May 2009

Any ideas?

Perhaps the big man is warming up to carry us for a week or two.  He certainly put on an orbit show last night.

In case you are drawing a blank, we’re talking about Ryan Howard. 

Ryan sent a pitch into the second deck in right field (estimated 426 feet) in his first at-bat and then set a new club record with his 8th career grand slam homer in his next at-bat.  This moon shot landed in Section 304, Row 1, Seat 15, an estimated 475 feet.  Yep, section 304 means the third deck in right. 

He did that once before, June 20, 2006, off the Yankees’ Mike Mussina.  It was bobbled by a fan in the same section, same row but seat 8.

Last night’s third-level blast landed just above one of the park’s advertising signs, POWERADE.  How appropriate.

At the Vet, we painted an “S” for Mike Schmidt’s upper deck home runs and a “bull ring” for Greg (The Bull) Luzinski’s titanic homers.

For Ryan’s first 300 level homer, a large white “H” was painted on the seat.  We’re mulling over another “H” or a bronze plaque or both or something else.  We need to do something to permanently mark his orbit shots.  Any ideas?

A week ago today in Yankee Stadium, Ryan had a pair of infield singles and a stolen base.  Scott Lauber, in his Wilmington News-Journal baseball column today, published a quote from Ryan after that game:

“I don’t know of anyone in baseball who maximizes their speed any better than that.”

Going West
Team leaves on a Delta charter after today’s game.  Seven games in seven days in Southern California starting tomorrow night in San Diego.  Journey ends with an ESPN Sunday Night national telecast a week from today in Los Angeles.

LHP Antonio Bastardo will join the team today from the Lehigh Valley IronPigs in order to be on the flight.  He’ll start Tuesday night in San Diego.  Will post Bastardo stuff that day. 

J. C. Romero is eligible to return to the active roster on Wednesday.  So, the Phillies face back-to-back days of roster moves. 


New "hip" injury

It wasn’t too long ago that Tommy John surgeries came on the baseball scene.  It seems as if a new “hip” surgery has now emerged….hip surgery.

Since last season ended, Mike Lowell, Chase Utley, Alex Gordon, Alex Rodriquez and Carlos Delgado have had hip surgery.  Now, the first pitcher is headed that way, Brett Myers.  He’s seeking a second opinion but all indications are that surgery is needed, either now or later. 

Todd Zolecki will keep abreast of all this news on

Ruben Amaro Jr. will be conferring with his staff and Charlie and his staff to determine the direction the team will go if Myers has surgery sooner than later. 

Pitching is a premium commodity.  The price to obtain quality pitching has always been high.  Should the Phillies go the trade route, other clubs know the situation and the price will be even higher.  What you will need to give up will be weighed against what you are getting as far as length of contract and salary. 

Rest assured the rumor mill will begin churning faster.

Trophy Tally
31,000 miles and 183,000 fans.

That’s the up-to-date tally on the World Series Trophy Tour.  It is still going on.

Later next month, the trophy will make a two-day appearance in Cooperstown during a Phillies Weekend at baseball’s Hall of Fame.  Looking forward to being there for a fun weekend.

Comment Corner
Jenn wanted to know why a September 21 game in Miami was moved to July 16, taking away one day of a four-game All-Star break.

The Dolphins were assigned a Monday Night NFL Game on September 21.


Need a Series Win

Rubber game of series tonight against the Marlins.  Hard to believe we’ve won only one series at home this year: Washington, April 27-28-29, 2 out of 3.

Last night’s game was a strange one.  An error helped us score 3 in the first.  An error helped Florida score 3 in the ninth to make it tight.

Joe was dominating.  Good to see the rotation starting to round into form.  Next week, J. C. Romero returns to the bullpen which will really give us a strong, deep pen.

Keeping your sanity.  That’s baseball.  Shane was hot, got cold and now he’s hot again.  Jayson was hot, now he’s cold.  Chase has had his ups and downs.  Jimmy was down, now he’s turning it around. 

Raol doesn’t let up.  Sixth in NL All-Star outfield voting?  Let’s go!

