May 2009

All-Star Ibanez?

What do Garry Maddox and Raul Ibanez have in common?  Pretty good outfielders with pretty good numbers.  Neither has been an All-Star.

Well, Raul can be an All-Star and you can play a role in that.  Don’t forget to vote.

Raul had some kind of a day yesterday at Nationals Park.  While not technically a doubleheader (MLB rules say a doubleheader needs to have games that are played back-to-back, not day and night as was the case yesterday), Ibanez became the first Phillies player to hit two home runs in a doubleheader.  Last time? Try June 8, 1958, Harry (The Horse) Anderson in St. Louis. 

Other Phillies who did it include Cy Williams, Don Hurst, Johnny Rizzo, Del Ennis, Andy Seminick and Hall of Fame outfielder Chuck Klein, three times.

Climbing the HR Ladder
Ryan Howard’s homer yesterday was his 185th, putting him in a tie for ninth on the Phillies all-time list:

Mike Schmidt, 548
Del Ennis, 259
Pat Burrell, 251
Chuck Klein, 243
Greg Luzinski, 223
Cy Williams, 217
Dick Allen, 204
Bobby Abreu, 195
Johnny Callison, 185
Ryan Howard, 185

Other Blogs
Down the Line With Phillies Ballgirls and Q-Tip, written by Reading Phillies outfielder Quintin Berry, have fresh posts.

Inside the White House

The Phillies visit to the White House today drew major media coverage.  Todd Zolecki and a bunch of Philly writers were there so there’s plenty to read.  TV coverage?  Tons of TV crews were in the Rose Garden for the ceremonies.

In addition to Charlie Manuel and his players, Phillies VPs and their spouses and Phillies owners were part of the day.  Three buses left the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Alexandria, VA, at 10:15 a.m. for a police-escorted trip to the White House. 

Obviously, security was heavy as we pulled in to a street that led to the White House.  First, the buses were screened.  We then walked about a block to a security station where everyone was screened.  Same type of thing you experience at the airport.

We entered the east side of the famous house and were split into two groups.  Each had a tour guide.  My wife has chronic bronchitis which means oxygen is needed.  Security provided a wheel chair for her which really helped because there was a lot of walking.  I was the amateur driver and got a pretty good workout on a humid day in Washington.  Happy to report that my steering didn’t damage any of the historic furniture. 

Along the corridor into the main portion of the building were numerous photographs, a collage of past and present First Ladies.  We toured the gold room, china room, library and a small oval room on the ground level.  We were told Presidents often visit the library for research and for practicing speeches.  The four walls were filled with books.  No Phillies Media Guides!

The small oval room (I don’t remember the name) is where Presidents greet foreign dignitaries and ambassadors.  The room features a beautiful oval carpet (you expected a square carpet?).  Flags of each state were woven into the outer rim of the carpet.  Shane found Hawaii very quickly and proudly staked his state’s flag.
Mother nature called.  I was escorted (secret service) to the library and directed to a white door with a polished bronze sign, “Gentlemen.”  Not sure I qualified, I went in anyway.  Just think, I stood where Presidents have stood.  The only way to describe the emotion of the moment: Wee Wee!. 

Julie had the same calling and was escorted to a ladies room in the china room.  China? Displays of china ordered by the different administration, each setting uniquely designed.  The most expensive setting belonged to former First Lady Hilary Clinton, according to Katie, our tour guide. 

When our group headed for the stairway to the second floor, Julie and I were escorted by the secret service to an elevator.  “This is the President’s elevator,” explained the officer.  “He stands right back here (pointing to the rear left side).  Sometimes he’ll chat, other times you can tell there’s something on his mind.”  President Obama, we also learned, will use the steps.

On the second floor we visited the green room, red room, blue room and a large dining room that can accommodate 140 persons.  A portrait of President George Washington is displayed in the green room, the same photo that appears on a green dollar bill. 

In the red room was a portrait of Woodrow Wilson, the first President to throw out a first ball at a World Series game.  For those who aren’t aware, Mr. Wilson did it at Game 2, October 9, 1915, at Baker Bowl in Philadelphia.

The tour began at 11 in the morning and was to last 45 minutes.  Well, precisely at 11:45 a.m., the players and owners were ushered to the Oval Office to meet President Obama and take some group photos. 

The rest of us were directed to the Rose Garden.  Rows of chairs were set up for us, various politicians and others.  The media packed a semi-circle behind the rows of chairs.

The World Champion players, plus David Montgomery, Pat Gillick and Ruben Amaro Jr., were brought out and stood on risers.  The players were lined up according to height.  Ryan Madson led the parade and J-Roll brought up the rear.  Then an announcement, “Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States and manager Charlie Manuel.”  Yep, Charlie was walking behind the President.  Pretty cool.

For the details of the ceremony, click on Todd Zolecki’s story.

Julie was the lone person in a wheel chair and we were ushered to the east end of the first row of seats.  After the President spoke and photos were taken, he began shaking hands of those in the first row, starting on the west end.  I was second last and Julie was last.  We won’t be washing our right hands for a while.

