Named the starting pitcher for the National League in Tuesday’s All-Star game, Roy Halladay gave it his best All-Star effort. He pitched two perfect innings using only 19 pitches.
Cliff Lee went right after Halladay, pitching a perfect third inning. But in the fourth, he ran into trouble, allowing a solo homer to Red Sox Adrian Gonzalez. Fresh off the Home Run Derby, Gonzalez was primed and ready to go yard.
But in the bottom half of the inning, Brewer Prince Fielder erased the homer with one of his own, a 3-run shot that hit the top of the padded wall in center field.
The NL added on two more runs for a 5-1 lead. The NL pitches held the lead and Brian Wilson of the Giants finished the game, getting the final two outs and frightening people with his enormous, black beard.
Also very amusing was the Padres’ reliever Heath Bell who made a grand entrance in the top of the eighth inning. He ran full-speed towards the mound and pulled off a feet-first, pop-up slide just before he arrived at the pitchers’ mound. At 6’3″, 260 pounds, Bell’s slide was quite a sight to behold. The Padres are probably just glad he did not snap an ankle.
So the National League won, giving them home field advantage, which we hope will benefit the Phillies. Three other Phillies attended, but did not play in the game. Both Shane Victorino and Placido Polanco are hurt and Cole Hamels was not allowed to pitch because he started on Sunday.
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Photo by David J. Phillip – AP
Earlier today, the Phillies finally got the deal done with manager Charlie Manuel. The two-year extension will take him through the 2013 season.
In a press conference, Manuel expressed his desire to stay with the Phillies until he leaves baseball. Manuel discussed other teams he has worked with and then stated, “I’m a Phillie. If I cut my arm it’s going to be red blood, not blue.”
Well, unless Charlie is a horseshoe crab or an octopus, I am pretty sure he bleeds red. But seriously, it is great to have a guarantee for Charlie before the season starts.
During Manuel’s time in Philly, the team has the best record in the National League. Manuel has won 544 games with the Phillies plus four division titles, one league title and , of course, the 2008 World Series Championship.
Spring Training Update
The Phillies are plugging along through spring training despite losing both Chase Utley and Domonic Brown to injuries. Utley is still out indefinitely. Brown had successfully surgery to remove the hamate bone in his hand and is expected to play again in four to six weeks.
Today, Roy Halladay pitched six scoreless innings against the Yankees, allowing only four hits. Halladay was sharp and used his curve ball more than usual in preparation for the season.
While winning by a score of 7-0, the Phillies saw contributions from several lesser-known players. One of those players, Josh Barfield, went 2 for 3, including a triple today. He is hitting .538 in 13 at-bats so far this spring. Barfield is a second baseman who spent parts of four seasons in the majors with the Indians and Padres. He hit .294 with 36 RBI last year in the Indians AAA club.
Barfield has been impressive, which may be of great importance now that Utley’s future is uncertain. Wilson Valdez is an option as well, but it could not hurt to have an extra infielder right now.
Photoshopping by Jenn Zambri Photography
Charlie Manuel’s contract as manager of the Philadelphia Phillies is set to expire at the end of the 2011 season. With Spring Training just weeks away, the Phillies have yet to finalize an extension for their skipper.
No manager likes to enter a season with their status up in the air. It can raise questions about why a manager is not yet resigned and can sometimes even undermine a manager’s authority in the clubhouse.
In the case of Charlie Manuel, the Phillies surely must want him back. A winning percentage of .560 over six years with the team, four Division titles, a National League Pennant and a World Series Championship should be reason enough for an extension.
The only feat Manuel has yet to accomplish is a second World Series title. If the Phillies are trying to squeeze more than that out of him, they may have to hook Manuel up to an IV to give blood.
Besides the winning record, Manuel has many intangible qualities that make him a perfect fit for this franchise. The players love him. They play hard not just for the love of the game, but for their love and respect of Charlie.
Because of his reputation as a player’s manager, other major leaguers want to come to Philadelphia. Just ask Cliff Lee. He turned down more money and additional years to come back and play for Manuel in 2011.
The fans love Charlie too. They love him not only because he brought winning baseball back to Philadelphia, but also for his kind, approachable attitude. Fans can walk right up to him and engage in a conversation.
