Results tagged ‘ John Mayberry Jr. ’

What The ___ ??

Go ahead and fill in the blank with whichever word you prefer which best expresses your feelings about the Phillies’ 1-3 start. ;-)

PNC Park = House of Horrors

Why, oh why, is PNC Park such a House of Horrors for the Phillies? After Doc’s gem gave the Phils an Opening Day win over the Pirates, they proceeded to drop the next two contests in painful fashion by giving up the winning run in the final frame. Since its opening in 2001, the Phillies are a paltry 14-24 in that venue, which is one of their worst records in any road park (if not THE worst).

Yet it looks so nice. And this is the Pirates they’re sucking against – they of the 19 straight losing seasons. Again, what the …? Chalk it up as one of life’s mysteries.

 

Who’s On First, Indeed?

Last Thursday, the Philadelphia Inquirer published a Phillies Preview under this banner:

An apt question, since the Phillies have used four different first basemen in the first four games – Ty Wigginton, Laynce Nix, Jim Thome, and John Mayberry, Jr. Hopefully as the season progresses, some sort of continuity will be established, rather than the current revolving door approach.

Ryan Howard, pamper that Achilles and hurry back!

 

Slumbering Lumber

I have a feeling I’ll be using this image frequently this season, or at least in the early going, until Chase Utley and the aforementioned Ryan Howard are back in the lineup.

Currently the Phillies have a collective .198 batting average, ranking them 24th of the 30 major league teams. Yes, it’s only been four games, and yes it’s early in the season, but the Phillies need to start hitting more, and sooner rather than later, or it’s going to be a mighty long season if they dig themselves too big a hole already.

 

The Waiting Is The Hardest Part

After the Giants beat the Braves last night, the Phillies now know who their opponent will be in the NLCS, which doesn’t start until Saturday. Granted, the Phillies made quick work of the Reds, sweeping them in three games; the Giants needed four games to dispatch the Braves. Even if both series had gone a full five games, the divisional series would have ended on Wednesday. Why do we possibly need two full days off between series???

Initially, I thought I wanted the Braves to advance, because I felt the Phillies had a better chance against their pitching. On the other hand, those two teams had already met 18 times during the regular season (with the Phils winning 10), so there was a certain amount of familiarity. The Giants and Phillies have only played each other 6 times, which I’m sure has it’s own set of pros and cons.

At least now I won’t have to hear that annoying (and some would say politically incorrect) Braves chant during the games, and as far as I know, the Giants don’t have any sort of mass chanting from their fans.

Flip side is, I’ll have to watch Tim Lincecum and his girlie hair.

Random NLDS Musings

Since my last post, following Roy Halladay’s no-no, the Phils took the next two from the Reds, though in rather opposite ways. In Game 2, the other Roy wasn’t quite so sharp, and in fact, Oswalt later admitted that he had felt a bit rusty. The Reds took advantage and jumped out to a 4-0 lead after 4 1/2 innings. But then the Phillies started to chip away at the lead, and the Reds let the game slip through their fingers. Literally. The Reds committed four errors in this game, and their pitchers hit three batters (more on that in a bit). Bottom line, Phillies won 7-4, though only two of the runs were earned.

Game 3 was a much more polished affair, as Cole Hamels went the distance for a complete-game shutout as the Phils won, 2-0. For the Phillies Phaithful, it was only fitting that the final out was a Scott Rolen strikeout.

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Which leads me to Rolen, or as one local sports talk-radio guy calls him, “Lemon Face”. [the following photo is actually not from the NLDS, but earlier in the season]

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(photo by Ed Wulfstein/Icon SMI)

Lemon Face had an atrocious series, going 1 for 11 with eight strikeouts! He also committed two errors! Hee hee! You may recall Rolen’s demands to be traded near the end of his tenure with the Phils, saying that the Phillies management and ownership weren’t committed to winning. Looks like the Phils have been doing pretty good lately, doesn’t it, Scott?

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Chase Utley, for his starring role last Friday in “Chase’s Excellent Adventure Around the Bases”. First, Utley was (maybe) hit on the hand by Aroldis Chapman; next, he (maybe) was safe on a close play at second; and finally, he (maybe) touched the base while rounding third. He was definitely safe at home.

