Two baseball families are in mourning today after a terrible tragedy. Arizona Representative Gabrielle Giffords held a routine voter meet-and-greet in Tucson on Saturday that turned into a blood bath.
A lone-gunman shot 18 people, including Giffords, killing six of them. Giffords survived, despite being shot in the head. But one of people killed was 9-year old Christina-Taylor Green, daughter of Dodgers scout John Green and granddaughter of Dallas Green.
Dallas Green currently serves as Senior Advisor to the GM for the Phillies and was the manager of the 1980 World Series Championship team. This senseless act of violence has sent shock waves from coast to coast as the Green family mourns the loss of this precious child.
Christina-Taylor Green was born into tragedy on September 11, 2001. She left this world much the same way she entered it, during a heartbreaking catastrophe. The young third-grader was an aspiring politician who attended the meet-and-greet after being elected to her school student council.
Politician Sarah Palin has drawn much criticism after this shooting due to a map she published earlier in 2010. The map to the right literally “targets” specific representatives who voted for the Obama health care bill and even includes a countdown at the bottom, “17 more to go!” Giffords was one of the targets.
Some blame Palin for posting what was surely an extremely distasteful and potentially dangerous message. But while Palin should be ashamed for using gun targets in this advertisement, the real criminal is the man who held the gun.
If there was ever a case for a public hanging in the modern world, this certainly may qualify. What kind of seriously damaged human being could bring himself to slaughter innocent people, especially a child? This tragedy leaves us all with more questions than answers.
My heart breaks for the entire Green family. They will all be in my thoughts and prayers.
Photo courtesy of the Green Family
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
The 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.
Yes, 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
A 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
Yes, Ryan Howard saved some Mets fans from certain death…on TV anyway. Last night both Howard and Chase Utley made guest appearances on the show “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia.” Howard may have gotten the biggest laugh of the night when he stopped one of the characters from attacking a few Mets fans:
Utley did not have many lines, which is probably a good thing. So while a career in acting is out, at least his hair looked terrific. And Howard got the best line of the night with, ” I just saw you bite that dude.”
Crossing Broad has the video of their segment, in case you missed it.
Free Agent News With a Dash of Sarcasm
– Pitcher Kyle Kendrick and outfielder Ben Francisco were both tendered contracts yesterday in order to keep them with the Phillies and out of free agency. Francisco was a no-brainer. And due to a lack of starting pitching depth, signing Kendrick makes sense as well…unless his 27.51 ERA with 2 outs and runners in scoring position bother you.
– The San Francisco Giants have asked Pat Burrell to return and signed him to an undisclosed amount. Apparently his 0 for 13 with 11 strikeouts World Series performance prompted the signing? Here is another fun Burrell fact; Pat “The Bat” has two World Series rings and only one World Series hit. It is good to be The Bat.
– Adam Dunn and his 38 home runs in the 2010 season signed a four-year, $56 million dollar deal with the White Sox. The Washington Nationals collective batting average immediately dropped about 100 points. Attendance will likely drop to a 15 fan per game average.
– Star closer for the Yankees, Mariano Rivera, 41, has been signed to a new two-year deal. As part of the contract negotiation, Rivera will still be allowed to use his Senior Citizen discount at the team gift shop.
– Jayson Werth has still not signed with the Phillies and hell has not yet frozen over. Coincidence?
Have a great weekend!
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!
If there was ever a question that Roy Halladay should indeed be the 2010 National League Cy Young award winner, then clearly you have not been paying attention. With a both perfect game and playoff game no-hitter to his record this year, Halladay was the hands-down winner, garnering all 32 first-place votes for a unanimous decision.
This is Halladay’s second Cy Young; he won the first with the Blue Jays in 2003. He is the 5th player ever to recieve the award in both leagues, joining Gaylord Perry, Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson and Roger Clemens. Halladay is also the 4th Phillie to win, joining Steve Carlton (1972, 1977, 1980, 1982), John Denny (1983) and Steve Bedrosian (1987).
Finishing the season with a 21-10 record and a 2.44 ERA, Halladay had a career year and was the indisputable favorite for the award. In short, it was slam dunk.
As we near the holiday season, this award made me wonder, what do you get for the person who has nearly everything? He has a perfect game, a no-hitter, more than 20 wins, millions of dollars and now a second Cy Young award. With this in mind, I put together a list of ideas for anyone shopping for Mr. Halladay this season.
What To Get Roy Halladay For The Holiday’s
1. A World Series Championship (Duh)
2. His very own “Most Interesting Man In The World” beer commercial
3. A World Series Championship (can we get one in gift card form to redeem in 2011?)
4. A spaceship so he can visit other planets when he gets bored with Earth
5. A World Series Championship (did I already say that??)
6. An I-Pod Dock Toilet Paper Holder – For tunes while you toot. Several web sites recommend this…seriously.
7. A World Series Championship (in case I forgot to mention it earlier)
8. A Solar-Powered Rainbow Maker – Have you ever just been sitting around thinking, gee, I’d love to see a cheery rainbow right now? Yeah, me too. Besides, Halladay already has the pot of gold to go with it.
