The first official Spring Training game for the Phillies will take place on Saturday. I am excited for baseball! But there is also a little sadness that I cannot be in Clearwater this year to enjoy the first crack of the bat under the warm Florida sunshine. If you are lucky enough to be heading south, enjoy it!
Spring Training is a magical moment in time where players are generally happy, relaxed and having a good time. The fan-friendly atmosphere and nice weather draws big crowds each year. And while the games are interesting, they really don’t mean much. The real reason to head to Clearwater is to mingle with other fans, chat with players, get autographs and photos and, most importantly, get a closer look at how major leaguers behave when their guard is down.
You may notice a lot of smiles, laughter and silly hijinks. To demonstrate, and also to get you in the Spring Training frame of mind, here are some of my favorite photos and moments from years past in Clearwater:
First up, the normally quiet and reserved Chase Utley laughs out loud and on another occasion, poses and smiles for me:
Jimmy Rollins waves hello and later attempts to play golf with his bat and ball:
Phillies alum Mike Schmidt has some fun with Reggie Jackson; Charlie Manuel jokes around with his players:
Remember Fan Fest? For some reason, the Phillies have cancelled this annual tradition of meeting players and getting autographs. But it was amazing while it lasted. Here are Chad Durbin and Kyle Kendrick signing and posing for me:
I attended a few Team USA games while in Clearwater. The most memorable moment was watching Jimmy Rollins and Derek Jeter of the Yankees field balls side-by-side during warm-ups. The second photo is Chooch, Carlos Ruiz, making an odd face at batting practice:
Here we have the Big Man, Ryan Howard, yucking it up on the field and later doing his impersonation of an airplane (or maybe he was just playing 1st base?):
And finally, just me and my camera hanging out by the field before batting practice. You can see how close fans can get to the field:
Are you ready to pack your bags yet? Wishing I was….sigh. Maybe next year :O)
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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
Welcome to my annual Thanksgiving list! As you are spending time with family and filling your bellies, take a few moments to think about all we can be thankful for. I am very thankful for:
– Family, friends, food and fun!
– I am not a Washington Nationals fan
– A Phillies team that is filled not only with quality players, but quality people as well
– 4 straight years of October baseball
– Philly controversies, like the taser gun, for their sheer entertainment value
– This ESPN commercial; because it might be the funniest thing I have ever seen:
– Mets fans – because they make me giggle
– Sold out crowds every night!
– Umpires – because they make me feel really smart
– Seeing Roy Halladay pitch a playoff game no-hitter
– Other Phillies fans! Even the weird ones ;o)
– The 2008 World Championship! Because it will never get old :O)
This Thanksgiving, what are you thankful for? Leave your thoughts in the comment section.
And there is just one more thing to be thankful for; everything you see in this slideshow below:
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
Just when it looks like Jamie Moyer might fold, like after allowing 9 runs in one inning in his last start, he comes out firing again. In 8 innings against the Yankees tonight, Moyer gave up two solo homers, a single, a walk and that is all; no other hits and no other base runners.
The 47-year old Moyer simply does not let a bad start get him down. It is a really amazing thing to see.
Moyer’s great performance came on the anniversary of his major league debut, June 16, 1986. Yankee batters had an eye-popping experience as they were mowed down by Moyer’s slow-motion pitches.
AJ Burnett pitched for the Yanks and as his history dictates, he either runs hot or cold. Luckily for a sleepy Phils offense, Burnett was running cold tonight. They took advantage and scored six runs off him.
There were many things that occurred tonight which Phillies fans have not seen in a long time:
– Ryan Howard and Jayson Werth hit homers.
– Those homers were of the back-to-back variety.
– A triple! A’la Shane Victorino :O)
– Raul Ibanez stole a base; last time that happened was May 2009.
– Greg Dobbs got a hit – Dobbs has only 10 hits all season so far.
– Wilson Valdez avoided hitting into a double play; Valdez has grounded into 10 double plays this year in only 25 games started and 34 games played total.
– Jamie Moyer pitched at least 8 innings for only the 3rd time this year in 13 starts.
– Smiles from the Phillies players.
– I watched a Phillies game through 8 innings without screaming cuss words at the TV or downing a bottle of Tums. This is a real accomplishment. However, I do not want to talk about the 9th inning…
And I suppose a win is something we have not seen much of this past month either so, hallelujah for that! The 6-3 win was capped off by Brad Lidge in the 9th who ran into some trouble, allowing a run in the inning. He also managed to get two runners on base and bring the tying run to the plate with two outs. But finally, he struck out Jorge Posada and ended it. Whew!