Several people mentioned the visit seemed like of an out of body experience.  It was a thrill and honor.  Seeing all the history that has taken place in the White House makes Julie and I feel more proud than ever to be an American.

God Bless America!


Jayson steals show

Charlie shook up the batting order and inserted J-Roll into the five hole but it was Jason Werth who stole the show….literally.

As you all know, Werth stole four bases, including second, third and home in the same inning.  He tied two club records: (1) Sherry Magee for the most steals in a game, and (2) Pete Rose for stealing second, third and home in a inning.  Pete did it in the sixth inning at Cincinnati 29 years and one day ago.

Phillies had six stolen bases, which is far short of the club record of 11 set in 1906.  Heck in the ninth inning of a July 7, 1919 game (first game of a DH), the Phillies stole eight bases against the Giants. 

Look out Mike
Jim Thome hit his 546th and 547th homers last night to move within one of Michael Jack Schmidt who is in 13th place on the all-time list. 

Saying Good-bye
David Montgomery, Bill Giles and I traveled to Vero Beach yesterday for Danny Ozark’s funeral.  Ray Rippelmeyer, a pitching coach under Ozark, flew in from suburban St. Louis.  Fay Vincent, former baseball commissioner, also attended.

The 85-year-old Ozark died in his sleep last Thursday.  Danny was a classy man.


$ Dogs Next

Keep the speedsters off the bases and run lefties in from the bullpen.

That’s the formula the Braves followed in taking two of three this past weekend.  J-Roll and Shane were a combined 1-27.  Baseball can be very humbling.  Shane is 0-13 since a 16-game hitting streak ended.  We all know when J-Roll and Shane get on base, positive things happen. Just have ride through this down spell.

O’Flaherty and Gonzalez are the two lefties in Atlanta’s pen.  They combined for five appearances, 4.1 scoreless innings.

The Dodgers, who finished an 8-3 homestand yesterday, start a three-game series tomorrow night at Citizens Bank Park.  They have two left-handers in their pen, Leach, a rookie, and Ohman, a vet. 

Tomorrow night is dollar dog night.  59,702 hot dogs were consumed on the first such promotion this year.

Sellout Mania
Of the first 17 home dates, 12 have been sellouts.  That trend will continue with the next three games.

Weekend series with the Braves drew 135,994, marking the largest attendance for a regular- season, three-game series in the history of Citizens Bank Park. (previous high: 135,478; 4/18 – 4/20/08 vs NY Mets).

Giving to the Community
Today’s a day off as far as the schedule is concerned.  The organization, from the front office through the clubhouse, is dedicated to giving back to the community.  Today is a busy one:  

**Ryan Howard participated in “Baseball Design Across America”, a tour that stopped in Philadelphia this morning.  The event involves SUBWAY and Little League Baseball.  30 uniquely-designed baseballs created by Little Leaguers and signed by various celebrities such as Ryan will be available on an online auction.  Proceeds benefit Little League Baseball.

**Ruben Amaro Jr., Jamie Moyer, Chase Utley, Brad Lidge, Larry Andersen and Bill Giles will participate in the Ashburn Foundation Night Dinner this evening at Morton’s restaurant. Theme is a tribute to Harry Kalas.

**Cole and Heidi Hamels are hosting their first annual Carnival to Benefit the Hamels Foundation at the Please Touch Museum.  The foundation raises funds for local schools in need and provides aid through education in Malawi, Africa.  Cole will be joined by some of his teammates who are doing a charity doubleheader, starting at the Ashburn event.

**Shane is being inducted into the Eagle Scout Hall of Fame at the Philadelphia Downtown Marriott.  He will also help induct the Cradle of Liberty Council 2009 class of Eagle Scouts.

**Charlie Manuel is receiving the Chairman Award from the South Jersey Chamber of Commerce during the chamber’s annual Pinnacle Awards dinner at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Cherry Hill.

Later in the season, Rollins, Utley and Moyer will be hosting their own charity events.  On June 22, all the players will participate in the annual Phillies Phestival autograph and auction event for the benefit of ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease.


Where's the home cooking?

Two things we need to do: (1) get the starting pitching straightened out and (2) begin a hot streak at home.  We marched through October’s postseason, winning seven of nine home games.  It hasn’t carried over to this season as we are 6-8.

Next six games are at Citizens Bank Park.  Braves begin a weekend series tonight, three games in three days with three different starting times: 7:05 tonight, 3:40 tomorrow afternoon (FOX TV) and 12:35 Sunday afternoon (TBS).  Blackout rules will apply for Sunday’s telecast.

Fielding Gem
Our starting pitchers had the dubious distinction of yielding home runs in the first 16 games of the season, something that has never been done.

Well, the defense set a new standard.  According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Phillies set a major league record by not allowing an unearned run in the first 24 games of the season.  Place an asterisk beside this one: *since the statistics became official in 1912.

Unfortunately, the streak ended on Wednesday night and an error led to the winning run in a 1-0 defeat.

Guess who held the previous record, 23 games?  None other than the 1998 Phillies.

The most unearned runs allowed this year?  Detroit and Baltimore, 23 each.