Manuel genuinely respects and appreciates the fans, treating them as equals.
The Phillies should take that to heart and give the same respect and appreciation back to Manuel. Whether it is two or three years, give the man what he wants. He has earned it.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
In a press conference today, Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. discussed many issues including free agents, the “age” issue and the disappointing offense this year.
The hot topic of discussion centered around right fielder, Jayson Werth. Amaro did not close the door on the issue by any means, but it certainly seems like a long shot for Werth to return.
Werth stated in a later press conference that he was “looking forward to the experience of being a free agent” and that “Philly is one of the teams in consideration.” He also hired monster agent Scott Boras in September; the only reason to do this is if he is looking for a huge contract, which the Phillies likely cannot afford.
Amaro was quick to point out Werth’s struggles this year: “It wasn’t an extraordinary year. He had a tough time with men in scoring position. It wasn’t as productive a year as he’s had in the past.” In fact, Werth batted only .186 in these situations which ranks 215th out of 218 qualified players.
My gut feeling is that Werth will not be back. I predict he will be in Yankees pinstripes soon; New York is geographically in the same area plus his stepfather, Dennis Werth, played for the Yankees from 1979-1981. Not to mention that the Yanks may be one of the few teams who can afford to pay him what he wants.
As for the aging Phils, Amaro did not seem overly concerned saying that the team’s core players are “very productive players and they’re not beyond their prime years.” He also added that an injection of youth may be a good thing as well. If Domonic Brown takes over for Werth, that is one step towards getting younger.
While it was not discussed today, my thought is that moving Raul Ibanez who is owed $11.5 million next year is a good way to clear up payroll space as well as get a little younger. We love Rauuuuul…however, he has been streaky at best and will turn 39 in June. Then again, it will not be easy to move an declining player with a hefty salary so, this may not even be possible.
Also up for discussion was the lack of offensive production which prompted many questions about a possible shake-up. Amaro seems happy with the core of the team but did note that they “just didn’t have the right approach” at the plate. He also stated that, “Some guys may be looking at preparing a little differently for the 2011 season as they get older.” Amaro noted Jimmy Rollins in this category and said all the innings he has played over the years may be taking a toll.
I looked it up; among all active players, Rollins, age 31, ranks 32nd in career at-bats with 6291. Among players 31 years of age or younger, he has the 2nd most career at-bats behind only Adrian Beltre with 6874 at-bats. So yes, Rollins may need a different off-season routine to keep up this pace.
Mike Sweeney Needs A Hug
One of the most difficult moments after Saturday’s loss was watching veteran Mike Sweeney give a post-game interview. He was nearly in tears as he discussed the end of the season and contemplated his future:
Prior to the interview, Sweeney could be been seen in the background of a Ryan Madson interview, standing for a long time, still in uniform, with his head resting against his locker. After a while, he sat, clearly downtrodden, and put his head in his hands.
This was a heartbreaking scene. Sweeney has been praised by nearly everyone for his team spirit, positive attitude and for been an amazing and kind human being. His long, productive career aside, this is a quality guy and it was painful to see him in such agony after the loss, especially when he had only one at-bat the whole post-season. He did make the most it though, with a pinch hit in the NLDS.
If you would like to offer a virtual HUG to Mr. Sweeney, please visit my Facebook page, “I Want A Hug From Mike Sweeney” and share your thoughts. I am going to see if I can get someone to direct him to the page in the hopes that our messages of support might lift his spirits.
Thank you to all the Sweeney supporters already out there for stopping by!
Werth photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
The Phillies lost Game 6 of the NLCS to the Giants last night, prematurely ending their season. The Giants will go on to face the Texas Rangers in the World Series while the Phils sit at home and watch. Having made it to the World Series two straight years, this loss was tough to take.
The game ended, perhaps fittingly, on a Ryan Howard strike out with 2 men on base. Howard struck out 12 times in 22 at-bats and had zero RBI the entire series. This performance was a microcosm of entire Phillies playoff run where the big producers did very little. Chase Utley hit .182 with only 1 RBI; Shane Victorino batted .208 with only 2 RBI; Carlos Ruiz hit .167 with only 1 RBI…you get the picture.
