What I’ve Been Up To, Part 2

Ya know, I fully intended to write this post well before now. Didn’t happen. Better late than never, though!

baseball-101.jpgLast 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.

trophy.jpg

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.

sorting-the-socks.jpg

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.

utley-locker.jpg

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.

howard-locker.jpg

Shane Victorino’s locker is actually quite neat and tidy.

victorino-locker.jpg

Even the clubhouse guys get World Series rings! Alas, he didn’t let any of us try it on.

clubhouse-guy-ring.jpg

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.

happ.jpgHe 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.

happ-bobble.jpg

After J.A. left to a standing ovation, it was time to head to the Media Room for our session with Charlie Manuel.

charlie.jpg

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.

laz-diaz.jpgThough 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.

franzke-and-andersen.jpgThough 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.

phanatic head.jpg

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!

game-time.jpgCliff 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)

8 Comments

Charlie was a VERY smart man to say that a room full of women was more intimidating! lol! Great pictures and I’m glad you had a good time!

Julia
http://werbiefitz.mlblogs.com/

What fun. No wonder you look forward to these events. (You look great with the trophy, btw.) I would have been fascinated by the session with Laz Diaz. I’ve always wondered about the conversations between catchers and umps and what gets a player ejected. Great info!

- http://janeheller.mlblogs.com

Great post…. my wife wishes we lived closer so she could go to these, unfortunately they started after we left Philly…. I just want to know, where to apply to get that sock guys job…I could sort socks and get a WS ring…:-)
~peter
Outside the Phillies Looking In
http://devilabrit.mlblogs.com

Sue,
Wonderful post. I love it! And we did not get a Q&A with an ump! I am sure many of us would love to ask them a few questions. Also we do not get to visit the clubhouse. J.A. looks skinny. Oh and you just got to find the guy that is willing to take his ring off and let you wear it. I knew ahead of time Jim Campanis lets fans do that.
.
I am glad you asked about the statue because that made me update my latest blog with that. Please check it again when you get a chance. It is very interesting. The Statue is called “The Player”. I am curious to see who will get the award this year. I hope, I hope is our own Don Newcombe.
Emma
http://crzblue.mlblogs.com/

Lee has been better than anybody could have expected for you guys, hasn’t he? A sub-1.00 ERA and a perfect record? Wow. He’s just what you were hoping to get. And he is making people forgot what you gave up to get him. The event looks pretty cool. I like when you get a chance to go behind the scenes of a baseball team. Very cool.
http://raysfanboy.mlblogs.com/

What a day you had!!! It’s great that the Phillies have such a fun event for the women. I have seen the Dodgers locker room but we were not allowed to take picutres. I loved your pictures especially since you took them yourself. My favorite one is the one of you with the scoreboard behind you. What a nice stadium. Your remark about not having your kids so the trophy was safe gave a good laugh.
Thank you so much for posting your experience.
http://catlovesthedodgers.mlblogs.com

Julia – Charlie was pretty funny, and a much better speaker than a lot of people give him credit for.
Jane – Thanks! As for catcher/batter conversation, there apparently isn’t much, unless they know each other or have played together before.
Peter – Actually, I don’t know if the sock guy got a ring; that one was on the hand of another attendant, who was giving us the clubhouse lowdown.
Emma – J.A. is actually very tall, about 6′ 6″, so yeah he does look kind of thin.
Raysfanboy – We are very happy to have Lee. Now if only there were a way to clone him…
Cat – Thanks! I wonder why you weren’t allowed to take pictures in the Dodgers’ clubhouse? Or maybe it’s odd that we were allowed, considering Chase’s “underthings” were on display.

I loved your post! I loved it. Good job!

I mute the TV for innings 1-3 and then again for innings 7-9, and listen to the radio, even tho the TV and radio are not in sync. I cannot….CANNOT (repeat) take more than a few minutes of Chris Wheeler and Tom McCarthy and their constant chattering. So I enjoyed what you had to say about Franzke and LA.

I really think the radio guys have a really enjoyable rapport – tho maybe Mitch Williams would do well, too, or even Ricky Botallico, who has improved, in my opinion, over this year’s post game live.

Anyway, I loved reading about your day at the ball park.
Carol How ‘Bout Those Phils? Mlblogs.com

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