Thursday, July 31, 2008

Moyer, Bats Dumps Nats

Jamie Moyer pitched craftily for 6 innings in the DC heat and the bats came alive last night for the first time in awhile as the Phils beat the Nationals by a score of 8 - 5. With this win, and last night's loss by the Mets, the Phils are in first place by a half game.

The Phils jumped out to a 2 - 0 lead in the 1st inning thanks to a Pat Burrell 2-run single. The Nats did manage to go out in front in the bottom of the first inning, however, touching up Moyer for 3 runs. But that was all the light hitting Nationals would get from Moyer, as the old guy kept the Nationals off balance before giving way to the bullpen.

As for the moribund Phils offense, it came around against a pitcher who had given them fits in previous outings this year. Tim Redding seemed to be getting into the groove after a rough first inning, until he got to the fifth inning. That's when the Phils put together 4 hits to score 5 runs. The biggest blow came courtesy of Chase Utley, who hit a 2-run bomb to left center. Utley went 2 for 4 in the game and has now homered in consecutive games.

Shane Victorino capped off the scoring for the Phils when he hit his 9th home run on the season. Victorino went 3 for 5 last night with 3 RBI and pushed a modest hitting streak to 10 games.

The series concludes tonite, with Kyle Kendrick facing John Lannan at 7:10pm.


- The non-waiver trade deadline is today and the Phils had been rumor grist in recent days as a potential trade destination for Manny Ramirez. Would love to see the Phils get Ramirez and wouldn't care if they included Burrell in the deal, but I can't help but wonder if the best option for the Red Sox wouldn't be to keep Ramirez through the reminder of this year and let him walk in the off-season. I can't imagine them parting with Ramirez without having someone of reasonably comparable ability to replace him so they can still challenge for a World Series this year. My prediction? Manny will stay put in Boston and the Phils may add some bullpen help, but can't imagine the Phillies making a big splash today.

- Another crappy outing last night for Ryan Madson. In his last 4 relief appearances, he has given up 6 earned runs.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Mid-Week Eagles Camp Report - 7/30/2008

Been on the Phils so much, wanted to get a quick post in on the Eagles.

Apparently, it gets a bit on the stuffy side in Lehigh in July.

Free agent acquisition Chris Clemons, who, no doubt, is not used to actually being forced to do physical activity in training camp after spending last season with the Raiders, was sent to the hospital yesterday for heat exhaustion.

Maybe his wallet is weighing him down after signing in the off-season for 5 years/$18.5 million dollars.

Other Eagle Camp News:

- This is a few days old, but Victor Abiramiri dislocated a bone in his right hand on Sunday. He is probably out for at least half of the season, with pins in his hand and maybe more.

- Nobody knows what the hell is up with All-Pro guard Shawn Andrews, who still hasn't shown up to camp as of this writing. Honestly, if Eagle fans want to get worked up over something, get worked up over the whereabouts of Shawn Andrews. He is considered one of the top two or three at his position in the entire league. Hopefully, whatever his problem is, it's not too bad. And I further hope that he's staying away from the buffet lines.

Photo: (SCOTT ANDERSON / Courier-Post)

Myers, Phils Beat Nats

Brett Myers pitched 7 of the strongest innings he's pitched all year and Chase Utley hit his first home run since July 7th to beat the Washington Nationals by a score of 2 - 1.

This was, far and away, Myers' best outing of the year. He pitched into the 8th inning and probably could have gotten through the inning, if not for a Chase Utley error on a ball that was a dead double play ball. He only struck out 2, but was consistently ahead in the count against most of the hitters he faced. His slider to right handed hitters seemed particular effective last night.

After Utley's error in the 8th inning left the Nats with runners at 1st and 2nd with nobody out, Manuel brought in a combination of JC Romero and Chad Durbin to limit the damage to only 1 run. Brad Lidge came on in the 9th inning to notch his 25th save on the year.

Offensively, the team was, again, somewhat dormant. Chase Utley finally got off the schneid with respect to hitting the long ball and he even got an "excuse me" basehit on a half-hearted swing in the eighth inning. Pat Burrell also chipped in with 2 base hits.

The series continues tonite with Old Man Moyer facing Tim Redding at 7:10pm.


- The Braves traded Mark Teixera to the Anaheim Angels for Casey Kotchman and a prospect. That effectively ends the Braves' thoughts of contention this year. Now, it's just the Mets and Marlins to worry about.

- Brett Myers managed to hit 2 batters during the game, but fortunately, he was able to force the next batter to hit into a DP both times.

- What a stupid, dumb, ridiculous base running mistake by Ryan Zimmerman in the 7th inning after Milledge pounded the ball off of Eric Bruntlett's glove. After the ball hopped away from Bruntlett, Rollins picked the ball up, noticing Zimmerman had taken too wide of a turn off of 2nd. The ball was quickly thrown to Utley at 2nd, who tagged out Zimmerman out. Just. Dumb.

- Before the game, Pedro Feliz was put on the 15 day DL for back issues. Bruntlett and Dobbs will reportedly split time at third base in the meantime.

Photo: (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Phils Send Eaton To Minors

Post is a little late today...had an early meeting today that I called and chaired, so I needed to concentrate on work. Stupid work......

The Phils have called up JA Happ to take Eaton's roster spot.

What is not immediately clear is that if there is another shoe to drop here. What could potentially occur here is that this move could open up what other fans (not me) have been clamoring for all along: moving Myers back to the bullpen.

Theoretically, Happ could slide into Myers' spot in the rotation and Myers could slide back into a bullpen role, albeit, not as the closer. On some level, this would make sense; the bullpen, while a bulwark in the first half of the season, has faltered lately.

Another shoe that could potentially drop here is a trade; either of Happ or of Brett Myers. There were rumors involving Myers, and his unhappiness, during his minor league stint. With the July 31st non-waiver move trade deadline approaching, maybe the Phils are looking to accomodate Myers.

Meanwhile, Happ and the Phils will start a 3-game set in Washington against those pesky Nats. The Phils are only a 1/2 game behind New York, courtesy of a Mets loss to the Florida Marlins. If the Phils take care of the Nats, they could make some hay in the standings as the Mets and Marlins beat each other up.

The pitching matchups are as follows:

Tonite: Myers vs. Balester; 7:10pm
Tomorrow: Moyer vs. Tim Redding (who has owned the Phils this year); 7:10pm
Thursday: Kendrick vs. Lannan (the guy who hit Chase on the wrist last year); 7:10pm

Photo: (Tom Mihalek, Associated Press / July 7, 2008)

Monday, July 28, 2008

Congratulations Philly Soul, but......

.... it doesn't count against the 25 year drought. Sorry Soul (and AFL) fans!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Eagle Training Camp 2008: Plan On Going?

Certainly by now, you must be aware that training camps have begun all around the NFL and we'll even get something resembling an actual NFL game on Saturday, August 2nd, when a bunch of guys wearing Colts and Redskins gear that you won't see on an opening day roster play in the Hall of Fame game.

Always love this time of year....the opening of training camp is pretty much the go-ahead to start planning for Fantasy Football season. The Eagles even held their first team practice on Friday. Doesn't get any better than the start of football season.

One thing you probably won't catch me doing unless I have absolutely nothing to do (almost never happens if you have a wife and kid), is making the trip to Eagles training camp. I have quite a few reasons for this stance. First and foremost, is what, if anything would I be going up there to do? I love to watch football, but not necessarily football practice. I can sort of live without those amateur scouts who believe that when they go to camp, they can see things that the actual NFL coaches cannot. Let me help you out; you're not going to learn a thing about Trevor Law watching him hit tackling dummies, I assure you.

There was a time, when NFL teams actually tried to accomplish things at a training camp. Camp was used by some players to get into shape and for coaches to evaluate and get ready for the season.

Training camp is now used as much for selling merchandise (the Eagles have a merchandise tent at Lehigh) and publicizing the start of the NFL season as it is used in deciding whether or not a late round draft pick like King Dunlap is good enough for the NFL (Not that Reid would play him if Dunlap did make the team. Afterall, Dunlap is a rookie and Reid rarely plays rookies). Even the autograph sessions are orderly affairs that are setup ahead of time at a predetermined time and date. You can't just go up to Stewart Bradley at camp and get his autograph; you have to go on the assigned day he is scheduled to sign in order to meet Bradley.

And yes, the players still bitch about camp. Even playful complaints have seedling of truth, just like Takeo Spikes did last year about not having 300 count toilet paper. But let's face it, training camp for a team like the Eagles only runs about 3 weeks, before the team breaks camp and they start doing some of the more significant work at the NovaCare center, away from annoying fans and press.

Can you imagine these guys having to deal with a Dick Vermeil training camp from circa 1976? Those didn't run on the order of weeks.....they ran as long as two months. From a 2007 Vince Papale interview:

"You know, Dick really pissed a bunch of guys off when he first came in. I mean, he ran that brutal training camp, just brutal. It was eight full weeks of double sessions."

8 weeks? Double sessions? Now THAT'S a camp I want to see.

Now, Andy Reid makes allowances for the vets over 30 to not participate in certain morning contact practice sessions.

So, just to review....I have a 3 week window to see the Eagles in camp, where, quite possibly, I won't see some of the older, marquee players on the team? So you could conceivably make the long trek to Lehigh only to see......AJ Feeley throwing to Jason Avant?

As hot as it is and with gas at $4/gallon, I'll pass.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Phils Fall; Rollins Benched Again

It was bad enough that the Phillies wasted a stellar effort from Jamie Moyer yesterday, en route to losing to the hated Mets by a score of 3 - 1 to fall out of first place in the NL East.

He was late to the game.

This means that Rollins has now broken both of manager Charlie Manuel's rules for the team:

1.) Hustle
2.) Be on time.

Remember, that incident back in June? The one where Rollins didn't run out a ball that ended up falling in for a hit and Rollins, one of the fastest players in the league, only managed to get to first because he didn't run things out? Manuel benched Rollins then in favor of Eric Bruntlett and he did it again yesterday.

And I have no problem with it.

Rollins personifies the type of season this team is having right now. Rollins is incandescent at times and invisible other times. And if we really want to start naming names, let's talk about the second baseman. Chase Utley is hitting a mere .217 since the All-Star break and frankly looks lost at the plate. He and Ryan Howard combined to go 0 for 7 with 6 strikeouts between them.

No, there is something wrong with this team. And what is scary is that it's the part of the team that is supposed to be automatic, which is, the offense. While it is a bit too early to hit the panic button, it is not too early to be very, very concerned about the direction of this team from now until the end of the year. The offense has still not come around and the best part of the team in the 1st half, the bullpen, has now surrendered two straight losses.

This team will hit; no doubt about that. But when they start, will it be enough?

As for yesterday's game, Moyer went 7 strong innings, giving up 1 run on 2 hits. The game was lost when JC Romero came in, gave up a two-out, 2-run double to Carlos Delgado in the bottom of the 8th inning. The only Phils offense was supplied by (surprise!) a solo home run (from Jayson Werth).

The Phils come home for a weekend series with the Atlanta Braves this evening. Probable pitching matchups:

Fri: Kyle Kendrick vs. Jair Jurrjens
Sat: Cole Hamels vs. Jo-Jo Reyes
Sun: Joe Blanton vs. Jason Campillo

(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Phils Lose; Tied for First

The Phils fell in Flushing last night by a score of 6 - 3. The loss dropped the Phils back into a first place tie with the Mets in the NL East.

The game marked Brett Myers' first start since a June 27th loss to the Texas Rangers. Myers managed to go 5 shaky innings and was lucky to have only given up 3 runs. He started off on a bad foot, walking the first 4 guys he faced. Myers managed to settle down somewhat, but could not consistently locate his fastball.

