Tagged: Baseball 101

Thompson Takes The Fall For The Phillies Offense

Hitting coach and former Phillies player, Milt Thompson, was fired last night.  In the wake of an extended hitting slump, the Phillies management probably felt that someone needed to take the fall.  And that person is Milt Thompson. 

In an interview on Comcast Sportsnet, Thompson said he was not mad about and understood they wanted to make a change.  Thompson has been the hitting coach since 2005 when Greg Gross was fired.  Oddly enough, the person taking Thompson’s place now is Greg Gross.

Thompson told the press, “I’m the hitting coach and when the team doesn’t perform, it lands on me.  I’m not going to make excuses.”  He went on to say, “They want a new voice, so I have to respect that. I have nothing but good things to say about the Phillies. I have been a part of the organization for a very long time, and I had some good times.”

Thompson played in the outfield for the Phillies from 1986-1988 and again in 1993 and 1994.  He was part of the 1993 Championship team that went to the World Series that year but did not get a World Series win until 2008 as the hitting coach.

P5090039.JPGOn a personal note, I like Milt very much and he is a lot of fun to be around.  He helped me with my batting on three different occasions as part of the Baseball 101 program for women and I always felt like he treated the ladies just as he would the big league hitters.  And he always took the time at games to say hello when he saw me.  Milt is a great guy and I will miss him.

As for the players, I can only imagine what they might be thinking right now.  They basically got him fired.  In my opinion, these guys would not be in the majors unless they know how to hit.  The hitting coach is an important part, but should he really take the fall for guys who are just not doing their jobs? 

That is not up to me of course, but maybe this change will light a fire under them.  Because once a team starts cleaning house, no one’s job is safe.  You have to think if the slide continues, that is possible the other coaches and even the manager may be next.  If the players stop to think about that, maybe that will be some motivation for them. 

Best of luck to Milt in the future!  And good luck to Gross as well; he will have his hands full with this bunch.


Wolf Devours Phils; Baseball 101 For Women

Since the game against our old pal Randy Wolf and the Dodgers was awful, let’s begin today with something fun!  Here is a recap of the Baseball 101 event for women held before the game yesterday:

P5133337 Werth.jpgThis now twice annual event included a behind the scenes tour, coaching from the Phillies staff, many guest speakers and an appearance by Jayson Werth.  Werth walked into the room and you would have thought it was Tom Cruise, judging from the reaction.  Women screamed and flash bulbs popped.  Werth talked openly to the group of 140 female fans and was surprisingly comical.  He talked about stealing home in Tuesday nights’ win over the Dodgers (turns out, it was all his idea and the 3rd base coach had no clue what was happening); Werth also gave us an overview of what it is like to travel as a Major League player, how he felt at the World Series parade, his baseball heritage and what it means to play as a team.  He was very impressive.

We also heard from Phillies broadcaster, Chris Wheeler, who walked us though his embarrassment of the strange dance he did behind Harry Kalas as he called the World Series win.  Wheels said he had no idea that he had actually looked that nuts until an hour and half later when he saw the replay.  Mitch Williams was also exceptionally informative, and very, very funny.  Williams should be a stand-up comic.  He had the room almost in tears as he discussed how we have not lived until we’ve seen John Kruk naked, how he (Williams) does not wear pants during his broadcasts and a variety of other topics.  And Larry Andersen, another former player and current broadcaster, was equally entertaining with his tales of Kalas and honest expressions of dislike for umpires.

Below, you will see Williams, Andersen and a very surreal moment as well; Tom Burgoyne, friend of the Phanatic, with the Phanatic!  A true “out of body” experience :O)


At one point, all the women broke into teams and travelled around the stadium, with stops in the bullpen, the batting cages and on the field to run the bases and work on throwing and fielding with the Phillies coaching staff.  Sam Perlozzo and Davey Lopes directed us on the field; Milt Thompson and Pete Mackanin let us swing away in the cages; and Rich Dubee and Mick Billmeyer let us throw pitches off the mound in the pen.  They gave us the inside scoop, just like we were real major leaguers.  My favorite coach comment of the day came when I asked what changes we could expect to see when JC Romero returns to the team.  Billmeyer chimed in immediately with, “We will get better!”  Well said :O)