I had to laugh at this Utley quote regarding the hit-by-pitch: “I felt like I thought it hit me, so I put my head down and I ran to first.”  O-kaaay, Chase, whatever you say. ;-)

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John Mayberry, Jr. may have been surprised to learn that he was also hit by a pitch in that game, because he is not on the postseason roster!

mayberry hit by pitch.jpgI’ve often wondered if the sportswriters actually watch the games. It would seem the answer is no, because if they did they would know that it was Ben Francisco who was nearly decapitated when the ball went off the brim of his helmet.

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Listening to the TBS announcing duo of Brian Anderson and Joe Simpson was enough to make me catatonic, given that they collectively seem to have as much personality as my pinky toe. And they clearly need some lessons in enunciation - one of them (I’m not sure which, they’re both equally dull) kept saying “Utley” in a way that made it sound like “Ugly”.

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The funniest moment of the series had to be in Game 3, when Rich Dubee was being interviewed during the game about the renaissance of Cole Hamels. With Dubee unaware of what was going on behind him, Roy Oswalt was ducking from the dugout into the clubhouse. He apparently couldn’t resist the temptation to grin at the camera on his way past:

oswalt dubee.jpgHubby, son and I were in hysterics. This team is definitely loose and having fun!

Let’s go, Phillies!

My Spring Training Adventure – Part 2

March 14 – Day 4

The Phillies had a road game today against the Orioles in Sarasota. We opted not to make the drive to Ed Smith Stadium, having been there once a number of years ago. It is not a picturesque ballpark. In fact, the exterior somewhat resembles a motel. I’ll have to dig out a photo from those pre-digital days, and scan it in for tomorrow.

Instead, we decided to take in a Blue Jays – Braves game in Dunedin, with a stop by the Phillies’ Carpenter Complex beforehand to check out some of the minor-league training camp action.

Brandon Duckworth, last with the Phillies in 2003, has returned to the organization on a minor-league contract after stints with Houston and Kansas City. As noted in Larry Shenk’s Phillies Insider blog, and evident in this photo, all the minor-leaguers wear their socks knee-high. No baggy “pajama” pants for these guys!

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Two minor-league shortstops work on fielding drills on one of the four practice fields in the complex:

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Minor-league pitchers wait between the batting cages to take their turn at a bunting drill:

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Prospect Anthony Hewitt, the Phils’ top pick in 2008, awaits his turn in the batting cage (is it just me, or do his feet look really big?):

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After checking out the workouts for about an hour, we made the approximately 10 minute drive to Dunedin, spring home of the Blue Jays. Sometimes going to a game in which I have no rooting interest is a nice break – I can relax and enjoy the game action without getting worked up about the outcome.

Brandon Morrow was on the hill for Toronto. Not a great day for him – he gave up six hits and four earned runs in three innings of work:

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Braves top prospect Jason Heyward makes contact early in the game. He had a good day, going 2 for 4 and scoring a run:

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Kris Medlen started the game for the Braves, pitching two shutout innings:

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The Blue Jays watch from the dugout as Aaron Hill makes contact:

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The Jays’ Jose Bautista was nearly caught in a rundown, but somehow managed to elude the tag of Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman to make it back safely to first:

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Some people will do just about anything to get a foul ball. Even the umpire seems to be watching the kid, and not the game:

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Blue Jays outfielder Chris Lubanski is out at second. Lubanski is a non-roster invitee to the Jays camp, having been signed to a minor-league deal after spending the past 6 seasons in the Royals organization. I’ve always kind of followed his progress, as he is a local guy from my area. Having signed right out of high school, he’s still pretty young, only 24:

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The Jays ended up dropping this game to the Braves, 8-5. After the game we enjoyed a refreshing postgame brew at the Dunedin Brewery, before enjoying Mexican food for dinner at one of our favorite restaurants when we are in Florida, Casa Tina.

 

March 15 – Day 5

From St. Petersburg, Bradenton is an easy drive of 40 minutes or so south over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. The Pirates were hosting the Phillies today, so we made the drive and got there just before the gates opened.

