Results tagged ‘ Ryan Howard ’

Feeling Grand

Last night, the Phillies took on the NL Central-leading Cardinals in St. Louis, and emerged victorious. Joe Blanton held the Cards to just one run over six innings, and managed to wiggle out of a one-out, bases loaded jam in the bottom of the sixth.

After getting a groundout to start the inning, Blanton walked Ryan Ludwick and hit Rick Ankiel to put runners on first and second. The next batter hit a grounder to Pedro Feliz, who proceeded to have a brain cramp, and apparently couldn’t decide whether to tag the lead runner coming towards him, or throw the ball to second.

He hesitated, and we all know what they say about he who hesitates.

“He who hesitates loads the bases.” No, wait, that’s not it. “He who hesitates incurs the wrath of the Phans.” Oh, that’s not it either. Actually it’s “He who hesitates is lost,” but that just doesn’t sound as interesting.

Anyway, the next two batters struck out and grounded into a fielders choice, respectively, to end the inning. The bullpen once again pitched three scoreless relief innings, and Blanton got the win as the Phillies came out on top, 6-1.

Happy Howard

happyhoward.jpgRyan Howard had reason to be smiling after this game, as he hit his second grand slam of the season in the fifth inning. This was Howard’s seventh career slam, tying him with Mike Schmidt for the franchise record. I’m sure this is a record that will be broken, as Howard still has plenty of seasons ahead of him.

Scary Moment of the Game

In the top of the eighth, St. Louis centerfielder Rick Ankiel ran face-first into the outfield wall after catching a fly ball off the bat of Feliz. The ball rolled away from his hand as he fell to the ground, and it was not immediately clear if Feliz was out or not (he was).

ankiel_wall.jpgAnkiel was taken to the hospital after being carted off the field. X-rays and scans were negative, but he was kept overnight for observation. Thankfully, it seems that he will be OK, and he has since been released from the hospital.

I will admit that I am not a fan of Ankiel, but I would never want to see an opposing player seriously hurt during a game. What’s really unbelievable to me is some of the comments that I have seen posted to coverage of the incident – derogatory comments directed to Ankiel, or people only wanting him to be OK because he is on their fantasy team. What is wrong with these people?!

Up Next

Anyway, tonight is the conclusion of this quick two-game series, and then it’s on to New York for two games at Citi Field. Two more chances to kick some Met butt for me, guys! I know you can do it!

(Howard photo by me; other photo by Jeff Roberson/AP)

Phils Win in Grand Fashion

In last night’s 13-11 victory over the Nationals, the Phillies hit not one, but two – count ‘em – two grand slams. It’s only the fourth time in team history that two Phillies have hit slams in the same game.

Ryan Howard deposited the first one in the ivy in center field in the fifth inning, to tie the score at 6-6. Each team scored once in the seventh, but in the top of the eighth, Scott Eyre came in and absolutely stunk it up. Eyre gave up four runs without recording a single out – his ERA is now a dismal 10.80. Nats are now up, 11-7.

But did the Phillies give up? No! They recorded 6 runs of their own, capped off by Raul Ibanez’s own slam to put the Phillies up 13-11. Ryan Madson pitched a scoreless ninth to get the save.

 

Happy stuff

- If nothing else, we’ve learned never to count the Phillies out, even when they’re down late in the game. Other than Sunday’s comfortable win, all their victories have been of the come-from-behind variety.

- Jimmy Rollins is on record in this morning’s paper as stating that “I’m ready to hit .400 for the next month.” Is that a prediction, Jimmy? His powers of prognostication seem pretty good, having accurately called the Phils the team to beat in the NL East in 2007, and calling for 100 wins in 2008 (103 including the postseason). The Inquirer also managed to unearth one from 2005, when Jimmy stated he would hit .400 for the month of September, and then went out and hit .402 for the month with a 36-game hitting streak. Hmm. Maybe I should have Jimmy pick a few lottery numbers for me. :-)

 

Not so happy stuff

- Brad Lidge is experiencing swelling in his right knee, and was unavailable last night. Is this why Lidge has looked a bit shaky so far this season? Let’s hope it clears up soon, and Lidge returns to his 2008 form.

- Pity the poor Nationals. They hit five home runs last night, scored 11 runs, and still lost the game.

 

In case you were wondering

The other three grand slam combos in Phillies history are:
1921 – Ralph Miller and Lee Meadows (never heard of either of them)
1997 – Billy McMillon and Mike Lieberthal (Lieby! I remember him)
2003 – Tomas Perez and Jason Michaels (Tomas’ only career grand slam!)

