April 2007

Buzz, buzz

Monday night’s loss was followed by a verbal exchange involving Charlie Manuel and a Philly talk show host.

For over two years, this host has been heaving it on Charlie and Charlie had enough. 

The media didn’t. 

Cold Pizza wanted both this morning.  Charlie, and rightfully so, felt he had his say and the issue was over.  That was also the feeling of Pat Gillick and the organization.  So, the answer was no thank you to Cold Pizza, another live TV request and a live radio request. 

One of the local papers is doing a separate story tomorrow on the unfriendly exchange.  Heck, verbal abuses between those in uniform and the media isn’t new.  That’s life in sports.

The same paper wanted to check out a report that the Phillies have called a 4 o’clock press conference this afternoon.  That was an easy response, “Nothing is planned. Relax everyone, relax.”

Down in Washington, DC, where the Phillies opened a two-game series with the Nationals, Manual announced something else that created a buzz, Brett Myers is going to the bullpen and Jon Lieber to the rotation.  You can read all about it tomorrow

So much for a quite day in the office.

Soggy Sunday

For a few days, weather forecasters predicted a heavy rain storm for the east coast today.  There are times when weather forecasters strike out but this time they didn’t swing and miss. 

The Phillies subscribe to an online weather service.  Mike Stiles, the VP of Administration and Operations, wears the hat of deciding if a game is to be played.  His rain alert staff met after Saturday’s game.  Right there on his computer terminal was a big green blotch, meaning heavy rain was going to hit practically the entire east coast.  Calls to other weather services resulted in the same forecast.

A list of topics had to be reviewed: checking with Major League Baseball for a possible rain date, when and how to notify the players and umpires, reporting times for the Phillies and ARAMARK game day staff, the possibility of rescheduling the Jackie Robinson Day festivities, Hatfield Phillies Franks Dollar Dog Day, Southwest Airlines magnet schedule day and a post-game Modell’s Sporting Goods run the bases event, which outlet would televise the rescheduled game and when the media would be notified.

Rescheduling the game is a process in which MLB has to discuss the potential date with the Players Association.  A call was made Saturday night to begin that process so a decision could be announced today, if at all possible.  We wanted to alert the fans as early as possible of a new date.

A handful of Phillies office personnel arrived early this morning, mainly Stiles, PR, some ticket office staff, couple clubhouse staffers and ballpark ops.

In walking through the Phillies clubhouse very early this a.m., one noticed a note posted on the eraser board in the middle of the clubhouse: “Sunday-players report 10:30 a.m.”  Three racks of pinstripe pants were still hanging, now fully dried from their late Saturday night washing. 

Frank Coppenbarger, Director of Team Travel and Clubhouse Services, contacted each player shortly after 8 o’clock to let them know the game was going to be called.  Three pitchers, Jamie Moyer, Cole Hamels and Geoff Geary, came in to work out.  Moyer also spent time going over the Mets hitters for his next start on Tuesday night.  He was comparing the detailed report of his last start on Thursday.

Charlie Manuel and his staff were there in the a.m.

There will be activity at some point in the Astros’ clubhouse, located behind the third base dugout.  The Astros would attempt to get out of town earlier than their scheduled evening charter flight.  Generally, the availability of an aircraft dictates when a team can leave.

Guess it is time to head home to wash windows.

Over 40 Lineup

With the Jamie Moyer/Tom Glavine match-up scheduled for tonight in New York, we were able to come up with a pitching staff of big leaguers 40 or over.

It was a pretty good staff but now we need eight guys behind them on the field.  That’s a little more difficult.  But, here goes:

C We have to pry Todd Pratt out of retirement.  He was in camp with the Yankees in spring training but did not make the opening day roster.  Perhaps he went to the minors but we’re assuming he went home to retirement.

1B Baseball’s elder statesman, Julio Franco, 48 years young.

2B Craig Biggio

SS Omar Vizquel

3B Jeff Conine, sorry, Jeff, but you have played third in your career; back to the hot corner.

OF Moises Alou
Barry Bonds
Steve Finley
Louis Gonzalez
Kenny Lofton
Reggie Sanders
Matt Stairs

All we need now is an ancient PR person for this baseball bunch.

508 Combined Wins

Two veteran lefthanders, Jamie Moyer (Phillies) and Tom Glavine (Mets), are facing each other in the Shea Stadium series finale Thursday night.

Moyer, 44, has been pitching in the majors since 1986, while the much younger Glavine (41) has been a big leaguer since 1987.  Combined, that’s 85 years of big league experience. 

Size and age aren’t as big a factor in baseball as in other professional sports.  Because of salaries, nutrition and better conditioning, baseball players today are able to play longer and longer. 

It is a real testimony to athletes, both physically and mentally, to play into their 40s.  The mental portion might be the most difficult part.

Including the 2007 season, there’s a pretty impressive pitching staff 40 and over:

Greg Maddox
Curt Schilling
John Smoltz
David Wells
Tim Wakefield
Woody Williams

Roberto Hernandez
Jose Mesa
Mike Timlin
Rheal Cormier
Tom Gordon
Trevor Hoffman
Mike Stanton

Disabled list:
Randy Johnson
Kenny Rogers

Undetermined list:
Roger Clemens

I’m not a big fan of pitch counts but in the case of Moyer and Glavine, it is worth mentioning.  According to a Stats Inc., formula, Moyer has thrown the most pitches of any current pitcher, 74,355; Glavine is second, 69,093. 

Just think, 143,448 combined pitches equals 508 combined wins.

100 Years Ago

There’s a note in the Phillies Media Guide about opening day in Phillies history: “In 1907, the New York Giants forfeited the opener to the Phillies at the Polo Grounds.”

