The Phillies held their annual Holiday Sale this weekend at the ballpark and as usual, it was an interesting event. Phillies Charities holds the event each year, selling game-used merchandise, autographed items, left over programs and books, photos, etc… Although, this year was not nearly as crowded as last year because of the World Series loss.
This means less money for Phillies Charities, which is sad. In fact, the people selling many of the charity items were actually haggling to get rid of merchandise. A Scott Eyre signed jersey marked $125 went for $100 after the buyer decided $125 was too much and decided to walk away. Now that is something I have never seen in all the years I have attended. But plenty of other items raked in big bucks, like game used bats, balls, street banners and empty Champagne bottles from the playoff celebrations.
I picked out a locker name plate grab bag for $30 and wound up with Carlos Ruiz, Miguel Cairo and Mick Billmeyer (bullpen coach). The Ruiz plate was worth the $30, so I was happy with that. I have also been working on a collection of signed 2008 World Series balls and am trying to get every player on the team. But some players who have gone, like So Taguchi, may be impossible to get now. So I decided to try to buy a Taguchi signed regular ball, which they had a box of there, but by the time I got up front in the line, they were sold out. Yes folks, an entire box of Taguchi signed balls, gone. Did everyone else have the same idea I had or are there just huge numbers of Taguchi fans out there that I do not know about? I can tell you, he was not popular here in Philly at all, so I thought that was a bit weird. Maybe because they were only $5 people didn’t care who signed it ;o)
While there were not any players there, everyone did have a chance to meet with broadcasters Tom McCarthy and Chris Wheeler, who was signing his new book, “View From the Booth.” I think Dickie Noles was there too, but I did not see him. And Milt Thompson was scheduled to sign copies of a hitting DVD he put out later that day. I ran into Tom in the clubhouse store and chatted with him for a while, then got my book signed by Chris. Here I am below with Wheels, plus a shot of a Holiday tree and Phanta Claus, who was entertaining the kids:
It was a dreary day outside, which may have kept some shoppers home. Rain, slush and snow also dampened the Philadelphia Santa Claus parade, which made its way around the ballpark with fire engines, sirens and bright lights, although the only people silly enough to be outside were those of us waiting in line to get into the Holiday Sale. Not sure if the Phillies tree lighting went off as planned as I cut out early, but here is a photo of the tree taken from inside the Hall of Fame club:
I also walked around the concourse a bit to see what the off-season ballpark looked like. Turns out, they wrap the mobile concession stands with giant tubes of Saran Wrap. This is either to protect them from the elements, or the stands have been put on some weird plastic wrap weight-loss plan:
Maybe they can shrink the prices while they are at it? Just a thought ;o)
So, did anyone else go to the sale? What did you think about it? Feel free to comment below :O)
The Phillies ended the season today with a series sweep of the Nationals, winning today’s game by a score of 8-3. This game very much resembled a Spring Training game, as all of the rookies and back-ups got the start. It was a lot of fun as the whole team, having already clinched the Division, was very relaxed and they were all having a good time. Most fans even stuck around after the game to dance, catch prizes from the Phanatic and the ball girls and just revel in the glory of a great season and the Phils’ 2nd consecutive NL East Title. Signed balls, tee shirts and I don’t know what else, flew through the air as the fireworks erupted above. The only question that still lingered was, will it be the Brewers or the Dodgers?
That question was answered shortly after the game as the Brewers won and the Mets, for the second straight year, lost and will again not see the post-season. Another sad collapse for Mets fans; a bright spot for Phillies fans as I think we can all agree that the Brewers will be the better match-up in the playoffs. And so it is; the Phillies will face the Brewers on Wednesday in Philly – Time TBD.
As for today, there were a lot of great moments for the youngsters and back-ups playing; Lou Marson went 2 for 4 with 2 RBI, including hitting his very first Major League home run. What a night for his first start in the Bigs! Right after Marson hit his homer, on the very next pitch, pinch hitter Matt Stairs followed with one of his own! Nice. And the fun continues…So Taguchi looked like the player we all assumed he was at the beginning of the season; he went 3 for 5 with 3 RBI and was great on defense as well. The other “guchi,” Tadahito Iguchi, and Eric Bruntlett each had 2 hits in the game. Jayson Werth pinch hit in the 4th, whacked a single and then followed it up with his 20th steal of the year as he swiped 2nd base. That put him in the 20-20 club with more than 20 homers (24) and 20 stolen bases. Impressive for a guy who was not a starter at the beginning of the year. And then for more pinch hit fun, in the 6th inning Ryan Howard hit a slap-bunt up the 3rd base line to beat the shift and eventually wound up scoring in that inning. If he can do this more often, he may see the Howard defensive shift slowly disappear… And as a side note, Howard managed with that hit to raise his batting average over the .250 mark for the year (.251, to be exact).
Here are some photos from the game…first one is from the pre-game. Many of the Phillies regular starters came out to thank the fans and a few of them spoke. Jimmy Rollins and Brad Lidge were both very eloquent in their speeches. Then, the microphone was passed to Chase Ultey who proceeded to give the world’s fastest “Thank You” ever. All he said was, “You guys have been unbelievable,” and then immediately began to walk off, which prompted this reaction from his teammates:
Funny stuff! The crowd laughed right along with them. Utley, as we know, is a bit speech-shy.
Next photos – Top row: Phanatic & the Mystery Baby Phanatic (from the crowd!) try to hex to opposing pitcher; Eric Bruntlett makes a great play. Bottom row: Bruntlett and Taguchi round the bases; Chris Coste, in a rare appearance at first base, scoops up a dribbler and tags out the runner.
A great end to a great season! Stay tuned for post-game info and coverage!
And for the football fans, I have also started a Miami Dolphins page, The Dolphin Pod! All Dol-Fans, and anyone else who wants to say hello is welcome!
Remember also to check out our homepage My Team Rivals and our Phillies, Flyers, Eagles, Billy Penn Curse, Reinstate Pete Rose, Phillies Mets Rivalry, Phillies Marlins Rivalry, and Phillies Braves Rivalry pages!
I think it’s about time someone started a support group for Cole Hamels.
How many times is this guy going to be subjected to this kind of mental abuse and torture? He pitches another great game, and his team comes up short AGAIN. Seriously…get the man some counseling. He is going to need it. 7 innings, 5 hits and only 2 earned runs – in any game, that should equal a win. But not with the Phillies; their bats went quiet again and even the bullpen managed to chip in and blow this one. Poor Cole…denied win #10 for the 7th time this year.
And how about that offense? 6 lousy hits, one of which was a solo home run from Chase Utley and another hit was from Hamels. Sad. And did we even use our BEST pinch hitter in this game, Greg Dobbs? Nooooooo…Charlie Manuel let Eric Bruntlett, “Mr. Automatic Easy Ground Ball”, bat in the 9th with a man in scoring position! And guess what happened? An easy ground ball for an out without even advancing the runner! Shocking, I know. I mean, if you are going to insist on starting Bruntlett (which again, I protest…Dobbs is better!), then you can at least have brains enough to hit for him in these situations! And then, another great management decision; let’s take Burrell out of the game again for defensive reasons! So who gets the crucial last play of the game? So “I can’t throw to save my life” Taguchi. And yes, there is a play at the plate in the bottom of the ninth…Andre Ethier singles to score Russell Martin and win the game; Taguchi’s throw is late and off-line, thus the Phillies have no shot at a comeback. But hey, I guess Manuel figured they can’t hit anyway, so why bother?
Does anyone else feel my frustration here? Oh gee, I almost forgot the bullpen…what happened to my super-awesome, adorably cute Chad Durbin? Oh please, don’t make me say bad things about him! My inner demons are right now having a war amongst themselves…it’s getting’ ugly in there! Oh, but I so love Mr. Durbin! What in the world was he thinking last night? He loads the bases on a hit, a walk and a hit batter in the 8th, which eventually leads to the tying run scoring on a sac fly …yuck! And JC Romero too, hitting the first batter? Did someone drug them? Yeah, that must have been it…I choose to believe it was all a terrorist act. Someone drugged our bullpen and made them do BAD, BAD things. And when I find out who it is, there will be no mercy. J
I am exhausted. Let’s all just hope the Phillies can rebound and pull out a win tonight behind newbie, Joe Blanton. Fingers & toes are crossed…
So Taguchi finally came through with a HUGE 2-run double tonight in the ninth inning to tie the game and propel the Phillies to an 8-6 win over the NY Mets. Please pass the Valium…my heart won’t be still!