9. His very own country – call it “Happy Halladayville”
10. If you are still online shopping for the TP holder, maybe I was not clear the first 4 times…get Roy Halladay a World Series Championship!!!
Roy Halladay thanks you in advance ;O)
Photoshopping by Jenn Zambri Photography
In their first major blunder of the off-season, the Phillies allowed 1st base coach and base running guru Davey Lopes walk. Lopes was happy in Philadelphia, but with the additional responsibilities he has handled in his 4 years with the club, he felt he should be properly compensated. Lopes told reporters, “I just felt it was time to make a stand.”
Normally first base coaches are low man on the totem pole as far as salary goes. But Lopes did much more for the Phillies than point runners in the right direction.
He taught them how and when to steal bases and was the sole person in charge of the running game, something that is the manager’s job on most teams. Since 2007, Lopes ensured that the Phillies led all of baseball with an 84.3% stolen base success rate.
Lopes is right; with the added responsibilities, he deserved a larger pay check. He said the money they offered was good, but it did not reflect his true value to the team. Lopes stated, “I wanted to get paid what I felt I was worth…Believe me, I wasn’t trying to break the bank.” So, why not pay the man?
I spoke with Lopes during an event in 2009 about base stealing and also about player discipline. I asked him why a particular player (who shall remain nameless ;o) continually seemed to be in the wrong field position during certain situations. Lopes told me that he had personally spoken to that player about that exact issue on numerous occasions, but the player felt he knew better and would not follow instructions. I then expressed that I did not think discipline should be part of his job, to which he agreed. But Lopes is the kind of man that always does the right thing, whether it is his job or not. So after four years of doing many tasks that he was not getting paid for, I can see why he felt the need to make a stand.
The real shame here is that when Lopes expressed this to the management team, it fell on deaf ears. He should not have been allowed to walk. Will the Phillies suffer as a result of this loss? Only time will tell, but I can assure you that either way, he will be greatly missed by both the team and the fans. I wish Mr. Lopes all the best in his future and hope he lands in a city that appreciates his talents.
And The New Champs Are…
…the San Francisco Giants! Ok Phils fans, you can now officially feel better about the Giants whooping us in the NLCS; they did the same thing to the Rangers in the World Series, taking the title by 4 games to 1. The Giants pitching totally shut down the Rangers powerful offense, just as they did to the Phillies.
Another thing to feel good about? Cliff Lee lost both games he pitched in the series. I will always appreciate Lee for what he did for the Phillies in 2009, but losing him stings a little bit less now. It will be interesting to see where Lee lands in 2011.
So congratulations to the World Champion Giants and their fans…they deserve the title! See you next year :O)
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
Earlier this week, the Phillies declined the option on JC Romero’s contract, thus rendering him a free agent. Romero can still return, but it would have to be at a price both parties agree on. Left-handed- relievers are not growing on trees, so hopefully, they can work something out. Romero’s control should be much improved next year as his arm, which was operated on last off-season, has more time to gain strength.
As for Greg Dobbs and Jamie Moyer, it is likely the end of the line. Neither were offered contracts and both opted for free agency.
Dobbs had a few good years with the Phillies off the bench but his numbers declined this year with his lack of playing time. Dobbs is a super-nice guy and his personality will be missed…plus, the team just got a little bit uglier without him around ;o)
Moyer missed most of this year with an injury and has had multiple surgeries between last off-season and this year. Add his age to that, 48 next month, and it may be hard for Moyer to find a new home. Moyer is a class act and I wish him luck.
Today, Placido Polanco will have surgery on his elbow due to bone fragments and tendinitis, which he played with most of the year after getting hit by a pitch. The expected recovery time is 8-10 weeks, so he should be good to go by Spring Training. Polly hit .298 this year, despite playing through immense pain and enduring 4 cortisone injections. I cannot wait to see what he does when he is healthy.
So, have you all been watching the World Series? Actually, it has been less of a series and more of a tar and feathering of the Texas Rangers so far. Cliff Lee got absolutely destroyed by the Giants in Game 1, allowing 7 runs over 4 2/3 innings. Before that game, Lee said about the Phillies, “I didn’t mind seeing them get beat, either, just because they got rid of me.” Call it baseball karma if you like. I admire the man for being honest, but the comments certainly did not help him on the mound.
The Giants walked, lirerally, all over the Rangers again in Game 2 and won by a score of 9-0. The Rangers bullpen allowed 4 walks in a row in the 8th inning…that has to be some kind of World Series record. Former Phillie Aaron Rowand had a big hit in that inning after the walks with a 2-run triple. The Rangers are down 2 games to none; Game 3 is on Saturday.
Does this make Phillies fans feel a little better about being pounded by the Giants? Ok, maybe a little. I guess I have to revise my initial prediction though….Lee will NOT be the MVP. And it looks more like Giants in 6 than Rangers in 6. Although, stranger things have happened. We shall see…
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography