It is October and the Phillies are not playing baseball. So what did I do in response to this devastating turn of events? I fled the country. Seriously. I recently returned from a 2-week excursion to a variety of places including Italy, Egypt, Greece and Israel. If anyone else out there is totally bummed out by the end of the baseball season, I highly recommend this adventure :O)
But it is back to reality now and I arrived just in time to see the start of the World Series last night. It was still depressing, but some baseball is always better than no baseball.
And with former Phillies player and announcer Tim McCarver on the job in the broadcast booth, hilarity is sure to ensue. So even if the game stinks, Mr. McCarver will inevitably, and totally accidentally, spice things up.
He did just that during Game 1. As the crowd chanted, “Barry! Barry! Barry!” for a base hit by San Francisco Giants pitcher Barry Zito, McCarver and partner Joe Buck had a very interesting conversation that went like this (this is not a joke; he actually said all of this):
McCarver: “That’s a sound he has not heard too often in this ballpark. That sound of ‘Barry! Barry!’” (referencing Barry Zito)
Joe Buck: “They used to say it for someone else around here.”
McCarver: “When Barry Manilow was here at concerts.”
Joe Buck: “Or Barry Bonds.”
***McCarver then went silent, in probable humiliation. Eventually, Buck had to coax him back on air…
Joe Buck: “Come back to me over there.”
McCarver: “Sorry, it’s one of those moments.”
Well, at least McCarver recognizes that he has had more than his share of “those moments” over the years. But surely mistaking Barry Manilow for the San Fran Home Run King, Barry Bonds will go down in history as one of McCarver’s biggest gaffes ever.
And for the belly laughter that ensued, we all thank McCarver and his Hall of Fame announcing skills.
Did I forget to mention that the Panda, Pablo Sandoval, hit 3 home runs in the game, tying a record set by Babe Ruth, Albert Pujols and others? I did? Sorry, I was totally distracted by the Manilow thing…I will do better next time ;o)
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As far as headlines go, the one above is not what Phillies fans generally expect to see. But it was a back-up player and a much maligned bullpen pitcher who saved the day for the Phillies on Wednesday night against the Reds.
It took more than six hours and nine pitchers, but the Phillies finally pulled out a 5-4, 19-inning win. Both offenses struggled to score runs and for the Phils, this has been problematic all season.
I have two words rattling around my brain in regards to the Phillies offense: frustrating and painful. This team has been painful to watch most of the season so far. And they keep repeating the same mistakes over and over, which is incredibly frustrating.
For example, Raul Ibanez led off the sixth inning with a triple. So with NO outs and a man on third, what should happen just doesn’t. Carlos Ruiz swung at the first pitch and popped out. John Mayberry Jr. watched a called-strike three go by. And then Wilson Valdez is walked intentionally to get to the pitcher. Result: NO run, when all they needed was a sac fly or some form of contact with the ball that did not turn into a pop-up.
And this is exactly the sort of thing that is plaguing the Phillies offense. They faced a Reds pitcher who was off his game and they did not take advantage. Instead, they got themselves out by being impatient and swinging at bad pitches.
So just like Tuesday night, with a 3-1 lead, the Phillies watched the Reds come back to tie the game, 3-3 by the seventh inning. They got hurt, again, by Jay Bruce with two outs and the bases loaded. He hit a two-run single off Roy Halladay, who had a few issues tonight. However, the defense behind him did little to help.
But once the game entered the wee hours of the morning, many forgot that Halladay had even started the game. The bullpen took over for a total of 12 innings.
Danys Baez, who has taken a lot of abuse from Phillies fans for his lack of consistency, was one of the hero’s in this game. He pitched a career-high five innings and 73 pitches to carry the Phils through the 18th inning. He allowed only one hit, one walk and zero runs.
Last year, Baez was so bad that many hoped he would be cut. And this year has been up and down for him. But rest assured that after an effort like this, Baez is keeping his job.
After Baez exited, the unexpected happened. Wilson Valdez stepped onto the pitcher’s mound. And he was tasked with facing the heart of the Reds line-up in Joey Votto, Scott Rolen and Jay Bruce, who had absolutely been killing the Phils all series long.
But Valdez gave a valiant performance, even clocking over 90mph on the radar gun. He got Votto to fly out to deep center, hit Rolen with a pitch and then two more fly-outs to end the inning. As he exited the field, the crowd went crazy cheering for him.
Valdez is the first player to start in the field and move on to pitching since Babe Ruth. Seriously. He is also the first Phillies position player to pitch since Tomas Perez did it in 2002. The game win went to Valdez and afterwards he told Comcast Sportsnet, “I like to win,” in response to why he agreed to pitch. He also joked that he could have gone three or four more innings.
Raul Ibanez hit a sac fly to score Jimmy Rollins for the win in the 19th inning. In a game where an infielder pitched, a catcher (Carlos Ruiz) played third base and the team left 16 men on base, this win has to be a huge boost for the Phillies.
The last game with the Reds comes quick after this one; Thursday afternoon at 1:05pm. Cliff Lee will pitch.
Ross Gload is not playing right now due to a slight muscle tear in his hip. This is same sort of injury that Chase Utley played through in 2008, which eventually required surgery. Gload is expected to play through it as well.
Jose Contreras should return to the team sometime this week. Odds are good that David Herndon will be sent down to make room.
Chase Utley got a day off today, except for a pinch-hitting appearance, in what appears to be an effort to err on the side of caution by not pushing him too hard, too soon. He should play again Thursday.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
People on the internet have been freaking out about Saturday being the end of the world. For the Phillies, it may actually be true.
The first casualties of the week are Joe Blanton and Shane Victorino. Blanton was on the DL in April and the beginning of May with right elbow soreness. Upon his return, Blanton said the elbow was still sore, but he could pitch.
My first issue with this is why did the Phillies allow him to go on when he was still sore? Second, why did Blanton hide how bad the elbow obviously was? I can maybe answer the second question. Blanton saw his job in jeopardy with how well Vance Worley pitched in his absence and felt that he need to come back soon. That is my guess.
Blanton bailed on the Phillies 20 minutes before Thursday night’s game, saying it was too painful to go on. He then spoke to reporters at Comcast Sportsnet and admitted he came back from the DL too early and that maybe he should have been “more honest” about his condition.
As a result of Blanton’s last minute bail, Kyle Kendrick was forced to start the game with no preparation at all. He gave up five runs, including two of Jason Giambi’s homers. Danyz Baez gave up the third. Shocking, I know (insert your own sarcastic comment here). The Phillies lost the game, 7-1.
All seven Rockies runs were scored thanks to the three home runs by Jason Giambi, which led me to these thoughts:
You Might Be A Steroid User If:
– You have grey hair and you hit three home runs in one game
– Your batting average was .115 before hitting three home runs in one game
– Your name is “Jason Giambi”
– Your batting average was .115 yesterday and your name is used in the same sentence as “Babe Ruth.”
Yes, Giambi is now one of only four players over the age of 40 to ever hit three home runs in a game. The others are Babe Ruth, Stan Musial and Reggie Jackson. While this is an impressive feat, I think that Kendrick and Baez pitching may have had a little to do with it.
So Blanton is headed to the DL and now, so is Shane Victorino. An MRI revealed that Victorino has a second degree hamstring strain. He will be the 12th Phillie on the DL this year. The Phillies will announce later who will replace each player.
Hold on to your seats, Phillies fans. This ride is about to get bumpier.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*
Anyone who says size does not matter has clearly missed out on some key moments in baseball history.
In the early 1900’s, President Roosevelt borrowed an old African proverb by stating, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” And while he may not necessarily have been referring to baseball, the saying seems to have made impact on the sport anyway.
The following is a list of the top 10 “big” moments, statistics and feats in baseball throughout the years.
The Biggest Bat
Babe Ruth played in the major leagues for 22 seasons, from 1914 to 1935. The 714 home runs he hit in that time span were smacked using the biggest bat in baseball history.
The 52 ounce bat swung by Ruth is the largest recorded bat size ever. Most players today use bats that average around 34-36 ounces in weight.
The Biggest Paycheck
The 10-year, $275 million contract broke A-Rod’s previous record of $252 million.
The Biggest Stature
The tallest player in Major League history is relief pitcher Jon Rauch, who measures six-feet, eleven inches in height.
Currently a member of the Toronto Blue Jays, Rauch first took the field on April 2, 2002. This year, Rauch will be competing for the closer role with the Jays.
The Biggest Mass
In 2005, first baseman Walter Young crushed the competition, weighing in at a whooping 322 pounds with a body mass index of 38.2, also the biggest in baseball.
Officially the heaviest player ever to grace a major league field, Young played only 15 games for the Baltimore Orioles in 2005 and batted .303.
Young played in the minor leagues until 2009. Currently, Young serves as a shift sergeant at the county jail for the Forrest County Sheriff’s Department in his home state of Mississippi.
The heaviest current MLB player is pitcher CC Sabathia of the New York Yankees who weighs in at 290 pounds.
The Biggest Home Run
Considered “the longest home run ever,” this ball is estimated to have travelled around 643 feet and was hit against the Detroit Tigers at Briggs Stadium in Detroit, Michigan.
However, the longest verifiable home run distance is about 575 feet, which was hit by Babe Ruth on July 18, 1921, to straightaway center field at Tiger Stadium (then called Navin Field). It landed across the intersection of Trumbull and Cherry.
Since 1982, when the technology for accurately measuring home runs was put in place, the longest homer stands at 535 feet. That ball was hit by Adam Dunn against Jose Lima of the Dodgers on August 10, 2004.
The Biggest Dollar Amount Ever Shelled Out For A Baseball
Mark McGwire’s 70th home run baseball, which was hit on September 27, 1998 off pitcher Carl Pavano, fetched a gigantic $3,054,000 dollars at Guernsey’s auction house in New York City.
Sold on January 12, 1999 to action figure and comic book creator Todd McFarlane, his collection also includes McGwire’s #1, 63, 67, 68 and 69 home run Balls, along with Sammy Sosa’s #33, 61 and 66 home run balls.
The over $3 million dollar payment is the most money ever shelled out for a baseball.
The Biggest Payroll
In the year 2010, the New York Yankees continued their streak of breaking the bank with a total team payroll of $206,333,389.
The next closest payroll was that of the Boston Red Sox at $162,447,333. That is a difference of almost $44 million dollars.
The Biggest Arm
Prior to the 2010 season, the fastest reliable recorded speed which a baseball had ever been pitched was 100.9 mph by Nolan Ryan of the California Angels at Anaheim Stadium in California on August 20, 1974.
Since that time, Ryan’s record was broken by Reds rookie Aroldis Chapman on September 24, 2010 at PETCO Park in San Diego. That pitch was clocked at 105.1 mph.
The Biggest Hitting Streak
Joe DiMaggio of the New York Yankees began an unprecedented hitting streak on May 15, 1941. 56 games later on July 16, the streak ended. This record still stands today.
The only other player who came close was Pete Rose in 1978. His 44 games hit streak lasted from June 14 to August 1, just 12 games short of the record set by DiMaggio.
The Biggest Determination
He is not called the “Iron Man” for no reason. Third baseman for the Baltimore Orioles, Cal Ripken Jr. set the record for the most consecutive games ever played with 2,632. The streak lasted from May 30, 1982 until September 19, 1998, spanning 16 seasons.
This feat blew away the previous record which was set by Lou Gehrig from 1925 to 1939 with 2,130 consecutive games.
Ripken played his entire career with the Orioles and retired after the 2001 season.
A-Rod photo by Jenn Zambri Photography; Mantle photo by Wikimedia Commons
Yesterday was a very emotional day for many of us; and a new day has had little effect. I began watching the television coverage this morning of Harry Kalas’ passing that I taped yesterday while I was at the game and I have to say, if I see Larry Andersen cry one more time, I do not think I’ll make it. I finally had to turn the TV off.
I spoke with many friends today about Harry and they all feel the same loss, even those who knew little about him. I told one friend a story about how Harry let me keep one of his name tags from an event we attended and then even signed it for me as a keepsake. She then told me that she had a relative who was one of Harry’s doctors and she had him sign a latex-free medical exam glove for her step-father. Just more proof that Harry would sign or do absolutely anything for a fan.
Later, I began looking at the photo’s I took from the game yesterday. I had no idea what I had actually shot until today, as most of the game is a blur to me and the camera acted as a simple distraction. I came across these of Shane Victorino’s home run at-bat; first he points to the outfield, a’la Babe Ruth; then he watches the ball as it flies out of the park; and finally, in a tribute to Harry, Shane points to the press box after he crosses home plate:
There was a mix of sadness, deep thought and even some joy in remembrance of Harry on the faces of the Phillies yesterday, which is evident in the photos I took.
I put together a Photo Album from the game as usual, and I tried to include a few of the lighter moments as a reminder of Harry’s love of the game.
The Phillies are off today and their scheduled visit to the White House has been postponed indefinitely due to Harry’s passing. Fans continue to visit Citizens Bank Park where a memorial has begun at the feet of the Mike Schmidt statue with flowers, cards, balls and a variety of mementoes. Photos of that memorial can be seen at Todd Zolecki’s blog, The Zo Zone.
And finally, I would like to leave you with this video that I shot last May, where Harry addressed a group of women at the Phillies yearly Baseball 101 event. We are all so fortunate to have shared in Harry’s passion and love of baseball over the years. I will never forget these moments.
Photos by Jenn