That was followed immediately by a J-Roll 2-run double and the Mets simply shook their heads and did a double-take as they could not believe what was happening. What looked like a game that was locked up since the 6th inning, had just been blown wide open.
It began with Joe Blanton’s Phillies debut, which frankly, was a bust. Blanton did not produce a quality start, going 6 innings and giving up 5 earned runs on 8 hits and 3 walks with one of those hits and one walk each being to the opposing pitcher. I liked his variety of off-speed pitches, but he was too easily rattled and unable to come up with a strike when he needed it. In the 6th inning, he walked Marlon Anderson on 4 pitches even though Marlon literally sat the bat on his shoulder for the last 2 pitches of the at bat and was clearly not going to swing; and still, Blanton could not find the strike zone. Next batter, 2-run home run – NOT good.
Defensively though, we saw some really amazing plays in the field tonight. Endy Chavez of the Mets was thrown out at home plate twice tonight – first by Pat Burrell via Jimmy Rollins to Carlos Ruiz in the 3rd and then, he was actually dumb enough to try it again later in the 7th inning when Jayson Werth nailed him on a one-hopper to Ruiz.
Also in the 7th, Chase Utley made a jumping / diving “Superman” mid-air grab of a line-drive off the bat Fernando Tatis for the 3rd out of the inning. As he ran off the field, Utley tore open his jersey to reveal the Superman logo hiding under his uniform to taunt the NY fans…J But we already knew that Utley was Superman…really, the secret has been out for some time now. Get with the program people! J
Back to planet Earth…the offense continued its struggles throughout most of the game, albeit against a red-hot Johan Santana. However, they were able to get at him right away in the first inning with back to back to back singles from Howard, Burrell and Werth, scoring a run; and all this with 2 outs. So, what happened after the first inning? Well, to sum it up for you, a whole lot of nothing. Shane Victorino did hit a solo homer, but sadly, that was not going to make up for the 5 runs the Mets put on the board. Then suddenly, no more Santana and a ninth inning explosion! So Taguchi comes to life, finally! This is a guy who hit over .400 as a pinch hitter last year for the Cardinals but had yet to nail one down for the Phillies, so it really was about time. Let’s hope the real SO has just stood up! This game should have lit a fire under the Phils…we could not have asked for a better vibe to go into Brett Myers’ start tomorrow. Go Phillies!
On their worst losing streak since 2006, the Phillies have now lost 5 in a row with this 3 game sweep from the LA Angels. Even Cole Hamels, excellent on the mound as usual, could not save this sinking ship. With plenty of scoring opportunities yet again, the offense simply went down in flames. Jimmy Rollins and Greg Dobbs tried to get the rally started in the first inning, both getting on base and even pulling off a double steal. But then Ryan Howard and Pat Burrell both strike out in order to kill that rally. Well, Jimmy stealing second is my Picture of the Game at any rate:
Then in the 9th inning, 2 men on base again, count is 2-0 and pinch hitter So Taguchi decides to swing? With Chase Utley on deck and 2 outs? Why??? Perhaps the same reason he dropped a ball in the outfield in Saturday’s game – this guy is useless. I just don’t get it. He was one of the best pinch hitters in the game for the Cardinal’s last year. He comes to the Phillies and suddenly, he can’t hit or field? He has yet to nail down a pinch hit for us. And please, please STOP pulling Pat Burrell in late innings to put this guy in! Pat is surely the better hitter, and actually has shown himself to be a better fielder. I am SO sick of SO. TRADE him for pitching please! We have guys in the minors who field better.