In last night’s game, the Phils had plenty of chances to turn things around and force a Game 7; they simply did not do it. Roy Oswalt pitched a great game while Jonathan Sanchez did not.
The Phillies took advantage of Sanchez early in the 1st inning; after a walk and a wild pitch, Utley doubled, Howard singled and Jayson Werth hit a sac fly. Two runs scored and it looked like the Phils were in control.
It started out similar in the bottom of the 3rd inning too; Sanchez walked Placido Polanco and then hit Utley in the upper back. As Utley ran to first, the ball bounced to him; he caught it and underhanded it to Sanchez who then started spewing cuss words at Utley. If you read his lips, Utley said, “What? What’s bulls*it?” And then the benches cleared…
Here are some photos I took and I have marked where a few interesting things are going on in the group. You can see Carlos Ruiz getting pretty angry; Utley running in while Polanco tries to restrain a Giants player; Pat Burrell right in the middle of the argument having words with his old friends; JC Romero trying to hold back Sanchez:
Utley and Sanchez have a history; Sanchez threw at his head on 7/30/09, to which Utley said nothing. Later, Utley called time out during his at-bat and Sanchez got mad about when he called it. Utley then took him deep for a homer to right. Apparently, Sanchez has issues with Utley.
Anyway, after the near-brawl on the field, Sanchez was pulled; the Phillies had two free base runners with NO outs and still failed to score. That may have been the moment that changed the entire season for the Phillies. Because in the top of the inning, everything had gone wrong for the Phils defensively. Getting a run after that may have made the difference.
The 3rd started with a hit by the pitcher Sanchez which Utley should have fielded and did not. A single and a sac bunt were followed by this missed fly ball to Victorino:
On the very same play, Victorino threw home and Ruiz made the tag to save a run:
The Phils could have escaped with just the one run scored but Polanco got a ground ball and was charged with a throwing error as Howard did not make the catch at first. Frankly, it looked like a ball he should have caught. Another run scored on the error to tie the game 2-2.
It was a virtual stalemate after that for a while. The Phillies had chances to score, like in the 5th when Howard doubled but the 3rd base coach held Jimmy Rollins at third. With two outs and little offense working, he should have been sent home.
In the 6th, Raul Ibanez doubled and Ruiz moved him to third with a bunt. But pinch hitter Ben Francisco went down on strikes instead of hitting a much needed sac fly. No scoring…again. In all, the Phillies left 11 men on base and went 2 for 11 with runners in scoring position. It was a lackluster effort, just like most of this series was for the Phillies.
Werth did make a heroic catch in foul territory, which was one of the few highlights:
But in the 8th, forced to pitch his 2nd inning of the night, Ryan Madson gave up a solo homer to Juan Uribe which broke the tie. The Phillies could not manage a rally, down by only one run and with many base runners. They lost 3-2 and sent the Giants to the World Series.
I would like to congratulate the Giants and their fans for the victory. They are a great team who fought hard and earned it. The Phillies did not play like the team we all know and that is the most disappointing part. But to have made it this far is still an accomplishment as 26 other teams did not.
In the coming days, I will be analyzing the aftermath and looking ahead to what next season might bring. For today, I will quietly mourn the end of the 2010 Phillies season and try to look on the bright side later.
Here is the full Photo Album from the game. It includes game shots, pre-game, Darren Daulton tossing the 1st pitch, Kane Kalas singing God Bless America and more…
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
Roy Halladay really is Superman. That is evident after last night’s gutsy, one-legged performance. With what has been diagnosed as a mild to moderate groin strain, Halladay pitched 6 innings against the Giants, holding them to only 2 runs and leading the Phillies to victory. Because of Halladay’s heroics, the Fightin’ Phils live to fight another day.
The Phillies say that Halladay is day-to-day and it is unclear how to injury might affect him going forward. However, that should not be a concern right now because the Phillies have to get to the World Series first before they worry about that. Some have asked if Halladay could pitch out of the bullpen in a possible Game 7, but if it goes that far, Cole Hamels should have it under control.
