The Phillies closer, Brad Lidge, has been activated off the disabled list for tonight’s match-up with the rival New York Mets. The question is, will Lidge’s return be a good thing or a bad thing for the Phillies? Lidge had a very bad 2009 and the off-season avalanche of injuries does not breed confidence. However, can things get much worse for this bullpen? Probably not.
In that case, Lidge’s return should be a good thing. He swears he is 100% and totally pain free. We would all love to believe this. Hopefully, he will come out tossing lightning bolts and put any doubts to rest. Left-hander Antonio Bastardo has been optioned to AAA to make room on the roster.
So tonight begins a 3-game set with the Mets and my faithful readers, you know what that means: J-Roll Smurf is back! And he has brought his special voodoo Smurf magic with him to beat the Mets. Although the real J-Roll is still on the disabled list, he is with us in spirit. And J-Roll Smurf, with a little help from his friends, is promising a win tonight! Well, that is unless of course Kyle Kendrick bombs and crushes J-Roll Smurf’s poor, helpless little soul. Please Mr. Kendrick, have pity on J-Roll Smurf; after all, he is only 3-apples tall.
Speaking of small, fluffy critters, Chase and Jen Utley held their annual “Utley’s All-Star Animals” event last night. Over 450 people attended the casino-theme night with all proceeds to benefit the PSPCA. And for the 3rd year in a row, it appears again that my invitation must have been lost in the mail. Because everyone knows what a huge animal activist I am, so how could they possibly forget me? Damn those mailmen! Leave it the US government to ruin my day. Oh well, maybe next year…
Game time tonight is 7:05pm…Go Phillies!
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
Is anyone else as bored as I am this off-season? It has been 9 whole days without baseball; the more than 1 week layoff has me going a tad stir-crazy. Want to see how bored I am? Read on…
What’s In A Name
Shakespeare said that a rose, if by any other name, would still smell as sweet. But what if we called it a carnation instead? Or how about a dandelion? It still smells good, but doesn’t “rose” just sound better?
The question I pose then is does the Silver Slugger award seem to denote, if only in name alone, that it is a runner-up to the Gold Glove award? Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino both took home a Gold Glove this year and now, Chase Utley has been awarded his 4th consecutive Silver Slugger. All these awards are obviously well deserved, but should the “Sluggers” feel slighted that their awards are only silver and not gold?
Ok, so both of the words “Silver Slugger” start with “S” and “Gold Glove” with “G”…I get that. Very cute in a Sesame Street kind of way. But why can’t we just call it the “Great Big Bat” award? I do not know any man on the planet that would not be thrilled with both the name and the connotation ;o) And since it is all about size here, why not a “Gigantic Glove” award in stead of “Gold”? I mean, aren’t the words “Gold” and “Silver” kind of woosie and girly in nature? Toss those out and give us some masculine power phrases! Put some testosterone into it! The legal kind, of course ;o)
I therefore dub Chase Utley the winner of the Great Big Bat Award! There, don’t you feel better now? Expressions of gratitude are accepted in all forms….thanks ;o)
Speaking of thanks, check out this interview with the Utley’s at home that Access Hollywood put together. The wife, Jen Utley, tells Chase she loves him as he is getting ready to leave the house at the end of the video. And his response? “Thanks.” See, I told you he needed a more masculine award name because that response if off the charts caveman-style. Funny stuff…
A Pop Culture Moment
Totally unrelated to baseball, has everyone heard about poor little Taylor Swift? It seems that the teenage Country singing star just cannot stay out of the firing line. First, Kanye West crushed her little soul when he interrupted her “Best Female Video” acceptance speech at the VMA Awards and lobbied that Beyonce should have won. West later apologized and heaps of bad jokes ensued.
Then in a more recent twist, poor Swift was dissed by Country Queen, Wynonna Judd in an interview. Judd told USA Today that all the awards Swift received at the CMA Awards were “too much, too soon.” But of course, Judd quickly apologized for the remarks and heaped praise upon the 19-year old.
However, the real back-breaker was when Jenn of Phillies Phollowers said on her blog, at this exact moment, “I do not like Taylor Swift’s music. Frankly, it sucks.” Jenn remains unapologetic to this very minute. No word yet on the potential fall-out that is sure to ensue…stay tuned!
Photo by Jenn
With a 3-2 victory over the Braves last night to win the series 2 game to 1, the Phillies will have an 8-game lead in the NL East over both the Braves and the Marlins going into September. Joe Blanton pitched another beautiful game and got through 7 innings of one run ball; the only run came off a solo homer from Martin Prado in the first inning. Blanton looked a bit shaky through those first few innings, but settled in well and only gave up 3 hits.
And for the 2nd night in a row, Chase Utley went yard; his solo shot to right field in the 4th was the only run for the Phillies until Carlos Ruiz stepped up in the 7th. In honor of the Ruiz backpack night, a giveaway for kids 14 and under, Ruiz smacked a double to left to score Raul Ibanez and Pedro Feliz. Ruiz went 3 for 3 on the night; it was his 5th 3-hit game of the year. Maybe the Phillies should give away a Ruiz bobble head next?
