Is it just me, or is it taking forever to get to the regular season? I was excited when Spring Training began, because a little baseball is better than no baseball. But that excitement has waned slowly and transformed into impatience. Can we get to the real games already!
There is not much else in Philly to get excited about right now. The Flyers are good one day, and suck the next. They are in last place in their division. And the 76ers are all but out of playoff contention, unless a small miracle occurs. And no, that miracle will not be Andrew Bynum, who does not appear to have any desire to play this year. He will sit back and collect his massive paycheck.
Some people are excited about the Papal Conclave in Rome. I get it. I was just in Rome this past October; I took the whole 9-mile tour of the Vatican museums, St. Peter’s and the Sistine Chapel. It was an ethereal experience for sure. But unless the smoke coming out of that chapel chimney signals the start of the regular season, I don’t have much to get excited about.
They will pick a new pope. Some people will celebrate, some will complain and life will go on. But what I really need is some baseball!
I like Spring Training; it is a necessary part of baseball. But some things about it annoy me. Mainly, that it is 6-weeks long, the games don’t count and the fact that I am not in Florida right now. Ugh.
However, there have been a number of rather interesting incidents this spring. A Hooter’s ball girl screwed up and fielded a fair ball (not that interesting I guess; this happens every year); Charlie Manuel was accosted by a strange man on a tricycle at a game against the Astros; and several Phillies playing for Team Canada in the WBC brawled with Team Mexico this past Saturday. Apparently, Pete Orr was thrown out of the game. Tyson Gillies, who has a habit of finding trouble, body slammed a Red Sox pitcher who was playing for Mexico. And Phillies Sebastian Valle, who played for Mexico, swung his catcher’s helmet at opposing players, despite their being at least 3 of his Phillies teammates on Canada’s team. Oops.
So while Spring Training has not been dull, it is just not over yet! But we are half-way there and everyone, so far, is healthy (cross all fingers and toes)…3 weeks to go!
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Having baseball withdrawal yet? Me too. But it is never too soon to begin thinking about the upcoming baseball season. Anytime a new season is on the horizon, the chance to start over and hopes of success in the coming year breed anticipation.
It is this time of year that Phillies fans should sit down and make a practical list of important New Year Resolutions. Here are a few to get you started:
1. Be thankful that you are not a Mets fan. If you run into one, give them a hug. They really need it.
2. When at a game, be mindful of your children. If I wanted slimy, saliva-tainted cotton candy goo in my hair, I would have put it there myself.
3. Please refrain from cussing out loud at the game. There are children all around with sensitive ears. However, if their nasty, cotton-candy goo-infested hands land on you, this rule no longer applies.
4. We can all stop booing Jayson Werth now for moving to D.C.. His .232 batting average last season is punishment enough.
5. Start a petition to award Roy Halladay with the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his bravery in saving a man in the Amazon after an anaconda attack. Could this guy be any more awesome? I think not. I have been up close and personal with such large snakes and can tell you, for Halladay to put himself in danger to save this guy was no small feat. And yes, that is really me in the photo.
6. On Dollar Dog Night, limit yourself to a five dog maximum. Take the other $15 dollars you saved and donate it to Phillies Charities. Your stomach will thank you.
7. I pledge to spend more of my offseason time supporting the Philadelphia Flyers and the 76ers. They have young, exciting teams and also deserve our support. (Do not talk to me about the Eagles though…ugh).
8. Do not yell at the umpires for being blind. The Americans With Disabilities Act says that blindness is a handicap and therefore, it is politically incorrect to poke fun at blind people.
9. For God’s sake, stop spilling your beer at games! The puddles created from the morons behind you flow downward and under your seat, soaking whatever bags you laid there. If you cannot avoid spilling your drinks, please go back to Kindergarten and relearn this skill.
10. Be kind to people, even if they suck or are cheering for an opposing team. You will eventually get back what you give.
I wish you all a safe and happy New Year!
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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
After not allowing a single run to the Padres in two straight games, the Phillies finally yielded on Saturday night in the first inning. Joe Blanton got roughed up quickly. On his first three pitches of the game, he allowed a single and an RBI triple to break the Padres scoreless streak.
But after getting out of the early jam, Blanton settled down and actually pitched very well. In seven innings, he allowed just two runs on eight hits and two walks. Blanton finally lowered his ERA below six; it sits at 5.92 right now and hopefully, will get better as the season progresses.
Placido Polanco got the day off at third base, which seemed like an odd choice considering he is the only Phillie really hitting right now. Wilson Valdez took third and Pete Orr filled in at second. Both players had one hit each, but overall, the offense suffered again.
