Tagged: playoffs

Phillies Clinch 5th Straight NL East Title

For the 5th straight year, the Phillies are National League East Champs!  A 9-2 win over the Cardinals sealed the division.

The winning pitcher was Roy Oswalt who did not allow a single run through seven innings.  Oswalt seems to finally have his mojo back after suffering a good part of the year with back issues.  But tonight, he was spot-on.

The celebration began a little bit early in the eighth inning.  Going into the eighth, the Phillies were in a tight 3-2 game.  But Raul Ibanez rode in like a knight on a white horse, blowing the game wide open when he smashed a grand slam.  The crowd exploded and the party carried right through to the end of the game.

Although it was not a save situation, Ryan Madson was given the 9th inning, which was fitting.  After going through four closers this year due to injuries, Madson has established himself as the go-to guy.  He deserved to be on the mound to close out the game.

Chase Utley made the final play with a little bit of flash as he barehanded a hopping grounder and tossed to first.  For a guy who is normally all grit and no glitter, it was fun to see him add a bit of style to the final out.

To kick off the champagne celebration, the Phillies gathered around Hunter Pence.  He looked like he was the monkey in the middle as the team started popping the corks, dousing Pence in the process.

 

Clinching the title early means more rest for guys who have been nursing injuries like Ryan Howard and Placido Polanco.  But there are still games to be played and home field advantage up for grabs.  Look for the Phillies to keep trying to win games, starting tomorrow night at 8:05pm.  Cole Hamels will pitch.

I will return with photos.  See you there!

 

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Head shot by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

Playoff Bound: Halladay Blanks the Astros

The Phillies became the first team in the majors to clinch a playoff berth today with a 1-0 win over the Astros.  It was also a franchise record for the fastest time to clinch a playoff spot.  They did it in their 146th game of the season.  The 1915 Phillies took 147 games.

The record came courtesy of pitcher Roy Halladay who almost single-handedly won the game for the Phillies.  Halladay went the distance, allowing only 6 hits over 9 innings.  He also survived another defensive error, which led to having the bases loaded with no outs in the 2nd inning.  Without breaking a sweat, Halladay got out of the jam unscathed.

The win gives Halladay 18 wins on the year and lowered his ERA to 2.34, which is #1 among all major league starters with at least 10 starts.

The Phillies offense should be thanking Halladay for his amazing effort as they managed only one run and four hits.  And the one run came after a Shane Victorino double and Placido Polanco single in the 1st inning.  They then went 8 innings without touching home plate.

In the entire 3-game series, the Phillies scored a total of only 4 runs.  Ryan Howard went 0-11 in the series.  Victorino went 1-9.  And Michael Martinez, who started all 3 games, went 0-9.

But going back home and adding Chase Utley back to the roster will hopefully wake up this slumbering Phillies offense.  They play a make-up double-header with the Marlins tomorrow.  Game times are 2:35pm & 7:35pm.

FYI: MLB released the 2012 schedule today.  The Phillies home schedule includes the Red Sox, Rays, Cubs, Cardinals and all of the usual suspects.  The home opener is April 9th.

Division Magic # – 4 games

Home Field Advantage Magic # – 6  games

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

Why Charlie Manuel Deserves A Contract Extension Before Spring Training

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.


C Manuel hat1.jpgNo 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

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

Should The Phillies Trade Joe Blanton?

With the Fab Four of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels already locked up in their starting rotation, do the Phillies still need Joe Blanton?  The righty has two years left on his contract which will earn him a total of $17 million dollars.


P7260632 JoeBlanton.jpgIn his two and a half years with the Phillies, Blanton has a combined record of 25-14 with an average 4.36 ERA in 72 starts.  For a fifth starter in the rotation, these are pretty good numbers.

In comparison, Kyle Kendrick has a 25-20 record with a 4.55 ERA in 63 starts since the 2008 season.  The statistics are similar, but it should also be noted that Kendrick spent a good amount of time bouncing back and forth from the majors to the minors in 2009.  And last year, Blanton spent time on the disabled list.

Another alternative for the fifth starter position is rookie Vance Worley.  In two starts with the Phillies in 2010, Worley pitched 13 innings and recorded a 1.38 ERA.  Between AA and AAA last year, Worley recorded a combined 10-7 record with a 3.36 ERA over 27 starts.  But Worley is still a big unknown.  He is young and lacks experience.

