Author Archive

Words Fail Me

Family-friendly words, that is. Words that are unfit for public viewing, that would scorch your retinas, are definitely NOT failing me at the moment – not last night, and not today.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so I will have to rely on my handy alter-ego from last year’s NLCS disaster to convey my true feelings about last night’s display of utter crapitude:

What The -bleep- Happened Last Night?

After Saturday night’s authoritative 11-6 thumping of the Cardinals (which really should have been 11-3 but for three meaningless runs scored in the top of the 9th), I had high hopes for Game 2 of the NLDS on Sunday.

The Phils jumped on Chris Carpenter for four early runs, and I was liking the chances of going up 2 games to none on the Cards. But then the unthinkable happened – Cliff Lee blew a four run lead. Granted, he didn’t seem to be at his sharpest last night – he allowed a leadoff triple in the first, and a leadoff double in the second, but managed to wiggle out of those jams. Things would start to unravel in the fourth, when the Cards pulled to within one run, and go further downhill from there.

In the meantime, Carpenter was yanked after three innings, and the parade of relievers must have lulled the Phillies into one of their all-too-frequent offensive stupors.

The Cardinal bullpen yielded only one hit the rest of the way, a single by Jimmy Rollins, which was quickly nullified when Rollins got picked off to end the seventh.

I should have known better than to get too optimistic. After all, the Cardinals are the only NL team to have a winning record against the Phils this year, so I certainly shouldn’t expect this series to be a cakewalk. Also, I’m a Phillies fan – a member of a group of people known for their pessimistic tendencies. I’m pretty sure it must be a chemical they put in our water ;-).

Today is an off day, so let’s hope the Phillies snap out of it, and get back to hitting (and winning) tomorrow in St. Louis. Especially you, Carlos Ruiz, and you, Placido Polanco, both hitless thus far! Let’s get to work!

Yes, They’ve Clinched, But I Still Don’t Like It When They Lose

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).

The newest addition to my bobblehead collection. I'm not sure it really resembles Polanco, though; the head's not nearly round enough. :-)

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.

This Bud's For You - Speaking of Polanco, what's he doing out there with Albert Pujols? Granted, Polanco did spend some time with the Cards, so maybe he and Albert are "buds", as the ad on the outfield wall proclaims. But must he fraternize with the opposition right there in the middle of the field before the game?

"Everybody hands go up" - Shane Victorino seems to be acting out the lyrics to the DJ Khaled song "All I Do Is Win", which has frequently been heard this season at the stadium and during broadcasts. Problem is, they haven't won much lately, dropping 8 of their last 12 games, including four straight since clinching the division.

Update: Phinally! The Phils beat the Mets yesterday to break an eight game (!) losing streak.

The Passing of the Boa - Michael Schwimer is no longer the new kid in the 'pen, and Justin DeFratus now has the honor of wearing the boa-draped backpack. Watch out, Justin, it looks like the Phanatic's eyeing you up!

Shake and Bake - While on the basepaths, Rafael Furcal sported what looked like an oven mitt, presumably intended to protect his previously injured thumb. He shook things up enough, leading off the game with a double, moving to third on a passed ball, and scoring on Nick Punto's groundout. All this within the span of five pitches!

When Pigs Fly - Pigs weren't necessarily flying, but dogs were (hot dogs, that is). For the last Hatfield Dollar Dog night of the season, the Phanatic has help from Hatfield's Smiley the Pig on his mission to bombard the crowd with jet-propelled hot dogs. Look out, Chase!

"Vanna, I'd like to buy a vowel" - if I actually tried to pronounce the last name of St. Louis reliever Marc Rzepczynski out loud, I may very well sprain my tongue!

And finally - lest you think there was no game action, here's a shot of Jimmy Rollins sliding into third with an RBI triple in the bottom of the ninth, while Daniel Descalso awaits the throw. Carlos Ruiz scored on the play, and Rollins would score on a Shane Victorino ground out, but that would be it for the scoring, as Hunter Pence grounded out with two men on to end the game. Aaargh!

(all photos by me)

Let’s Do The Time Warp Again!