Jimmy Rollins and Ben Francisco accounted for the Phillies two runs. After Rollins walked in the fourth, Francisco tripled to score him. Then in the sixth, Rollins singled to score Orr who had doubled before him.
Just a quick side note, I noticed last week that Orr already has a fan club, Orr’s Oars. A group of fans have been wielding boat oars in the outfield in Orr’s honor. Also interesting to note, Orr’s cousin, Nick Boynton, plays for the Flyers.
And yes, that is how sad the offense was in this game. I was so bored, I made a hockey reference.
Here are just a few examples of the Phillies offensive woes: Raul Ibanez has not had a hit in 17 at-bats. Frankly, I think John Mayberry Jr. should get some playing time until Ibanez figures it out. And Rollins is batting .120 in his last seven games.
The Padres have similar issues and as such, neither team looked good on offense. That led to extra innings after both teams were unable to score again in a 2-2 tie game. This would become a battle of the bullpens.
As it turned out, the Phillies bullpen came out on top thanks to an RBI-single by Howard in the 11th. That hit was huge for Howard as he had struck out in each of his previous four at-bats. The two runs that scored gave the Phillies a 4-2 lead which Ryan Madson held down for his second save in a row.
The Phillies are up 3-0 in the series with the final game today at 4:05pm.
There’s a hole in the Spectrum! How did that happen? Did no one notice the giant red ball flying towards it this afternoon? It is a historical Philadelphia landmark! And why were all those people just standing around watching the destruction? Oh my!
Wait a second…you say they are tearing it down? It is a scheduled demolition? Soooooooo…they did this on purpose? Oh sorry…my bad.
Just kidding ;o) It was a surreal moment today, watching the Spectrum meet its demise. Although apparently, we can relive that moment everyday for the next 4-6 months, which is the time it is going to take to tear it down with this tiny red ball. Could they not find a larger ball or more efficient means of destruction? Just sayin’…
When the long, drawn out extraction is complete, a brand new entertainment complex called “PhillyLive!” will take the Spectrum’s place, hopefully, in 2012. This will give Philly sports fans a place to wander, eat and party before and after games. Of course the city of St. Louis promised their fans the same type of structure and 4 years later, not a single brick has been laid. Cross your fingers, Philly…
Chairman of Comcast Spectacor Ed Snider spoke before the demolition today. He spoke about his mixed emotions about tearing down the Spectrum and then referred to its official replacement next door as the “Wells Fargo or whatever it’s called building.” The Wells Fargo center has gone though a number of name changes over the years including CoreStates Center, First Union Center (affectionately known as the FU center) and Wachovia Center.
With the Snider name comment and seeing the gaping hole in the side of the Spectrum, my brain began translating the data into an old children’s song. In my mind, “There’s a Hole In The Bucket” suddenly became “There’s a Hole In The Spectrum.” Not familiar with the song? Take a look:
Now that you remember the song, sing along with my newly fabricated lyrics:
There’s a hole in the Spectrum, dear Flyers, dear Sixers,
There’s a hole in the Spectrum, dear Philly,
There’s a hole.
Then trash it Mr. Snider, Mr. Snider, Mr. Snider,
Then trash it dear Mr. Snider, Mr. Snider, trash it.
But where will you play now, dear Flyers, dear Sixers,
But there will you play now, dear Philly, play where?
In the FU, I mean Wachovia, I mean WtF Center, Mr. Snider, Mr. Snider, Mr. Snider,
WTF is it’s name now, Mr. Snider, Mr. Snider, it’s name?
We cannot remember, dear Flyers, dear Sixers,
The name keeps on changing, dear Philly, keeps changing.
Then make up your mind, Mr. Snider, Mr. Snider
Make a freaking decision, Mr. Snider, decide!
It’s the Wells Fargo Center, dear Flyers, dear Sixers,
It’s the Wells Fargo Center, dear Philly, at least it is for now…
We will still miss the Spectrum, Mr. Snider, Mr. Snider, Mr. Snider,
We will still miss the Spectrum, Mr. Snider, miss it.
There’s a hole in the Spectrum, dear Flyers, dear Sixers,
There’s a hole in the Spectrum, dear Philly,
I do hope everyone enjoyed my rendition :O) And while we are on the subject, what is your favorite memory of the Spectrum? Mine was seeing Pearl Jam close the lace down officially last October. Had they rocked any harder, the little red ball may not have been needed at all!
Pearl Jam photo by Jenn Zambri Photography; Spectrum photo by Philly.com
This past Tuesday, the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame hosted their 4th annual Golf Classic at the Huntingdon Valley Country Club. The Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of Philly sports history which inducts new members annually.