With these options, it seems that either Blanton or Kendrick would be the best fit for the role.  If the Phillies are concerned with payroll, trading Blanton may be a good idea as Kendrick is still under team control.

When asked if payroll would move him to trade Blanton, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. told the media, “I really don’t have to do anything.”  A lower payroll would help if Amaro has other future moves in mind, however, it does not appear to be necessary right now.

If money is not a true motivator at this times, the Phillies may be better served to keep Blanton.  Having both Blanton and Kendrick provides tremendous pitching depth.  In the event that one of the Fab Four gets injured, the decision to then move Kendrick into the rotation to fill the hole should be a no-brainer.

Blanton also has experience in eight different playoff series, including two World Series.  Kendrick pitched less than four innings in the 2007 NLDS and has not seen any playoff action since that time.

And if the Phillies start the year off with Halladay, Lee, Oswalt, Hamels and Blanton, then Kendrick can fill a hole in the bullpen as a long reliever.  With Chad Durbin still unsigned, there may be a greater need for a long man.

It appears that keeping Blanton is probably a good idea.  Of course, if another team makes a good offer, the Phillies still have other options for the fifth spot in the rotation.  But until the season actually begins, anything can happen.

 

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

5 Big Positives From The Phillies Signing Cliff Lee

December 15th is a historical date.  In 1794, the United States Bill of Rights became law.  In 1933, the 21st Amendment went into effect, legalizing alcohol.  Russians landed on Venus in 1970. And now, in the year 2010, Cliff Lee re-signed with the Philadelphia Phillies.

The signing will obviously not impact our society in such way as the Bill of Rights or the 21st Amendment once did.  And it is doubtful that December 15th will be named a national holiday.  However, this is still a historic occasion for the City of Philadelphia.

The following is a list of five ways in which the Cliff Lee deal has made a positive impact on the team, the city and the fans.

Four Aces Are Better Than Three


4 starters.jpgThe entire Phillies team just got a whole lot better.  Adding Cliff Lee to the already dominant rotation of Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels has the potential to make the opposition weep like children.

All together, that makes 3 Cy Young awards, 13 All-Star appearances plus an NLCS and a World Series MVP title.  Combining all four starter’s 2010 ERA’s comes out to an average ERA of 2.86.  If they stay healthy, this rotation will be frightening.

Statistics aside, these are four very competitive pitchers who will push each other to do better.  This type of healthy dynamic should inspire the entire team to work harder and expect more from themselves and their teammates. 

Having solid starting pitching also takes a great deal of pressure off the offense.  Players who can relax at the plate will be more productive.  After a down year in 2010, this Phillies offense should be ready to explode.

The City of Philadelphia Finally Gets Some Respect

The City of Philadelphia and their sports fans constantly get a bad rap in the media.  Focusing only on the negative, national press makes Philadelphia look like a war zone. 


240A.jpgYes, some horrible human being threw up on a little girl at a Phillies game.  The Eagles snowballs and Santa disaster begs the question, will the media ever get over it?  That was in 1968.  It is officially time to let it go.

There are idiots everywhere, not just in Philly.  Look at the Cubs fan who threw beer on Shane Victorino during a play in the outfield.  Ask the family of the poor teenager who was killed after a San Francisco Giants game in 2008.  But these are isolated incidents and by no means do they reflect the attitudes or actions of an entire fan base.

About Philadelphia fans, Cliff Lee told the press, “They get excited. They’re passionate fans. They understand what’s going on. They don’t need a teleprompter to tell them to get up and cheer, to do that.”  Lee also stated, ” Yeah, you know, the feeling of playing on the field feels different than anywhere else. I don’t know how to explain it other than you can feel the volume that’s created by the fans and their intensity.”

Lee loves Philadelphia, the team and their fans so much that he took fewer contract years and less money to play here.  Much to the dismay of the national media, Cliff Lee has finally given Philadelphia the respect it deserves.

Philadelphia Just Landed On Every Player’s Wish List

Along with the respect that Cliff Lee’s words and actions have delivered, this signing has also put the Phillies on the wish list of all major league players who are interested in winning. 

The days of JD Drew, who was drafted by the Phillies in 1997 but refused to sign, are long gone.  No more grumblings from the likes of Scott Rolen either, claiming the Phillies have no desire to win.

The Phillies were already on the minds of many players before the Cliff Lee signing.  Roy Halladay made an exception to his no-trade clause last year to come to Philadelphia.  Later in July of 2010, Roy Oswalt did the same.

