Categories
Doing

The Philadelphia Phillies: End of An Era

The last two sea­sons have been tough in Philadel­phia. After a glo­ri­ous run as one of the best team’s in base­ball, the Phillies crashed back to Earth. Char­lie Manuel, a beloved fig­ure for any­one who’s fol­lowed the Phils, was tossed aside. Roy Hal­la­day, a play­er who more than any­one made Philadel­phia a des­ti­na­tion for free agents, retired after two injury-rid­dled sea­sons. It was a mag­i­cal time and now it is over.

The next phase is a famil­iar one. The Phillies will like­ly be hard to watch for a long time. With com­mit­ments made to an aging core and lit­tle to no tal­ent in the farm sys­tem, the boom has gone bust. For any­one who remem­bers what hap­pened to the team after 1993, we know what hap­pens next. It won’t be pret­ty, but we’ll still be in the stands, bask­ing in the ball­park, thank­ful for the mem­o­ries the Phillies gave us.

Categories
Watching

2011 NLDS Phillies vs Cardinals

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Did­n’t start or end pret­ty, but I can hon­est­ly say that what hap­pened in between the first and ninth innings were tru­ly inspired base­ball. Hal­la­day dom­i­nat­ed, the offense erupt­ed and Char­lie went wild with the ral­ly tow­el.

It was an absurd­ly fun night at the ball­park, punc­tu­at­ed by the lone Cards fan in our row leav­ing when it start­ed get­ting ugly.

Singing “High Hopes” as we left the ball­park is so sat­is­fy­ing. “10 mas!”

Categories
Doing

In Praise of the 2011 Philadelphia Phillies

Nev­er in my life did I believe that the Phillies would be the sort of dom­i­nant team fans link to the Yan­kees and Red Sox. The sort of team that “buys” cham­pi­onships. The sort of team that play­ers want to join, even if it means tak­ing a pay cut to do it. The kind of team that can win 100+ games and dom­i­nate the com­pe­ti­tion.

Want to know a secret? I real­ly thought 2011 might be a let­down year for the Phillies.

Acquir­ing pitch­ing is great, but there’s only so much pitch­ers can do to help win games. I feared that our aging core play­ers, notably Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Jim­my Rollins, would make us vul­ner­a­ble to the sort of pow­er out­ages we’ve faced in the past and that the replace­ment parts would­n’t be up to the task. I was wrong.

It was amaz­ing to watch this team cut through the oppo­si­tion no mat­ter who they put on the field. I saw Michael Mar­tinez hit a three-run homer. I feel like that encap­su­lat­ed what a rar­efied sea­son this was for a team whose expec­ta­tion is suc­cess. On the eve of the play­offs, I think I’m one of those who thinks that any­thing less than a World Series cham­pi­onship will be a dis­ap­point­ment.

The last two sea­sons have been heart-wrench­ing for Phillies fans. 2009 end­ed just short of repeat title. 2010 was cut short by a Giants team that caught fire. Where will 2011 leave us? Will we fall short again, or will we run roughshod over a field that is prob­a­bly the strongest we’ve faced since 2009?  Need­less to say I’m excit­ed to see what unfolds.

Dream match-ups? Phillies ver­sus Brew­ers in the NLCS. Would love a rematch of the ’08 NLDS, which prob­a­bly fea­tured the most excit­ing game I’ve ever seen in the post­sea­son first­hand, with the ’09 NLCS clinch­er against the Dodgers a close sec­ond. (Saw the 10–2 laugh­er against the Rays in the ’08 World Series. It was sat­is­fy­ing, but not exact­ly thrilling.) Want to see Phillies-Tigers in the World Series. I’m a chau­vin­ist for clubs that have his­to­ry to com­ple­ment a daz­zling rota­tion topped by one of my favorite AL play­ers, Justin Ver­lan­der. (A lit­tle secret: I fell in love with the Tigers ear­ly in ’06 and have fol­lowed them since.)

I’ll be at the ball­park Sat­ur­day with my fam­i­ly, excit­ed for anoth­er round of post­sea­son base­ball. Wish me luck as I run on no sleep for a month!

Categories
Thinking

Thoughts on the 2011 Philadelphia Phillies

They appear to be pret­ty good. Guess they answered the “but can they hit?” ques­tion ear­ly. Nev­er thought Wil­son Valdez and Ben Fran­cis­co would be ear­ly heroes. Polan­co’s not shab­by either.