Big Four
Postponed Mets game from May 3 will be made up 19 Sundays later, September 13, to be specific.  A big, crucial three-game series with the Mets just became a four-some.  It is the final meeting between the two clubs this season.

Hard to Believe, Harry
We’re 0-14 when scoring 3 or fewer runs.  The American League Champion Tampa Bay Rays are in the same pew, 0-17.  Explain that one.

When Pedro gets multiple hits, we’re 38-4. 

Chase broke an 0-for-19 at Citizens Bank Park last night.

Players of The Week
Awards in the Phillies minor league last week go to RHP Rodrigo Lopez (Lehigh Valley) and 2B Brad Harman (Reading).

Dog Numbers
Monday’s Dollar Dog Night: 66,242 bit the dust.  Worse, our Dollar Dog Night Record fell to 2-1, as a reader noted.  Doggone it.


High Ratings

Jamie just can’t get over the hump and get that elusive 250th win.  Two walks did him in last night.   Wes Helms followed those walks with the home run.

Offensively, Ryan was the show.  A puzzle as to why we play better on the road.  Hard to believe, Harry, as Richie Ashburn used to exclaim.

TV Ratings
Banner weekend for the tube.  Friday night’s WPHL telecast drew a season-high 8.8 rating for that station, a figure that was surpassed by Sunday’s. 9.1.

Saturday’s FOX telecast was the third for the Phillies.  It drew a 6.9 rating, much better than the previous FOX games (Braves and Mets).

Then, last night drew an 8.6 for Comcast SportsNet, the highest number for a cable game this season.

Season’s best rating remains the opener, Sunday night on ESPN, April 5, a 10.4 rating.

Fans continue to pour into Citizens Bank Park.  Everywhere the Phillies go on the road, Phillies fans come out in big numbers.  Sunday’s game at Yankee Stadium resembled a home game.  Home average is 43,208; road, 31,111. 



2-0 on Dollar Dog Nights


Can that number be topped tonight?  No, Citizens Bank Park can’t hold that many fans.
But 45,000 tummies will challenge Hatfield Phillies Franks Hot Dogs.  Yep, Memorial Day features dollar hot dogs tonight.  What a way to spend the holiday.

70,014?  That’s the number of hot dogs consumed on the last $1 dog night, May 12 vs. LA. 

Chooch certainly had an outstanding game on Sunday.  He singled to start the first rally against CC and doubled in the winning run in the 11th. 

He also gunned down two base runners and threw a road block at home plate to save a run.  When Chooch blocks home plate it resembles a wall of cement blocks.

Is he hot or what?  .396 on the 10-game trip with 7 home runs, 11 runs scored and 16 RBI. He has a career-high 10 homers this month.  Phillies record for May? Cy Williams, 15, 1923.  That’s only 86 years ago!

Andrew Carpenter, Sergio Escalona, John Mayberry Jr. and J.A. Happ all contributed on the 8-2 trip (6.5 runs per game).

Home Blues
A year ago, Phillies were 44-37 on the road.  They’ve continued that trend this year, 15-6, best in the majors (just under 6.5 runs per game).  Club record for the road: 48-33, 1976.

A year ago, we finished 15 over .500 at home, 48-33.  During October’s post-season, 7-0.  They’ve discontinued that trend this year, 8-12 (4.9 runs per game) as a six-game homestand begins tonight.

Last win at home: May 12 dollar dog night.  Other dollar dog night this year?  April 27, another victory.  Guess we need 81 dollar dog nights.



Schmidt Retires

While the focus today is on the rubber game at Yankee Stadium and the end of a Phillies’ 11-game road trip, the focus here is on the past, specifically 20 years ago tomorrow, Memorial Day.

Not on the three-city California trip, I was spending the holiday at home when Vince Nauss, my assistant called: “You’ll never guess what is happening.  Mike Schmidt is retiring.”  Shocked, to say the least. 

Schmidt had decided after the previous game in San Francisco that he would retire before the next day, Memorial Day in San Diego.

Vince brings you the inside story:

“I’m not sure how many people Mike told before I got to the clubhouse but I no sooner stepped in the door to the visitors clubhouse at Candlestick after the game ended and Mike called me over to his locker then basically backed me into the locker so his back would be turned to everyone else.  He said, ‘I need to tell you something because you’re going to have to make some arrangements for a press conference.  I just played my last game.’

