Tagged: Philadelphia Phillies

Oh, Yes We Did!

“Fearsome Fouresome”

“Four Aces”
“The Fantastic Four”
“R2-C2”
I kind of like that last one.
The last 24 hours have been a whirlwind for me as a Phillies fan. I went online last night and was surprised to see my beloved Phils identified as the “mystery” team vying for Lee’s “talents.” I was further surprised to see a report about 30 minutes later that Lee may actually be leaning toward Philadelphia. I went to bed at about 11:30 here on the east coast with no official word and hoped that Lee would be a Phillie. I didn’t have to wait that long.
Call it inception, call it premonition, call it ESP if you want. I just had a feeling in the pit of my stomach that caused me to wake up at about 4AM and turn on my TV and there they were. Those beautiful words and 12-month-old footage of Cliff Lee in the #34 Phillies uniform now occupied by the defending Cy Young winner, Roy Halladay. 
“Cliff Lee agrees to rejoin Phillies”
Now let’s all just sit back for a moment, catch our collective breath and take this signing for what it is… “Exciting.” No more, no less.
Even if you take away all that Lee is and promises to be, this is exciting for the fans of Philadelphia because we’ve achieved the impossible and the improbable all at the same time. That’s not something we’re used to. 
Anyone who has followed the story and analysis which has been going on since I woke up at 4, you all know what Lee left on the table. And might I add that I have no problem with what the Yankees were trying to do. I know I’ve had my opinions about the Yankees spending habits in the past but I’ve taken a lot of my emotion out of things these days, and I can respect that the Yankees are an organization committed to winning and doing any and everything possible to achieve that goal. 
But I can’t help but take away a small victory just from that alone. Again, we’re used to being the team who takes a shot that turns out to just be a dream. I’m used to a franchise that signs aging veterans like Jamie Moyer and Kevin Millwood, but never anyone in their prime. And 6 years ago, Philadelphia would never be considered a potential suitor for the game’s #1 free agent, especially not when New York is in the running. Not anymore. If nothing else, that alone makes it good to be a Phillies fan these days.
We got back “the one who got away.” New York has its superstars and legends while Philly has their Heroes and Saviors. Lee was one of those heroes for everything he did in the 2009 post season, and once you do that in Philly, there’s only one way to ruin it (see T.O.). I had mixed feelings about last year’s trade. I was excited to have Halladay, but disappointed to see Lee go. But I convinced myself it was all for the better. We had a comparable pitcher in Halladay and we had him signed through 2014 whereas Lee would have likely gone to free agency after 2010. We never thought we’d have him back and were convinced we’d always wonder “what if.”
Now we have him back. Out of everyone in baseball, HE chose US. He chose us because he loved it here so much, he took less than he could have. Now where a destination free agents want to go to instead of wanting to get out of. We in Philly have never had that, we’ve always been one of the ‘have nots’ and now we’re one of the ‘haves.’ So for now I’m just going to be excited about the promise of a great 2011 season, and the promise of a franchise that finally found it’s place among baseball’s best. 
I’ve been waiting since 1993 for this.
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Say it Ain’t So!

WELL HELLO THERE!

Just logged into the Blogosphere for the first time since the great Harry Kallas passed away early last season. It’s been a hectic 8 months since my last post and I’m sorry I haven’t been around to take part in all of the interesting stories that have been going on in the world of baseball in 2009.

I got engaged down in good ol’ Disney World last May. I’m very excited about the wedding which will be this coming July 10th. I wish I could invite everyone. I also just finished up my last semester at Penn State and will be graduating on Saturday. So needless to say, I’ve had a lot going on and unfortunately my blogging had to take a back seat.

But it’s time to end the silence. I’ve got so much to say and wouldn’t rather say it anywhere else. I had some bad experiences during this past world series on facebook, and before I get into the sadness in my heart over the loss of Cliff Lee, I’d like to speak my mind very briefly.