How much do you want to bet that Jim­my’s talk­ing to Char­lie non­stop about jump­ing back into the lead­off spot? If Char­lie’s smart he’ll keep him bat­ting third. Feel like the bot­tom of the line­up is flu­id, which is great. Like the idea of drop­ping guys like Raul down if Fran­cis­co is hot. Want May­ber­ry Jr. to get some expe­ri­ence and maybe spell Raul from time to time.

Not con­vinced that the bench will be as help­ful as hoped. Love Ross Gload. Did­n’t like what I saw out of Orr at 2nd last night. Might be okay at third, which is fine because Char­lie needs to han­dle Pol­ly with kid gloves. Valdez can do it all if asked.

Start­ing rota­tion? Goes with­out say­ing, but I’m shocked at how effi­cient Doc and Cliff have been and how effec­tive Roy Oswalt was in his start. Cole? He’ll bounce back. Blame it on the bad weath­er. Blan­ton? Any­one else think Char­lie left him out there to die as an object les­son in con­di­tion­ing? Dude just can’t seem to pull it togeth­er in ear­ly going, and with a staff like ours, there’s real­ly no excuse.

Bullpen? Some ques­tion marks there, too. Romero, Hern­don and Baez fright­en me. Kendrick sur­prised me in the mop up role. Got love for Con­tr­eras, but I fear we’re ask­ing for trou­ble when Mad­son looks to have super­star clos­er stuff. Why post­pone the inevitable? If it’s sole­ly for lever­age, that prob­a­bly won’t change much when the time comes for nego­ti­a­tions. Get Mad­son in the clos­er role. That change­up can’t be touched.

Glad that like last sea­son Amaro did­n’t pan­ic and rush to add a bat, right-hand­ed or oth­er­wise, when Utley went down and Werth left town. Let the offense play out and see where you are at the dead­line. Blan­ton’s val­ue will increase, espe­cial­ly if Utley’s able to come back before the dead­line.

Look­ing for­ward to see­ing where the Phillies stand at the end of April. Have a good feel­ing about their hot start.

Categories
Thinking

Enjoying the 2011 Philadelphia Phillies

Love when my reg­u­lar morn­ing reads include Beer­lea­guer, Crash­burn Alley, Phillies Nation and more of my favorite Phillies blogs. Fol­low­ing the games on Twit­ter is a treat, although Chris @LONG_DRIVE isn’t in mid­sea­son form, yet. Miss check­ing the Fight­ins for all the great flubs. I caught a bad typo on the new Phillies score­board at the On Deck game against the Pirates in trib­ute.

I love the 2011 team. I know every­one’s freak­ing about Utley, but c’mon peo­ple, get it togeth­er already. Look at the injuries we had in 2008 and 2010. We may not have won it all in 2010, but it was­n’t because injuries held us back. The 2011 team needs to do what it’s doing right now: beat the bad teams hand­i­ly and let pitch­ing keep the good ones in check. I think the Phillies fan men­tal­i­ty aligns with Char­lie Manuel’s too much, i.e. we need home run slug­gers to win games. Truth is, you get a few guys to hit dou­bles reli­ably and we’re still scor­ing runs in bunch­es, just like last night. The home runs will come, but it’s great that you’re not wait­ing for that salvif­ic at bat.

For some­one like me who loves low-scor­ing games, this team is a dream. Watch­ing Roy Hal­la­day and Cliff Lee back to back, pitch­ing for my team, is just unre­al. When Roy Oswalt is going against the oth­er team’s #3, it’s just not fair. Heck, even Joe Blan­ton is going to get some very favor­able matchups over the course of the sea­son. It’s a thing of beau­ty to know you have 4 All Star-cal­iber pitch­ers out there going every day.

Will we win it all? Hard to say. How far can the Phear­some Phour­some take us? I love Mad­son, but there isn’t a great deal of reli­able help out there. Which Raul will we see after the break? Will Fran­cis­co fig­ure out right? Can Dom Brown be an impact play­er down the stretch? Can Jim­my play like it’s 2006 again? Lots of ques­tions.

If this team makes the play­offs, watch out. It’s hard to imag­ine even elite teams not find­ing them­selves down 2–0 just on the strength of our pitch­ing. If we get Utley back at any point, or if Dom Brown can rejoin and con­tribute mean­ing­ful­ly, we may being march­ing down Broad Street again.

(Also, how many teams are think­ing they could use a spare starter right now? Boston’s been bru­tal­ized by the Rangers to start the sea­son. Won­der if they’d be inter­est­ed in Ken­tucky Joe. Can’t wait to see how the Yan­kees rota­tion plays out, either.)