Tagged: world series

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.

Hometown Heroes

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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?

Why The Phillies Need to Make a Play on Manny

Ok.
In case you have never read my blog, I am a Phillies fan, so I am predicting some of you may chalk up this post as bias, but I pray you, read on.

The Phillies have just come off of a World Series Championship, and what has been a trend for world series teams the year after?

They dismantle.

Colorado, Detroit, St. Louis, Houston, Chicago, Florida, San Francisco, the list goes on.
The exceptions are Boston and Anaheim, who were able to stay in contention following a world series appearance. The Rays are a young team under contract and look to remain a core group for at least the next couple seasons. The Phillies, however, have the potential to be broken up and sold piece by piece withing the next year or two. Their time to win is now or they may suffer another rebuilding phase.

The funny thing about Philadelphia is once we get a few wins under our belts, we are spoiled. It happened with the Flyers, Sixers, the Eagle most recently, and now the Phils. So my guess is that anything less than another championship next year will be seen as failure in the eyes of Philadelphians.

What can I say?
We have high standards.

I know a little too much about sports business to know that’s much easier said than done; and while my love for the team is greater than most, it isn’t enough to blind my judgment.

I heard someone on ESPN say that the Phillies dubbed Manny Ramirez as “too expensive” for the club. Well, that may be, but now is not the time to get cheap, Ruben. If it’s money you’re worried about, don’t. Philly fans would hand over their mortgage to see him in left field. I know I would (if I had one). We’re that phanatical.

Pat Burrell may or may not sign. If he does, great, he’s a cornerstone to the organization. But if he doesn’t, they need to go after Manny and go after him aggressively. Burrell leaves a big hole in the field and in the lineup. Manny’s not the type of player to fit into the 5-spot but that’ll be Charlie manuel’s problem.

The Phillies would also need more power from the right side of the plate without Burrell. Utley and Howard who provide most of the lineup’s power hit from the left and the switch-hitting Rollins and Victorino hit for more power from the left as well. Werth is a solid role player but isn’t consistent enough as a power-hitter to fit the need. If they can’t replace Burrell with a righty of comparative power, they’ll have more trouble against leftys in 2009 than in 2008. Overall, even the left-handed hitters in their lineup had good numbers versus southpaws in ’08, but the absence of a righty may change that.

If I were in Ruben Amaro Jr.’s position, I would want Manny just to show the organization, the team and the fans that winning is his prime objective.

But I’m not Ruben Amaro Jr., and maybe I’m not in his position because I’m a complete moron and I should stick to blogging. I have faith that the team will do what they can to continue to win championships. I don’t want to see a great team like the 2008 Phillies  be dismantled like the 1997 Marlins. I know that won’t happen this year, but I am more than familiar with the rise and fall of Philadelphia teams.

The window of opportunity is small and closes fast. That is what I think the true curse of Billy Penn. The Phils were able to get a championship in before the window closed but who knows how much longer it will be open?

As a fan of the game, I normally advocate a different team win every year, but that was before my team won it all. I don’t want to be a spoiled fan, but I know in the back of my mind that if we don’t win another one soon, it could be another 28 years.

I don’t want this city to go through that again.
Make a play.

~SL

Years Like This MAKE Baseball Fans

I am asked time and time again how I can be so passionate about baseball. My response is, “how can you not?”

I’ve heard baseball called “boring,” “sissy,” “slow” and even “pointless” and anyone who feels that way has obviously never really watched a game.

Introducing: Jordan, my girlfriend (pictured next to me).

Jordan is from Pittsburgh, and considering the state of the Pittsburgh Pirates I have no problem accepting why she is not a baseball fan. Since we moved in together I have frequently tired to watch a game and not even just Phillies games. Each time I changed the channel she routinely sighed, got up off the couch and left the room. In most cases I would simply check the score and change the channel back, but once the Phillies made it to the playoffs, I was not in such a compromising mood.

