Results tagged ‘ Ryan Howard ’

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.

 

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!

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.

Random NLCS Thoughts (so far)

Games 1 and 2 of the NLCS are in the books, and the Phillies earned a split with the Giants. I’m not going to throw out a lot of stats, or bore you with yet another recap. That’s all available out there in plenty of places. Now, it’s time for my first batch of random thoughts.

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Giants catcher Buster Posey bears an uncanny resemblance to one of my neighbors. I’d post pictures here to prove it, but I don’t have a picture of said neighbor available. In fact, I just checked his Facebook profile, and he appears to have replaced it with a picture of Posey! Then again, it’s hard to tell the difference.

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Cody Ross, otherwise known as my least-favorite Marlin, has hit three (!) home runs so far in this series. Let’s see, Ross is with his fifth major-league team in seven seasons, and the Marlins apparently thought so highly of him that they released him in August, whence the Giants picked him up on a waiver claim. Somehow, he has turned into a post-season hitting machine, hitting .350 so far with 4 home runs and 6 RBI.

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Speaking of Ross (though I’d rather not), it looks like he has jumped on the “Fear the Beard” bandwagon, sprouting some facial hair that was not there when he was with the Marlins. In fact, his clean-shaven self always reminded me of an elf.

codyrosself.jpgProbably a South Pole elf. :-) 

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While we’re on the subject of beards, thanks to the wonderful technology of high-def close ups, I can confirm that it would be physically impossible for Tim Lincecum to grow one, since he appears to have approximately three facial hairs in total.

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Prior to last night, Jimmy Rollins had not had much success at the plate this postseason, with just one hit in the divisional series against the Reds. His first “hit” of the NLCS came when the Giants infield forgot how to call for a pop-up, and the ball dropped safely in the midst of Mike Fontenot, Jonathan Sanchez, Aubrey Huff, and Buster Posey.

I don't got it.jpgI’m always amused when highly-paid professionals mess up a basic part of the game that even 10-year-olds are expected to execute unless, of course, it is my team that is messing up. ;-)

Later in the game, Jimmy atoned for his lack of production by smacking a bases-loaded, three-run double to bust the game open. :-)

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Ryan Howard caused quite a stir among the Phaithful when he was spotted at Sunday afternoon’s Eagles game. Shouldn’t he have been preparing for that night’s baseball game, perhaps watching film or taking some extra swings in the cage? It’s not like he was ripping the cover off the ball in Game 1, and he would be going up against a tough lefty in Sanchez, against whom he has not had much success in the past.

howard eagles.jpgIf he had looked as pitiful as he had in Game 1, he would have had some explaining to do. On the contrary, Howard had two hits off Sanchez (a single and double), as well as a key walk in the first inning. Maybe Howard should go to a few more football games this postseason. :-)

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Poor Andres Torres! He struck out four times against Roy Oswalt last night, earing the dreaded Golden Sombrero:

golden sombrero.jpgDo I feel bad for him? No, not really.

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No game tonight, as it’s an off day as the series moves west to San Francisco for Game 3.

Let’s go, Phillies!

Who Is This Man, and What Does He Have Against Ryan Howard?

ump with attitude.jpgThat man is Scott Barry, who was the third-base umpire in last night’s Phillies-Astros game.

I hadn’t watched the first nine innings of the game, having been occupied with other things. Once again, the Phils gave Cole Hamels very little run support, though they did actually score one run for him, which was better than the previous 25 innings Hamels had pitched. But then Jimmy Rollins tied things up with a ninth inning homer.

As the kids were finally heading to bed, I turned on the TV to see if the game was still on. It was, in extra innings with the score tied 2-2.

So instead of sitting down to write a blog entry, which had been my plan, I ended up watching the 11th inning, and then the 12th inning, and so on, until finally it was the bottom of the 14th. With two outs and runners on first and second, Howard came to the plate. Mind you, he’s been absolutely sucktastic since coming off the DL, but I suppose it takes a while to get back in a groove.

Anyway, Barry rules that he went around on a check swing for strike two. It was close, but he probably did. Howard looked upset, as much at himself as at Barry. Barry, however, pulled an attitude, glaring at Howard with his hands on his hips (see above). After a pitch in the dirt moved the runners to second and third, and brought the count to 1-2, another checked swing was ruled a strike by Barry, ending the inning. 

checked swing.jpgThis one wasn’t even close. It was so obviously NOT a swing (watch the replay, and decide for yourself). Howard flipped his bat, and Barry tossed him.