Halladay’s teammates were impressed with his courage and determination; many of them, like Placido Polanco, had no idea anything was wrong until after the game. Polanco was asked about it in a post-game interview and said, “He didn’t tell anybody. So I didn’t know.” Shane Victorino was aware and said after the game, “After a couple innings I was like, ‘God, this guy is pitching on one leg. Really?’ His velocity wasn’t 92, 93 (mph). It was 89, 90. That shows me what he’s about.”
Hopefully, this act of heroism is what will inspire the team and propel them to their 3rd consecutive World Series. Game 6 tomorrow!
Bigot Offends Entire City
After Game 3 on Tuesday Bruce Newman, whom I will loosely call a “journalist” for the Mercury News in San Jose, posted an article bashing Philadelphia fans. He called it “The City of Brotherly Loathe,” claiming that San Francisco fans are classy and Philly fans are basically trash. He based this on examples like the kid who got tasered, the 40-year old Santa Claus snowball incident and a few interviews in which comments were taken out of context and Phillies fervor was mischaracterized as “shocking behavior.” He made “booing” seem like a cardinal sin.
Like a grade school bully, Newman even went as far as to poke fun at Philly’s “artery-clogging cheesesteaks,” basically calling Philly fans fat. By the way, they serve cheesesteaks in San Fran too. I took this writer to school and sent him a scathing reply to this disgusting, prejudiced piece of trash he wrote. I will share that with you in a moment.
By the way, I have not gotten any response, although I know 3 other people who did hear back and Newman’s comments to them were just as rude as the article. One comment was a sarcastic, “Have a nice winter.” To another letter by a writer at Crossing Broad, he replied by thanking the person for generating more traffic to his web site and said, “If I thought you had something significant to say, I would have sent a more meaningful response.”
Please also note that I do not wish to have my previously undisclosed comments in the letter below to color anyone’s view of San Francisco. These were simply real and telling examples for this idiot to illustrate that every city has good and bad fans, good and bad people. San Fran is a nice town overall, but like all places around the earth, they have their issues as well. Here is the letter I sent him:
You should be ashamed of yourself for the article bashing Philadelphia fans. It was journalistically irresponsible, morally reprehensible and just plain rude. To see a supposed professional writer characterize an entire city by the actions of a few bad people is truly disgusting.
There are good fans and bad fans in every sports town. I do not condone the actions of those who have behaved horribly, but I also do not claim that as a basis for slandering an entire city. I have been to dozens of stadiums all over America and can tell you, every city has their bad apples. Let us examine your own beloved San Francisco as an example.
In 2008, a teenage fan killed another fan outside the park after an argument. Should I then conclude that all Giants fans are murderers? Let’s take a look at my own personal experiences in San Francisco just last year. I was walking outside the ball park taking photos of the stadium and surrounding areas while wearing a Phillies jersey. 3 adult male Giants fans in their own team apparel approached me, a solo, middle-aged woman minding her business, and began screaming at me and shouting obscenities about the Phillies. I ignored them and started to walk away. They not only followed me, they caught up, surrounded me, got right in my face and continued the intimidation up close. Many other Giants fans walked past and did nothing to help. After asking nicely for them to move on, I actually had to shove my way through the group and quickly shuffled into a nearby McDonalds where I waited for them to leave the area.
I certainly did not expect to be accosted in broad daylight with all those other people milling about. Do I now think that all, or even the majority of, Giants fans are horrible? No, that would be illogical. These were 3 jerks trying to frighten a fan of the opposing team. Did I then post this information on either of the 2 Phillies blogs I write for? No. Because it would have been irresponsible for me to portray a city badly based on a few bad people.
I met and spoke to many Giants fans over the course of four games; some were very nice and fun to chat with. Others were jerks, like the 3 idiots I ran into that day, and did nothing but shout obscenities. Many knew very little about baseball and about their team, but they were nice people. However, the scoreboard messages that were allowed to run, in front of the entire stadium crowd during the Phillies series were awful; one of them said, “Utley must die.” Whichever employee accepted money for that should be embarrassed.