I parked myself in a prime spot right by the end of the Phillies dugout near the backstop. My husband is left to wander around the ballpark carrying my extra stuff while I’m clicking away at all the activity on the field.

The Phillies came out to stretch while the Pirates were finishing up their portion of batting practice. One anonymous Phillie decided to stick out from the crowd during this drill:

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As the players were walking in and out of the dugout, they were mere feet away from me (and everyone else). Most of them seemed to try to not even look up and make eye contact. New Phillie Brian Schneider did come over and sign some autographs for the fans, as did coach Davey Lopes and manager Charlie Manuel – thanks guys! Jayson Werth signed one or two autographs, no more, but I did manage to catch a glimpse of his stylin’ shades:

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ESPN’s Dick Vitale and the Schwab were on hand. Dick seemed to be getting a lesson on gloves from Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins. Dick then came over to the dugout and signed autographs for anybody who wanted one:

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Zach Duke was on the mound for the Pirates. Duke gave up one run and two hits in 3 2/3 innings. He struck out four, but also walked three:

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Roy Halladay pitched for the Phils. He gave up three hits and one run (his first of the spring) in five innings. He struck out six, and walked two:

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John Mayberry, Jr., making a start in center field, connects on this pitch to drive in a run with a sacrifice fly:

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Ryan Howard “admires” (not) his mile-high pop-up:

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Placido Polanco is helped off the field after injuring his knee. He stumbled near the mound while tracking down a wind-blown pop-up. Thankfully, the injury was not serious, as Polanco is now back in action after a few days of rest:

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Lastings Milledge is forced out at second, as Jimmy Rollins throws to first to try for the double play (the throw was not in time):

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The Pirate Parrot appears to be using a Phillies fan as a footrest. Yo, Parrot, what’s up with that?

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Chase Utley chases down a fly ball in the infield on a very windy day. He made the catch, though it wasn’t particularly graceful:

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The Phils came out on top in this game, winning 5-1. Another Phillies victory on another sunny, though windy, day!

On our way out of McKechnie Field, we stopped for a quick photo op at the large AT&T advertisement with a cutout where Zach Duke’s head would be. How do I look?

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Afterwards, we took a scenic detour to check out the beaches on Anna Maria Island before heading back to St. Pete. We even stopped to stick our feet into the sparkling Gulf waters, but that water is not very warm in March! That explained why we didn’t see anybody actually swimming.

Next up, the third (and final) installment, covering our last two games in Clearwater before we reluctantly had to head home.

(all photos by me)

Of Pigs and Presidents

In my continuing effort to get caught up on blogging about my baseball doings, I’m finally getting around to what I did last weekend (Labor Day weekend). On Saturday, I attended a photography workshop held at Coca-Cola Park, home of the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, and on Sunday my husband and I headed to Washington, D.C. to take in a game at Nationals Park.

Pigs

First off, a big shout-out goes to Jenn, of Phillies Phollowers, who gave me the heads-up on the photo workshop. She was in attendance as well, so we had plenty of photographic “phun”. The workshop started off with a classroom session on action photography, appropriate camera settings for freezing action, night games, etc. Then we were set loose in the ballpark for about an hour before the gates opened to the public.

The IronPigs had already finished their batting practice, so the Buffalo Bisons (Mets triple-A affiliate) were on the field. Baseball players must develop a certain obliviousness to people with cameras, as the majority of them didn’t even seem to notice we were there. However, this trio of Bisons decided to strike a pose when they saw several women with lenses trained on them:

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We were also able to stake out a spot right next to the IronPigs dugout, affording close-up opportunities. Here are John Mayberry, Jr.,

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Gary Majewski,

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and Kyle Kendrick,

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all looking very serious. C’mon guys, would it hurt to crack a smile? I promise your face won’t break!

Watching all the field preparations from such a close vantage point, I noticed things I hadn’t really seen before. For example, who knew that they actually spray-paint home plate before the game to get it so nice and white?