At first, her reaction was the same and she even went as far as saying “I hope the Phillies win in as few games as possible so I can watch TV again.” She is as die-hard a Pittsburgh Steelers fan as there can be and rivals my love of the Phillies, so instead of accepting her hatred for the game I love so much, I set out on a mission.

MISSION OBJECTIVE: CONVERT JORDAN INTO A BASEBALL FAN!

It was not an easy mission. Just getting her into the living room while a game was on required a license to kill. But slowly I enticed her to just give it a chance. Her first few games was like watching a newbord calf learn how to walk. She would make it through 5 innings solid before either throwing a hissy fit or falling asleep entirely.

I’ll never understand why. I was glued to the TV when my dad first turned on the game some 15 years ago and I’ve been hooked ever since. Many people describe the game as being slow but I think that’s exactly what makes it so great. Every pitch is pure drama that no writer can reproduce. Will he hit it? Will he strike out? Will he hit a homerun? Will this be just another called strike or will it lead to the greatest play I’ve ever seen with my own two eyes?

By the time the Phillies made it to the World Series, Jordan had warmed up to the idea of watching baseball, at least the post season. Once I began explaining the finer points of the game she began to ask more questions. Like why pitchers throw to first base three tmes in a row or why Nomar Garciaparra oddly adjusts his gloves before every pitch. I knew I had her hooked.

The pinnacle moment of when I knew I had turned her into e Phillies fan was when a Subway commercial (Ode to the Philly Cheese Steak) featuring Ryan Howard came on between innings in game 3 against Tampa Bay. I sat quietly while she screamed at the TV “Yea, too bad you don’t deserve a cheese steak cuz you can’t hit a frigging homerun!”

I turned to her with the biggest smile on my face and laughed saying. “Sweetheart, at this moment you are officially a Phillies fan.”

In the bottom of that inning, Ryan Howard hit a homerun.

Moms Do It Great Too!

Someone commented on my last blog and made a valid point that I had every intention of writing about.

Moms do it great too!

My dad and I could erase everything by stepping into the ballpark but my mom and the Phillies were so very different. When they divorced my mom made sure that my sister and I got everything we would have gotten had they not split. She did here absolute best to play both the mom and the dad role when he wasn’t around.

She’s been a Phillies fan all her life, born and raised in the city of Philadelphia and she’ll never let me forget it. She went to the first and last games at the Vet as well as the one fateful game when they Phils wore their awful all-maroon unis. She lives and dies by the Phillies.

While I’ve been a Phillies fan ever since (and in spite of) the 1993 season. I did, however, become a big fan of Chipper Jones who plays for the rival Atlanta Braves. So while Philly fans will throw snowballs at Santa Claus, my mom would always take me down to watch them play the Braves and make sure we sat on the third baseline so we were closer to Chipper. And while I foolishly wore a braves cap to the one game, she was there to hide it for me so the Phanatic didn’t make fun of me, or to defend me from the drunken fans; one of which sported an eagles-logo tattoo covering his exposed and spent the game screaming at Ryan Klesko in left field.

I hate to tell a sad story again but I’m afraid that my life as it relates to the Phillies is not so different from a sappy Nicholas Sparks novel.

My mom was diagnosed with Ovarian cancer my freshman year of college and underwent chemo treatment. She lost all of her hair and was forced to wear a wig wherever she went. But when she came home and the wig became too itchy she took it off and covered her head with, you guessed it, a pink Phillies cap.

The cancer has been gone and come back again a few times, most recently in August of this year when she went back into surgery to remove a tumor where the cancer originated. I drove home to be with her and with more tubes in her than I care to describe, she asked me how the Phillies were doing.

Somehow, no matter how sick she becomes, she has the heart of a champion, the heart of a lion, the heat of a true Philadelphian.

Shortly after Brad Lidge struck out Eric Hinske to close out the series, I got a call from my mom as expected. On the other line was not the woman who had been through 5 years of chemo and 2 surguries; it was the woman screaming at the top of her lungs in pure celebration. HER Phillies had won, at long last.