September 2006

Saturday Split

For many of us in the front office, today began at 10:30 this morning when we gathered for an update from weather services.  The pressing and soggy question: when was Ernesto leaving Philadelphia?  A spilt admission doubleheader (1:05 p.m. and 7:05 p.m.) was facing both teams today after the tropical storm washed out last night’s game. 

Forecasters were right on: the early morning rain should become drizzle around 2:30 in the afternoon and then stop.  Umpire crew chief Larry Young, who has jurisdiction over the playing of games at this stage of the season, surveyed the light rain around 1:30 and said the game would start at 2:35. 

The game was rescheduled following a July 22 rain out on Photo Day.  Many of the fans who had July 22 tickets used them today.  Fortunately, they didn’t get a second wash out.   In appreciation, the Phillies gave everyone a $5.00 coupon good for food at any ARAMARK stand.

Charlie Manuel talks about the importance of adding on once the Phillies take a lead in a game.  Chase Utley’s two homers gave the Phils a 3-0 pad but the offense couldn’t produce more runs, stranding 12 runners, including the bases loaded in the seventh and eighth innings. 

The Braves won, 4-3, on Adam LaRoche’s two-run homer in the top of the ninth, the Phillies second straight tough loss.  Prior to Thursday’s loss in Washington, the Phillies had been 60-0 when leading after eight innings.

Following the last out at 5:12 p.m., the process began of exiting the fans and cleaning the ballpark for the 7:05 second game and crowd.

The night game started on time but on a sour note when 22-year-old pitcher Scott Mathieson left after six pitches with a sprained right elbow that will require an MRI exam tomorrow.

Adding on wasn’t a problem for the Phillies offense in the nightcap.  They scored in each of the first six innings to win easily.

Newcomers had successful debuts at Citizens Bank Park today: Randall Simon (pinch singles in each game), Jeff Conine (three hits), Jose Hernandez (four hits) and Joe Thurston (one single).

It was business as usual for the clubhouse crew after the game….clean mud off the spikes, crank up the washing machines and the dryers.  Everything needs to be cleaned for tomorrow’s 1:35 p.m. doubleheader.

Oh, those Astros

“Houston, we have a problem.”

No, it doesn’t involve NASA astronauts.  It is a problem the Phillies have with the Astros, beating that baseball club.

Houston has been in the post-season each of the last two years mainly because they are 12-0 against the Phillies.  Yes, 12-0. 

Well, it is time to turn the tables.  It all starts on Labor Day afternoon when the Astros visit Citizens Bank Park.  Time for a commercial: 3:05 start, the last Hatfield Phillies Franks Dollar Dog Day; final Modell’s Sporting Goods Run the Bases for kids post-game; tickets are available online on this website.

The Phillies’ last win over the Astros came on Sunday night (ESPN telecast), May 18, 2003.  Kevin Millwood (6-1) pitched a complete-game six-hitter, 3-1, in downtown Houston.  The last time the Phillies won in Philadelphia was May 10 of the same season, a Randy Wolf 2-0, five-hit shutout at Veterans Stadium.

What has happened since May 18, 2003?

**The Phillies will have played 579 games (barring Ernesto this weekend).

**Placido Polanco, Jim Thome, Bobby Abreu, David Bell and Marlon Byrd, all in the May 18 Phillies lineup, are “Outta Here!”  All five were traded.

**From the same game, Geoff Blum, Jeff Bagwell, Jeff Kent, Orlando Merced, Tim Redding and Jose Vizcaino are no longer in Houston uniforms.

**Billy Wagner left the Astros for the Phillies and left the Phillies for the Mets.

**Millwood has been with the Indians and now the Rangers.

**Pat Burrell tripled in the win and has had five more triples since that game. 

**The Expos moved to Washington and became the Nationals.

**The Red Sox and White Sox have won World Series, breaking long dry spells.

**Get this. reported on October 12, 2003, the price of gas dropped four cents to $1.58 per gallon.  Wow!

Perhaps the 12-0 run by Houston is just a case of the “Baseball Gods” getting even with the Phillies.  When the Colt 45s joined the National League in 1962, the Phillies were 17-1 against the new Houston ball club, winning the first 17 meetings. 

Phillies Chairman Bill Giles was a young promotional character with the Colt 45s back then.  After losing the first 15 games to the Phillies, Giles decided he needed to some something extra to break the streak when the teams met for a twi-night double-header on September 3 in Colt Stadium.

In his book of memoirs that will be on the market next spring, Giles writes: “I hired an Indian witch doctor to sprinkle good luck dust at home plate and a local character named ‘One-Eyed’ Kelly to sit by the Phillies dugout.  Kelly claimed that if he stared at the Phillies pitchers they would pitch poorly.  Neither the good luck dust or the one-eyed stare worked, as we lost both games of a twi-night doubleheader.”

Should “One-Eyed” Kelly get a second chance?

Ryan Stands Alone

Here are the facts:
  **Thursday, August 31, 2006
  **RFK Stadium, Washington, DC
  **Fourth inning
  **8:04 p.m.
  **Pitcher, RH Pedro Astacio
  **Hitter, Ryan Howard

The result, as we all know, was Howard’s 49th home run that broke Mike Schmidt’s single-season record for the Phillies.  It was a typical Howard blast, a towering upper-deck home run.  The ball bounced back onto the field so Ryan has yet another ball for his expanding trophy case.

Howard, 26, was drafted in the fifth round in the summer of 2001 out of Southwest Missouri State University.  As a junior, he didn’t perform as well as he did his first two college years.  Scouts felt that dropped him down in the draft.  A total of 139 players were taken in front of him.

Jerry Lafferty is the Phillies scout for that region.  He had followed Howard from high school through college.  Other Phillies scouts also saw him play that spring, a routine when it comes to the higher profile prospects.

Marti Wolever is the Phillies’ Director of Scouting.  He was there on May 29, 2001, and filed the following report:
Physical Description: Large-framed, huge-bodied athlete.  Long legs.  Similar in build to Willie Mays Aiken.
Abilities: Low ball, fast ball hitter with above average power from pole to pole.  Above average bat speed from loft approach with occasional short routes to ball offensively.  Average to slightly above average hands at first base.  Decent runner.
Summation:  May have best raw power of 2001 draft.  Better as a sophomore and USA last summer.  Reminds me of John Mayberry and Aikens.  Would gamble on power.

Five years later, that power has enabled Howard to stand alone among Phillies home run hitters for one season:

No. Name   Year
49* Ryan Howard  2006
48 Mike Schmidt  1980
45 Mike Schmidt  1979
43 Chuck Klein  1929
41 Cy Williams  1923
24 Gavvy Cravath  1915
*Like the Energizer bunny, still going and going…