Kyle Kendrick will pitch in the finale of the series tomorrow night at 7:05pm. If he can gather some inspiration from Moyer’s comeback and the offense can pick it up, a win is possible. Cross your fingers and toes…
Jeter photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
Mid-March is about the time when I begin to find Spring Training dull and get anxious for the real games to begin. Ok yes, Joe Blanton had a good outing against the Tigers today after a shaky spring start. Cole Hamels looks like he is in good shape with two solid performances so far. The bats are jumping and as a team, the Phillies are hitting at an average of .301 with 7 homers and 36 RBI. And still, I am a bit sleepy about the whole thing.
In my boredom today, I decided to scan through this week’s MLB headlines to see what was going on around the league. Here are a few fun tidbits I came across in my search:
Yankees shortstop and baseball God, Derek Jeter, sat out of a Spring Training game with flu symptoms. And then an Angel lost its wings :O(
Come on Opening Day! Get here….quick! if (WIDGETBOX) WIDGETBOX.renderWidget(‘23806c5d-27e5-4f04-a300-94a868417e13’); Reyes photo by Jenn Garciaparra photo by Al Bello/Getty Images
The Mets Jose Reyes may not be ready to play on Opening Day. His thyroid hormone blood levels are elevated and he is not supposed to do anything that could raise his heart rate. You know, things like showboating on the base paths or talking to Federal agents about his Canadian doctor’s link to performance-enhancing drugs…stuff like that.
Come on Opening Day! Get here….quick!
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Reyes photo by Jenn
Garciaparra photo by Al Bello/Getty Images
Disappointment: The feeling of dissatisfaction that follows the failure of expectations to manifest. It is a source of psychological stress. Synonyms: failure, defeat, frustration (courtesy of Wikipedia).
And disappointment is what Philadelphia is left with after their failure to repeat as World Champions. Instead, with a 3-7 Phillies loss tonight, the Yankees brought home their 27th World Series title. The Phillies are left with the consolation prize as National League Champs.
After winning Game 1, the Phillies looked poised for a repeat. Game 2 went to the Yankees in a relatively fair battle. Game 3 was the real turning point as Cole Hamels did not perform well and the offense could not bail him out. But things got much worse in Game 4 where Brad Lidge gave up 3 runs in the 9th after the Phillies had battled to tie up the game prior to that. The Hamels and Lidge killer combo made for two gut-wrenching losses and a serious turn in the tide.
Cliff Lee won his second game of the series in Game 5 and kept the Phillies alive for one more day, along with the bat of Chase Utley which appeared unstoppable. But back in New York for Game 6, Utley and the Phillies were stopped.
Pitching wins ball games and the Yankees had better pitching. Andy Pettitte was spectacular on only 3 days rest. Pedro Martinez, on the other hand, had a full 5 days rest and still gave up 4 runs in 4 innings. All 4 of those runs, plus 2 more later in the game, came off the bat of Hideki Matsui. After hitting a homer off Martinez in Game 2 and then again tonight in the 2nd inning, why Martinez was left in the game to pitch to Matsui again in the 3rd is a mystery. JA Happ was up and ready in the bullpen, but Charlie Manuel left Martinez in to pitch to a guy who clearly had his number. That mistake was the back-breaker as Matsui hit a 2-run single.
The bullpen gave up 3 more runs and the 7-1 deficit looked to be near impossible to erase for the Phillies. The offense attempted to battle back; Ryan Howard knocked a 2-run homer in the 6th but then Pedro Feliz left his 5th base runner of the night stranded as he grounded out to third base. In the 7th, the previously clutch Chase Utley struck out with 2 outs and 2 men on base. That put the nail in the coffin.
So the Phillies came up short, which just plain sucks. But they put up a good fight and overall, the season was a great success. To have made it back to the World Series two years in a row is quite an accomplishment. And while that does not make us feel any better right now, remember you will not be suffering alone. It’s me, you, a bottle of Vodka and a tiny dancing bear wearing a pink tutu…oh sorry, I digress… Just find your happy place, go there and do not come out until Spring Training. At least that is what the voices in my head keep telling me…
Congratulations to the Yankees and their fans, especially my Yankee friends here in the MLBlogs community. Enjoy the moment.
By the way, as luck would have it, there was an article printed about me in the local newspaper today about my Phillies-fandom. So, not only do the Phillies lose today, but the reporter totally spelt my name wrong. What does this mean? Tomorrow, total strangers who recognize me from the paper will either console or harass me over this loss. If you see me wandering about with that target on my back, please be kind ;O) Thank you in advance…
If this were the circus, the Ut-Lee Show might replace Ringling Brothers as the Greatest Show On Earth. For the second time in this World Series against the Yankees, Cliff Lee and Chase Utley have joined forces to win a crucial game for the Phillies. Game 5 was a must win as a loss would have sent them home empty handed. The Phillies pulled off an 8-6 win and this series will head back to New York for Game 6.