In the not-so-great offensive category, the Phillies are still struggling with runners in scoring position. They left 14 men on base and again, had the bases loaded with no outs and failed to score. Blanton hit a line-drive to first base and Ruiz was double off after the catch. Jimmy Rollins then hit a weak grounder to end the inning. The offensive outage is concerning, but thanks to great pitching, they came out on top.
Defense was a big part of the win as well. Ryan Madson, who is entering Brad Lidge-bad territory, got into a huge jam in the 8th inning again. He hit the first batter he faced and then gave up back-to-back singles which scored a run for the Braves. Without recording an out, he was removed from the game and Scott Eyre took over.
Brain McCann then hit a sharp grounder to Utley, who fielded it perfectly and flipped to Rollins who threw to Feliz at third; Feliz tagged Chipper Jones for the unusual 4-6-5 double play. Having eliminated the lead runner, Eyre saved the Phillies from disaster and gave Lidge a 3-2 lead to work with. Amazingly, Lidge nailed down the save with relative ease; it was his second save in a row. Whew!
By the way, did anyone see the actor, Paul Rudd (movies: “I Love You, Man”; “Anchorman”; “Knocked Up”), sitting in the 10th row behind home plate last night? He was just a few sections over from me so I took a few photos. The woman next to him (right side, dark brown hair) is none other than Jen Utley, Chase’s wife.
A very welcome off-day is upon us as the Phillies offense needs to rest and charge up for the September charge. Watch for September call-up’s which may include pitchers Kyle Kendrick, Jack Taschner and Rodrigo Lopez; infielders Mike Cervenak and Andy Tracy; outfielders John Mayberry Jr. and Jason Ellison; and we will likely see a catcher added – maybe Paul Hoover. Those are my guesses anyway.
A lot of moves will be made as the Phillies are also anticipating the return of Brett Myers, JC Romero and Clay Condrey to the bullpen plus Greg Dobbs. All four have been on the DL and are very close to coming back.
And finally, here is the complete Photo Album from last night’s Phillies – Braves game. Tomorrow, the San Francisco Giants come to town for 3 games and some serious pitching battles will ensue. You may remember the Phillies were stomped in San Fran back in July, losing 3 out of 4 games. The Giants are tied for a wildcard spot right now so this will be a very tough match match-up. Cole Hamels starts it off tomorrow at 7:05pm.
Photos by Jenn
The Phillies held their annual Phestival yesterday to raise money for the search in finding a cure for ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Players, their wives, broadcasters and Phillies staff were on hand to sign autographs, play games for prizes with the fans and auction off items for the charity. The Phillies Wives sold grab bags for $20 each which contained a variety of goodies; I wound up with a PILE of fun stuff including a Chase Utley signed hat, given out by Mrs. Utley herself, a Phanatic bobblehead, a few signed balls, a yearbook and other cool items. In addition, I had some of my photos signed by the players to add to my collection.
Cole Hamels wins my Photo of The Day award. He was gracious enough to pose for me, as were many others.
PHOTO ALBUM from the day to see more!
Check out my
PHOTO ALBUM from the day to see more!
The player in highest demand yesterday was none other than RAUUUUUUL Ibanez! And Ryan Howard was absent from the event due to his recent illness, which has been termed “acute sinusitis.” While some fans were disappointed to miss out on a rare Howard autograph, most were more concerned for his health and wished him well. Howard did not travel with the team last night to Florida, but he may fly in before the game tonight. It will depend on how he is feeling.
Overall, the Phestival was a huge success. The money raised surpassed any previous year’s total with $867,670 going to the ALS cause. And as you may imagine, with a World Championship last year, more and more fans were interested in attending. It was crowded as usual, but ran very smoothly, in slight contrast to the previous year, which was a little more hectic. The only real criticism I have is that the Phillies need to put a limit on the number of tickets each person can buy. I saw several people in line to exchange autograph tickets before the gates opened who had stacks of tickets 3 inches high. 2 people told me they had bought 75 tickets and 80 tickets, respectively! So, it is no wonder that many fans this week were complaining about not being able to get autograph tickets…a few greedy people bought them all!
What really burns me up about this is not only that they took away opportunities for more fans to support the charity, but that these people who hoard the autograph tickets are only doing so to make money. They get bunches of autographs and then sell them on E-bay, depriving REAL fans of their chance to meet a few players and get some souvenirs. This year, The Phillies did finally limit the number of tickets you could exchange at the ticket window to 1 per player signing station, which helped. But, they really need to limit the number of tickets sold to one person when they go on sale. 5,500 people showed up, but how many more would have if the tickets were spread out amongst more people? More people = more money for the charity. Maybe next year, they will rethink that part of it.