And a first for Baseball 101 was the behind the scenes tour of the player areas:  the clubhouse, their kitchen and even the training room.  I can tell you several things from this experience.  First, Chad Durbin has a sweet tooth and likes crossword puzzles; some players seem to have a shoe fetish; Ryan Howard uses the same baby powder that I do; and doing laundry for the Phillies is a very interesting job!  Here are a few sights from the clubhouse:

I took tons of photos and was surprised by a few things I saw just “hanging” around.  I heard myself mutter as I peered into lockers, “Is that…(you fill in the blank)???  Oh my, yes it is.”  Use your imagination.  Nothing out of the baseball realm, but still a bit weird to see up close ;O)

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So after the all-day event which began at 8:45am, we sat down to watch the game which started at 7:05pm.  Sleepy, but it was worth it.  We had a good 3 innings and Jamie Moyer looked like he may knock out every Dodger that faced him, but come the 4th inning, the bottom dropped out and it all went downhill from there.  7 runs allowed in only 4 1/3 innings and Moyer still cannot find his 250th win.  However, I think that was the least of his worries last night.  With the struggles in this starting rotation, I would not be surprised to see some changes very soon.  Charlie Manuel has announced that JA Happ will start one of the games of the double-header on Saturday against the Nats; no word on what will happen after that.  Happ may be pitching that day for his chance to win a spot in the rotation.

On again to more pleasant things:  Here is the Photo Album from my day in baseball-land which includes the photos in this post and more.  And don’t forget to tune in to the game this afternoon, which is an early start of 1:05pm to finish the Dodgers series.  Hoping the Phillies can pull out a winning series!

Photos by Jenn

Today In Phillies Land

Greg_House.jpgI am still in Gregory House-type withdrawal after an off-day yesterday.  Sad, I know.  But the Phillies will start a 3-game series with the Dodgers tonight, and without Manny Ramirez.  Chan Ho Park is going to do his best not to lose his starting job; JA Happ will secretly wish Park screws up (kidding!); Jimmy Rollins will try to remember how to hit a baseball (line drives Jimmy; think line drives…none of this air-ball crap!); Brad Lidge will pray for a save opportunity which have been few and far between so far; Chase Utley will continue his bid for a 4th straight All-Star appearance; and me?  I will be screaming at the TV.

Baseball 101

Then tomorrow I will attend, for the 4th year in a row, the Phillies Baseball 101 event for women.  100 plus ladies will wander the field, toss a few balls, hit in the cages and even throw a pitch in the bullpen, all under the tutelage of the Phillies coaching staff.  It is an all-day and all-night event as we will stay for the 7:05pm game afterwards.  And since I will not get home until oh, probably one in the morning, I will post photos and a diary of the day on Thursday once I am conscious.

Mr. Manuel Goes To Washington

In other news, the Phillies have rescheduled their visit with President Obama at the White House for this coming Friday while they are in town to play the Nats.  The previous date was cancelled after the passing of our friend, Harry Kalas.   Will Obama dare wear a White Sox hat at the meeting?  Will the Phanatic frighten the new white house dog?  Oh, the drama.

Tonight’s Line-Up

J-Roll has been bumped down to the 5 hole.  Hope it helps!

1.     Shane Victorino, CF

2.     Chase Utley, 2B

3.     Jayson Werth, RF

4.     Ryan Howard, 1B

5.     Jimmy Rollins, SS

6.     Raul Ibanez, LF

7.     Pedro Feliz, 3B

8.     Carlos Ruiz, C

9.    Chan Ho Park, P

First pitch is 7:05pm…Go Phillies!


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Werth-y Of Your Vote!

Well, did I call this one, or what?!  In my April 30th Blog I called for Phillies fans to write in Jason Werth on the All-Star ballot, pointing to his clutch performances all year for this team dating all the way back to the latter half of last season.  You may also recall my adorable photo / voting campaign for him: 
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So then last night, Mr.Werth turns in the most impressive display of the year with 3 home runs and 8 RBI’s, falling only one 2-run homer short of the elusive home run cycle.  WOW.  This puts Werth in a Phillies five way tie for the most RBI’s in a game along with Kitty Bransfield, Gavvy Cravath, Willie “Puddin’ Head” Jones and of course, Mike Schmidt.

