I am sure most of us have heard about the Jimmy Rollins – Ryne Sandberg drama at Spring Training this week. To recap very quickly, J-Roll was being J-Roll and let fly a “Who cares?” when asked about the team’s offense. And then Sandberg let fly a telling, “No comment” when asked about Jimmy bringing positive energy to the club. Rollins was benched for 3 straight days (Mon.-Wed.) without having spoken to Sandberg until Thursday.
Before I offer my thoughts on the situation, I will tell you a little story from Spring Training 2009. I make it a habit to arrive to all games, even Spring Training games, many hours early. That is when some of the most entertaining and interesting things happen. Before one 2009 spring game in Bradenton, FL against the Pirates, I witnessed some real J-Roll being J-Roll behavior.
As the team was stretching on the field, manager Charlie Manual was pacing about, looking annoyed. And one player was noticeably absent from the field: Jimmy Rollins. About 20 minutes into this, Rollins suddenly appeared jogging across the field. When the team noticed him, everyone, mid-stretch, stopped what they were doing and began clapping and cheering for Rollins as he approached. It was group sarcasm, although in good fun, to congratulate Rollins for finally showing up.
As I was right up against the fence where they were stretching, I saw and hear nearly everything that happened next. Manual sauntered over to Rollins with his irritated, head-tilted, almost twitchy swagger that we have seen many time over the years. Usually you saw this when Manual was about to confront an umpire.
As Manual berated Rollins, wagging finger and all, Rollins slouched over like a 5 year old getting yelled at for stealing a cookie. He even pouted. Rollins then made various hand gestures to explain how he got stuck in traffic and then got turned around, etc… A lot veteran players these days don’t like taking the team bus to spring away games, so it was not too unusual that Rollins drove himself. Still, everyone else was on-time.
Ryan Howard then wandered over and put his arm around Rollins to comfort him, again, like a 5 year old whimpering after being punished. Manual just kept talking. It was very clear that this was not the first time Rollins broke the rules. And as we all know, it would not be the last.
But under Manual, Rollins got used to being “scolded” and then simply going about his business after some comforting words from a few teammates. This has been a decade-long pattern. So does it really surprise anyone that in this most recent incident Sandberg decided to give Rollins the silent treatment? When you were a kid, what was worse? Getting yelled at or being ignored and having to wonder what you did wrong? The silent treatment doesn’t work on everyone; however, I am sure Sandberg felt like at the very least, he needed to try something different than what Manual had done.
I have heard a lot of criticism of Sandberg the last few days for not speaking to Rollins right away. Personally, I think giving Rollins days to stew over what was going on may have an effect going forward. Although Rollins did nearly hang himself in the media afterwards with comments like, “Well, everyone is allowed to have their own opinion. It doesn’t make it right, but he’s the manager so he gets to have the last say.” I am sure that did not endear him to Sandberg at all. But as the new manager, Sandberg is going to have to think outside the box when dealing with player issues, especially with those players who have become used to a very different style of management.
How will J-Roll react now that he and Sandberg have put the issue to rest? Time will tell.
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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
An odd thing happened today. The Phillies actually showed signs of life as they swept the division leading Braves in a 3-game series. Inspired baseball is not something we have seen a lot of this year, so this game was a real treat.
On top of his game again, Cole Hamels pitched 8 innings, allowing only 2 solo homers, both of which were absolutely murdered off the bat of Evan Gattis. The official word is that the 1st homer went 486 feet, which is a MLB record for the season. Yikes!
But aside from Gattis, Hamels had few problems.
The Phillies scored two runs in the first inning, but could not seem to kick start a rally after that despite some base runners.
Actually, base running was a bit of an adventure on this day. Jimmy Rollins stole a base, which was a plus. But rookie centerfielder Cesar Hernandez got picked off right before that and then was thrown out later in the game because he hesitated going around second base. He received a bit of coaching from Chase Utley in between innings (see photo):
The defense was solid and fans were oohing and ahhing again over Cody Asche, who made a few more spectacular plays.
With the game still tied in the 8th inning, the Phillies needed a spark. Darin Ruf provided the juice, and the lead, with a solo home run, his 13th of the year.
The Phils went into the 9th with a 3-2 lead and, luckily, passed on Jonathan Papelbon who had blown a save the night before. Papelbon also pitched 3 out of the last 4 days. So instead, B.J. Rosenberg pitched a clean 9th inning for his first career save.
Here is the Photo Album from Sunday’s game, including a bunch of pre-game photos.
The Phils are off tomorrow and will face the Padres on Tuesday at 7:05pm.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
Alumni Weekend for the Phillies is something for fans to look forward to each year. Players of the past come back to be celebrated and adored once again. This year, Brad Lidge retired as a Phillie; Curt Schilling was inducted into the Phillies Wall of Fame; and the 1993 NL Championship team was honored on their 20-year anniversary.