Chase Utley set the tone in the first inning. Jimmy Rollins led off with a single and then Shane Victorino took a wicked hit to his hand with a pitch that got away from AJ Burnett. Utley made the Yankees pay by smacking a 3-run homer off Burnett on the first pitch he saw. Utley homered again in the 7th inning and ended with 4 RBI, 2 hits, a walk and 3 runs scored. And those 2 homers gave Utley 5 total for this World Series, a total previously matched only by Reggie Jackson in 1977 and Utley did it in one less game. Move over, Mr. October!
As for the non-Utley offense, Raul Ibanez woke from his slumber and hit a solo shot in the 7th. Ibanez had another RBI on a single earlier in the game too. But Ryan Howard is still slumping; he walked twice and did not have a hit in the game. Then there is Cliff Lee, who has the highest average on the team for this series; he had another hit last night and is batting .333.
On the mound, Lee became the first Phillies pitcher since Steve Carlton in 1980 to win two games in the same World Series with his performance last night. Lee allowed only 2 runs over 7 innings, although he got into trouble in the 8th and 3 more runs scored. But Lee probably should not have been sent out for the 8th at all if the Phillies were considering using Lee on short rest for a possible Game 7. And in the post-game conference, Charlie Manuel and Lee indicated that the Game 7 scenario was a possibility.
The move to leave Lee in is telling; first, it shows confidence in Lee. But more importantly, it also shows that Manuel is still unsure about his bullpen, which is not surprising. Brad Lidge blew a tie in Game 4, which the Phillies then lost. Ryan Madson has been shaky and allowed 3 hits and 1 run before saving the game last night in a nail biter of an inning.
The rest of the starters have been inconsistent as well. No one is sure what to expect from Pedro Martinez tomorrow; Joe Blanton has not had a good post-season; and Cole Hamels will likely not pitch again after several disasters and his diarrhea-of-the-mouth episode in which he wished for the season to be over. Lee cannot pitch every game so Martinez will need to come up big if the Phillies are to have a shot at repeating.
The good news is, the Phillies have momentum with the win last night. The bad news is, the Yankees are not going to give in and will have their home town crowd to support them. Andy Pettitte will be on 3 days rest, but Pettitte is better on 3 days rest than many pitchers on full rest. And so the battle begins at 7:57pm on Wednesday night.
Here is the full Photo Album from Game 5; the last game of the year at Citizens Bank Park. Go Phillies!
Photos by Jenn
The World Series is now tied at 1 game each as the Yankees came up with a 3-1 win over the Phillies last night. Starting pitchers Pedro Martinez and AJ Burnett both pitched well, but Burnett did a bit better. Burnett was trying to do his best Cliff Lee impersonation and except for 2 hits and a run in the 2nd inning, he did just that.
Martinez allowed 3 runs over 6 innings, but the 3rd run probably should not have happened. Martinez looked like he was done after 6 innings, but Charlie Manuel sent him out for the 7th where he allowed 2 hits with no outs and then had be to taken out. With a bullpen full of fresh arms that had not pitched in 8 days, plus the fact that Martinez has been sick for several days, he never should have started that inning. A one run lead may have been possible to overcome against the Yanks closer, Mariano Rivera, but two runs were insurmountable. Chan Ho Park allowed that 3rd run to score when he came in to relieve Martinez.
Several Phillies have been taken ill these last few weeks. Greg Dobbs was sent back to Philly early as he has the flu; Scott Eyre and Shane Victorino have both been battling illnesses as well. Eyre was in the hospital Thursday night with the flu. So with Martinez catching the bug as well, why push him?
The Phillies did get to Rivera, who was sent in for a two inning save. They managed 2 hits and a walk, proving that Mo is not untouchable. But the decision to not send the runners with two on and two strikes on Utley, who usually makes contact, cost them. The Yankees turned a double play to end the inning, although the replay showed Utley was safe at first.
Prior to that, Matt Stairs had the only RBI for the Phillies after a Raul Ibanez double. The Phillies never figured out Burnett and Ryan Howard even struck out 4 times. 3 of the top 4 hitters did not get a hit and as a team, the Phillies had 6 hits total.
So the good news is, we do not have to see Burnett again for a while and hopefully, not at all. The other good news is the Phillies are headed home where they have played extremely well this post-season. Cole Hamels will pitch on Saturday, which is Halloween. I think Cole should dress up for Halloween as “Hamels: Version 2008.” Hopefully, he can scare the Yanks right out of that game.
Photos by Jenn