Jim Gates, the Librarian at the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY, was kind enough to dig through the files and provide some old newspaper clippings that shed some light on the incident that took place 100 years ago.

The season opener was on April 11, a cold day in New York.  The Polo Grounds was home to the New York Giants.

According to the clippings, “the crowd surged on the field during the second half of the eighth inning with the Phillies leading, 3-0.  Umpire Klem waited 15 minutes and then forfeited the game to the Phillies.”

One other clipping described it as “the demonstration turned into a good-natured jollification.”

It turns out that there were no policemen or “roundsmen” in the park.  “Commissioner Bingham had taken the stand his bluecoats must not enter the grounds unless something made their presence necessary to preserve order.  He says the club must hire its own force.  It is probable arrangements to that effect will be made by the club,” according to the clipping.

Cold had gripped the much of the country then as it has this week.  It apparently had snowed the day before as the article said, “mountainous heaps of snow were around the edges of the field.”

According to another clipping, “Very cold weather, with the thermometer down almost to zero, was experienced in some cities, but every game was snappy and full of life.”

Some interesting notes from the clippings:

**“A conspicuous absentee was Manager McGraw, who is sick with grip.”

**“Cap Anson tossed the first ball (Cubs opener), after having presented the local players with umbrellas, a gift from the members of the Board of Trade.”

**“Umpire Sheridan worked in a heavy overcoat (in Detroit).”

Lost and found

A couple of friends met for lunch today at Samurai’s sushi bar in Rosemont.  Nothing unusual in today’s world, except this get-together was the interesting end to a strange situation that took place over one and a half years ago.

Former Phillies broadcaster Andy Musser was on an Amtrak train to Washington, D.C.  He went to the rest room to wash his hands and took off his 1980 Phillies World Series championship ring.  “I always took it off when I washed my hands,” he reported.  “I just put it on top of the washstand when the train jolted.  I stood there motionless as the ring flipped into the hopper.”  Musser’s first response isn’t printable.

Using common sense, Andy didn’t try to retrieve it.  Instead, he asked the Amtrak attendants for assistance.  The story didn’t have an encouraging ending as there was nothing that could be done immediately.

Andy learned that cleaning was done back in Long Island, but several phone calls were unproductive.  “I finally gave up,” said Musser.

Musser eventually had a duplicate ring manufactured because the situation seemed hopeless.

Larry Christenson, the ex-Phillies pitcher who toiled on the mound while Andy did his work in the broadcast booth, entered the picture recently.  As President of Christenson Investment Partners, “LC” has numerous clients in the mid-Atlantic business world. 

One of his clients is Ritchie Brooks, President of the Teamsters Warehouse Local 730 in the Baltimore/Washington area.  Brooks had an employee whose wife had an acquaintance at Amtrak. 

Yes, someone at Amtrak had come across a 1980 Phillies World Series ring with the name Andy Musser on the side.  Eventually, word filtered back to LC, who called Andy and set up today’s celebratory lunch.  The ancient ring sparkled again.

“I’m now the proud owner of two rings from 1980,” said a beaming Musser. 

Lineup change

It’s 8:10 a.m. on this opening day.  Fans are lined up all the way to McFadden’s to gobble up the 500 standing room tickets that go on sale in 50 minutes. 

The sun is trying to break through the fog that blankets South Philadelphia. 

Down in the Phillies clubhouse, most of the players are already here.  Some are downing breakfast.  New daddy Shane Victorino has his typical facial expression, an ever-lasting smile.

As one enters the clubhouse, there is an eraser board on the left.  That’s where Charlie Manuel posts the daily lineup.  The usual players are in today’s lineup but he made one change, a change that will create a buzz for talk radio, the media, and the message board.

Jimmy Rollins, SS
Shane Victorino, RF
Ryan Howard, 1B
Chase Utley, 2B
Pat Burrell, LF
Wes Helms, 3B
Aaron Rowand, CF
Rod Barajas, C
Brett Myers, P

The pre-game schedule says PLAY BALL at 1:05 p.m. 

A season-long marathon is about to begin.  Yes, a baseball season is a marathon, not a sprint. The season gets underway in April but the goal is to be playing baseball in Philadelphia in October.


Spring training baseball for 2007 is “Outta Here!” as Harry Kalas would say.

It all started in Clearwater, FL, on the last day of February when the Phillies defeated Florida State University.  It ended yesterday at Citizens Bank Park with a loss to the Red Sox.  Off those two results, I suppose one could say the Phillies would be the favorite in the College World Series and an underdog in the World Series against Boston. 

Looking ahead, here are some predictions:

**The Phillies roster that is introduced tomorrow will change, possibly as early as a week into the season.

**People are concerned with questions about the Phillies.  Relax, every team has question marks.

**The Phillies will run off a 7-game winning streak and euphoria will be sky high.

**The Phillies will lose 7 in a row and people will head for the Walt Whitman Bridge.

**Charlie Manuel will get blamed for something.  It happens every year.

**Chase Utley will have an MVP season.

**Jimmy Rollins will add a Rawlings Gold Glove to his trophy room.

**Ryan Howard will go on a home run spree and will be asked, “How many homers will you hit?”

**Ryan Howard will hit a dry spell and will be asked, “How many homers will you hit?”

**Brett Myers will challenge for the Cy Young Award.

**Aaron Rowan will continue to dazzle in center field making unbelievable catches.

**Someone will complain that the players don’t sign autographs.  It happens ever year.

**Citizens Bank Park will continue to be the place to be in Philadelphia.

**At some point, the media and players will cross wires.  It, too, happens every year in Philly.

**Harry Kalas will blurt out his famous home run call, creating goosebumps.

**Personally, I will boycott Turkey Hill’s chocolate peanut butter cup ice cream in the Press Dining Room.  (Now, that’s April fool!).