Ultimately, the Phils ended up losing 4-2 in 16 innings.

OK, so it’s not like this play directly lost the game, but with a runner on third, any base hit would have scored the winning run. Secondly, the Phils were out of position players, so Roy Oswalt ended up in left field, with Ibanez moving to first.

What annoyed me, in addition to Barry copping an attitude on the field, is that it turns out he’s not even (some would say) a “real” umpire, rather he’s a minor-league replacement ump! He hasn’t earned the right to have an attitude yet!

Next time, someone please toss him out of the game! Or at least send him back to triple-A!

A Busy Baseball Week

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:

lv lineup copy.jpg

 

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:

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Carpenter was opposed on the mound by Daniel McCutchen (no relation to Andrew – obviously). He makes pitching look almost painful with this expression:

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Paul Hoover is out at second, but the throw from Indians shortstop Argenis Diaz was not in time to turn the double play:

dp.JPGNo IronPigs game is complete without the Pork Racers – Hambone, Chris P. Bacon, and Diggity:

pork racers.JPG

John Mayberry is safe at second on a steal attempt:

mayberry steal.JPG

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”:

zagurski.JPG

Antonio Bastardo was called upon to get the final out of the eighth inning:

bastardo.JPG

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?):

matheison closer.JPG

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:

kendrick 5May.JPG

The Cardinals countered with Brad Penny, shown here rockin’ the high-socks look. The little white blur is the ball going past him:

brad penny.JPG

Brendan Ryan led off the third for the Cards, and was called out at first on this play:

howard stretch.JPG

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:

larussa argues.JPG

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:

polanco homer.JPG

Chase Utley prepares to field a ground ball:

utley 5May.JPG

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:

foul ball caught.JPG

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:

pujols 5May.JPG

Chase Utley makes the pivot on a 6-4-3 double play to end the top of the seventh:

utley turns two.JPG

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

spam can.jpgThe 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”:

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Here’s the real Screwball for comparison:

screwball.JPG

OK, so not a perfect likeness, but like I said, Spam isn’t the easiest thing to work with.

Mmm, a Spamdog!

spam2.JPG

These two contestants are working on separate halves of what would eventually be the winning entry, “Screwball’s Spamtastic Opportunity House”:

spam1.JPG

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:

flande 8May.JPG

Aeros starter Eric Berger contorts himself:

eric berger.JPG

R-Phils centerfielder Quintin Berry reminds me of a t-ball player who needs to use the bathroom:
berry 8May.JPG

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)

My Spring Training Adventure – Part 3

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:

ed smith stadium0001.jpg

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:

damon.JPG

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:

hamels ST.JPG

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:

verlander.JPG

Speaking of Howard’s homer (his first of the spring), it came on the swing immediately following this shot:

howard homer.JPG

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?

three amigos.JPG

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:

baggy coke pants.JPG

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:

d brown.JPG

New Phillie Danys Baez came on to pitch a scoreless inning in relief:

danys baez.JPG

Greg Dobbs, playing third in place of the injured Placido Polanco, makes contact. Dobbs went 1-for-3 and scored a run:

dobbs contact.JPG

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:

j roll.JPG

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:

ibanez manuel.JPG

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:

i was there.JPG

 

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:

manuel bat.JPGRandy Winn and Brian Schneider are loitering behind the batting cage. Something has made Winn grin, though Schneider looks like he just ate a bug:

winn schneider.JPGThis trio of trouble is yukking it up at the expense of their fellow fielder, who just muffed a grounder during pre-game warmups:

trouble trio.JPGMark 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?

tex arod.jpgPhillies 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:

wheels.JPGJust 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:

green blanton.JPG

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!

pettitte.JPG

Randy Winn scores for the Yankees, as the throw to Carlos Ruiz is late:

winn run.JPG

Ryan Howard tosses the ball to first to get the out:

howard toss.JPG

The Flyin’ Hawaiian can’t fly quite far enough, as this ball got past Shane Victorino for an extra-base hit:

flyin hawaiian.JPG

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:

irish phanatic.JPGThe 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:

werth homer.JPG
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)

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)

Oh, Crap

Actually, the words running through my mind last night were much more, uh, colorful than that, but if I use them here they’ll just get asterisked out by the filter that protects our delicate sensibilities.