The following is a photo diary of Sunday’s events and, unfortunately, a few not-so-fun happenings from the Phillies 1-4 loss to the Braves.
Here is a photo of 1993 manager Jim Fregosi signing my championship pennant and another of the joining the celebration:
Players of old joined current Phillies players at their respective positions prior to the game as the National Anthem was played. Having the 1993 and 2013 players together was a very nice touch. And Darren Daulton got a standing ovation for the 3rd consecutive day. Surviving brain cancer surgery and being able to walk out onto the field with his friends was worth at least that, and much more. It was great to see Dutch still fighting.
But the fun ended there. Unless of course, you count the following events: The top photo shows a camera man focusing in on Kevin Fransden’s rear-end. And I can tell you, he lingered there for quite a while. I want that job.
And the photos below the Frandsen camera-rape episode show that Dan Uggla still has a serious man crush on Chase Utley as he tries to get as close to him as possible during the game. Remember my shocking 2008 All-Star photo of Uggla goosing Utley? In case you do not, I of course included it here for your enjoyment:
And then there was the rest of the game, which was horrible. The only events worth mentioning are the 2 times Braves players were caught in a rundown. One ended peacefully, with Carlos Ruiz applying the tag. The other was not so nice. Total jerk Jason Heyward, rather than take getting picked off like a man, decided to ram Frandsen, sending him flying into the air. I had nothing against Heyward (beside him being a Brave) until that moment. That was completely unnecessary, especially with a 3-run lead and the Braves about to sweep the series:
If a picture paints a thousand words, then these shots speak volumes. Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley look downright infuriated by the team’s current situation. And manager Charlie Manual just looks defeated:
Defeated is a good word; it covers all of angles of this team. They have been defeated literally, figuratively, emotionally and any other way you can think of. The suspension of pitcher Antonio Bastardo today was just adding salt to the wound.
This is about as ugly as one can imagine for the Phillies. The only thing they can hope for now is maybe to find some new, young talent in the coming weeks. And perhaps they are also hoping for a quick end to this painful season.
Here is the full Photo Album from Sunday’s events.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
The 6th inning of Sunday’s Phillies – Tigers game was officially the worst baseball I have ever seen in my life. In fact, there is no point in even discussing the rest of the game that resulted in a 4-12 Phillies loss. This team has fallen far into the deepest recesses of hell…
That one hellish inning included 3 Phillies errors, 8 runs scored by the Tigers, all of which were unearned, a Tigers grand slam and 2 runs scored on walks. Rookie Steve Susdorf committed one of the three errors in his first major league start; this was a day he’d probably like to forget, along with the rest of us.
Veteran shortstop Jimmy Rollins described it best after the game, telling reporters, “That was embarrassing. … If there’s a bottom, this has to be it. I can’t imagine things getting worse than they have this past week, culminating the way they did today.”
And although the trade deadline is just days away, I cannot imagine the Phillies will get much of a return on anyone they plan to dump. Jonathan Papelbon has done his best to ruin any chances of the Phils getting a good return for him in a trade. His salary is ridiculous, his attitude is deplorable and he has blown 5 saves in the last month and a half. He is worth nothing in a trade at this point, unless a team is desperate.
And frankly, nearly everyone else on this team has rendered themselves useless in a trade after this horrific 8-game losing streak.
So what do the Phillies do in the midst of watching this franchise ship sink? They spend $48 million on an unproven Cuban defector. The Phillies signed right-hander Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez to a six-year deal with incentives that could push the total salary to nearly $60 million.
I liken this move to what someone with a gambling addiction does…keep betting higher, despite a long, ugly string of losses (ie: Ryan Howard’s extension, Chad Qualls, releasing Jason Grilli, trading Cliff Lee, Papelbon, etc…). Ruben Amaro Jr. is still gambling away this team’s future and it is hard to watch. I hope I am wrong. Maybe this guy is worth every penny of that $48 million. But with a track record of contract busts, the odds are not in favor of the Phillies.
Welcome to Hell, Phillies fans.
Player photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
The Atlanta Braves did not think it was very sunny in Philadelphia after losing to the Phillies by a score of 7-3. Even in blinding sunshine and near 100 degree temperatures, it was a dark day for the Braves.
Rookie pitcher Jonathan Pettibone was outstanding against a heavy-hitting Braves line-up. Freddie Freeman was so frustrated after striking out at one point that he smashed his bat into the ground, picked it up and then smashed it again. And B.J. Upton was thrown out of the game after mouthing off to the umpire about calling him out on strikes in the 5th inning.
Pettibone went only 5.1 innings, likely due to the excessive heat. It was obvious he was getting tired. But he did manage to leave with only 1 run allowed.
Both the Phillies offense and defense were solid. Domonic Brown had 2 hits, including his 23rd homer of the year. Darren Ruf, starting for Ryan Howard who is now on the DL, had a hit, a walk and scored twice. Carlos Ruiz added 2 hits as well.