The pivotal inning in the game, however, was the 6th inning, when the ball was handed to reliever Ryan Madson. Madson gave up two hits and, after an aborted sacrifice, coughed up a 3-run bomb to Jose Reyes. Reyes then managed to perform about a dozen celebratory handshakes and gestures enroute from home plate to the dugout. I thought Reyes was having some sort of epileptic seizure, but apparently seizures are not a symptom of assholery.

Offensively, the Phils could only manage a couple of a solo homers (Victorino and Jenkins) and an RBI double from Rollins. Can anyone remember the last hit of consequence from Chase Utley?

The series concludes tomorrow at 12:10pm, with Jamie Moyer taking the ball against the Mets' Oliver Perez.


- I liked the move to pull Myers after 5 innings. Let him leave without the possibility of taking a loss. He wasn't great, but it could have been worse.

- Please someone tell Chase Utley the second half has begun.

- Ryan Howard was not charged for an error on that ground ball in the first inning that he should have caught to start a double play (which would have prevented a run), but he should have been.

- Ryan Madson. Not good.

- Can't believe I'm about to say this: Chris Wheeler made an excellent point to Tom McCarthy during the broadcast about Carlos Beltran. Beltran, a player who makes $18.6 million dollars a year, laid down a sacrifice bunt with nobody out during the 8th inning last night. That was, as Wheeler said, a dumb baseball play. A hitter of Beltran's calibre (and payscale) should be swinging away in that situation.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Feels So Good! Phils Rally to Beat Mets

For 8 innings, it looked like the Phillies were going to go down meekly against the Mets and the great Johan Santana. The 9th inning almost seemed a matter of course and the Phillies would relinquish 1st place to the hated Mets. Even though the Mets were without closer Billy Wagner, the Phils showed little life all night. Frankly, I was ready to turnover to the "Office" rerun on TBS.

That is, until temporary closer Duaner Sanchez came into the game and the Phillies promptly mowed through the Mets bullpen to the tune of 6 runs in the 9th inning en route to a 8 - 5 win. The win was stunning in light of the Phillies inability to solve Santana.

That the Phils did manage to scratch out 2 runs against Johan Santana is a bit deceiving. Santana cruised for much of the game, with the top of the Phils' lineup (*cough* Rollins and Utley *cough*) not doing much of anything in going 0-for-Santana.

But in the 9th inning, the Phils finally came back to life, stroking 5 hits. The killing blows were delivered by the oft-maligned So Taguchi, who hit a 2-run double to tie the game, and Jimmy Rollins, who hit a 2-run double to give the Phillies the lead. This game and this rally could have been the shot in the arm the moribund Phils' offense has been looking for.

The game marked the debut of the Phils' new starter, Joe Blanton. Blanton, obtained in a deal with Oakland looked OK. He gave up two very damaging 2-run home runs (one to Delgado, the other to Ramon Castro) in going 6 innings, throwing 100+ pitches. All in all, Blanton looked just OK. After the Phils came back in the top of the 9th inning, Brad Lidge came on to record a nerve racking save.

The win puts the Phils alone in 1st place, a game ahead of both the Mets and the Marlins. The series continues tomorrow, with Brett Myers returning from his minor league hiatus to face John Maine.

Did You Notice?

- The Phils' defense recorded 2 big time outs at the plate; one from Werth and one from Pat Burrell (via Jimmy Rollins). Great job on both plays by Carlos Ruiz of blocking the plate. Coincidentally, both times, it was Endy Chavez they got at the plate.

- Speaking of that fucktaster Chavez, what's gotten into him since he's been with the Mets? He hit .215 with the Phils in 2005, but has managed to hit .318 with a .348 OBP against the Phils this year.

- What was Johan Santana staring at when he walked in the 6th inning? It's called "pitching inside", Johan. It's legal; you can look it up.

- I'm sorry, but Carlos Delgado was struck out in that at-bat in the 3rd inning. He did not check his swing and Charlie Manuel rightfully argued the call. Naturally, Delgado managed to hit a 2-run homer in the same at-bat.

- Speaking of arguing balls and strikes, the home plate umpiring left a lot to be desired.

- Horrible play by Reyes in the 9th inning, where he tried to start a 6 - 3 double play on a ball hit by Carlos Ruiz. As he reached for the high bounding ball with his bare hand, he got beat to the 2nd base bag by the speedy Shane Victorino. The failed play at 2nd base allowed Carlos Ruiz to reach first safely. Just a dumb play when your team is up 3 runs in the bottom of the 9th inning (he obviously should have gone to first on the play). And yes, you could say this play opened the flood gates for the Phils.

- Good game from Victorino; the aforementioned hustle play in the ninth inning and a solo homer off of Santana.

Monday, July 21, 2008

From the Weekend

- The Phillies continue to make life on themselves difficult. Sure, yesterday's game was close, but they desperately needed a series win within their division. This series against the Mets this week will be intense, and they will be throwing Brett Myers right from the minors and into this series. Yes, I am concerned.

- Another of the Eagles' divisonal rivals got better over the weekend. This time, it was the Redskins, who traded for Jason Taylor. Yes, I am concerned.

- Because of the soaring temps yesterday, I took my son to the Flyers' rookie "scrimmage" yesterday as it was held in an air conditioned hockey rink. BORING! They didn't actually scrimmage, so much as just do drills for the session I attended. I enjoyed the air conditioning, but I essentially wasted my time. My son, however, enjoyed the arcade area.

- As of this AM, I'm still on child care duties, but I should have a book review later in keeping with the start of NFL training camp.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Phils 2008 2nd Half Begins

The Phils begin the 2nd half of their season by playing their divisional foes. They go on the road to play Florida and New York. They come home for a weekend series with the Braves and then head down to DC for a mid-week series with the Nats.

Now is a good time to think back about what happened in the first half of the season and a couple of predictions on what it is to come.

1st half MVP: The Phillies bullpen. Possibly a bit of a cop out from selecting a single, individual Phillie to represent their team MVP, but you can find some sort of inconsistency with just about every player on the roster (including our beloved St. Chase of Utley).

The bullpen as a unit, on the other hand, is probably the biggest reason why the Phils are in a tie with the Mets for first place today. The bullpen ERA of 2.71 leads all of Major League Baseball

The fact is, despite the Phils being tied for first place, I don't think we've seen the best baseball, offensively, from this team yet.