You might think that now that my kids have been back in school for almost two weeks, that I might have found some time to finally post pictures from my latest trip to the ballpark, way back on August 26th. Sadly, you would be mistaken. Inevitably, each day managed to have something else crop up.

Except for today.

So, finally, here is my photographic coverage of that game against the Marlins. The Phillies lost, 6-5, so I won’t go into a whole game recap. That sort of thing is available elsewhere, if you’re so inclined to read it.

I'd always known that there was a marker commemorating the location of Veterans Stadium's home plate somewhere in the parking lot of Citizens Bank Park, but had never actually seen it. Now I know why - it's in the middle of a traffic lane, and sort of looks like a utility cover from a distance.

Unveiled just 10 days prior, this statue of the late Harry Kalas stands on the concourse just outside Harry the K's restaurant. It is amazingly detailed, right down to the "P" on Harry's World Series ring.

"Hey Dave, does this boa make me look fat?" Even if it does, who would actually want to say so to the 6'8", 240 lb Michael Schwimer?

Chase Utley leaps for the high throw as Emilio Bonifacio promptly steals second after singling to lead off the first inning. He ended up scoring the first run of the night for the Marlins, although it was unearned due to a throwing error by Wilson Valdez.

Hope sprang up briefly, and Valdez redeemed himself slightly, when he hit a solo homer in the third to tie the score at 1-1. The Marlins scored again in the fourth, and from that point the Phillies trailed the rest of the game.

Roy Oswalt had a rough night on the mound, giving up 6 runs (5 earned) in 5.2 innings of work. Four of those runs came on a John Buck grand slam, after the Marlins loaded the bases with three straight singles to start the top of the 6th.

I thought I was doing a pretty good job of tracking Chase Utley as he runs down a pop fly in foul territory, until...

...just before making the catch, he appears to be running into The Mist (or The Fog, depending on your horror movie preferences). In reality, the person seated in front of me had decided to stand up at that exact moment.

Not wanting to be left out of the action, this vendor stepped into my viewfinder just as Carlos Ruiz puts the ball in play. It was one of those kind of nights.

I'm really liking the style of newest Phillie Hunter Pence. He chokes up on the bat! He wears his socks high! He gets nice and dirty! He got two hits!

Michael Stutes displays the dreaded Inverted W. The jury is still out on whether it is truly "dreaded". Go ahead, Google it and see - some people think it is a harbinger of injuries to come, others think it makes no difference. Let's just check back on Stutes in a few years and see.

What the heck is Cliff Lee doing? I don't really know, and it appears neither does Gaby Sanchez. Lee was inserted as a pinch runner for Raul Ibanez in the bottom of the ninth.

While waiting for the hubby to make a pit-stop after the game, I noticed this little warning at the back of the right field seats. Balls? Well, maybe. But bats? I don't think so.

So the Phillies have now clinched a postseason berth, and could very well clinch the division before my next foray to South Philly on Monday night. Let’s hope I can get those photos posted in a more timely fashion. :-)

(all photos by me)

If I Could Turn Back Time…

Not too far back, just to June 25th or so. And I promise I won’t try to sing like Cher. :-)

On June 25th, the hubby and I made it to our second Phillies game of the year (second for me, that is; he’s been to three now). And this time, the kids and dog were happily off at Camp Grandma, and the sun was shining. So, no complaints from anyone about being ready to go home in the third inning; no worries about what the dog might be destroying while we’re out; no big, cold raindrops to keep my camera away. It was a good day.

Would have been better if the Phillies had been able to muster some offense, but I guess I can’t have everything, hmm?

Though the Phils dropped this interleague game to the A’s, 4-1, they did end up taking 2 of 3 from the visitors. And that’s been the story since then, as the Phils have won 2 of 3 from each subsequent series against the Red Sox, Blue Jays, Marlins, and Braves. This is especially good to see against the AL teams, as the Phils traditionally have dreadful results in interleague games round about this time of year.

Without further ado, some photos from the game:

With no short attention spans to worry about, we got to the ballpark early enough to catch some of the Phillies' batting practice. Here, Jimmy Rollins shoots one into the outfield.