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During the game itself, we had an opportunity to try some really nice lenses, thanks to Dan’s Camera City, the sponsor of the workshop. A good lens makes all the difference, as even my husband could distinguish between pictures taken with my current lens, and those taken with the better lens. It made me realize that the major roadblock standing between me and really great pictures is the lack of a bottomless wallet, as I suffered major sticker shock when I checked out prices on some of the top-quality Canon lenses. If anyone out there knows the location of a money tree, please send me a seed! :-)

Presidents

In our ongoing quest to visit all the major league ballparks, for number 21 we made a visit to Nationals Park to see the Nats host the Marlins. We decided to root for the Nationals that day, since they were the home team, and the Marlins are closer behind the Phillies in the NL East race.

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This picture was not taken from our seats, as our actual seats were up a level and much further down the left field line. Since that location didn’t lend itself to taking pictures of the game, I got up and walked around for an inning or two in the middle of the game. For a team that plays poorly and doesn’t draw very big crowds, the ticket prices are pretty steep.

We did have a little excitement in our section, though, when Screech ran down the aisle right next to me to deliver personal-size pizzas during a between-innings promotion.

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The other thing I wanted to make sure I saw was the Presidents Race. Similar to Milwaukee’s Sausage race, large caricatures of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abe Lincoln, and Teddy Roosevelt burst out of the center field wall and race around the warning track to the finish line near the Nats’ dugout along the first base line.

Since the race began in 2006, Teddy has never won a race. There’s even a website devoted to this fact, Let Teddy Win! Would this be the day Teddy finally won? He came out strong, and was in the lead as they rounded the right field corner.

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Unfortunately, George had a sudden burst of speed to win the race, and Teddy ultimately came in last. Here you can see the standings as of last Sunday, 9/6:

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Poor Teddy! I felt bad for him, so I bought his bobble-head likeness in the gift shop. After looking through my photos from the day, I think I see why Teddy loses all the time:
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His glasses are broken! How can he run fast if he can’t see where he is going? Somebody get that president a new set of specs!

As for the game itself, it was a pretty good one. The score was tied 2-2 after eight, but then the Marlins scored two in the top of the ninth to go up 4-2. Down but not yet out, Willie Harris led off the bottom of the ninth with a solo homer to make it 4-3, and then with one man on base, Ryan Zimmerman hit a walk-off two-run shot to give the Nats a 5-4 victory.

All in all, I liked Nationals Park. The only negative is that everything is rather expensive. The one bright point is the option to park for free at RFK stadium, and then take a free shuttle bus to the ballpark (which we did).

Only nine more stadiums to go! The rest of the quest will have to wait till next year.

Caption Fun

There’s still time to submit a caption for the photo from my last post. Only two of you have come up with a suggestion so far. Put your thinking caps on!

 

(all photos by me)

I Hate My Sinuses!

Today’s entry is going to be a short one, because right now I’m developing a wicked headache. I’m not sure if I’m getting a cold, or my allergies are acting up, but all I know is that my sinuses are doing something which is resulting in post nasal drip, which is causing me to sneeze and cough. The coughing is now unfortunately giving me a headache.

Anyway, a few quick thoughts from the holiday weekend.

Phils Take 2 of 3 From Yankees

Brett Myers pitched well on Friday to lead the Phillies to a 7-3 win, which I recounted in my last entry.

On Saturday, J.A. Happ went 6 innings and would have been in line to get the win, as the Phillies were up 4-2 going into the bottom of the ninth. Then Brad Lidge entered the game and all hell broke loose. Johnny Damon walked to lead off the inning, and then with one out, A-Rod homered to tie it up. Robinson Cano then singled and subsequently stole second, so that Melky Cabrera’s bloop into short center allowed him to score the winning run. Yanks win, 5-4.

The way the Yankees reacted, you’d have thought they just won the World Series. Heck, even a come-from-behind-in-the-ninth win should be old news for them, as they lead the majors with 17 come-from-behind wins, with nine of those coming in the final at-bat.

Sunday, Cole Hamels allowed two runs in six innings of work. The Phillies had a slim 3-2 lead going into the bottom of the ninth, and once again, Brad Lidge blew the save. This time the game went into extra innings, with Carlos Ruiz knocking in the game-winning run in the top of the 11th, giving the Phillies a 4-3 victory.

John Mayberry, Jr. Makes His Debut

Mayberry made his major-league debut in Saturday’s game, and made a splash by hitting a 3-run homer for his first big-league hit. He also added a double, to go 2-for-3 on the day.

Why, just last Tuesday I saw John taking some big cuts at the Lehigh Valley IronPigs game:

mayberry.jpgCongratulations John!

What Is Up With Lidge?

Brad Lidge blew two consecutive save opportunities this weekend. Is his knee more of a factor than he and the Phillies are letting on? Is the pressure of living up to the expectations that resulted from last season’s perfection getting into his head? Is it something else entirely? Whether the issue is physical or mental, I hope the Phillies and Lidge soon figure out what is wrong, and please, please, please take steps to remedy the problem. We need a healthy and effective Lidge!

Monday of the Marlins

Other than Ryan Howard, the Phillies offense was lackluster yesterday in a 5-3 loss to the Marlins. Howard provided all the offense, with a two-run homer in the first, and a solo shot in the sixth. Jamie Moyer allowed 4 runs, with three of them coming on a home run by Wes Helms in the fourth, after Moyer walked the first two batters of the inning. Helms went 3-for-4 on the day with 4 RBIs.

Hey Wes, how come you never had games like that when you were a Phillie?

The Phillies and Marlins meet again tonight, with Joe Blanton facing off against Andrew Miller. Come on, guys, let’s get back on the winning track!

(photo by me)

Phlower Power and the Return of the Bats

The calendar says that Opening Day is only a little over a month away. But you wouldn’t know it if you looked out my window this morning. This was the lovely view from my blogging chair:

snow.jpgBlechh! Snow – and lots of it.

I’ve discovered that with each passing year, I’m less and less tolerant of things like snow and cold weather. In fact, I fantasize about the day when my children are out of the house, or at least in college, and my husband and I become “snowbirds”. We’ll get a condo in Clearwater Beach, be a couple of retirees working at the ballpark during Spring Training, and not have to deal with those evil white flakes from the sky.

Okay, that’s not happening any time soon, as our youngest is only in second grade. But one can dream! :-)

Another sure sign that spring is on the way, in addition to the Phillies’ annual migration south, is the Philadelphia Flower Show. Or, as you’ll see in a moment, maybe I should call it the Phlower Show.

Every March, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society puts on what is one of the oldest and largest flower shows in the country. The past few years I have been a volunteer photographer at the show – in exchange for spending a couple hours photographing the blue-ribbon winners in the horticultural society’s competitive classes, I get free admission to the show, a savings of $28! Not a bad deal – after I’m done with the prize winners, I can spend the rest of the day wandering around the show, taking in the sights and smells of spring.

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Every year, the show has a different theme. This year’s theme was Bella Italia, so all the major exhibits had a definite Italian flavor. As you can see, they did a great job of transforming the cavernous interior of the Pennsylvania Convention Center into beautiful Roman-style gardens.

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One of the exhibitors, though, must be a baseball fan. As I was about to call it a day, I spied this well-attired statue:
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Go Phils!

Speaking of the Phils, they must have read my plea last Friday to wake up their bats from their winter slumber. They jumped all over the Rays on Saturday to win 12-5, with homers from Ryan Howard, John Mayberry, Jr., and Miguel Cairo. Yesterday, they beat the Braves 7-3 for their second exhibition victory.

Saturday’s game against the Rays was televised, the first one so far this spring. It was kind of weird to see Pat Burrell in another team’s uniform, but it was nice to see him get such a warm welcome from the fans in Clearwater. Burrell got an ovation from the crowd before his first at-bat, and tipped his helmet to the fans. Good luck, Pat, with the Rays this year!

Also of note over the weekend was the signing of Adam Eaton to a minor-league deal by the Baltimore Orioles. I suppose I could say that the Orioles must be really, really desperate for pitching, but I’ll refrain. On second thought, I guess I just said it after all. ;-)

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