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)
No one ever said the sweet smell of success would be a mixture of sweat and beer. But for Shane Victorino, that’s exactly what it was last night.
While catching a fly ball off the bat of the Cubs’ Jake Fox in the bottom of the fifth, a fan threw a beer, cup and all, at Victorino. The beer and the ball arrived at the same time; amazingly, Victorino managed to make the catch.
[I of course do not condone throwing objects at players. I must note, though, that the perpetrator had impeccable accuracy in aim and timing.]
As for the actual game, the Phillies made it two straight against the Cubs, winning 12-5.
As is so typical for the Phillies, they broke out of their recent offensive malaise with a good old butt-whuppin’, in a game that featured an eight-run explosion by the Phillies in the top of the fourth.
Pedro Martinez made his much-anticipated Phillies debut, lasting five innings and giving up three runs. Not really that much of an improvement over a typical Jamie Moyer start, but it was good enough to get the win last night. And quite frankly, at this point in the season, I don’t care how they get the wins, but just that they get the wins.
Speaking of Jamie Moyer, he is apparently not all that happy with the Phillies over the decision to move him to the bullpen. But really, what other option was there? J.A. Happ has been pitching well, new Phillie Cliff Lee has been fantastic so far, and although Cole Hamels has been inconsistent this season, the team is not going to send their (supposed) ace to the bullpen. Joe Blanton has a 2.46 ERA since late May, as opposed to Moyer’s 4.40 ERA in the same time frame.
So who’s the obvious choice? Unfortunately for Moyer, he’s the odd man out.
Tonight I take in my first-ever professional football game. Okay, it’s just a preseason game, but still it should be fun. The Eagles will take on the New England Patriots at the Linc in their first preseason game this year.
Through channels I’m not knowledgeable about, my son’s football team got free tickets. Coincidentally, or not, they are also called the Eagles. Face value for these tickets is $95.00 (!!!). Yikes! Seems like a lot for a preseason game.
Woo hoo for free tickets! Everybody keep their fingers crossed that the rain holds off!
(Victorino photo by Tom Cruze/Chicago Sun-Times)
Following his appearance in Tuesday’s All-Star game, Jayson Werth had the rather ignominous distinction of striking out four times last night in the first game of the second half.
Yup, he earned the infamous Golden Sombrero. Jayson, please do not do this again this season!
[Interesting tidbits: striking out 5 times is called a platinum sombrero, and if you manage to strike out 6 times, it’s called a titanium sombrero. This has only ever occurred eight times, and only in extra inning games.]
On a personal note, I seem to be having a bit of a mid-season blogging slump, and it’s going to persist at least through the next week, as we’re headed off tomorrow on a family vacation. Not much blogging opportunity there.
So for now, I’ll leave you with the latest…
Strange Photo of the Week
Just what is Jimmy Rollins doing to Shane Victorino? Seeing if his waistband is stretchy? Getting ready to give him a wedgie? Allowing noxious fumes to escape?
Maybe he’s seeing if Shane could use a little of this:
I’m sure it would leave him fresh as a daisy!
(photo by Ron Cortes/Philadelphia Inquirer)
Phils Take 3 of 4 From Reds
After Monday’s offensive explosion resulted in a 22-1 demolition of the Reds, as I expected, the Phils sputtered and lost the next game, 4-3. But they bounced back and took the next two, by scores of 3-2 and 9-6. Last night’s victory even included an inside-the-park home run from Chase Utley. He scored standing up, no less! Not even a close play at the plate. Hooray for the Phils and for Chase!
Shane Victorino will be going to the All-Star Game, having overtaken Pablo Sandoval on the final day of voting. Shane will join Raul Ibanez, Chase Utley, and Ryan Howard as the Phillies’ representatives next Tuesday in St. Louis. Hooray for Shane!
I’m Going to the Game Tonight!
I get to go to my first Phillies game of the season. Hooray for me! They will be hosting the Pittsburgh Pirates, who are currently in the cellar of the NL Central. Hopefully that translates into a win tonight. Even if there are no offensive fireworks during the game, we will be staying for the fireworks after the game. Though I have to say, tickets for four of us (me, husband, two kids) cost a small fortune – I informed the kids that they’d better enjoy the game no matter what, and there was no way we were leaving early. I demand that I get my money’s worth!
What a Weiner!
And finally, a little tidbit I saw in yesterday’s newspaper, though I don’t think it’s breaking news. The head of the player’s union next year is going to be a real weiner.
Actually, not that kind; his name is Michael Weiner, and judging by this article on ESPN.com, he sounds like a likeable, qualified guy. But you just know that name is going to lead to some really bad puns at some point.
Should Chan Ho Get The Heave-ho?
On Friday morning, I asked the Phillies to go out and kick some Met butt that night. Apparently none of them read my blog, and therefore did not get the message.
Chan Ho Park had a crappy start (the wrap-up on phillies.com generously called it “mediocre”), giving up 7 runs on 8 hits and 6 walks, with only one strikeout, all in the span of 4 2/3 innings.
So far this season, in four starts, his record is 0-1 with an 8.57 ERA. The only reason his won-lost record isn’t worse is because the Phillies came from behind to actually win in his previous three starts. But you can’t count on that happening every time.
Kudos to the bullpen for pitching scoreless baseball the remainder of the game.
I know he pitched great in spring training, beating out J.A. Happ for the fifth starters spot, but when will we see some quality pitching from Park when it counts? On Wednesday, Park is scheduled to pitch against the Mets again, this time at Citi Field.
So far, there have been no discussions on removing Park from the rotation. According to Rich Dubee, quoted in this morning’s Philadelphia Inquirer:
“He’s getting the ball,” Dubee said. “We’re confident.”
Well, Mr. Dubee, I’m glad you are, because I’m certainly not. Then again, you’re the pitching coach, and I’m certainly not.
A “Walk”-off Win
OK, Saturday was a new day, and another chance for the Phillies to kick some Met butt. But instead of the Mets getting their butts kicked, I saw the Mets getting their butts slapped:
Ramon Castro is congratulated by third-base coach Razor Shines on a solo home run. [Why the butt-slap? Would it be so hard to give a congratulatory hand-slap, back-slap, or shoulder-slap?]
This is not what I meant, guys!
Yes, the Phillies did get the win, eventually. They jumped out to an early lead against Oliver Perez, who gave up 4 runs in just 2 1/3 innings. It’s so nice to see other teams get crappy starts from their pitchers, too. Jamie Moyer pitched well for the first five innings, but then things came unraveled in the sixth, allowing the Mets to tie the game at 5 runs apiece.
The score remained tied through nine, but in the bottom of the tenth the Phillies loaded the bases. Shane Victorino then drew a walk from reliever Sean Green to “drive” in the winning run, for a 6-5 Phillies victory.
Not exactly a butt-whipping, but I’ll take it.
Here Comes The Rain Again
The deciding game of this three-game set ended up being postponed due to rain on Sunday. Blech! No date has been announced yet.
It’s Monday morning now, and it’s still raining. As the heading for this section is also the title of a Eurythmics song, here are a few of my other favorite rain-themed songs:
“Rain” – The Cult
“Purple Rain” – Prince
“Fool In The Rain” – Led Zeppelin
“It’s Raining Men” – The Weather Girls
“Mary Sunshine Rain” – Dada
Hope at least some of you are having a sunny day today.
The Phillies are in St. Louis tonight, taking on the Cardinals. Please, no rain!
(first two photos by Tom Mihalek/AP; CBP photo from AP)