Biggest 1st half disappointment: Brett Myers. His status as "staff ace" was scoffed at by the fanbase in the beginning of the season and Myers then went on to show the fans how right they were. His 3 - 9 record is bad enough. Couple that with his brutal ERA (5.84) and he has single handedly assisted in killing the Phillies once every 5 days.

Personally, I still can't believe the way Myers came out and pitched this season, as if he was unprepared for the mental and physical rigors of starting pitching. Hopefully, his little trip down to the minors helps him get his mind and body back into starter mode for the second half, either with the Phillies, or as part of a trade to another team.


1.) I know the Mets are playing good ball right now and have won 10 in a year. I think with this winning streak, coupled with how inconsistent the Phils have been to date, is about as close as the Mets are going to get this year. Once the Phils start hitting (which history says will happen in the 2nd half), this division race will be over.

2.) Ryan Howard will get his average up around .260 for the year.

3.) There will be hue and cry for Shane Victorino to lose his starting job as his numbers drop as the season wears on. I do not like Victorino's future as a starter.

4.) Cole Hamels will win 20 games.

5.) Because of the Joe Blanton trade, Brett Myers will be traded in a deal that will help the Phillies plug the hole in their outfield caused by the departure of Aaron Rowand. And yes, I do believe the Phils miss Rowand FAR more than the front office would like to admit.

6.) Jamie Moyer will be within 15 points of Carlos Ruiz' batting average by the end of the year. Other than Victorino, there is better than 50% chance that Carlos Ruiz will either lose his job or lose significant playing time.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Phils Trade For Joe Blanton

The Phillies, in a deal that's been rumored for a couple of days, have traded 3 minor leaguers to the Oakland A's for SP Joe Blanton. The minor leaguers sent to Oakland are 2B Adrian Cardenas, RP Josh Outman, and OF Matt Spencer.

My initial gut feeling on this trade is that the Phillies overpaid for Blanton. Blanton is 5 - 12 with a 4.96 ERA. Before this season, he had records of 12 - 12, 16 - 12, and 14 - 10. He ERA last season was a full run lower than it is right now. Another interesting stat: He has thrown almost 600 innings in the last 3 years.

I can't help but wonder if the decline in his numbers is due to some sort of breaking down due to overuse. There have been no reports of injury, but he seems to have fallen off of a cliff, statistically.

Furthermore, both Cardenas and Outman have been highly thought of in terms of potential down the road. Even if the organization had no plans for these guys with the Phillies because of other players in their way (especially in the case of Cardenas), you wonder if these guys wouldn't have been better utilized as trade bait for a better talent. I mean, is Joe Blanton really the best we could do for Cardenas, a .300 hitter with speed at single A Clearwater, and Outman, a lefty reliever many believe is ready for the majors now?

There is no doubting that the Phillies needed some starting pitching help, but I really would have liked to have seen it come from within in the form of JA Happ or Carlos Carrasco.

Also: is there another shoe to drop from this trade? Will either of Adam Eaton or Brett Myers get packaged in another deal? Myers has been rumored to be unhappy now that he is no longer the closer, and won't be in the immediate future, with Brad Lidge singing a 3-year deal.
Photo: (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Can Professional Outdoor Soccer Make It In Philly?

I actually wrote this about 5 months ago, but since we have a hole in what is already a dry sports schedule, now might be a good time to talk about the MLS in Philly. Others writers, either more plugged in or more eloquent, may have already given their take on this topic, but this is my opinion.

Personally, I would not consider myself a soccer fan per se. I do enthusiastically watch the World Cup when that comes around, but I have never seen an MLS game. Part of the reason for my ambivalence about soccer has to do with the fact that I did not exactly grow up with the sport. During the time and place I grew up in, soccer was simply looked down upon as an inferior sport played by vaguely effeminate emo-types, who also possibly enjoyed skateboarding. Needless to say, I didn't know a ton of well-respected soccer players growing up. There was also the school of thought that said that since there was no (credible) professional soccer team in the US, how big of a deal could soccer be?

Fast forward to 2008. The MLS is actually a viable major league sport in just about every large market in the US. In my hometown, there are actually soccer leagues that kids actually willingly sign up to play in. Where I live today in South Jersey, soccer (and the various leagues and travel teams) is a huge deal. The town I live in seemingly has soccer fields strewn from one end of town to the other.

Knowing what I see with my own eyes, with respect to soccer's foothold in youth sports today, I have no doubt that MLS soccer can make it in Philadelphia. For the sake of the 18,000 seat soccer-specific stadium they are putting in Chester, it had better make it.

The reasons for optimism?

1.) You cannot underestimate the aforementioned explosion of youth soccer in the past 20 years. This has been said before, but this time I think the experts are going to be right. Every soccer league in the tri-state area will have some sort of bus trip to a game at the new soccer stadium in Chester.

2.) The internet has allowed those folks that are soccer fans to talk up their sport and follow their favorite players despite never having seen them play. The local example of this? The Sons of Ben, a local, well-organized fan club that has been pining for a local MLS affiliate for more than a couple of year. There are many other of these fan groups in other MLS cities: The Screaming Eagles (D.C.) and Section 8 Chicago are two such examples. Having a virtual (leading to an actual) place to talk about soccer and build up it's buzz will only help MLS popularity in the area; specifically amongst internet saavy youth.

3.) Do you know how much it costs to go to a hockey game? A lower level seat has a face value of $85. That's per seat! How about Eagles tickets? I've been on the waiting list for season tickets at least since the new stadium opened. God only knows when that waiting list will get to me. Phillies tickets are still the best bargain in town, but let's face it, you can blow a mortgage payment taking a family of four to a Phils game. The Sixers? The worst lower level seats (behind each respective awful view) goes for $50 bucks.

The new MLS team can immediately undercut "The Big 4" sports teams price-wise and in availability. I know there are minor league teams in town that can service the cost-conscious sports consumer, but this is different. The MLS not minor league (at least not anymore); it's the best outdoor professional soccer league the U.S. has to offer.