“I don’t know whether I was able to maintain a poker face or not, but the writers were watching and pounced on me right away wanting to know what was all that about. 

“I suggested to Mike that he give this further consideration and not make his decision final until we got off the road trip.  His mind was made up though.  The next morning (Memorial Day) in San Diego, I went to Mike’s room and went over his remarks for the news conference.  I just helped word-smith it a little, but the content was all his, straight from the heart.

“The Padres PR department was a big help in setting up a press conference in a football lockerroom right next to the Phillies clubhouse.  I was able to bring Mike in through a connecting door from the Phillies training room. 

“One final note. I got raked over the coals by the SF media because I asked the scorer to reconsider changing his scoring of an error to a hit for Mike.  A Giants writer claimed that I was pressuring the scorer so that Schmidt’s last at bat would have been a hit instead of an error.  I thought that he deserved a hit and had nothing to do with it being his last career at-bat,” added Vince.

Schmidt flew to Philly from San Diego for another press conference the following day.  Decided the best place to have it was on home plate at the Vet where Michael Jack had so many great at-bats.  Over 100 media showed up.  Knowing the emotion of the day, I put a box of tissue on the shelf of the podium.  Michael needed it as he began by reading a statement.

The entire press conference ran something like 90 minutes, which is very long.

At age 39, 46 games into the 1989 season and an 18-year career with the Phillies, Mike Schmidt’s career ended.  Not a story-book ending but Mike felt it was time and to his credit, he decided no more.  Number 20 would never be worn again.

Power Meets Power

What is smaller than a band box? Sand box?  Match box? Pill box?

Remember how the media and players bashed Citizens Bank Park when it opened in 2004.  Through the first 19 games, a total of 57 home runs were hit. 

Well, say hello to the new Yankee Stadium.  Home runs are flying out of there at a record pace–71 in the first 19 games.  Game #20 is tonight, Adam Eaton facing the red-hot Yankees. has a website called Park Factor (compares the rate of stats at home vs. the rate of stats on the road).  When it comes to home runs, Yankee Stadium is ranked #1; Citizens Bank Park #13.

Could it be the ghost of Babe Ruth is angry that the historic Yankee Stadium has been replaced?

All these numbers point to a weekend series in New York as interleague play 2009 starts tomorrow night for us in the new Yankee Stadium.

Going into today, the Yankees led the major leagues with 64 home runs.  The Phillies were atop the NL with 52.  Phillies pitchers had given up 61 homers, Yankee arms, 56. 

The weekend can be billed as power meets power.

Historically, the Phillies have struggled against the American League, including a franchise worst (12 seasons) 4-11 record in interleague play a year ago. 

300 Club
J-Roll stole his 300th base today.  He’s the fourth to reach that plateau in our history:

OF Billy Hamilton: 508 (729 games)
OF-1B Ed Delahanty: 411 (1,555 games)
OF Sherry Magee: 387 (1,521 games)
Rollins: 300 (1,289 games)




Rolling with J-Roll

J-Roll makes the Phillies roll.

The Phillies offense features a pack of talented players who pack plenty of power.  But, it is J-Roll that gets it going.  He had a key hit last night that triggered a 3-run fifth inning.  He scored a run for the eighth straight game.  Not surprising, the Phillies are 6-2 in those games.

For the season, the Phillies are 16-4 when he scores a run.  That’s a .800 percentage.  Keep up that pace and we’ll see you in October.

J-Roll needs four more hits to reach 1,500 and one more stolen base to reach 300. 

Cole certainly appears to be back on track, as does J-Roll.  Now, we need to get the rest of the starting rotation back on track.

Phillies 23, Cubs 22 

This crazy game took place 30 years ago Sunday in Wrigley Field.  Rich Hofmann of he Daily News wrote a column about the historic game today.

The game featured 50 hits (10 doubles, 2 triples, 11 homers), 11 different pitchers, 22 LOB, 4 errors.  Surprisingly it only lasted 4 hours, 3 minutes and the Wrigley crowd was just 14,952.