Personally, I thought this had all the makings for one of the greatest and most competitive world series of all time. You couldn’t have put 2 more evenly-matched, equally competitive franchises if it had been written by Bill Shakespeare himself. Unfortunately, the greatness that was the 2009 world series was tarnished by the thousands of New York and Philadelphia fans on facebook, running their mouths in the most vindictive, sadistic and downright awful ways. As if it had any effect on the game itself.

This is sports, people. It’s a game. I loved the Phillies from the day I put on my first red cap, and as much as I may disagree with the Yankees’ front office philosophies, or disagree with their impact on baseball, I’m never going to root for them to fail. I just don’t believe in that anymore. There may have been a time in my young life when I did, but I’ve grown. And so should the rest of the world.

We all love different teams, but we should all love the game more. So let me take this opportunity to congratulate the New York Yankees on their World Series victory in 2009. It was well deserved and I hope to see a rematch in 2010.

**exhale**

Now, on to the 2009-2010 off-season.

I’ve been glued to ESPN and ESPN.com the last two weeks waiting to see what would happen with Roy Halladay much like I did mid-season when the possibility first rose. This is something Yankees fans might not be able to identify with since this is common occurrence in NY; but in Philadelphia, the possibility of acquiring someone like Roy Halladay is like Neil Armstrong landing on the moon. It just doesn’t happen that often. If at all.

It didn’t happen in July, but we ended up with Cliff Lee and he was nothing short of amazing in red pin-stripes. From the first time he put on that #34 jersey against San Francisco, Philadelphia was in love. The rest speaks for itself.

Now the rumors came up again regarding Halladay and again, this isn’t something I’m used to. Late Monday afternoon I saw the ESPN ticker go across the screen that the Phillies had agreed to a trade, time stood still… Then, the ticker completed, and I found out that Cliff Lee was then traded to Seattle. My heart sank.

We went from having arguably the best 1-2 rotation in baseball, to the Roy Halladay we’ve coveted since last June. Since late October, there has not been a bigger celebrity in Philadelphia than Cliff Lee. He’s everything the city wants in the pro athlete. He doesn’t talk smack, he doesn’t make empty guarantees, he just plays. If you’re not sure, go search YouTube for a clip of Lee catching a Johnny Damon pop-up in game 1 of the world series and watch him calmly step back onto the rubber and prepare for the next pitch.

I’m not going to lie… man-crush.

Now he’s a Mariner. He literally could not be any further away from us.

It’s awesome to have Roy Halladay who is widely considered to be the best pitcher in baseball by everyone who has an opinion. His stats in the last 2 seasons are marginally better than Cliff Lee and he’s been doing it in the AL East against the Yankees and Red Sox. He has the makings to be everything Cliff Lee was and more, but still, Philadelphia is left wanting.

I don’t like the position he’s in now. Philadelphia does not quickly forget. Lee was only a Philly for 3 months but it felt like he belonged. He was one of us. I have the eerie feeling that every pitch Halladay makes will be compared to Lee’s. That’s Philadelphia.

I’m not Reuben Amaro, and I suppose it’s a good thing because I’m much more impulsive. I would have looked at the opportunity to have Lee and Halladay in the same uniform and not given a crap how bare the cupboard was. I would have done everything possible to sign Lee to an extension and keep Cliff and Doc in Philly for the next 4-5 years. Lee-Halladay-Hamels. That spells unstoppable.

Reuben said that his job was to put a championship caliber team on the field every year beyond 2010. I agree. But Reuben, your tenure as GM of the Phillies will not be measured in how many years your “could have” won the world series, it will be measured in how many years you did. 2008 belongs to Pat Gillick. You had the opportunity to, in essence, lock in a trip to the 2010 series, and have a great shot at winning it, and you balked. All because you wanted a couple of guys who might be good players 4 or 5 years from now.

In my book, that’s a bad trade. I see your reasoning and I don’t disagree with your job description. I’m glad you want to win year in and year out. But in Philadelphia, we don’t just want to be competitive, we want parades down Broad Street.