So, now the question remains, who will start tonight against the right handed AJ Burnett?  You know how Charlie Manual loves to play the right handed – left handed game.  But I really think Werth has earned the starting spot at this point.  If it were me, I’d start Jayson in center, sit Victorino and give Jenkins the start in right…he’s been sitting long enough and Shane has struggled a bit lately.  And this will really give Manual an idea about whether Jayson really is an everyday player.  Can he hit both righties and lefties?  I think he can.  Give him a shot…he’s more than earned it!

Check out my new links off to the right…I have added a link to my You Tube Phillies Baseball 101 page which has some really FUN video!  You can see Jen Utley talk about her relationship with Chase, watch her reveal that he never graduated college (although she says he’s still smart…hee! :o) and what she “thinks” his major was…she can’t quite remember.  FUNNY stuff!  Also hear Phillies coaches give lessons on hitting and pitching; hear all about how the team travels to away games and much more really intriguing behind the scenes access!  Hope you enjoy it…I know I did!  Go Phillies!

Baseball 101 Clinic for Women

Yesterday I attended the Phillies Baseball 101 for women which was an all-day clinic where we were given the opportunity to meet with and be coached by the entire Phillies staff. 125 women took the field in Pat Burrell’s territory to stretch out before beginning the day. Then, we split up into smaller groups to work with the coaches in each of four stations: hitting, base running, fielding and pitching.

Jimy Williams and Milt Thompson awaited us in the Phillies indoor batting cages where each lady received personal instruction and got to take 5 whacks at the ball off the same tee that Chase Utley uses every day. Steve Smith gave lessons on throwing and fielding and was also happy to answer any and all questions we had about any of the players, no matter how personal or ridiculous. Have to say, I could write an entire 5 pages on all I heard from Steve, but I feel almost impolite about spilling the beans on him… From the more specific reasons Shane got moved to right field to how badly he misses Aaron Rowand (as a friend…don’t worry he still loves our outfielders!)…Steve is a fun guy to talk to :o) So skipping the details, on to base running! Looking quite well for a man recovering from prostate cancer, Davey Lopes literally took us around the diamond and talked about the do’s and don’ts of base running and then we had free reign of the base path to go wild, if we so chose. And finally, in the bullpen, the always entertaining Rich Dubee showed everyone how to throw a pitch, explained the ever elusive balk rule and then each lady tossed a few pitches at Ramon Henderson and Mick Billmeyer, who were brave enough to go it without the face masks.

After all the on the field fun, we had tons of guest speakers! – Michael Barkann of Comcast Sportsnet, John Clark of NBC, Tom McCarthy (broadcaster), Susan Ingersoll Papaneri (Director, Baseball Administration), Jen Utley (yes, Chase’s wife!), one of the ball girls, Ruben Amaro Jr., and the BIG speaker of the day, Greg Dobbs who stood RIGHT in front of me! Whooo hooo! I took a lot of video and will be posting as much as I can on my You Tube page in the next few days and a few bits here. First, let’s begin with the NBC 10 special which I promised to post. Now, 5 ladies, myself included were chosen for the special and told we were to be interviewed and filmed hitting on the field. Well, we did hit, we were filmed, but they never did the interviews (except some other lady later on) and they cut all but one of the ladies out of the final special. Not sure what that was all about except that the guy doing the interviews was kind of a knucklehead. You’ll see in the film…he makes fun of Ryan Howard, Jamie Moyer and Mitch Williams all in the span of like 3 minutes. We were all booing him in the background but they managed to cut out that part too. Well, you do see me for like 2 seconds at the beginning standing in the dugout and for like 2 tenths of a second after the one girl bats she hands me the bat. But, that’s about it. Here’s the piece just for posterity:

Here is a slightly more interesting piece. You’ll hear me asking a question to Assistant GM Ruben Amaro Jr. about Chad Durbin. You can see the rest of the Q&A session on my You Tube page. Ruben was surprisingly open and candid and answered a lot of very good questions.

And here is the question I asked Greg Dobbs as I had the video camera practically shoved right up his adorable little nose. Which, of course, Scott Palmer just had to point out. :o) The rest of the Dobbs segment will also be on the You Tube page along with segments from the Jen Utley interview, Harry Kalas meet and greet and other bits from the days events as I slowly get them uploaded over the next day or so. Pictures should be done tomorrow and I will post an update when that is done. So, here is Greg…

And this just in, Cole Hamels pitches a COMPLETE GAME SHUT-OUT!!!!!! WHOOO HOOO!!!!!!!!! You gotta love that!!!!! That’s picking up your team when they SOOOOOOO need it! Go Phillies!!!!!!!!!!!

UPDATE 5/16:  Baseball 101 photos have been uploaded!  Check them out.  And keep checking the You Tube page….more videos have been added there as well.

Brett Myers Needs A Hug

Two pitches into last nights’ game I thought, oh my, this is going to be a long one.  That’s when the first of 3 Braves home runs left the park in a hurry.  And, in the first 2 innings.  Everyone seems to have a different view on what is going on with Myers; Mitch Williams seems to think he lacks attitude; Manuel thinks he is not setting up the batters; others point to pitch velocity.  Me?  I think the man just needs a hug.  Come here baby!  I’ll make it all better :o)

Myers hug cr.jpg

See?  Now aren’t we all in a better mood?  Ok, ok…well, what else can you do at this point?  Throw the guy under an 18-wheeler?  He obviously does not want to suck.  I assume he does not enjoy getting booed, and believe me, he got his share of that last night.  Brett has what it takes to be a great starter, he just needs to find that energy and channel it in the right direction.  MapQuest anyone?

Losing 8-6, the Phillies did almost pull out an amazing comeback even after all that, with Shane Victorino falling short by a mere 2 feet at the warning track with 2 men on base.  One of those men was super sweet Greg Dobbs who came through, yet again, with huge pinch hit.  This guy SO should be getting more playing time!  Incidentally, Greg was the guest speaker yesterday at the women’s Baseball 101 clinic and was extremely entertaining.  I will be posting video of that, Q&A’s with Assistant GM Ruben Amaro Jr., Jen Utley, Harry Kalas, Michael Barkann, plus photos from the day and much more!  I will being posting some of that this evening…stay tuned…

Also, Phillies Phollowers was the featured Blog on MLBlogs this week, in case you missed it.  You can read the feature story on Phillies Phollowers called a Spheroid on the main MLB Community Blog.  My thanks to MLBlogs for the nod!  Have a good day everyone!

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Why I Love Gary Matthews

Well folks, the current Phillies – Braves game is not looking good so I felt a bit of comic relief might be in order here.  And nothing cheers me up more than a healthy dose of Sarge’s baseball wisdom.  In fact, who has not been endlessly entertained these past 2 years listening to Mr. Matthews cloud the TV airways with his jumbled player name pronunciations and inventive twists on the English language?  I believe he may even have coined a few new phrases.

How about the “Courtesy Turn?”  I first heard this one as Chase Utley smacked a homer out of the park against the Reds on April 4th.  Apparently, Ken Griffey Jr. “turned” to watch the ball leave the park and Sarge referred to this as Griffey giving the knock a “courtesy turn.”  How kind of him, indeed.  Such a gentleman.  Perhaps in their next series, Griffey will present Utley with a bouquet of flowers and a box of chocolates?

Speaking of Utley, in the book of Matthew-isms, “Professional Hitter” is right there at the top of the list where Mr. Utley is concerned.  He almost cannot have a conversation about Chase Utley without this particular phrase coming into play.  But don’t worry; it is not only reserved for Utley.  He spreads the wealth on this one.  Certainly a favorite of the Sarge, you can hear it at least once or twice per broadcast.  And I giggle every time…

And I have reserved my absolute favorite Matthew-isms  for last!  Drum roll please!!!!  You will know it as soon as you hear it…he says it ALL the time!  Yes, you guessed it, it is “A Good Athlete!”  As in, this guy here is “a real good athlete.”  He says it on average, 3-6 times per broadcast.  Now Sarge, you know I LOVE you, but considering these guys ARE all Major League ball players, I sure hope they are all good athletes!  Hee!  Sarge, you are SO darn cute!  I just want to pinch your cheeks and give you a giant bear hug :o)  And in honor of your adorableness, here is a photo of you toting the BBQ at last years’ BBQ challenge:

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Well, the Phillies have managed to score a few runs so back to watching the game I go…I have a busy day tomorrow too to get ready for!  Look for me on TV too!  I’ll be attending the Phillies Baseball 101 clinic for women and I will be featured on the NBC 10! Show at 2pm as part of a mini-clinic from the day.  I’m staying for the game tomorrow night so I’ll report back on Thursday and let you know how it goes!  Have a good one!