 

Photo fun: something fishy going on

Yesterday’s photo of Cody Ross examining/admiring his hands is only part of the unusual tableau I captured during pre-game warmups a few years ago at Shea Stadium. Here it is in its full glory:

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Do we really want to know exactly what’s going on here? I’m sure there’s a funny caption lurking here, too. Share your best efforts in the comments!

There’s also a second strange photo from this same game, which I’ll include tomorrow. Gotta keep ya coming back, after all!

(photo by me)

Odds and Ends

Mark Fidrych

mark_fidrych_80.jpgOvershadowed by the tragic death last week of Nick Adenhart at the hands of a drunk driver, and the passing on Monday of the beloved Harry Kalas, was the death of Mark Fidrych.

Fidrych also died on Monday, at the age of 54. His death was apparently an accident – he was found by a family friend underneath a dump truck that he appeared to have been working on.

Fidrych was one of baseball’s true characters, known for talking to the baseball while on the mound, and for grooming the mound to his liking from his hands and knees.

He was named the AL Rookie of the Year in 1976, with a 19-9 record and a league-leading 2.34 ERA.

Rest in peace, Mark Fidrych.

 

Paint It Black

Whoever was in charge of painting the outfield wall at the new Citi Field in New York must have been listening to too much of the Rolling Stones. Whereas most ballparks have either green or blue outfield walls, Citi Field’s walls look a bit, well, ominous.

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According to an Inquirer columnist, the wall color was being discussed on New York’s WFAN-AM, and supposedly the proper name of the color is “soot”. Hmm. Considering the source, one can never be 100% sure of the veracity of this information. However, if that is truly the correct name for the color, it seems like perfect grist for smart-alecky comments. I’ll start to think of some.

 

Howard’s Mouth

Also in today’s Inquirer, a report that in addition to dropping weight and working on his defense, Ryan Howard is attempting to improve his game by wearing a high-tech mouthguard that is alleged to improve athletic performance.

whatisappm-header.jpgIt is supposed to be similar to the one worn by Manny Ramirez, which we saw way too much of outside of his mouth during the playoffs last fall. (Hey Manny, it only works if you wear it inside your mouth!)

Made by Bite Tech, Inc., the theory behind it is that it prevents the wearer from clenching their jaw and creating pressure within the temporomandibular joint, thereby restricting the flow of blood to the head and brain.

Is the benefit physiological, or psychological? Who knows – either way, it’s all in their heads.

They’re not cheap, either. Though no prices are listed on the website, the Pure Power Mouthguard (Manny’s brand) costs around $2,000.

Well, considering Howard got that nice big contract, I guess he can afford it.

But please, Ryan, keep it IN your mouth, OK? 

(Citi Field photo from www.metspolice.com; mouthguard from www.ppmmouthguard.com)

Ringing In a Win? Yes!!

Got home from the store in time to catch the end of the Phillies’ ring ceremony prior to today’s game. These rings are some serious bling!

RING.jpgAnd on TV they looked HUGE! Of course, don’t they always say the camera adds 10 lbs? Ryan Howard put his on and modeled it for the camera, and I swear it took up the whole space between his knuckles.

Check out Todd Zolecki’s ZoZone for some bigger pictures.

Pat Burrell was there to get his, and got a huge ovation from the crowd. I also noticed Adam Eaton on the field – I missed his introduction, but I can imagine his reception wasn’t as warm as Burrell’s.

According to the announcers, the rings are 14 kt white gold, and contain 103 diamonds, to represent the total number of victories last season (including the postseason).

A few questions come to mind:
- How much do they weigh? Like I said, they’re big.
- Just how much does each one cost? A small fortune, I’d imagine.
- And they don’t really look very comfortable, but then again, I doubt they tool around town while wearing them.

So far, though, I’m not holding my breath for that first “W” – the Phils are currently down 9-3 in the top of the seventh.

Update! Update!

Though the Braves made it 10-3 after the top of the seventh, the Phillies came back to score 8 runs in the bottom! They added an insurance run in the eighth to make it 12-10. Brad Lidge is about to come in for the top of the ninth for his first save opportunity of the season.

Update #2!

Although Matt Diaz hit a solo homer, the Phils win 12-11! What a wild game! The Phillies Phaithful can finally breathe a sigh of relief.

New Day, Same Result

Hmph.

After looking totally lifeless in Sunday night’s opener, I had hoped that the Phillies’ bats might perk up a little bit. But no, they looked just as lifeless last night, too. Granted, I usually miss an inning or two in the middle of the game to get my kids to go to bed, so maybe I missed a little hint of action, but from what I did see I am currently underwhelmed.