In other news, Clay Condrey has been placed on the 15-day DL to punch another hole in our already beleaguered bullpen. Condrey has an oblique strain, which may account for his recent struggles. Sergio Escalona will be called up again to take his spot. Condrey was at the Phestival though, signing for the fans, even though he appeared to be just a little bummed out. I wish him a speedy recovery!
Your daily reminder: Be sure to elect the Phillies to the All-Star game! VOTE up to 25 times per day, per email address!
Photos by Jenn
The Phillies are on their way home! Whooo hooo! Today’s 12-10 loss to the Nationals will go down as a blip on the radar screen as the boys prepare for the real thing this Sunday.
A few things worth mentioning from today’s game: Jamie Moyer had a BAD day; 9 earned runs on 11 hits and 2 walks. The good news: 1 – It did not count. 2 – He has gotten the crappy pitching all out of his system and can now get down to business :O) We hope…
Also note worthy, Pedro Feliz had a very GOOD game :O) Feliz went 4 for 5 with 3 doubles and a home run, collecting 3 RBI and scoring twice. Needless to say, even after a difficult back surgery, the 3rd baseman is ready to go! Funny story about Feliz for you…the photo to the left is one I took last April and towards the end of last year, I printed it and asked him to sign it before a game one day. He took the photo, looked up at me, and said, “This is not me.” I giggled and told him that in fact, it was him. He showed it to the security guard standing next to him who proceeded to crack up and told Feliz I was correct, it was him. Pedro smiled at me, signed the photo and handed it back. Slightly embarrassed, he kept smiling and wandered off. Poor guy; guess he does not use a mirror too often. Either that or the sun had fried his brain that day :O) Ok, in his defense, Feliz is clean shaven in the photo, which he usually is not. So, one could deduct that he was thrown off by the lack of facial hair.
It is probably a well know fact by now that Chase & Jen Utley LOVE animals, but have you heard them talk about it? Below is an interview from WMMR radio done on Tuesday with Jen in the studio and Chase on the phone from Florida. Jen was there to promote today’s “Pup Rally” to benefit the PA SPCA; the event will be held from 5pm to 7pm at Rittenhouse Square. Donations of cash, toys and blankets will be accepted and there will also be animals available to adopt. Stop by if you get a chance and help a give an unwanted animal a good home! Here is the interview:
Fun note: Utley did admit during the interview that he missed Jen more than their dog while away at Spring Training. It was either that, or he’d be in the dog house tonight ;O)
The Phillies have 2 games coming up tomorrow and Saturday against their World Series rivals, the Tampa Bay Rays for the On Deck Series. After that, it is GO time! 3 days left!
(Photos by Jenn)
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Much like a pool shark, Myers had us all fooled in the first inning of tonight’s game against the Marlins, giving up 3 runs on 3 hits and 2 walks. But then like a professional hustler, once the Fish felt safe and under control, he came out firing bullets. An offensive outburst followed and the shark continued to munch on the fish to the tune of 11 strikeouts in 8 innings and no more runs allowed after that first inning. Throw in some homers by Utley (of course!), Howard and Coste, and you’ve got one impressive victory over the Marlins, 12-3. So, it looks like Myers is back on track. This type of win is exactly what he needed to get back that confidence he’s been lacking and really, for him to finally feel like a true starting pitcher again. Yeah, Brett!
In other news, last night Chase & Jen Utley hosted “Utley All-Star Animals” Casino Night to raise funds for the Pennsylvania SPCA. The Utley’s have made their love of puppies, kitties and other cuddly creatures well known over the years and this event was the culmination of many of their efforts in the local Philly area towards the prevention of animal cruelty. They are to be commended for their efforts! Here is a video clip from the event as shown on Comcast Sportsnet:
My only complaint really is that it was an “invitation only” fundraiser and apparently, my invitation was lost in the mail J You see, in my little fantasy world, I like to believe that Chase may have married the wrong Jen. No disrespect to Mrs. Utley of course, she is a lovely woman, but Chase just got confused. Let’s start with, I am Jenn with 2 “N’s.” She has only one. We both love puppies & kitties…easy to be confused there. Obviously, we both love baseball players. But here is where he really should have gone with me…I have a Bachelor’s degree in Animal Science. She majored in Dance & History. Now, who loves the puppies & kitties more? Hmmm… Also, she apparently either does not take an interest in Chase’s “mind” or she is just easily confused as well….play the video and you will see what I mean:
Now had Chase married me, I surely would have remembered what his college major was. Especially if we went to the same school AND had the exact same major! Ok, ok, so I am obviously dreaming here and will never marry Chase Utley. But it was a fun thought for like 5 minutes J Thank you for your indulgence. Honestly, having met Jen Utley, I can say she really is great. A very kind person who really does love animals and is passionate about the cause she supports. I wish her and Chase the best of luck in their efforts and hope they have lots of little baby Utley’s together J
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:
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!