And let's face it; the Philadelphia sports market is not just Philly. It's South Jersey, the surrounding Philadelphia suburbs, and Delaware. Some might even argue that the Philly sports market reaches into the Lehigh Valley. Based on this cross-section, I have to believe that there are folks out there, whose kids play soccer, who would be willing to take the family to an outdoor game if the possibility presented itself.

4.) The indoor soccer team in town, the Philadelphia Kixx, have had a loyal following for 13 years. From some of the Kixx game stories I scanned, they are drawing between 5000 and 8000 for a game (indoor soccer) that was meant to be played outside on a "pitch"; not in a hockey arena. I'm sure these die hards will be anxious to see professional soccer on a real soccer pitch in a real soccer stadium. Furthermore, with the Spectrum closing it's doors soon, who knows what will become of the Kixx? The new Philadelphia MSL entrant would obviously be able to scoop up these people already going to Kixx games.

I'm sure all of these points were made in the past with respect to soccer's popularity, and ultimately, I (and lots of people way smarter than me) could be wrong about how the outdoor game would play here, locally. But I do think the time and circumstances are right for soccer to be re-introduced into Philadelphia. Hopefully, it's around long enough for me to take my son.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Phils 2008 All-Star Experience (Thankfully) Over

On the whole, I'd rather be in Philadelphia.

At least that is probably what Chase Utley and Brad Lidge might be thinking this AM. Both players had what you might call a less than smooth experience at the 3-day All-Star extravaganza at Yankee Stadium.

The actual game was dominated by the pitchers, but the MVP went to the loathesome JD Drew, who hit a 2-run HR in the 7th inning to tie the game. The AL eventually won in 15 innings by a score of 4 - 3. Not only did the NL lose, but our guy, Brad Lidge, picked up the loss as he gave up the winning run in the 15th inning.

As for the one position player the Phils had at the game, Chase Utley did manage to go 1 for 3, but his work in the home run hitting contest (5 HR in the first round) was forgettable and he got picked up on mike dropping the f-bomb after being booed by asshole New York fans during introductions on Monday night before the HR derby.

On the other hand, telling "fuck you" to the New York fanbase is sort of a public service message, so maybe Utley's time wasn't wasted.

Photo: ((AP Photo/Frank Franklin II))

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Phils And the All-Star Game

Growing up, I actually enjoyed watching all-star games. I especially thought that the baseball All-Star game was about the coolest of the all-star games if for no other reason, than that the contest itself came the closest to an actual representation of how the game is actually played and less like an exhibition.

For example, none of the players appear to pull back on the reins in the baseball version of the event. Players all try to get on base and run out ground balls. Pitchers try to hit their spots and fielders want to catch the baseball. This seperates the baseball all-star game from other all-star games. Take the NBA, for example. In the NBA, they don't play defense in some regular season games, let alone the NBA all-star game. The NHL all-star game is a glorified exhibition without the things that make hockey great, like passion, intensity, and the hitting game. The NFL Pro Bowl is an afterthought because of it's being played after the very apex of the season, the Super Bowl.

So that leaves us with the baseball all-star game. And I still like to watch the game.

And obviously, growing up, I wanted to see how the Phillies would do in the game, against the AL competition. This is not as big of a deal as it used to be, because of the advent of interleague play, but I still do want to see Phils that are good enough to go to the game actually represent the franchise well.

There are some Phils that have represented the franchise with distinction. The following are some of the more well-known Phillies moments associated with the All-Star game.

Honorable Mention: John Kruk (1993) did not have a good game in the 1993 mid-summer classic, but he provided one of the more memorable moments in the history of the all-star game. Kruk, a lefthanded hitter, had a very public request before the game: that he not face Seattle's Randy Johnson, the hard-throwing bane of all left-handed hitters.

Well, as fate would have it, he faced Johnson. Johnson, knowing that Kruk wanted no part of him, sailed the first pitch over Kruk's head. Kruk, after having his life flash before his eyes, seemed thrilled to not be dead. Players were laughing, and yeah, it's safe to say that Kruk was setup here (Johnson is seen laughing about it walking off the mound). While it may not have been a moment of distinction, it was certainly memorable.

It's tough to fully describe the at-bat to do it justice, but I was able to find a link so you can check it out for yourself here. Let's just say it's pretty tough to hit when you've got one foot in the dugout.

5.) Jimmy Rollins (2002), as the starting SS, goes 2 for 2 for the NL, scoring 2 runs in the infamous 2002 All-Star game that ended in a 7 - 7 tie. There was no MVP selected in the game.

4.) Phils closers Heathcliff Slocumb (1995) and Doug Jones (1994) were winning pitchers for the NL in back to back years.

3.) The Bull, Greg Luzinski (1977), takes Baltimore's Jim Palmer deep in the first inning to cap off a 4 run 1st inning as the NL bested the AL 7 - 5.

2.) Mike Schmidt (1981) hits a 2 run HR in the 8th inning off of Milwaukee's Rollie Fingers that provides the difference in a 5 - 4 NL win. Schmidt also doubled in the game, but lost MVP to Gary Carter, who hit 2 homers.

1.) Johnny Callison (1964) hits a 3 run walk off HR in the bottom of the 9th off of Boston's Dick Radatz to lead the NL to a 7 - 4 win. The game winning blast earned Callison the MVP award for the game.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Phils End First Half in First

The Phillies, on the strength of a Pat Burrell 3 run homer, beat the D-backs by a score of 6 - 3 and in doing so, ended the first half of the season in first place.

For 7 innings, Brandon Webb and Cole Hamels dueled, giving up only 2 runs apiece. One of the runs scratched out by the Phils against Webb was courtesy of a Cole Hamels double in the 5th inning. Hamels almost cracked in the 7th inning, when he gave up 2 lead-off singles, only to wriggle off the hook on a botched sacrifice, a horrible baserunning play by Orlando Hudson, and a Mark Reynolds strikeout.

