The 2011 Phillies at the Trade Deadline

Hunter Pence. It’s going to take the rest of the sea­son for me to decide how he improves this team. I know peo­ple are excit­ed, but I think there are oth­er issues, notably the pres­ences of Wil­son Valdez and Ben Fran­cis­co, who have late­ly become sur­plus to require­ments. Remov­ing Dom Brown from the every­day line­up doesn’t improve the Phillies chances come post­sea­son play.

I still think the Phillies match up well against any team they could face in the play­offs, but I hate to think that banged up vet­er­ans like Polan­co or Ibanez could come up short when it mat­ters most.

Checking in on Your 2011 Philadelphia Phillies

Can I just say that being a base­ball fan in this town would be much eas­i­er if peo­ple didn’t pan­ic every time their first place team slumped? Slumps end. Appre­ci­ate the pitch­ing that you’re see­ing every night out there. Home runs are fun, but what we’re wit­ness­ing is down­right mag­i­cal. Soak it in. Lux­u­ri­ate in it. It won’t be long before we’re bitch­ing and moan­ing about this team in earnest. I ful­ly expect my son to grow up an Indi­ans fan just like his dad.

(Con­fes­sion: I decid­ed to love a team that was even worse than the Phillies. In Penn­syl­va­nia. True sto­ry.)

That said, it’s a much eas­i­er to team to watch when the worst bats in the line­up could still dri­ve a ball into the left field seats. Stay gold, J-Berry!

I Met Ryan Madson at Yo La Tengo

Proof that Philly’s still weird: I met Phillies’ set-up man Ryan Mad­son at the Troc’s down­stairs bar at Yo La Ten­go last Thurs­day night.

He was floored by the band, call­ing it “pure music,” ask­ing if they were on iTunes and was just an all-around sweet guy. He also shared that his dad played in a band like that in the ‘70s. (Ryan, if you ever find this post, can we talk about your dad’s band?)

Me? I played it cool. You see, Ryan Mad­son is one of just two Phillies that I have a rehearsed sto­ry about their career. My Mad­son moment? 7 relief innings against the Mets. He gave up a homer to Bel­tran in the 13th, but I told him that he real­ly showed some­thing there. Gut­ting it out as a strug­gling young pitch­er ain’t easy any­where, let alone Philly, but he did it. Can’t wait until he’s our clos­er in 2012.

Yo La Ten­go? Pre­dictably great, although the cru­el wheel (pic­tured above) fell on Sounds of Sci­ence, Part 2. Ouch. Def­i­nite­ly a “for fans only” set that was a slow burn. They fin­ished with a daz­zling sec­ond set that blew Ryan Madson’s mind. “Doesn’t it sound like 6 peo­ple are on stage?”

What Cliff Lee Means to Me

I ran a quick search of the archives here at Ram­say­ings before I start­ed writ­ing this post. Felt sure I’d writ­ten about Cliff Lee before, because, real­ly, how has any­one with an inter­est in the Phillies not writ­ten about him? Whether it was his acqui­si­tion at the dead­line in ’09 or his inex­plic­a­ble trade before Roy Hal­la­day arrived, I’ve some­how man­aged to not direct­ly address the mag­i­cal left han­der.

My first mem­o­ry of Cliff Lee is a fond one. Char­lie fell asleep on my chest while we laid on the couch, watch­ing Cliff car­ry a no-hit­ter through six innings. It was every­thing skep­ti­cal Phillies fans want­ed to see in their new stud pitch­er. I mean, how many play­ers had we acquired in the past that just didn’t work out? What is Travis Lee up to, after all? Lee’s acqui­si­tion showed that the Phillies orga­ni­za­tion was seri­ous about being a con­tender and not just a flash in the pan. It was a refresh­ing change from my youth, when the Phils were rou­tine­ly a door­mat and most Philadel­phia teams found unin­spir­ing ways to trade away their top-tier tal­ent for lit­tle return.

That was just how we felt when Lee was trad­ed in the 2009 off­sea­son. Three nobod­ies who aren’t even seen as devel­op­ing tal­ent that can suc­ceed at the pro­fes­sion­al lev­el. We may only ever know Tyson Gillies for his run-in with the law last year. It was about mon­ey and restock­ing the farm sys­tem, we were told. Seemed an awful way to dis­pense with a play­er who sin­gle-hand­ed­ly pitched us back into the ’09 series.

Now it seems the Phillies are aton­ing for all of Philadelphia’s sports sins. It’s as if Ruben Amaro is mak­ing us for­get every bad trade and draft pick and free agent acqui­si­tion. Makes it eas­i­er to for­get how Barkley and Schiling exit­ed or how Shawn Bradley arrived. It’s a reas­sur­ance that last sea­son was a pre­cur­sor to the fall. We’re not sell­ing off yet. The Phillies are trans­form­ing Philadel­phia into a knowl­edge­able, pas­sion­ate base­ball town like it’s nev­er been before. The Four Horse­men ride!