I was also glad to be watching from home last night, as the temperature hovered around 40 degrees, with a stiff wind blowing. Has Mother Nature not gotten the memo that Spring is here?

Following last season’s M.O., when they did manage to get some baserunners, they were left stranded. 11 of them last night, and not a single one scored. Atlanta won the game 4-0.

Atlanta starters have not given up any runs these first two games, while the Phillies’ starters have given up 8.

Alright, I know, it’s only the second game.

In an effort to not be totally negative today (I’ll leave that to the Philly sportswriters), I’ll mention a few positives. Few being the operative word.

- Raul Ibanez made a great throw from left and Carlos Ruiz made a great play at the plate in the top of the fourth to nail Casey Kotchman to end the inning.

- Ryan Howard made solid contact on two hits, and was robbed of a hit up the middle by the darn overshift defenses always employ against him.

- in four innings of relief, Chan Ho Park, Jack Taschner, and Clay Condrey held the Braves hitless. Taschner, Scott Eyre, Chad Durbin, and Brad Lidge also combined for three hitless innings on Sunday. Maybe we should let the bullpen start the games! :-) Ha, just kidding.

The Phillies will get their World Series rings in a ceremony before today’s game. Joe Blanton goes up against Javier Vazquez at 3:05 pm. Please guys, one for the “W” column?

(no photos today, I had to make this a quick entry as I have actual work to do)

20 Stadiums in 20 Days – Wrigley Field

Aah, Wrigley Field, one of the most hallowed of major-league ballparks. After our extra-inning night in Milwaukee, we attended a day game in the Friendly Confines on August 22, 1997.

wrigleysign.jpgAnd what a day – beautiful, sunny, comfortable, a great view from the front of the upper deck:

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What’s not to like? The outfield ivy was in full greenery. The hand-operated scoreboard in center field showed that this was the only day game going on at the moment:

wrigleyscoreboard.jpgWe saw Harry Carey doing his traditional rendition of “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” during the seventh inning stretch:

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Little did we know that we were lucky to be there in 1997, as sadly, Harry would pass away during the off-season, on February 18, 1998. There is now a statue honoring him outside the ballpark:

careystatue.jpgOh, yeah, there was a ballgame going on that day. The Cubs were playing the Montreal Expos. Dustin Hermanson was on the mound for the Expos, and pitching for the Cubs that day was the Human Rain Delay, Steve Trachsel. Oddly enough, this game clocked in at a relatively brisk 2:31.

Sammy Sosa hit a two-run homer for the Cubbies in the seventh. Doug Strange hit a solo shot for the Expos in the eighth. [Strange - ha! Another name that could provide ample opportunity for merciless teasing during childhood.] The Cubs would tack on an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth, and hold on to win 3-1.

Also playing for the Cubs that day was Doug Glanville, who would later become a Phillie. Doug is shown here waiting on deck with Shawon Dunston:

glanville.jpg

In actuality, this should have been our second visit to Wrigley, rather than our first. In 1994, we were visiting friends in Chicago and had tickets to see the Cubs play the Phillies on September 10. How perfect! Except a little thing called the players strike, which began August 12, got in the way of my plans. Here we are in front of Wrigley holding our useless tickets, instead of seeing a game:

strike.jpg

Oddly, my husband looks happy about this. One of the ticket windows was open, so at least we were able to get our money back that day.

We have been back to Wrigley since, to see three games (out of a four game series) between the Phillies and the Cubs in August 2006. We decided to try out three different seating areas of the ballpark.

For the first game, August 21, we gave the left-field bleachers a try. The bleachers in Wrigley are totally separated from the rest of the seating areas, and there is even a separate entrance:
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The view from the bleachers is pretty nice. This photo was taken in the top of the first – it seems that there were a lot of late arriving fans that night:

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This game featured home runs by Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley for the Phils, and Jacque Jones for the Cubs. This is also the game when Aaron Rowand broke his ankle after colliding with Chase Utley on a fly ball to shallow center field.

The Phils held on to win 6-5. Jon Lieber got the win, and Arthur Rhodes the save. Rich Hill took the loss for the Cubs.

The next night, August 22, we had seats in the lower level behind home plate. This is probably the only area I wouldn’t want to sit in again – the seats are really tight together, there are those annoying support beams that all old ballparks are blessed (cursed) with, and on a hot, humid night the air under there is very stagnant.