Hamels' high-wire act in the 7th gave way to the Phillies' heroics in the 8th, when Chad Qualls, in relief of Brandon Webb, gave up hits to Utley, Howard, and ultimately, the kill shot courtesy of Pat Burrell. Pedro Feliz followed two batters later, with a line drive home run right into the left field flower box.


- No matter the outcome of the Mets game tonite (still in progress as I write this....they are up 7 - 0), the Phils will end the first half in 1st place.

- Jimmy Rollins: 2 steals today, giving him 24 on the year.

- Victorino and Utley combined to leave 8 men on base. Utley is hitting a less-than-robust .247 with runners in scoring position.

Picture: ((AP Photo/Tom Mihalek)

Friday, July 11, 2008

Moyer, Howard Humble Cards

Jamie Moyer pitched 7 strong innings, giving up only 1 earned run and Ryan Howard hit two home runs as the Phils beat the Cardinals in a Business Person Special at CBP by a score of 4 - 1.

Moyer struck out 4 and walked 2 in winning his eighth game of the year against 6 losses. The win for Moyer is the first win in almost a month (6/12 vs. Fla) and despite his relative lack of success lately, Moyer's ERA is now below 4 at 3.95. Not bad for an old guy.

As for Ryan Howard, he certainly seems to have heated up at the plate as the weather has gotten hotter. For the month of July to date, Howard is hitting a cool .375 with 7 homers and 15 RBI. This surge has been good enough to put him in the NL lead for both home runs (27) and RBI (83). With that sort of run production, it is now a little easier to ignore his MLB leading 125 strikeouts.

Since Brad Lidge was unavailable due to extended usage the night before, JC Romero came on in the 9th to nail down his first save of the season.

Tonite, the Phils open up a series at home against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Probable starters for the weekend:

Fri: Doug Davis vs. Kyle Kendrick (7:05pm)

Sat: Randy Johnson vs. Adam Eaton (3:55pm)

Sun: TBA vs. Cole Hamels (1:35pm)......although I was reading somewhere that this is typically Brandon Webb's turn, but since the All-Star break starts on Monday, he may not be pitching).

Phils Notes

Am I the only Phils fan NOT excited about this prospect? Do I really need my All-Star second baseman and perennial MVP candidate screwing up his swing at a whorish, made-up event like this?

The Phils do have a history with the home run derby. Bobby Abreu won the event in 2005 in Comerica Park and Ryan Howard won the event in 2006 in PNC Park. The results for the reminder of the year, for each player were a bit of a mixed bag.

Bobby Abreu slumped in the 2nd half of 2005, hitting just .260 with 6 HR and 44 RBI. Ultimately, Abreu was traded in a well publicized salary dump the following year. Ryan Howard, on the other hand, hit .355 in the 2nd half of 2006 with 30 HR and 78 RBI on his way to winning the NL MVP.

Utley has a swing that is more of a quick whip of the bat designed to produce line drives rather than home runs, which differs from Howard's power stroke. I also don't believe that Utley's swing can be compared to Bobby Abreu's stroke, whose hands are not as quick as Utley's and can spray the ball to all fields. I personally don't think Abreu has been the same player since he won that Home Run derby. Is it all the fault of the event? Hard to say.

Ultimately, though, I think Utley has the disposition and attention to detail to be able to handle what the event entails, but I would just as soon that he not have to worry about tweaking his swing or artificially trying to drive the ball out of the park just for the sake of this event.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Work: It Just Gets In the Way

No post on last night's Phils win from this AM for me.

I had an early work meeting that was held during the time I normally drink coffee and put together my post for the day on whatever Philly sports item is on my mind or what I watched the night before. And by "early work meeting", I mean, at a time before people normally get into work as part of their daily routine.

I mean, early work meetings happen. I get it. I don't like it, but I get it. But this particular meeting was going to be 2 hours long and didn't really directly involve me so much as I was needed to be there to peripherally understand the process. Fine. It sucks, but.....fine, whatever. I have mouths to feed.

What's worse is that the reason we had the meetings to begin with was for the benefit of one individual, who didn't bother to show up until we were an hour into the meeting. What's even worse, is that this individual was rumored to be going out with one our vendor's last night on one of those dinners where they get us drunk and try to sell us something new.

I mean, this was an early morning meeting. A bunch of people (me included) altered their daily routine to make this meeting.

So chances are, this guy was probably late because he was probably (allegedly) hungover. Real fucking professional.

[bangs head against desk slowly]

So, tonite, I'll fight the urge to drink myself stupid contemplating why other people suck and have a decent post.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Sixers Reach Out for Brand New Power Forward

The combination of the Phillies' poor play, my sore back, and a roster full of thankless things to do at work was going to compel me to write an epic, Dallas Green-style asskicking of the Phillies today.

I'll leave the rant for later.

Right now, I'm sort of in shock at the fact that the Sixers were able to come to an agreement with free agent power forward Elton Brand on a 5-year/$82 million dollar contract. This deal makes the Sixers instant contenders in the East a year after they wildly overacheived in a relatively weak Eastern Conference.

The first reaction to the deal is the Sixers are obtaining a guy who is a low-post force that they currently do not possess. It will provide Samuel Dalembert with some defensive help down on the blocks. The move allows Thaddeus Young to go to small forward, which allows Andre Iguodala (if the Sixers choose to resign him) to move to shooting guard.

Brand has been somewhat susceptible to injuries over the course of his career, missing chunks of time from 2002-2004 and coming off of a ruptured achillies that he incurred last offseason. But otherwise, this move has nothing but upside for the Sixers.

The next big decisions come with Andre Iguodala and Lou Williams. Do the Clippers (already rumored to be losing Corey Maggette as well) come after Andre Iguodala in a fit of revenge, with an unmatchable offer sheet? Does a team come after Lou Williams with the promises of a starting job, something that might compel Williams to bolt? These are questions that GM Ed Stefanski will be dealing with over the rest of the offseason.

Hopefully, the Brand deal can compel Iguodala and Williams to stay put for now, but that is also the same hope that the Clippers and their fans had when they went out and got Baron Davis.