You said in your article, “Giants play in a park named after a company that quietly drops your phone calls; the Phillies play in a park sponsored by a bank that forecloses on people’s homes.” Seriously? This sounds like a 3-year old complaining that he did not get the flavor ice cream he wanted. How about PNC Park, Chase Field, Citi Field, Comerica Park, etc… By the way, did you know that AT&T regularly hands out personal customer information due to a lack of web security, paving the way to identity theft and ruining entire lives everywhere? Maybe Citizens Bank had to foreclose on a house due to AT&T identity theft? Did you also hear about the “secret room” in AT&T’s San Francisco office where they spy on people? No? Look it up.
How about, “the intensity level of hate here is probably 30 percent of what it is in Philly.” Wow…that is some truly stunning scientific evidence there. I am pretty sure the thousands of homeless San Francisco “residents” that line the sidewalks outside the stadium and all over the city may tilt the “hate” meter a bit. They have a lot to be angry about. But hey, you are a real journalist; why deal in facts? Slander works just fine, right? Oh sorry, do I sound angry? Quick, add another percentage of anger to Philly!
And did you see the photos of the two young 6-7 year old Giants fans wearing Panda head gear and holding signs that said “***** The Phillies?” No? I can send you a copy if you like. But I suppose you probably thought the “Fix Your Teeth” sign was way more biting than seeing small children being taught to use the “F” word. Classy move, Giants fans.
My point here is simple. Responsible, professional journalists, and people in general with any common sense whatsoever, do not characterize an entire city based on the actions a small sampling of people. There are bad people and bad fans in every city, even San Francisco. Your article was offensive, inaccurate and childish. You owe the entire city of Philadelphia an apology. If you don’t think so, then you are just as bad as the idiot who threw up all over that little girl. Shameful.”
If you feel the same way, please write Mr. Newman and tell him so: email@example.com If you get any nasty replies, please forward them to me and I will be happy to post them: Jenn, firstname.lastname@example.org
This guy makes a joke out the profession of journalism. How some people get these jobs is really a mystery. He has no integrity, no accountability and apparently, no remorse. Mr. Newman tossed journalistic ethics out the window; he is an embarrassment to real news people everywhere.
On a lighter note, see you at the game tomorrow! Go Phillies!
After last night’s disappointing loss to the Giants in Game 1 of the NLCS, it was a huge relief to see the offense return for the Phillies in Game 2 tonight. The Phillies have done very badly against pitcher Jonathan Sanchez in the past. But now they can put those performances exactly there…in the past.
While it was not a major explosion at first, the Phils took advantage of Sanchez’s wildness in the first inning where he loaded the bases and Jimmy Rollins took a walk for an RBI. They scratched out 2 more runs off Sanchez, although one was unearned. But with a little patience, they drew 3 walks, forced his pitch count up and chased Sanchez out of the game early in the 7th inning.
When the Giants bullpen took over in the 7th, so did the Phillies. Pitcher Roy Oswalt singled off Sanchez which is what brought on the pen. Another single from Placido Polanco plus a double steal from Polanco and Chase Utley kept things moving. Jayson Werth was intentionally walked and then Jimmy Rollins had another chance to get back in the swing of things. J-Roll whacked a bases clearing double! Finally, Rollins looks like the light has turned on in his head.
Oswalt was brilliant on the mound, as well as at the plate. In fact, through 8 innings, the only run he allowed was from the Phillies new nemesis, Cody “The Devil” Ross. Ross has no idea that this is his new nickname as I have not-so-anonymously assigned it to him. But I think it fits. In 2 games, Ross has seen 3 fastball sent middle-in to him; all 3 times, he sent the ball out of the yard. Two homers were off Roy Halladay yesterday and one off Oswalt today. So it is official…he is the devil.
But as we all know, the Devil does not always win. And tonight, it was Oswalt and the Phillies offense that came out on top. Rollins collected 4 RBI and his first 2 hits of the series. Polanco had 2 RBI, Ryan Howard had 2 hits and Utley walked twice. The only batters who looked totally lost at the plate today were Raul Ibanez and Werth who both struck out twice.
Ryan Madson pitched the 9th inning and kept the 6-1 score intact. So the series is tied at 1 game each and both teams will travel to San Francisco for the next 3 games. Monday is an off-day with the series resuming on Tuesday. Cole Hamels will pitch against Matt Cain; game time is 4:00pm.
Rollins photo by Jenn Zambri Photography