 

The players shagging flies during BP are seemingly unconcerned about all the litter they are creating on the playing field. Ben Francisco, Ross Gload, and a yet-to-be-identified Phillie have quite a collection of debris in front of them.

 

"Hey, you stepped in something!"...."No, you stepped in something"

 

Cole Hamels on the mound for the Phils. Though he gave up just two runs in eight innings, I wouldn't describe his outing as particularly sharp - along with two walks, he committed a balk, hit a batter, and surrendered a home run to Adam Rosales, who is currently hitting a lofty .121 on the season.

 

Maybe Cole was distracted by the debut of his giant facial bandage. My first thought was that he had had some kind of shaving accident, but given the amount of stubble present, I doubt he'd shaved recently. Supposedly there was some kind of "infection" under there - it must have been a doozy, as he was still sporting the bandage over a week later.

 

Though the A's had been wearing relatively tame green jerseys for BP, they changed into these ugly yellow numbers for the game. Note the similarity in color to those worn by the CBP vending corps.

 

The ghastly yellow must have been distracting to the Phillies hitters. Though starter Trevor Cahill looks slightly less than calm and cool, the Phils were able to muster only four hits in this game.

 

One of those four hits came from the bat of Carlos Ruiz, who drove in the lone Phillies run in the second inning.

 

Placido Polanco seems to be auditioning for a part in "The Adjustment Bureau". I guess things just weren't feeling quite right for Polly this night.

 

Polanco seemed to be having "issues" in the field as well. He's since revealed that he is suffering from a bulging disk in his back, so maybe that had something to do with it.

 

When things aren't going well on the field, a glance at the scoreboard is needed to distract me from my displeasure. The moniker "LaLaLand" (or I gues that should be "LaaLaLand") is especially fitting when the Dodgers are hosting the Angels.

 

So now we come to the All-Star break.

The Phillies offense has underperformed more often than I would like, two-fifths of the season’s starting rotation, as well as key members of the bullpen, are on the DL, yet they still sit atop the NL East and own the best record in the majors. :-)   Bring on the second half!

(all photos by me)

Meltdowns Can Be Fun!

When they occur to somebody else, that is.

Last night, I didn’t get a chance to sit down and watch the Phillies face the Cardinals until seven innings had been played. I knew the Phils had been trailing 1-0 earlier in the evening, and after seven they were still down, 2-1. But it turns out I was just in time for all the fun.

Fun for the Phillies. Not so fun for the Cards.

Call it what you want – meltdown, implosion, epic fail – the Cardinals’ bullpen had one of the ugliest half-innings I have ever witnessed.

It lasted almost 45 minutes.

There were two hit batsmen (one with the bases loaded); four walks (two with the bases loaded); and four RBI singles. Nine runs scored – eight of them after there were two outs.

They needed five pitchers to get through it.

Two of those pitchers did not record any outs.

Trever Miller started the inning in relief of Kyle McClellan, who had held the Phils to one run thus far. After retiring the first batter, he allowed a single and a walk to put two men on base.

Curiously, Jason Motte, a hard-throwing righty, was brought in to replace lefty Miller and face Ryan Howard. Motte proceeded to hit Howard to load the bases, then hit Placido Polanco to force in the tying run.

Brian Tallet entered next, and got Raul Ibanez to strike out. After giving up an RBI single to Ben Francisco, he was replaced by Miguel Batista. Batista apparently needed a map to find the strike zone – he promptly walked two batters to force in two more runs, and followed that by allowing an RBI single to Jimmy Rollins.

Maikel Cleto was next in the parade of pitchers. He walked Shane Victorino to reload the bases, gave up two RBI singles to Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, and then mercifully for the Cards, retired Wilson Valdez to finally end their inning from hell with the Phils now leading 10-2.

Lost in all this were two fine performances by the starting pitchers, Roy Halladay and Kyle McClellan, who each surrendered one run, only to be rewarded with no-decisions for their efforts.

Thank you, Cardinals bullpen, for handing us that win on a silver platter. I hope you’ll understand if the Phillies do not reciprocate tonight.