The Yankees gave Joe Girardi number 27 because they wanted a 27th championship and they got it. Roy Halladay will wear 34, which happens to be the number of the guy he’s inevitable replacing. They should have given him #3.

The Voice We Knew and Loved

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To many of
us Philadelphia Phillies fans, the loss of Harry Kalas is like losing a family
member. What makes losing a family member so difficult is the fact that we can’t
imagine our lives without them. You go to sleep every night confident that they
will be there when you awake. When they aren’t, it’s an uneasy feeling that can’t
be described. That’s the best way I can explain the emotion that Philadelphia
is feeling right now.

A signature
broadcaster is a rare thing in sports. We think of names like Harry Cary, John
Madden, Marv Albert and – at least for Phillies fans – Harry Kalas. Made famous
by his child-like excitement for the game and his signature catch phrase – “it’s
‘outta’ here!” – Harry Kalas was more than just a voice to so many. In
Philadelphia, he was synonymous with baseball.

He was there
to announce the two Phillies World Championships, first in 1980 and just this
past season.

It’s an old cliché
in baseball to ‘play every game as if it were your last’ and that’s exactly how
Harry announced. Even those who knew him well could hardly tell the difference
between a loss or a win by Harry’s voice, because he was equally excited no
matter what the outcome was. It didn’t matter if the Phillies were in a hunt to
win the division or they were suffering their ten thousandth franchise loss. To
Harry, time stopped with every fly ball deep to right field.

It’s hard to
imagine what life will be like when Philadelphia wakes up tomorrow morning and
Harry isn’t there. He sat in that booth for so many years; most of us assumed
he always would. It’s hard to imagine what will happen the next time Ryan
Howard hits a fly ball deep to right field. Ryan hasn’t hit a homerun yet that
Harry hasn’t called, just like so many Phillies.

In the minds
of many of us, the Phillies won’t quite be the same. For nearly 40 years, the
Phillies hit a lot of long fly balls deep to right field and it was Harry’s
voice that willed them ‘outta here.’ Now, those hits will simply land safely in
the crowd. They’ll count for just the same, but they won’t feel the same.

To Harry:
our voice, our legend, our soul, but most of all, our friend.

We will
always remember the joy you brought to all of our hearts.

We will forever
miss you.

Godspeed,
old friend.

Kalas.jpg

Harry Kalas

1936 – 2009

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There’s
nothing I hate more than hearing someone rant and rave about a problem they are
having yet they are unwilling to do anything to fix it. I have a simple life
philosophy: “If you have a problem,
either do something about it or shut up.”
Sounds harsh and cynical but it’s
kept me sane.

Looking back
on my last few entries I realize that I’m beginning to rant. My collective
opinions are warranted but not much more than a big “shame on you” to much of
the baseball world. So by my own principles, I must come up with a solution or
shut up until I have something else to talk about; which brings me to another
good life philosophy: “Judge me not by
your standards, judge me by my own.”

I should
write a book.

So the big
problem I see right now in Major League Baseball is how out of control players
salaries have been. The Yanks spent a quarter-billion on two pitchers, Raul
Ibanez is getting $10mil a year and the Boston Red Sox are calling Scott Boras’
bluff on a phantom $195 million offer.

I have
always defended higher salaries in all of pro sports. On average, a
professional athlete makes $200,000 or so a year (check me on that, I’m almost
definitely wrong). So while it seems every athlete is making millions, that
figure is only reserved for the elite. Besides, an athlete only plays 10, 15
maybe 20 years if he stays healthy. 8-12 years, I think, can be considered a
good career. That’s a lot shorter than the careers you and I will have, and we’ll
be paying far less in medical expenses. Finally, as far as superstars are
concerned, organizations are making millions be marketing their names, so why
shouldn’t they get a good chunk of that revenue?

My solution
however, would avoid a good amount of inflation that has driven up prices. It
would be a system much like that of golf and Hollywood, where you earn your
paycheck more than you do in baseball. It seems that every winter the top free
agent wants more than the top free agent got the year before, even if last year’s
top gun was much better.