Conjecture aside, this move represents a tremendous job of shuffling the deck by GM Ed Stefanski. It started with moving Kyle Korver off of the roster to clear space when he got here. It continued even yesterday, moving Calvin Booth, Rodney Carney, and a first round draft pick to the Minnesota Timberwolves for cap space. If you combine these roster moves, and consider the movement of personnel in a trade scenario, you have the Sixers getting Elton Brand for Cal Booth, Rodney Carney, Kyle Korver, and a 1st round pick. That's a move any amateur GM would love to pull off.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Back from Vacation

- Back from a brief respite downashore. Did manage to mess my back up pretty good on Saturday afternoon playing on the beach with my son, and that pretty much prevented me from posting on Sunday or yesterday despite having every intention of doing so.

- Is it OK yet to panic on the Phils? Dropping 3 of 4 to the Mets, at home, over the weekend should not put any Phils fan in a good mood, no matter how hard they came back in a couple of those games. The All-Star break cannot get here fast enough for this team.

- Great move signing Brad Lidge to the 3-year extension. This means Brett Myers' days as a closer are D-O-N-E. You're a starter, Brett. Start acting like one.

- I'm happy that Paul Holmgren received a 3 year contact extension yesterday, but does anyone else believe he hasn't adequately addressed the Flyers' problems on the blueline? We're OK with Steve Eminger and Ossi Vaananen as top 6 defensemen? Really?

- If you grew up in the Delaware Valley during the 80's like I did, you remember the Brigantine Castle, right? And those commercials? Found one on YouTube over the weekend:

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Rollins, Phils Best Braves

Jimmy Rollins had 3 hits and scored 2 runs and Ryan Howard hit a 3-run bomb in the 3rd inning as the Phils beat the Atlanta Braves by a score of 7 - 3. The win gives the Phillies their first series win in a month, when they last played the Atlanta Braves.

Adam Eaton started, and went into the 6th inning before loading the bases with no one out and giving way to Chad Durbin, who promptly threw a double-play ball to Jeff Francoeur and got Mark Kotsay looking to clean up Eaton's mess.

Rollins not only made his presence felt with the bat, but also in the field. In the 5th inning, Rollins made a diving stop on ball going up the middle, which should have been a basehit. Instead, Rollins made the acrobatic play, flipped the ball to Utley at second, and Utley made the turn to Howard to complete a very pretty doubleplay that kept the Braves at bay.

Pat Burrell also tacked on his 21st home run of the year and Utley, Pedro Feliz, and Chris Coste all had 2 hits each.

The series concludes tonite at 7pm in a pretty good matchup between Cole Hamels (8 - 5) vs. Jair Jurrjens (8 - 3) that will be on CSN-TV.


- I could have done without all of the excitement in the 9th inning, with Ryan Howard botching 2 ground balls and Brad Lidge giving up a very long, very dangerous foul ball to Mark Teixeira that came within a few feet of tying the game in the 9th inning.

- By the way: Howard now has 9 errors at first base. I'm sorry, but that is unacceptable. He is a DH waiting to happen.

- Also: They probably shouldn't have had Lidge in the game two nights in a row in non-save situations, but it's just as well they did with Howard kicking the ball all over the infield. Fortunately, the Phils have Hamels going today, so hopefully, the Phils won't need Lidge's services today.

- Solid work by Chad Durbin last night; 2 innings of hitless, runless relief. Last night's appearance guarentees he's not the starter on Saturday, right?

- Brett Myers started for the IronPigs last night. Meh. He took the loss after working 5 innings and throwing 100 pitches.

Picture: (REUTERS/Tami Chappell (UNITED STATES))

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Phils Find Bats, Beat Braves

The Phillies, seemingly unable to get out of their own way during interleague play, returned to divisional play last night and defeated the Atlanta Braves by a score of 8 - 3.

The Phillies came out hitting in the second and third inning, which we should have predicted, since Kyle Kendrick was on the mound last night. Already leading 1 - 0 on a Pat Burrell solo home run, the Phillies strung together 6 straight hits in the 3rd inning off of Braves starter Charlie Morton, including a 2-run Shane Victorino homer, to open up a 5 - 0 lead.

Meanwhile, Kendrick seemed to have runners on base in just about every inning, but was able to wiggle his way out of trouble. His luck ran out in the 7th inning, however, as Braves PH Greg Norton doubled home 2 runs, prompting the hook for Kendrick.

That was as close as the Braves would ultimately come to catching the Phils, as the Phils went on to tack on 3 more runs in the top of the ninth to salt away the win.
The series continues in Atlanta tonite, with Adam Eaton facing Jason Campillo.

Notes and Observations

- Brad Lidge pitching in a non-save situation? Guess he needed the work.

- Great defensive play by the Phils when, in the third inning, Chase Utley tracked a ball down after Ryan Howard dove to his left to field it and still managed to throw out the runner as the alert Kyle Kendrick covered first.

- Another great defensive play involving Utley in the 2nd inning, when he went up the middle to rob Jeff Francoeur.

- You wonder if Brett Myers acquiescing to a minor league assignment provided any sort of emotional lift for the Phils, who probably don't get any more joy out of watching Myers struggle than we do.

- The Phils called up left-handed reliever RJ Swindle from Lehigh Valley to replace Myers.

- The Phils also announced that they signed 1st round draft pick Anthony Hewitt.

Photo: Photo/Gregory Smith)

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Myers Sent to AAA

Brett Myers, in a stunning move, has agreed to be demoted to the Phillies' AAA affiliate Lehigh Valley.

Myers, who has been nothing short of terrible this season, will continue to be used as a starter at Lehigh Valley. No word on whether any will be called up in his place, but it appears as if Cole Hamels will be moved up to take Myers' start.

This is a real good move that you didn't hear alot about because it was probably never considered a serious option since the player himself had to agree to the move. Not many proven players would agree to such a move and it speaks well for Myers that he agreed to it.

I think it will help Myers to hear a voice other than that of Rich Dubee, who has apparently been unable to straighten Myers out.