A Novel Experience

Last week, I was counting the days with anticipation until I would finally get to my first Actual Phillies game this season. We’d managed to get four tickets, so the whole family could go. The seats were really good, so I was looking forward to taking lots of amazing game action photos (well, in my mind they’re amazing; in reality, not always so much). And it was the 4 pm FOX game, so I wouldn’t have to worry about the kids getting tired and cranky.

There was just one problem.

Mother Nature did not cooperate.

On our way to the game, the skies were looking very threatening, so I decided not to take the camera after all. Rain and expensive photo equipment don’t really get along with each other very well. As a result, I have precious little visual proof of being there to share with you, other than a few shots from my cell phone.

On the other hand, this would afford me the opportunity to actually see the whole field with both eyes! I can’t remember the last time I actually did that. Usually I end up missing at least a few great plays, because I’m looking through the camera and happen to be focused on the wrong player – unfortunately, an unavoidable aspect of sports photography. If you wait to see where the play develops, you will inevitably miss the play by the time you aim your camera at it. So, many times it is pure luck that you happen to be aimed at the right player.

We settled into our seats to await the start of the game. There were quite a few rather overdressed people on the field in front of us, wielding a variety of stringed instruments. It’s not every day that you see people in formal wear on the ball field, so I took a quick picture with the aforementioned cell phone:

It turned out to be the Council Rock South high school orchestra, who were preparing to perform the national anthem.

Note the gray skies, and the tarp still visible in the background.

Said tarp was rolled up just a few minutes before the scheduled 4:10 pm starting time. The players took the field, the leadoff batter for the Cubs (Starlin Castro) was announced, and…

the clouds opened up and it started to rain. Not just rain – it poured. Big, fat, cold raindrops. We attempted to make our way as quickly as possible to the covered concourse, along with hundreds of other people who were between us and the shelter. This would have to be the only possible negative to sitting close to the field – it takes a lot longer to get out of the rain! Nonetheless, I’ll put up with getting a little wetter in order to be better able to see the action.

Once under cover, my daughter announced that she wanted to go home right now. You know that wasn’t happening. My son, the voice of doom, wanted to know why we should wait around when the game would end up getting cancelled. Hah!  Thankfully, the delay ended up being relatively short, only about half an hour.

The rest of the afternoon was dry (though my clothes were not), and I actually got to see (with both eyes!) some great defensive plays by both first basemen (Ryan Howard and Carlos Pena), a not-so-great defensive play by Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney (who dropped a soft liner off the bat of Jimmy Rollins for an error), a dominating performance from Cliff Lee, and Chase Utley’s two-run double AND two-run homer! The Phils won 7-1, in relatively stress-free fashion.

Afterwards, we browsed in the Clubhouse Store. I was slightly amused to see this DVD still on display:

After all, the Phillies fired Milt Thompson as hitting coach in the middle of last season, replacing him with Greg Gross. Presumably, he was not doing a good enough job of making hitting easy for the Phils’ offense.

I’ll get a second crack at shooting the Phillies (photographically speaking) in less than two weeks, when the hubby and I go sans kids to see the Phillies host the A’s in an interleague matchup. No rain, please!

Belated Pharm Report

On May 22, I finally made it to my first live baseball game of the season. Wait, let me be more specific: my first live baseball game that was not played by 11 and 12-year-olds.

Hard to believe that just less than three weeks ago, we actually had to wear sweatshirts to a Sunday afternoon Reading Phillies game, and even with the extra layer were still a bit chilly. Today, I’m hiding out in my air-conditioned house until I absolutely have to venture outside.

Anyway, back to the R-Phils, who were hosting the Richmond Flying Squirrels. :-)   Gotta love that team name. J.C. Ramirez, who was acquired from Seattle as part of the Cliff Lee deal, was on the mound for the R-Phils. Ramirez gave up two runs in the second, but then settled down for the next five innings.

Taking the hill for the opposition was Clayton Tanner, who hails from the Land Down Under. Tanner, looking for his first win of the season, was perfect through six innings (by this point, I was actually kind of rooting against the home team, as it would have been really cool to see a perfect game). With two outs in the seventh, the R-Phils broke through with a single from Matt Rizzotti, followed by a two-run homer from Cody Overbeck to tie things up.