The only defensive snafu was when Michael Young, who has been not great at third base lately, nearly ran over Jimmy Rollins going after a pop-up:
And for the most part, the Phillies bullpen held steady. J.C. Ramirez allowed 2 runs in the 6th; those were his first runs allowed since being called up. Aside from that, things were mostly quiet from the 6th inning on.
The Phillies took 2 of 3 from the Braves with this win today. Still, with Howard’s future uncertain and a very young and inexperienced bullpen, this team is going to have to annihilate the Nationals this week to keep GM Ruben Amaro Jr. from breaking up the team.
Here is the Photo Album from today’s game, including shots of Roy Halladay actually throwing pitches before the game! The Doc may not be done just yet…
Game time Monday night is 7:05pm. John Lannan will pitch.
The Phillies have done themselves no favors during the first half of the season. Their mediocre play has left them in 3rd place in the NL East and 9.5 games out of first. Losing 3 out of 4 against the Dodgers this past weekend did not help their case either.
And so the rumor mill begins to turn with names like Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Cliff Lee and Jonathan Papelbon in the mix. If the team does not pick up their play significantly in the next few weeks, this could signal the end of an era. It is hard to envision a Phillies team without Utley or Rollins, but that may soon be the reality.
The most persistent rumor recently has the Red Sox making a run at 3rd baseman Michael Young. The Phillies signed Young as basically a 1-year rental, so his departure would not be surprising. Utley is in the last year of his contract, so losing him is also a possibility, although not one that most people would be very happy about.
Utley may be the most beloved player in franchise history. If the Phillies trade him, they run the risk of alienating a large portion of their fan base. This is guy who blurted out the F-word on national television, not once, but twice, and people still say he can do no wrong. That is a powerful show of affection, especially in a city like Philadelphia.
Rollins, on the other hand, may not be missed quite as much. While he is the longest tenured active Phillie and a former MVP, Rollins still has that magical ability to piss people off. He has made derogatory comments in the past about Philly Fans and he has been criticized for a lack of hustle. More recently, Rollins said he was “not disappointed” with the team’s 1-3 performance in Los Angeles this past weekend.
While Rollins has a point, that being he believes the team will overcome, it still rubs some people the wrong way. Personally, I like Jimmy. He speaks his mind and I respect that. So seeing him in another uniform would be quite a shock. It would not, however, induce the same type of freak-out that losing Utley would.
On Tuesday night, the Phillies pulled out a 3-1 win over the best team in baseball right now, the Pirates. That is still weird to say… However, even that win may not help quite the trade rumors. A sweep of the Bucos might be helpful, but even in a win, the Phillies still have some very obvious, glaring problems.
The bullpen, for example, is a huge mess. It took 3 pitchers who combined to load the bases to get the Phillies through the 8th inning last night. It did work out, but could have easily ended in disaster. The offense is getting better, but they are still not hitting consistently with runners in scoring position. And the defense is very shaky; Delmon Young dropped a routine fly ball last night which is a prime example of the issues on the field.
All we can do now is hold our collective breaths, wait and hope the Phillies can pull out a string of convincing wins before the All-Star break.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
The Phillies ended a 3-game losing streak today with a 7-5 win over the Brewers thanks to some key contributions. And although they nearly blew it in the end, those 7 runs, all scored in the first 2 innings, kept them in the game.
4 of those 7 runs were driven in by Domonic Brown, who is still on fire after a scorching month of May. He fell just a double shy of hitting for the cycle. He and Ryan Howard did their special home run dance after his 3-run homer in the 1st inning to celebrate:
And the hits kept coming…both Jimmy Rollins and Freddy Galvis collected 2 hits apiece. Erik Kratz and John Mayberry Jr. each drove in runs. The Phillies took a 7-0 lead all the way into the 8th inning.
On the mound, Cliff Lee performed his usual magic for 7 straight innings. He struck out 11 batters and appeared to be cruising until the 8th.
Dehydration set in and Lee started giving up hits. He wound up putting 3 runners on base before he was pulled in favor of Justin DeFratus. But even with 2 outs in the inning, DeFratus could not manage to escape unscathed. The Phillies gave up runs in the 8th inning in every game of this Brewers series and this day would be no different. After an almost grand slam that was overturned by replay, the Phils left the 8th inning with only a 7-4 lead.
In the 9th, Jonathan Papelbon was nowhere to be seen. He had apparently taken ill and was not available to pitch. Antonio Bastardo took the mound and allowed another Brewers run as the crowd began to panic. But he finally got out of the inning and the Phils walked away with the win despite the late-inning drama.
Prior to the game, Kyle Kendrick’s father was honored for the Phillies Father’s Day celebration. His very pregnant wife and daughter were there as well, which was really cute.
To see the rest of my photos from the game, check out this Photo Album.
The Phillies will start a 3-game series with the Marlins tomorrow night at 7:05pm. Kendrick will pitch.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography