the Clearwater Threshers. Thresher mascot Phinley was on hand pre-game:
Catching the ceremonial first pitch from former Phillie, and current announcer, Larry Andersen, was another former Phil, Desi Relaford. It was bubble-blowing time:
Prior to the game, Shane Victorino tips his cap to the crowd:
J.A. Happ was on the mound for the Phillies. He pitched four shutout innings, allowing only one hit, and needed just 49 pitches to do so:
The Twins countered with Carl Pavano, who threw three shutout innings without allowing a hit:
There’s just a wee bit of a height difference between Jimmy Rollins and Justin Morneau:
The Phils’ resident caveman, oops, I mean Jayson Werth, makes contact:
Jose Contreras pitched a shutout inning in relief. How does he stretch his fingers apart like that?
Gotta keep this ball away from me! Twins reliever Pat Neshek has one of the oddest looking pitching motions around:
Final score: Phillies 5, Twins 4
And finally, what better way to cap off a Phils win on a beautiful day at the ballpark, than with a beautiful sunset
That’s it for tonight – Part 2 coming soon!
(all photos by me except for Inn at the Bay)
If you recall my last post, I had gotten…shall we say…my undergarments into a state of disarray over the salary figures that had been exchanged by the Phillies and Joe Blanton.
And all for naught, as it turns out.
The Phillies and Blanton had reached an agreement on a three-year, $24 million contract extension on Monday, but because Blanton had not yet passed a physical, the arbitration figures had to be filed on Tuesday. So it seems it was more a formality than anything else.
I wish that little part of the story could have been included in the initial reports, so Phillies fans, myself included, could have avoided getting our collective panties in a bunch. Said panties will now need to be carefully extricated, with surgical precision, as demonstrated here:
[Nah, that’s not actually me. It’s Hillary Duff, thanks to eonline.com, but I don’t think she was upset about Joe Blanton.]
Shane Victorino and Carlos Ruiz have also signed three-year deals. Hmm, a trio of three-year deals. According to Schoolhouse Rock, three “is a magic number.” That’s got to mean something for the coming season. I hope.
In addition to those three, the Phillies and Chad Durbin had previously come to agreement on a one-year deal. That means all four arbitration-eligible Phillies have now signed contracts.
“You say goodbye, and I say hello”
Today’s Philadelphia Inquirer had a handy summary of the comings and goings on the Phillies roster since the end of last season. Here’s a recap, not including minor leaguers:
So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, goodbye…
Pedro Feliz: has signed with Houston – I’ll miss his great glove;
Cliff Lee: yes, I’m still upset about his trade to Seattle;
Eric Bruntlett: signed with Washington – sorry, Eric, I won’t miss your abysmal .171 BA;
Clay Condrey: signed with Minnesota;
Brett Myers: also signed with Houston;
Matt Stairs: signed with San Diego – Matt, your .194 wasn’t much to be proud of, either;
Scott Eyre: decided to retire.
Brian Schneider: a capable backup to Carlos Ruiz;
Placido Polanco: welcome back!
Juan Castro: will help solidify the bench;
Ross Gload: an excellent pinch hitter;
Roy Halladay: Woo hoo! What more can I say than that?
Danys Baez: some bullpen help with closing experience;
Jose Contreras: expected to be a long reliever, with the occasional spot start.
Sitting in limbo…
Chan Ho Park, Pedro Martinez and Paul Bako all remain unsigned free agents.
Speaking of Brett Myers (which I wasn’t really, but I did mention him in the list of departures), does anyone remember when he was young, thin, and had hair? In case you don’t recall, here’s a scan of a photo I recently came across in my albums, from an appearance back in January 2003.
Yep, a lot can change in seven years.
Ya know, I fully intended to write this post well before now. Didn’t happen. Better late than never, though!
Last Wednesday, I attended the Phillies’ Baseball 101 for Women event, held at Citizen’s Bank Park. This was the fourth year the Phillies have held this event. The first year, 2006, only had a May session, but each year since then has had a May and an August session. Needless to say, every one has been a sellout! I’ve attended one each year, so this was my fourth visit to Phillies Heaven.
I made sure I left my house extra-early, just in case of traffic problems. As my family and friends know, I am not a morning person, so anything that gets me out of bed wide awake at 6:30 in the morning is a minor miracle!
Once we were there and checked in, there was time for a light breakfast. Bagels, muffins, and the like were available, as well as juice, tea and the all-important coffee. Gotta have my coffee! There was also time for a photo op with the World Series trophy before the day’s activities began.
Unlike the last time I was near the trophy, my kids were not present. No need to worry that my offspring might accidentally knock it over while fighting with each other.
About 150 women were in attendance, and for the morning’s sessions, we were divided into four “teams”. While waiting to get our team photo taken, we got a quick visit to the Phillies’ clubhouse.
Upon entering the clubhouse, we were greeted by this guy, whose job at the moment involved sorting the socks. Though you can’t see it in this photo, we were prevented from getting too close to the table by a red rope; otherwise, who knows, a few garments may have vanished as souvenirs :-).
Though we couldn’t get up close to the lockers in the back half of the clubhouse, we did get a good look into the lockers of Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and Shane Victorino, among others. Actually, maybe a bit too much is on display in Chase’s locker.
Here is Ryan’s locker. Not too messy – he actually has a second one next to it. Apparently the big-name guys (Utley, Howard, Rollins) are afforded this little perk.
Shane Victorino’s locker is actually quite neat and tidy.
Even the clubhouse guys get World Series rings! Alas, he didn’t let any of us try it on.
Once we were done in the clubhouse, we made our way to the seating area behind home plate for a session with the guys who run Phanavision, the large video board in left field. Of course, all the video clips, in-game entertainment, music, etc. are computerized, with a small army of people working to make sure everything runs smoothly.
This same group is also responsible for producing many of the video spots promoting upcoming games and events. We got to see some outakes of Shane Victorino recording a spot for Jewish Heritage Night. It took Shane more than a few tries, and lots of laughing, to finally get the pronunciation of “chutzpah” right.
The four teams then split up for coaching clinics with the Phillies’ coaches. Rich Dubee talked about pitching, and we all got a chance to throw a few pitches in the bullpen. Milt Thompson and Pete Mackanin instructed us in proper hitting technique, and we had a chance to bat (off a tee) in the indoor batting cages. Davey Lopes discussed baserunning, and Sam Perlozzo talked to us about fielding. [no pictures of all this, it wasn’t feasible to carry my camera during this portion of the day]
After a break for lunch, we had a Q and A session with J.A. Happ.
He explained that even though his printed name is two initials, proper pronunciation is “Jay” (J.A. stands for James Anthony, in case you were wondering).
Happ answered all kinds of questions for us, though he was a bit reticent about divulging any inside secrets. He admitted to having pregame rituals, though he wouldn’t say what they were. At one point, someone asked about his time with the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. At this, host Scott Palmer produced a J.A. Happ bobblehead that was given away at an IronPigs game. Here’s J.A. coming face to face with his bobble likeness.
After J.A. left to a standing ovation, it was time to head to the Media Room for our session with Charlie Manuel.
Though Charlie has a reputation for not being a very eloquent speaker, he seemed pretty comfortable and at ease answering our questions, though when asked which was more intimidating, facing a roomful of reporters or a roomful of us, without hesitation he replied, “A roomful of women!”
Other topics included keeping the team focused on this year’s pennant race and not resting on last year’s laurels, the use of instant replay on disputed home run calls, and Brad Lidge’s problems this year.
Next came a session with umpire Laz Diaz.
Though it may look like Laz is signaling for a touchdown, he is in fact doing his impersonation of Shane Victorino’s arm-flapping in centerfield prior to being ejected from a recent game. As expected, there were many questions asked about why Shane was ejected, and why the home plate umpire would even be paying that much attention to a fielder (answer: the centerfielder is in direct view of the home plate ump, and all that arm waving is showing up the ump, therefore grounds for ejection). He was also asked what, if anything, catchers and batters talk about, and if there are any sure-fire ways to get ejected from a game.
Finally, the radio broadcasting duo of Scott Franzke and Larry Andersen talked about their experiences covering the Phillies. Here, Scott is apparently having a hard time believing something that Larry has just said.
Though not everyone agrees with me, I have always enjoyed L.A. as a broadcaster. Franzke is slowly growing on me, and these two have a great rapport. Their personalities complement each other very well, and in person you can really see how they play off each other.
Then it was on to our pregame patio party, with complementary food and beverages, and of course a visit from the Phanatic.
Then it was game time! As an added bonus, it was also Brad Lidge bobblehead night. I was just praying that Brad didn’t have to come into the game and possibly blow a save – who knows how many bobbleheads may have been thrown on the field if that had happened!
Cliff Lee was facing Dan Haren and the Diamondbacks. Lee had a great game; Haren on the other hand did not, giving up 6 earned runs in 5 innings of work. The Phillies bats were alive, with home runs from Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and two from Jayson Werth. The Phillies won, 8-1!
All in all, a great day! I’ll be looking forward to next year’s event so I can do it all over again!
(all photos by me, except obviously the ones with me in them; those were taken by a fellow attendee and one of the ballgirls, using my camera)