The score unknotted itself in the top of the very next inning, on a solo home run by Richmond outfielder Justin Christian. Richmond would hold on for the 3-2 victory.

Random game photos

R-Phils starter J.C. Ramirez delivers.

Shortstop Freddy Galvis attempts to field a grounder, but unfortunately he will not make the play.

This R-Phils pitcher throws caution to the wind, and does not heed all those childhood warnings about leaning back on a folding chair.

Upon closer inspection of the previous photo, it can be seen that Phillippe Aumont was apparently feeling contrasty that day, and decided to wear blue shoelaces with his red cleats.

The throw to first baseman Matt Rizzotti is not in time to pick off the runner.

Only in the minors – “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” is sung by the Singing Usher, who is wheeled around the warning track by a giant carrot.

Speaking of food, my daughter must have had food on her mind that day, as she thought they were saying “taco” when they announced Paco Figueroa, and mis-heard Rizzotti as “wasabi”. :-)

 

As for the major-league Phils, just a few more days until I finally get to a game. Yay! The fam and I will be at Saturday’s game against the Cubs. The forecast at the moment looks a little iffy – keep your fingers crossed for me!

 

[all photos by me]

Programming Note

Yes, I know, it’s been waaay too long since my last post. However, I’m perturbed by the fact that many of the images in my prior posts seem to have gotten lost somewhere in the transition from the old mlblogs platform to the new WordPress platform. I’m not happy about this. I’m a visual person; I need my images!

Speaking of images, I do have some photos from a recent R-Phils game to share, but it’s gonna have to wait until tomorrow. And coming up this weekend, I finally – finally! – get to an actual Phillies game this season. We’ll be taking the kids (wish me luck with that), and have really good seats, so you know I’ll be taking the camera! I plan on have lots of visuals for you next week.

Until then, Go Phils!

Hey Joe

Yes, I’m talking to you, Joe Blanton.

I was kind of hoping that in your second start of the season, against the Nationals, you might bounce back a bit from that less than stellar game against the Mets last week.

Silly me.

Instead, you gave up 5 earned runs in 6 innings, and after two starts, your ERA is an unattractive 10.45. Yes, I know it’s still early in the season, so there’s plenty of time to turn it around. I suggest you start rectifying this situation during your next start, on Sunday afternoon.

I’ll be watching.

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In what is becoming a curious trend, the Phillies dropped the first game of their series against Washington, and then came back to win the next two.

This time, it was Joe Blanton who was not sharp in game one (see above). Additionally, he gave up a home run to ex-Phillie Jayson Werth, resulting in my breakfast the next morning being disturbed by the sight of Werth on the front page of the newspaper. Echh.

Roy Halladay took the mound for game two, and had the Nationals shut out through eight innings (yay!). He flirted with disaster in the ninth, giving up two runs, but managed to escape intact for the complete game victory, as the Phils prevailed 3-2.

Also in this game, Washington starter John Lannan faced Ryan Howard with the bases loaded in the top of the fifth, and proceeded to hit Howard on the wrist, driving in a run. Lannan, if you recall, was the pitcher who hit Chase Utley a few years ago, giving him a broken hand.

Yo, John Lannan, stop hitting my Phillies!

For his career, Lannan has faced the Phillies 12 times, going 0-9 with a 5.80 ERA. The Nationals have lost 11 of those 12 games. So bring him on some more! Just let me wrap the players in bubble wrap first. :-)

Not to be outdone, Cliff Lee finished off a complete game of his own the next night, as the Phils won 4-0.

I think I could get used to this whole “Four Aces” thing. :-)

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I often find myself wondering about some of the photos MLB chooses to use in the slideshows for each game. For example, why use this one?

my wallet is this big.jpgThe caption states that “The Nationals’ Jayson Werth gestures to teammates on the field during the ninth inning.”

Gesturing about what? Trying to cue the musical accompaniment for a dramatic ninth inning rally? The size of the proverbial “one that got away”? Or maybe the size of his wallet now that the Nationals have grossly overpaid for his services?

I’m sure you readers can come up with something good! Leave a comment if you have an inspired caption to share.

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