So, yet another dismal offensive output as the slumping Phils have slipped back to within one game of Florida on their tails. New York and Atlanta have both also made up significant ground, coming in 3.5 and 4 games back, respectively. Road trip starts tomorrow and if they don’t find a way to jump start this sluggish offense, the Phillies are in for a very long, hot summer.
Memorial Day was a truly awesome celebration as the Phillies bat’s lit up the night sky, sending balls flying out of the park and scorched down the lines for extra base hits. Utley led the massive 20 to 5 pounding and total KO of the Rockies, with a career high 6 RBI’s, going 3 for 6 including a home run, 2 singles, and a stolen base. And as always, he looked GOOD doing it. I’d imagine he felt a bit like celebrating after the game…maybe like skipping joyfully through a field of flowers?
Ok, so I took some liberty on the flower part, but it was fun :o) As for the rest of the gang, Pedro Feliz with 4 hits? Wow! Coste and Taguchi with 3 apiece; Dobbs in his short appearance goes 1 for 2; Bruntlett 1 for 1. And if they weren’t getting the hits, they were getting the walks! Howard and Victorino racked up 5 between them. The only quiet night really was Pat Burrell, with just 1 walk and no hits…poor guy :o( So, now if you are Adam Eaton, you have to be wondering, hey, where is this offensive when I’M pitching? Let’s hope they saved some for the next few games…
The extra bonus here is that they really wore out the Rockies bullpen. Hopefully, they’ll be nice and tired for our next 2 games… And, we did not use ANY of our guys once again, thanks to the man who loves to take out the garbage for us, Clay “The Trash Man” Condrey. As I said before, it’s a dirty job, but someone has to do it. Keep eating up those useless innings for us Clay! Can’t wait to see what happens tonight…Go Phillies!
Someone get a hose… this man is scorching hot! 3 more RBI’s on a homer and a double last night, bringing his batting average to a who*pping .400, Pat Burrell is ablaze at the plate. And considering that his late inning “defensive” replacement, So Taguchi has dropped 2 balls this week that landed right in his glove both times is NOT looking SO hot, perhaps we should just be leaving Pat in there? Have to say, I am SO disappointed SO far in Mr. SO. Is that enough SO’s in one sentence?
Anyway, also great to see Brett Myers back on track and coming out with a win! He had a few hangers in there which left the park pretty quick, but for the most part, he look like the Brett of old and I think this will do a lot for his confidence going forward. And the best part was NO walks on the night – ZERO. That includes Lidge, who also had a solid outing. I am sure he too was very glad to have a good night as it was his first time in front of the home town crowd in a Phillies uniform.
The Grizz (Bruntlett) had a MUCH better defensive game – whew! Still not a hit in sight, but at least Charlie finally moved him down to the 8 hole in the line-up. Hopefully though, Jimmy will be back soon…fingers crossed…
Some fun at third base…lovin’ Greg Dobbs (as I always do…)! Seriously, I loved this move last night (Dobbs starting). Feliz looked great in Spring Training, but as of the regular season has completely cooled off. Even defensively, he has already committed 2 errors, looked sloppy overall and not been at all what we were told to expect. So, why not start Dobbs? I said all along before the pick-up of Feliz I though Dobbs could handle third and with what we have seen of Feliz so far, Dobbs can do no worse. Really though, defensively, I think maybe he is just adjusting to his new situation, but I also think we may now see another platoon situation because of the offense. Because last night, it worked. Dobbs tore up the right handed Zambrano going 2 for 3 with 1 RBI and when they switched to a lefty, Charlie put in Feliz and whamo, he gets a hit! And Feliz has really been struggling at the plate so this was big. So, I really don’t mind the platoon idea at third…if it works, go with it. And it gives Dobbs more playing time, which I’d love to see. He has earned it for sure and has a more consistent bat than Feliz. Of course, this was only one game and I am speculating…who knows what Charlie may actually do? Guess we shall see… Go Phillies!
Photo: Greg Dobbs – Fielding 101: Use 2 hands and follow the ball into the glove. You go boy!