Jamie Moyer was making his first start for the Phillies – here is a shot of his first pitch:

moyer.jpg

No home runs this night, though Jimmy Rollins did hit a triple. The Phils would win 6-3, with Moyer getting the win and Ryan Madson the save. Ryan O’Malley took the loss for the Cubs.

The next night, August 23, we were again in the upper level to see Brett Myers take the mound for the Phils, and Angel Guzman for the Cubs. Here is a photo of Myers that night. He has a weird habit of not looking towards the plate as he releases the pitch:

myers2.jpgHomers were hit by Ryan Howard for the Phils, and Matt Murton for the Cubs. The Phils would win again, this time by a score of 2-1. Myers got the win, and Geoff Geary got the save this night. Three saves, three different pitchers. Bob Howry would end up with the loss.

We would leave Chicago the next day, and thankfully not see Cole Hamels give up nine (!) runs in only two innings of work, though only five were earned. ;-) It would later be revealed that Hamels had cut the index finger on his left (pitching) hand with a Swiss Army knife while trying to cut a plastic zip tie  in the days prior to the game, and he was unable to properly grip his change-up.

Note to Cole: stay away from cutting implements! Let Heidi do all the cutting!

Coming up next, Turner Field.

(all photos mine)

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.

flowers.jpg

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.

flowers2.jpg

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:
philscap.jpg

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. ;-)

Thinner

No, not the old Stephen King story about some poor guy cursed by a gypsy to keep losing weight ’til he wastes away. I’m talking about the Phillies – specifically Ryan Howard and Brett Myers. According to an article in today’s Philadelphia Inquirer, Howard has dropped 20 pounds, and Myers has dropped 30!

howard.jpg
myers.jpg
In fact, at first glance this morning, I thought the photo of Myers was actually Chase Utley. Mind you, he was only showing from the waist up above the fold of the paper. Then I flipped it over to read the caption, and thought, “When did Utley get that big tattoo on his leg?” I was actually kind of shocked to see it was Brett. Kudos to both of them for working their butts (and waists) off to get ready for the season.

I’ll be very interested to see how their newfound sveltness affects their performance to start this season – Ryan so far in his career has been a notoriously slow starter, and Brett’s poor start last season got him sent to the minors to get straightened out. I’ll be sending my positive vibes out to both of them!

Maybe they should publish a diet book together. They could call it “Phight Phlab with the Phillies”. I’d buy it if I could be guaranteed the same results!

(both photos by Eric Mencher/Philadelphia Inquirer) 

Just Another Manic Monday

Whew! Just finished a busy weekend in our household. Now it’s time to catch up. First off, on Friday night, I was alerted by my good friend Jenn at Phillies Phollowers that I was the Featured blog. Holy guacamole! Or, as I replied to her, “OMG! I haven’t even put anything about me in the “Read about me” section yet… ” So tonight I will definitely get to work on that.

IMG_4645.jpgOf course, the big Phillies news over the weekend was Ryan Howard signing a three-year deal with the Phillies that will pay him $54 million over that time span. This averages out to $18 million per year, so he’s essentially getting what he wanted, and the Phillies avoid arbitration for three years. After that, he’s a free agent, so who knows what will happen then? At least for the next three years, it is one less headache to worry about.

IMG_2480.jpgAlso over the weekend, two former Phillies found homes for the coming season.

Randy Wolf returns to the Dodgers with a one-year, $5 million deal. Though never a “lights-out” type of pitcher, Wolfie was a reliable lefty, and a fan favorite (wonder what the Wolf Pack is doing these days?). I was sorry to see him leave the Phillies, but I understand his desire to play closer to home. I wish him well in the coming season!

IMG_3155.jpgTom Gordon signed a one-year, $500,000 deal with Arizona, with incentives and bonuses that could bring it up to $2.5 million. Gordon was unfortunately hampered by injury while a Phillie; good luck to you as a D-back!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yesterday, I wrote about Billy Sunday. Turns out he is the only major-leaguer with that surname. So I decided to see how many Mondays there were in the big leagues. Guess what? Only one! Rick Monday, who played from 1966 to 1984, spending time with the A’s, Cubs, and Dodgers. He’s best known for an incident that occurred in April 1976, when he ran from his position in centerfield to save an American flag from being burned by a fan who had run onto the field.
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Kudos to you, Rick Monday, for standing up for what you believe in! Until tomorrow, thus ends my “Monday mash-up”. Only 4 days and 22 hours until pitchers and catchers report – woo hoo!

(Rick Monday photo found on mlb.com; all other photos are mine)

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