I was downright giddy after Cliff Lee’s Game 1 gem, so giddy in fact that I never got around to blogging about it yesterday. Now that good mood has been replaced by one a bit more foul. I keep reminding myself that my rational mind knew the Phils wouldn’t sweep the Yankees, that there would be at least one loss, but that doesn’t make it any less unpleasant.

As I have a tendency after a loss to think not-very-nice thoughts about the opposition and the vast majority of their fans, thoughts molded by my formative years spent growing up in northeastern Pennsylvania surrounded during the summer by very annoying denizens of NYC who chose to vacation there while complaining that nothing was as good there as it was in New York, making me wish I could tell them all to go back home if it was so much better there, but…oops, sorry, got sidetracked there a bit…and darn it, I was going to once again abide by my not-saying-anything-at-all-if-I-couldn’t-say-anything-nice rule, but my fingers betrayed me.

Anyway, Ryan Howard can add a less glamorous “award” to his NLCS MVP trophy, the dreaded Golden Sombrero.
golden sombrero.jpgYep, Howard struck out four times last night; three times against Burnett and once against Rivera. Not good, Ryan, not good. Please get back in the groove you had against Colorado and L.A.

Recent history would suggest that the Game 2 loss is not a portent of doom – the Phillies lost Game 2 of last year’s World Series and this year’s NLDS and NLCS, and all of those series ended up turning out pretty good for the boys in red. So I’ll get my bad mood out of my system today, and be ready to watch on Saturday as the series moves to Philadelphia (after washing the bad luck out of everything I was wearing last night, of course).

Oh….My….God!!!

Last night’s NLCS Game 4 was just a little too stressful for my tastes. After jumping out to an early lead in the first inning via a Ryan Howard long ball (which I missed, by the way, while helping my young procrastinator finish a school project which was due today), the Phils’ bats went silent as Randy Wolf found his groove for the next several innings.

Joe Blanton, on the other hand, started out strong, but then began to falter the second time through the Dodgers’ lineup. The Dodgers took a 4-2 lead, and I began to resemble this:

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Yep, I was giving some serious hairy eyeballs to the Dodgers, particularly when ManChild, oops I mean ManRam, was for once not “being Manny” in the outfield, as he ran in to make a shoestring catch on an Ibanez liner to end a Phillies scoring threat.

The Phils did manage to cut the margin to 4-3, but the Dodgers still held a one-run lead heading into the bottom of the ninth. But now it was payback time. Last Friday, it was the Phillies who blew the one-run lead in the bottom of the eighth to lose, 2-1, when their pitching began to unravel.

Jonathon Broxton, last night was your turn.

Broxton retired Ibanez for out number one. Matt Stairs came in to pinch hit, and worked a walk; Eric Bruntlett came in to pinch run. After Carlos Ruiz was hit by a pitch to put two men on base, Greg Dobbs came in to pinch hit and was retired on a humpback liner to third.

Two outs, I’m starting to imagine how bad my mood will be today.

Up to the plate comes Jimmy Rollins, who was only hitting .167 so far in the NLCS (not good, Jimmy). Miraculously, Jimmy smoked a liner to the gap in right to score both Bruntlett and Ruiz. Happiness ensued! I felt like doing this:

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but unfortunately I don’t live near a beach (must change that situation!).

In the postgame interview, Rollins looked like he was doing his best Etta James impersonation:

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Love the look, Jimmy – I hope we see it again this season!

The Joy of the NLCS Schedule (she says sarcastically)

So why is it that during the regular season, teams can play eight, nine, even ten games in a row, but come the postseason, they can’t seem to play more than two days in a row?? Why exactly do we need an off-day in the middle of the three games being played in Philadelphia? I’m sure it has something to do with TV and advertising revenues, but I don’t like it.

The Joy of Technology

It seems that StubHub experienced an “email glitch”, and accidentally sent messages to fans of the Mets that said,

“Be there alongside your New York Mets as they chase baseball immortality. Go to StubHub, where you’ll find a fantastic selection of tickets to every playoff game — so you experience the championship chase live and in person.”

Hee hee! I wonder if there were any dimbulb Mets fans who got confused and actually tried to order tickets?

Apparently fans of a few other non-playoff teams also got erroneous messages (see full story here), but I always take secret glee in the travails of Mets fans. Sorry, but I can’t help it :-).

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