New Publication
INSIGHT EDITIONS, an imprint of Palace Press, and the Phillies are producing a 225-250-page coffee table book that will be available a year from now: The Philadelphia Phillies: An Extraordinary Tradition.

The book will feature more than 400 photographs chronicling our tradition that began in 1883.
Editorial will include 20-25 original essays by our Hall of Famers, current Phillies players, former players, managers and executives.

One essay will also be from a fan.  Starting today and running for the next three weeks, fans can participate in a sweepstakes contest on, “Why I Bleed Phillies Colors.”

The winner will be selected by the Phillies and Palace Press.


Draft Three Weeks Away

Three weeks from tomorrow, baseball’s annual First-Year Player Draft will be held.  This year the first day (June 9) will take place in Studio 42 at the MLB Network in Secaucus, NJ.   The first 111 selections will be live on the MLB Network starting at 6 p.m.

The following two days will be conducted via conference call from MLB’s headquarters in New York City. will have complete selection-by-selection coverage all three days.

Because we signed Raul Ibanez, we have forfeited our first-round selection.  It will go to Seattle.  Losing first-round picks sometimes is difficult but Raul has carried our offense all season long.  He’s certainly been worth a first-rounder. 

We will have the 75th, 106th and 137th selections in the first four rounds. 

Marti Wolever and his scouting staff have been following amateur players since February.  In addition, they’ve held tryouts in Houston, Southern California, Omaha and Atlanta this month.  Actually, they are in Atlanta today.  Three days before the draft, we’ll have an invitation-only tryout at Citizens Bank Park.

Joining Marti’s staff in scouting prospects are Pat Gillick, Benny Looper and Chuck LaMar.  The more opinions the better. 

Draft strategy this year changes for us because our first pick is the 75th.  The cream of this year’s crop won’t slide down that far. 

Every team will have two representatives at the June 9 draft in the MLB Network.  Dallas Green and I have been chosen.  We were there for the very first draft in 1965 at the Commodore Hotel in New York and two years ago when the draft was televised for the first time by ESPN in Disney World. 

While in Orlando, Dallas and I also had a chance to see our relatives: Sneezy, Sleepy, Dopey, Doc, Happy, Bashful and Grumpy.




The Unexpected

Hey, perhaps we should meet President Obama more often.  Since we visited the President at the White House on Friday noon, we’re 4-0.  Hopefully, President Obama was on the team charter to Cincinnati last night.

The Nationals are scuffling right now and we took advantage. 

Andrew Carpenter and Sergio Escalona, two rookies, picked up the last two wins.  Carpenter started on Saturday night and didn’t last the 5 innings that are required to be eligible for a win but the game was called after 5.  A baseball rule for a rain-shortened game provided Andrew with a W.  Sergio made his debut with one scoreless inning yesterday and came out the winner.

With a three-game series against the Yankees this weekend in New York, look for a roster move, adding a bat and deleting one of the relievers.  The Phillies will be allowed to use the DH in that series.

Rookie pitchers getting back-to-back wins is an example the unexpected nature of this game.  Carpenter and Escalona are tied with Hamels in wins; starter Brad Myers and reliever Clay Condrey share the club lead in wins with three each.  Unexpected?

Looking at box scores, a pair of former Phillies are putting up big numbers, C Rod Barajas with the Blue Jays is hitting .310 and Ryan Branyan, now playing first base on a daily basis in Seattle, is batting .300 with 9 homers.  Unexpected?

Yesterday in St. Petersburg, Rays manager Joe Maddon made a mistake in filling out the lineup.  He listed both Evan Longoria and Ben Zobrist at 3B.  Longoria was supposed to be the DH.

Cleveland waited until the game started and then called the mistake to the umpires’ attention.  Following a 13-minute delay, the umps ruled that Longoria was out of the lineup and starting pitcher Andy Sonnanstine had to bat in the three hole.  Sonnanstine had an RBI double.

In the box score the 13-minute delay was listed as a “rain delay.”  A rain delay is unexpected since the game was played indoors in the Tropicana Dome.