No word on how long Myers will be down with the IronPigs......also no word on who will be called up to start in Myers' spot in the rotation. My guess is it would be Happ, who is currently leading the IL in strikeouts.

Phils June 2008 By The Numbers

If you looking for good or cheery news about the Phillies, I'm not sure this is going to be the article you're looking for. It's going to be very tough to find the silver linings in the numbers for a team that has struggled as badly as the Phillies have struggled in the month of June.

The crux of the matter is that the Phillies are built around their offense. As their offense goes, so goes this ball club. They have serviceable starting pitching; it's not great, but it's good enough when they are hitting. The month of June saw many of the Phillies, including everyone's favorite second baseman, run into significant slumps that cost the team opportunities and wins in the month of June, as, amazingly, they are still in first place by a 0.5 game as play begins today in the month of July.

So, without further adieu, onto the numbers for June.....


The number of wins for the month of June 2008. Since the series in the beginning of the month against Atlanta, where they swept the Braves in Atlanta, the Phillies have dropped six straight series. While it's true, some of the series were against division leaders such as Boston and Anaheim, dropping series against AL teams like Texas and Oakland should not happen if the Phils were on top of their game.

I've heard and read a good number of items where it was mentioned that there is relief that the Phillies are getting out of the interleague portion of their schedule and I suppose when you're playing as poorly as the Phillies are right now, you'll struggle to grasp any straws that you can. But the fact of the matter is, if they don't right the ship now, it doesn't matter what team they are facing. Furthermore, weren't the AL teams they were facing up against the same lack of familiarity that the Phils themselves failed to adjust to? If the Phils are struggling offensively because of lack of familiarity with the American League, explain to me how the American League has been just teeing off on the NL pitchers at such a prodigious rate? Are the AL advanced scouts that much better? Is it truly that the AL is a better league?


The number of runs scored by the Phils in June 2008. That figure puts them at 20th in the majors in runs scored for the month of June. In and of itself, that is bottom half of the league for the month and not good news for a team that is so reliant on their offense.

Take away the June 13th game, when they tacked up 20 runs on the St. Louis Cardinals, the Phils would have scored only 92 runs for the month.....a figure that would have put them ahead of only 3 other teams in the majors. One of those teams, fortunately, is in their division (the Washington Nationals).


The batting average for the Phillies, as a team, for the month of June, better than only two teams in MLB (Cincinnati and Arizona). I usually take an individual and highlight how much that person stood out, good or bad with their numbers. In the case of the Phillies this past month, they've been bad as a team.

Oh, there have definitely been some prime offenders. Geoff Jenkins hit .143 for the month as a semi-regular. You would have thought he would have been a good choice to help the Phils when they went on the road in the AL parks to DH. Not so.

Carlos Ruiz hit a paltry .178. Ruiz should lose some starts to Coste for this reason alone, but how much pressure can you put on a 30 something Chris Coste?

The worst offender, by far, was Jimmy Rollins. The Phils' leadoff man, the MVP of the NL, hit a paltry .217 in the month of June. That wouldn't have been so bad if he was getting on base alot, but is OBP was under .300 for the month. This team seems only as good as it's offensive stars. None of them performed up to standards in the month of June and ironically, they were led into mediocrity by their leadoff man.


The number of wins in the month of June acheived by both Cole Hamels and Kyle Kendrick.

Other then the one bad start Kendrick had against the Red Sox, Kendrick pitched well enough to keep the Phillies in just about every game he's pitched in. Lost in the 20 runs the Phils posted on St. Louis in the June 13th games is that he gave up only 1 earned run in 7 innings. Additionally, Kendrick shut out the Oakland A's, providing a tourniquette to the wounded Phils on their West Coast trip.

Cole Hamels has not had an outing where he's gone less than 7 innings in about a month. What Hamels has missed out on is either run support (losing to the Angels 3 - 2) or bullpen help (Tom Gordon implosion vs. Florida on June 11th).
Unfortunately, for the Phils, 3 is also the number of losses that Brett Myers was saddled with in the month of June. Myers' time in the rotation is probably limited and he might even welcome being skipped after the 2 inning effort he handed in against Texas. The Phils lost every game he started in June (5) and Myers' ERA for the month was an almost satanic 6.67.


Chad Durbin's ERA for the month of June in 9 appearances. Durbin is a prime candidate to take Brett Myers' spot in the rotation as he does have starting experience. Moving Durbin, however, might upset the delicate balance of a bullpen that has been an absolute rock of gibralter for this club all year.


The number of hits Chase Utley got in 20 AB vs. Boston and Anaheim at home. Also of note: Utley is hitting only .250 this season to date with runners in scoring position. This is a full 54 points lower than he hit all of last year in the same situation.

As fast as Chase Utley had gotten out of the gate this year, he has slowed up just as abruptly. Is this something systemic that Utley has to work out or is this a function of Jimmy Rollins being unable to get on base on a consistent basis?


What a brutal month of baseball this team flopped out there in the month of June. Some of it can be written off to not knowing the AL pitchers they were facing, but some of it is that this team is just not hitting right now. As they open up their schedule in the month of July with divisional opponents Atlanta and New York, the Phillies must decide what type of ballclub they are going to be going down the stretch. They can look at the positive in that they are still in first place despite playing their worst baseball of the year, but this team cannot just snap it's collective fingers and turn the clutch hitting back on.

Furthermore, now is the time to extricate Brett Myers from the rotation. He should be skipped at least one start. The guy to bring up? JA Happ is currently 5 - 6 for a terrible Lehigh Valley ball club, but he's got a 3.54 ERA and leads the IL in strikeouts with 104. He's a relatively young guy of 25 years old. Now is the time to see if this guy has anything. If he helps, it puts the Phils in a better negotiating position when it comes time to deal for another starter around the time of the trade deadline (for the inevitable Adam Eaton meltdown). If he doesn't help, at least you've tried to make it work from within the organization and then perhaps you check to see if Kris Benson is ready for a start or two.

Regardless, this team cannot go into this stretch of games with the status quo intact.