Sound
familiar Matt Ryan?

A Hollywood
actor’s salary is mostly determined by how long he has been in the biz and how
well his movies have done. Newcomers like Shia LeBouf and that kid from Juno are
making a few hundred thousand to maybe a couple million which Brad Pitt and
Johnny Depp are making 25 to 30 million per movie. Sounds semi-elitist but no
one has complained so far. (except maybe Tom Cruise, but he only has himself to
blame)

So let’s say
that the free agent signing period looks a little different from now on.
Players will still only be allowed to negotiate with their current team first
before testing the market, but their worth will be determined a little
differently.

I call it the “Free
Agent Value System.”

Hit 30 homeruns in a season? That’s $250,000!

Have an ERA under 3.00? Nice! $500,000!

Been with one franchise for 10 years! Kudos! $1,000,000!

MVP? WOW! $5,000,000!

The league
will have a set of accomplishments that determines a player’s “value.”
Essentially, the market will be turned into a giant EBAY website: the value
system determines its worth (not what the agent says it is) and negotiations begin there.

Of course,
the highest bidder won’t be guaranteed a victory, but it would allow more teams
to be in the running. Look at it this way: Have you heard the names Tampa Bay
Rays, Cincinnati Reds or Kansas City Royals very much this off-season? Didn’t
think so.

Is the
system perfect? No, but it’s interesting to think about. It spreads opportunity
around without spreading money around, and it levels the playing field without
simply instituting a salary-cap. It also works both sides of the plate,
so-to-speak. It will bring down salaries for some but raise salaries for
others, so it may be easier to get the players union on board. It does,
however, change the playing field for agents (awwww, poor babies) who now have
to get a little more creative.

What do you
think?

Hometown Heroes

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Thumbnail image for getsmart-review2.jpg

Growing up, my goal in life was
to be a major league baseball player. Apparently, though, there’s this rule
that says you have to be good to make it to the majors. Rats… Missed it by THAT
much.

 

As I grew older, however, and the
dream of being a big-league ball player became more and more real (in my mind,
at least), I could only think of a handful of teams I wanted to play for. The
motivation behind this list had nothing to do with money, either.

 

I am no professional athlete and,
barring some kind of miracle, I will never know what it’s like to earn $1
million dollars in one year. But this is the time of year where the guys who did make it to the big leagues are
trying to figure out just how many millions of dollars they want to earn for
the next few years at least.

 

This phenomenon will always blow
my mind.

 

What goes through a man like Mark
Teixeira’s mind when deciding between a handful of teams, all of which are
offering millions upon millions? What is his motivation? How do you decide?

 

tex.jpg

When I look at free agency, I try
to figure out who will go where. Sometimes, you hear the term “hometown club”
thrown around as if it is some kind of X-Factor in a deal. It happens all the
time. I remember hearing reports about CC Sabathia possibly being lured by the
Dodgers and Angels. The reason? He is from southern California. Where did he end
up? New York who offered the big contract.

 

Now I’m hearing that Tex is
receiving an offer from the Baltimore Orioles who play not so far from Severna
Park, Maryland where he grew up. Is this something that will motivate him to
sign with the O’s? Or will he ultimately end up in Boston where he is offered
something ridiculous like $200 million?

 

If I was a ball player, and I was
offered two contracts: (6yrs/$60million from Philadelphia and 8yrs/$150million
from New York) I would pick the Phillies, hands-down, no hesitation. To me, it’s
a no brainer. I would take less money to play for the team I grew up loving
over a truck-load of money and a pool full of green jell-o from either New York
team.

 

moyer.JPG

I don’t understand how more
players are not motivated by this same sense of hometown pride. During the
world series, it was well documented that Jamie Moyer grew up a Phillies fan
and was overjoyed by the opportunity to pitch for them in the world series, to
the extent that he started game 3 despite suffering from the stomach flu the
day before.

 

Am I the only crazy one here? Or
has free agency become about nothing but dollars and cents?