The last two or three years have been strange ones for Phillies outfielder John Mayberry Jr. He has gone though spurts of looking like a solid ballplayer and even more spurts of looking totally lost at the plate. While see-sawing between the two extremes, Mayberry has been unable to stick as an everyday player.
But last night against the Marlins, Mayberry had probably the most memorable night of his career and he did not even start the game. He hit a solo homer in the 10th to tie the game back up after Antonio Bastardo surrendered a run to the Fish in the top of the inning. Then in the 11th, Mayberry whacked a game-winning grand slam home run.
There were a number of ‘firsts’ for Mayberry in this game:
– Mayberry’s first career grand slam
– Mayberry became first player in major-league history to hit two home runs in extra innings with one being a grand slam
– Mayberry also became the first Phillies player to hit a walk-off grand slam since Dale Murphy on Aug. 6, 1991, against the Cubs
Those are some pretty impressive statistics. And with Delmon Young still underachieving (he is hitting only .220 in 100 at-bats), perhaps it is time to hand right field over to Mayberry for a while. Mayberry’s defense is significantly better than Young’s and his offense cannot possibly be any worse than Young’s.
Young has actually cost the team runs with his defense and I cannot imagine the Phillies putting up with that for much longer. And he is not making up for it with his bat either. 30 games played and 100 at-bats should be nearly enough for them to pass judgment. We shall see…
As for the umpire follies, Bob Davidson strikes again! How this ridiculous man still has a job is beyond me. Last year, Davidson was actually suspended after ejecting Phils skipper Charlie Manual for his bad “situation handling,” according to MLB. What actually happened was he interfered with the catcher on a play and then cussed out Manual for arguing the point.
Davidson’s animosity towards the Phillies is still going strong, because last night he made one of the worst calls I have ever seen. Davidson called interference on Ben Revere who slid head first (not spikes first) into second on a ground ball hit by Michael Young. Young was called out due to the imaginary interference; Davidson claimed he saw Revere grab the leg of the Marlins 2nd baseman. It was clear to both the naked eye and on the replay that Revere did no such thing…it was not even close.
Revere did not grab anyone; he did not roll into 2nd; he did not even go out of the basepath or miss the bag. Davidson literally just made up the call.
According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch‘s Bernie Miklasz, “…if I listed every call that Davidson got wrong I’d be typing for the next 48 hours at least. He’s a disgrace to the game and has been for many, many years. Baseball people laugh at him.” It seems everyone hates Davidson…and with good reason.
After the game, both Revere and Manual made some very amusing comments about the bad call. Revere said, “I know [Davidson] was standing right there, he said he did see it, so I’m just like, man needs some glasses or something.” And Manual interjected, “Bob’s kinda getting a little old.” Plus, the crowd at Citizens Bank Park booed Davidson relentlessly for the remained of the game.
And yet, no one can say why this man still has a job. MLB has made a habit out of ignoring the total incompetence of some umpires. Even with their reputation being continually tarnished, MLB has done nothing to redeem themselves.
In fact, Joe Torre, who is in charge of MLB umpires, on-field discipline and other areas, was actually at Saturday’s Phillies-Brewers game where a huge umpiring mistake was made in the bottom of the 9th inning. Kyle Kendrick was called out at second base even though the fielder dropped the ball. The next batter doubled, which would have scored Kendrick and tied the game up. Instead, that blown call cost the Phillies the game.
The crew chief acknowledged the error after the game, but to my knowledge, Torre said nothing. Granted, this was a far less egregious error than the blatant, BS call by Davidson. All of these bad calls are screaming for additional replay, but is anyone listening?
Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil…get nothing done. *Sigh*
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
The Phillies won their first series of the season by beating the Mets on Wednesday night by a 7-3 score. It was certainly hitting weather; all 10 runs scored in the game came from home runs. The real difference in the game was that the Phillies hit with men on base and the Mets did not.
The other big bangs of the night came from the thunder and lightning in the sky, which delayed the game for just under half an hour. But pitcher Kyle Kendrick weathered the storm and rebounded from a bad first start of the season at the Home Opener. He struggled at times, but worked out of the jams with determination.
This was a very big win for the Phils who were off to a very scary start in the first 9 games of the year, of which they have now won 4. Not great, but things are looking up.
On the other hand, attendance is trending downward. There were an awful lot of empty seats at Citizens Bank Park this home stand, with attendance dipping as low as 35,393 on Monday night. I suppose fewer and fewer folks are feeling optimistic about the team these days.
But don’t feel bad; the Phillies are not alone. The Red Sox record-breaking streak of 820 games (794 in the regular season) finally ended last night. Ah yes, the fans of Boston are but mere mortals once again.
So cheer up people! It is a new season and everyone has still got a chance…
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
I recently received a copy of Kurt Smith’s Citizens Bank Park Ballpark E-Guide and thought I would share what I learned in reading it. The 32-page booklet in the form of a PDF file download covers everything you ever wanted to know about the ballpark including tickets, seating, transportation, parking, food and drinks.
The information provided is great for first-time visitors to the ballpark, but it also includes a lot for the more experienced fans as well. For example, I am an extremely picky eater; if I do not know what it is, I won’t eat it. And I cannot be bothered to look things up ahead of time either when my old standby’s (cheese steak & water ice!) are readily available. But after reading the guide, I discovered many food options that sounded interesting and may prompt me to expand my horizons a bit. I had no clue what a “Schmitter” was before now. For the record, it is a sandwich with steak, salami, cheese, tomatoes, fried onions and a special sauce.
Another tidbit I was unaware of was the existence of a website called FanSnap.com. This ticket site searches about a dozen other ticket sites (like StubHub and E-Bay) so you can find the best prices and seat locations. I will definitely try this out once the season begins.
There are also “Tightwad Tips” throughout the E-Guide to help you find creative ways to save money. These are certainly worth a look.
I also found the Seating section helpful as it describes in detail what you are getting yourself into when you choose where to sit or stand for the game. For example, the Rooftop Bleachers are described as being cheap, but far away from the action with a “raucous atmosphere.” Having sat there myself, this is an accurate description. These are the sort of small details that the Phillies web site will not provide.
At the end of the E-Guide is a section of “Extras” which includes a nice commentary on Phillies fans, describing most as “perfectly well behaved.” But my favorite part says, “If you encounter an unpleasant situation while rooting for the opposing team, you’ve probably asked for it.” Amen to that!
For more information or to order a copy of a Ballpark E-Guide, visit www.BallparkEGuides.com.
The Phillies won their 4th straight game Friday night in the opener against the Braves that included a pre-game salute to Chipper Jones. Jones will retire after 19 years with the Braves after this season. The Phillies gave Jones a painting of one of many home runs he hit in Citizens Bank Park.
Jones received a number of salutes while the Braves traveled to away games this year. And to thank the Phillies, Jones went 0-for-4 in the home teams’ 6-2 win over his Braves. Thanks, Larry. And Happy Retirement ;o)
However, the tables were turned on Saturday afternoon. The Braves found their bats and Roy Halladay hit another brick wall. Clearly, not all is well with Halladay as he claims. He has had only a few good starts since coming off the DL; the rest have been very un-Doc like.
This afternoon, Halladay did not even make it through 2 innings. His final line had 7 earned runs in 1.2 innings on 5 hits and 3 walks. It was ugly. Charlie Manuel looked on in disbelief before he finally ran out to the mound to lift Doc from the game.
With the Cardinals win today, the Phillies could ill afford any more losses. But the offense was weak today against the Braves pitching. The only excitement came when Ryan Howard hit a milestone home run; it was the 300th of his career, putting him in 2nd place behind Mike Schmidt all time for the Phillies.
Howard has now hit a home run in 4 straight games. Seeing his bat wake up again is a pleasant site. However, the Phillies are still in a dire situation as far as the playoffs are concerned. The loss today knocks them back to 4 games out of the Wild Card behind 3 other teams with only 10 games to go.
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Howard head shot by Jenn Zambri Photography
The Phillies made two moves on Tuesday that may indicate a few deals are in the works at the Winter Meetings. Pitchers Jesus Sanchez and Yohan Flande were released from the 40-man roster, likely to make room for a few additions. One of those additions is rumored to be ex-Phillie Aaron Rowand.
Rowand has two more years and $24 million left on his contract with the Giants. After a down year in 2010 and losing his starting spot, the Giants have implied that Rowand is no longer in their plans going forward. If the Giants are willing to eat most of his salary, Rowand could possibly return to Philly.
Best known for smashing his face against the centerfield wall at Citizens Bank Park to make a game-saving catch in 2006, Rowand was also the leader in the clubhouse and well loved by players and coaches alike. He was never afraid to call out a teammate who was slacking. This kind of fire is what Charlie Manuel loves about Rowand. It may also be motivation to bring him back.
In 2007, Rowand had a career year with the Phillies, batting .309 with 27 homers and 89 RBI. He also made the All-Star team that year. Since departing for San Francisco, Rowand’s numbers have steadily declined. At the time, critics said the move to a larger ballpark might affect his production and that appears to be the case. On the flip side, a return to the smaller confines of Citizens Bank Park may give new life to Rowand’s bat.
In addition, Rowand will have something to prove wherever he lands. This is a guy who plays the game hard and takes pride in his performance. Losing his starting job may have been the kick in the backside he needed.
Another upside is that Rowand can play either center or right field, just as Jayson Werth was able to. Neither Domonic Brown or Ben Francisco would likely be effective in center in the event that Shane Victorino is hurt or needs a break. And right now, Victorino is the only true centerfielder on the roster. Even if it is just coming off the bench, Rowand could fill that role while Brown and Francisco patrol right field.
Whether or not the Phillies decide to work out a deal with the Giants for Rowand is still unknown. But if the price is right, Rowand could be a real asset and maybe inject new life into this Phillies team.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
In a shocking move, Jayson Werth has signed a 7-year deal with the last place Washington Nationals, snubbing higher-profile teams like the Red Sox. After losing Adam Dunn to the White Sox and star rookie pitcher Stephen Strasburg to Tommy John surgery, the Nats needed a seat-filler. Attendance in DC has been pathetic over the years due to a lack of success for the team and very high ticket prices.
In the last two years, the Nats ranked 24th and 23rd place for attendance out of 30 teams. The acquisition of Werth should produce a spike in season ticket plans, not to mention a spike in team batting average and runs scored. The exact terms of the contract have not yet been disclosed, but it is in the area of $126 million dollars.
The real shock is that Werth chose to sign with a last-place team. The Nats are trying to build a winner, but realistically, this will not happen overnight. In fact, their biggest obstacle may be the Phillies who have won the division 4-straight years now. But Werth has his ring already so maybe winning is now lower on his list than money and stability.
As for the Phillies, they now have a huge, gaping hole in right field to be filled. With Domonic Brown leaving Winter Ball early today due to being “tired and sluggish,” big questions remain as to his ability to fill the spot. Worst case scenario is that the left-handed Brown will have to platoon with righty Ben Francisco.
Another right-hander who may be able to platoon with Francisco or even Ross Gload is John Mayberry Jr. In 11 games with the big club in 2010, Mayberry batted .333 with 2 home runs and 6 RBI. He has been working on his stroke in AAA and, if Brown is not ready, Mayberry might be a better option.
There is a list of free agents as well that may also be able to fill the hole. The top choice for Charlie Manuel is probably Matt Diaz. The two men live in the same neighborhood and spend time together in the offseason. Diaz is a lifetime .301 hitter who got little playing time with the Braves last season. However, Diaz did find time to tackle a rouge Phillies fan on the field back in September. He is almost a folk-hero in Philly already after that feat.
A few other options include Jeff Francoeur, Carlos Quentin or Scott Hairston. With a little more creativity, the Phillies may wish to consider former Phillie Aaron Rowand. The Giants have indicated that Rowand is not in their plans going forward and may be willing to eat his huge salary just to get rid of him. Rowand struggled last year at AT&T Park. Perhaps the smaller, friendly confines of Citizens Bank Park can revive his bat?
A few other long-shot free-agents might be Willie Bloomquist, Joe Inglett or Jose Guillen. Whichever way the Phillies decide to go, it is clear that Werth has left very big shoes to fill. He will be missed.
Have you ever wondered what goes on at Citizens Bank Park when the baseball season is over? While it is mostly quiet, there are still a few events going on. This weekend, the Phillies hosted their annual Holiday Sale with game-used items, books, DVD’s and Phillies collectables on sale. Much of the sale proceeds go to Phillies Charities.
Game-used merchandise on sale included bats, balls, batting helmets, cleats, locker name plates and jerseys:
Phanta Claus made an appearance, taking photos with Phans and their families. Phillies Ballgirls were also on hand to meet fans and assist with sales. Then late on Saturday, Jimmy Rollins lit the Phillies Christmas tree outside Citizens Bank Park.
While the sale rolled on, I wandered around the ballpark to check out a few other offseason activities. In the winter months, much effort s put into cleaning up the stadium. Seats are actually removed in order to power wash both the seats and the concrete pads they sit on. Notice all of the blank, grey areas where seats used to be:
Keep checking Phillies.com throughout the winter for other fun offseason events, including player appearances and big sales at the Majestic Clubhouse Store.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography except Rollins photo from Philly.com