But the Cliff Lee deal puts the Phillies in a whole new echelon.  They are now able to compete with the likes of the Red Sox and Yankees.  The Yankees lost out on Lee despite offering more money and additional years.  So while the Yankees payroll still far outweighs the Phillies, in terms of status, they are now nearly equals.

Jayson Who?  Losing Werth Is Not So Bad

There was a lot of groaning among Phillies fans when All-Star right fielder Jayson Werth signed a gigantic contract with the Washington Nationals.  Fans having flashbacks to Werth’s monster home runs, a steal of home plate, his rocket arm nailing runners at the plate and the 2008 World Series win, were disappointed that the Phillies did not try harder to sign him.

The facts now show that had the Phillies re-signed Werth, Cliff Lee would not be on the team.  They simply would not have had the money or resources to bring Lee back.

Pitching wins ballgames.  The impact Lee will have on this Phillies team in the long run far outweighs anything that Werth may have delivered.

Werth went where the money was and no one can fault him for that.  But that move further illuminates the magnitude of Lee’s decision to sign with the Phillies for less money.  Lee will be appreciated by Phillies fans everywhere.  Werth will simply fade away into a distant memory.

Ruben Amaro Jr. Is Now A Phillies Legend


P5140472 Amaro2.jpgA Philadelphia native, Ruben Amaro Jr. started out as a Phillies bat boy in 1980.  His father, Ruben Amaro Sr., was the first base coach at that time.  Prior to that, Amaro Sr. played short stop for the Phillies from 1960-1965.  Amaro Jr. also played for the Phillies from 1992 to 1993 and 1996 to 1998 in the outfield.  He became the Assistant GM right after his playing career ended.  Currently the Phillies General Manager, this man has literally spent almost his entire adult life, and part of his teenage years, with the Phillies.

Many were unsure of how Amaro would fare in the GM spotlight, having taken over the job right after the 2008 World Series.  Amaro was doing a pretty average job but did not score big until wrapping up Roy Halladay last offseason.  Most were thrilled with the Halladay signing.  However, the happiness quickly turned to shock when it was announced that Cliff Lee was traded in order to replenish the farm system.

The short half year that Lee spent with the Phillies in 2009 was enough to enamor him to the entire fan base.  His easy-going and unwavering demeanor on the mound combined with his ability to mow down opposing batters made Lee a fan favorite.  He was also the only Phillies pitcher to record a win in that year’s World Series, which they ultimately lost to the Yankees.

To say that trading Lee was a stunning blow to the fans is an understatement.  Even months later and well into the 2010 season, people questioned the move.  Some even went so far as to proclaim it the dumbest move Amaro would ever make.

And while those people may be correct, Amaro created an extreme reversal of fortune by re-signing Lee on December 15, 2010.  The five-year, $120 million dollar dear with a sixth year option completely redeemed Amaro. 

Amaro jumped though a number a very large hoops to make this deal happen.  The biggest of those had to be convincing team ownership, who have been notoriously stingy in the past, to cough up the dough.  This will be the highest payroll carried in Phillies team history.

Respect is not easy to come by in this business, but Amaro has now earned it.  He is a formidable opponent in the eyes of other ball clubs and to his own staff and players, he is a true leader.  More than that, Amaro has earned the trust of this organization.  They know he wants to win both now and in the future.

The Cliff Lee deal has cemented Amaro’s place in Phillies history.  All he is missing now is his very own World Series Championship. 

 

Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

What Phillies Fans Can Be Thankful For: 2010 Edition

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!

2010 Phillies Photo Tribute

I normally do not have this video done before Christmas, but it is amazing how much extra time that the lack of a World Series provides ;o)  For those who have missed it previous years, at the end of every season, I pick out my favorite Phillies photos from that year and put them into a video slideshow.  These photos were all taken by me and my giant zoom lens, from the stands, at both home and away games throughout the season.

In the 2010 season, I attended 27 games and 7 Phillies-related special events, like the Phestival and the Phillies Cruise.  Yes, it was down year for me due to a lack of funds ;o)   Going through the digital files on my computer, I calculate that I shot more than 18,000 photos at Phillies games this year.  If you add in the special events, the total is over 25,000.  Of those, I picked out and published around 5,000.  The slideshow contains the best of the game shots for a total of 257 photos. 

I am eternally grateful for the invention of the digital camera.  Remember the days when we had to use film?  That was one expensive habit.  Well, here it is…enjoy!

 

 

Thank you for stopping by!

 

Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*