The golf event was attended by many Philadelphia stars, including former Phillies, Flyers, 76ers and Eagles, along with broadcasters and other special guests. I was asked to be the photographer for the event, which was in honor of the memory of Harry Kalas. This is a tribute table with a few of Harry’s belongings and memorabilia:
The day included a putting contest, lunch, shotgun golf round, live and silent auctions, a million dollar hole-in one contest and the “High Hopes” reception and dinner. Much of the time was spent by chatting with VIP guests as well as enjoying the golf course. By the way, former Phillie Darren Daulton promised me the Phillies would be snapping out of their current funk very soon. I am holding him to that.
From top to bottom, left to right, here is Darren along with Greg Luzinski, Terry Harmon, Andy Ashby, Tyler Green, Mike Mamula (former Eagle), someone I do not know and Dickie Noles. If you know who the mystery guest is, feel free to let me know ;o)
Other sports were represented as well. This next photo collage includes former Eagles coach Dick Vermeil, former Eagles player Chuck Bednarik who was showing me his bent finger, former Eagles Eddie Khayat and Vince Papale and former Flyer, Bernie Parent, possibly the most entertaining man on the planet. If you have never met Bernie, you are missing out on a real treat. The man is a ball of energy and funnier than most professional comedians:
I have tons of other photos which show many other big stars from the day and all of the events that went on. Feel free to check that out. Thanks to the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame for inviting me! It was a memorable day.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
Ryan Howard showed everyone today why he is an All-Star; Howard went 3 for 3 with 3 RBI and 2 walks. But more importantly, he came up to bat in the 9th inning with 1 out, 2 men on base and the Phillies trailing by 3 runs and he saved the day. Howard nailed a 3 run home run to centerfield to tie up a game which, until that moment, looked like a sure loss for the Phillies against the last place Pirates.
Howard had some help though; Raul Ibanez, in his first start since coming off the DL, doubled after Howard’s home run; it was Ibanez’s 2nd hit of the night. After that, Pedro Feliz singled, Jayson Werth was walked to load the bases and Paul Bako stepped to the plate. You may be asking, Bako who? Bako, in his 12th year in the majors and playing for his 10th different team as a back-up catcher, made name for himself in Philly tonight. He whacked a single through a hole in the infield, scoring Ibanez and giving the Phils an 8-7 win. Bako is batting only .214 and his lifetime average hovers right around only .230, but that did not matter tonight. With his second hit of the game, he got the job done.
The Phillies really needed some heroics tonight after Cole Hamels had another bad outing. In 6 innings, Hamels allowed 6 runs on 7 hits, which included 3 home runs. Hamels even allowed a home run to Andrew McCutchen, who had only 1 homer the entire year until tonight. Another went to Delwyn Young, who in a 4 year career, had only 5 home runs until Hamels helped him to #6. Can you say BAD location? Apparently, Hamels can and we all wish he would unlearn that particular phrase.
The bullpen had a bad night too; Chad Durbin allowed 2 runs, one of which scored when Scott Eyre came in to relieve him and walked a run home; a combination bad effort. But we are all entitled to have bad days, and for the Phillies pitchers, this was certainly one of those; especially since it came against the Pirates. But it was all erased with the outpouring of offense late in the game.
Only one game left before the All-Star break! The Pirates will try to salvage a game and the Phillies will try to stop them; 1:35pm tomorrow.
Sale At The Spectrum
Did anyone else attend the Spectrum sale earlier today? I was there and oh boy, what a mess! For the first time ever, the Phillies, Sixers and Flyers joined forces to host a blow-out sale of discontinued merchandise at low prices.
I spoke to a Spectrum representative as the horror was unfolding and he told me that they were expecting, and only prepared for, 500 people. What they got was thousands upon thousands and as a result, a lot of very unhappy customers. Check out lines, which began with 2 cashiers on each side (Phillies side & Sixers/Flyers side) took hours to get through. No exaggeration…hours. And it was like watching cattle being herded; the small shopping area was jam packed with shoulder-to-shoulder shoppers and you could barely move. Meanwhile, thousands of other shoppers formed a line outside the building waiting to be let in.
I got there early, as I expected a crowd, unlike the Spectrum management, so I did get in with the first group and got some pretty cool stuff. But, it took me over 2 hours, with help, to do so. Most of the merchandise was old playoff gear, but a few nice finds were there. And the lines began to thin out after the management added a cash only line and a few more cashiers. I do believe that next year, they will be a bit more prepared. At any rate, it was a real adventure.
Photos by Jenn