Did you know?
**The Phillies are second to the Dodgers in average attendance, 42,172 to 42,408.  Phillies average should increase during this homestand.

**The Phillies and Oakland A’s have something in common, the fewest games played this season (26).

**The Phillies lead the NL in homers hit (37) and homers allowed (49).

April Winners
Reading Phillies outfielder Michael Taylor is the Phillies minor league Player of the Month for April.  Pitching award goes to Yohan Flande of the Clearwater Threshers.

Danny Ozark, 1923-2009

(In case you haven’t heard, Danny Ozark died today.  The following is a story that appeared last month in PHILLIES MAGAZINE.  Danny was a dear friend and someone we all will miss very much).

It has been 30 years since Danny Ozark wore a Phillies uniform.  Despite being away that long, it hasn’t diminished his affection for Philadelphia and the Phillies.

“Ginny and I really miss Philadelphia,” said the 85-year-old resident of Vero Beach, FL.  “We  enjoyed our time there.  That city is a great sports town.  The fans are the greatest.  They do express themselves, but that’s OK.

“We made a lot of life-long friends there.   We try to get back two-three times a year to visit with them. Ginny enjoys Atlantic City and I like to play golf and see the Phillies whenever possible.”

Ozark follows the Phillies on Direct TV and occasionally when they are in Miami.  “I don’t miss many games.”

When the Phillies reached the World Series last October, he was there for the first two games at Citizens Bank Park.  “I walked into the park and wanted to visit the Bull (Greg Luzinski).  It took me an hour and a-half to get there because fans wanted to chat and wanted autographs.  Like I said, the fans there are the greatest.”

Where was he when the Phillies clinched the championship?  “Ginny and I were in our living room watching on TV.  We were so happy for everyone, Charlie, the players, front office and the fans.  Ginny leaned over and said, ‘We could have done that.'”

After eight years as Walter Alston’s third base coach with the Los Angeles Dodgers, General Manager Paul Owens hired Ozark as the Phillies manager after the 1972 season.  He walked into a young team that featured home-grown talent such as Mike Schmidt, Larry Bowa, Greg Luzinski, and Bob Boone.  Plus a young left-handed pitcher named Steve Carlton. 

Ozark molded that young nucleus into a team that won three consecutive National League Eastern Division titles starting in 1976.  His 1977 and 1978 clubs won 101 games each season, a club record. 

But, in each year, the Phillies failed to climb to the next level, the World Series.  Fairly, or unfairly, Ozark received the bulk of the criticism.  Owens replaced Ozark with Dallas Green on the last day of August 1979.  The following year, they won the World Championship.

Only two other managers in the Phillies long history have won more games than Ozark (594), Gene Mauch (645) and Harry Wright (636).  It took Mauch almost nine years to reach that total and Wright, 10 years.  Danny did it in less than seven seasons.

No other manager in Phillies history has reached the postseason three consecutive years. For that, Ozark deserves credit.

How does Ozark compare the Phillies’ two World Champions?  “They are very similar but the edge goes to last year’s club because of two positions, first base and second base.  Chase (Utley) and Ryan (Howard) are superior.  Heck, they are better than anyone in the team’s history at those positions.”


Sleep Fast

St. Louis in 2009 is history.  In one of the scheduling quirks, we only play two games in this city this season.  The sweep put us in first place.  Charlie and hopefully several of his players will return to Busch Stadium for the All-Star Game.  That’s another blog for another day.

But, we can’t look back.  Tonight we face one of the game’s best in Mr. Santana in the new Citi Field. 

According to the travel itinerary, the team was due to land at 3:15 a.m. in Newark, NJ.  The team bus to Citi Field was scheduled for 12 hours later.  I was told a long time ago if you want to be in baseball, you’ve got to learn to sleep fast.

When talking pitching, the focus is always on the starters and the closer.  But, the most valuable pitcher may just be Ryan Madson.  What he’s done in a set-up role is lethal. 

New Location
The Phillies’ Weekly Minor League Review has been moved from this space to a new location on this website.  Starting yesterday and for the rest of the season, it will be posted in the Features section of the home page.

Modeling is hard
That’s what the Phillies ballgirls learned.  Read all about it in Down The Line With the Phillies Ballgirls, an entertaining blog on this site.

Happy Birthday
Yep, broadcaster Larry Andersen turns a young 46 today.  Hall of Famer Willie Mays also has a birthday today, #68.

Learned the following took place today:

Bobo Holloman, of the St. Louis Browns, pitched a 6-0 no-hitter against the Philadelphia Athletics in his first major league start. He never pitched another complete game in the majors.

Just think, Bobo has more career complete games than LA, 1-0!

Slam Notes

Mike Schmidt held the Phillies single-season home run mark with 48 (1980) until Ryan Howard came along and bashed 58 (2006).

Schmidt held the Phillies record for career grand slams until Howard came along.  Ryan tied Michael Jack last night with his seventh. 

Needless to say Ryan is making his mark in the Phillies record book and doing it in short order.

Consider this:  Schmidt’s seventh career slam came in his 5,504th at-bat, his 1,593rd game.  Howard did it in 2,162 at-bats, his 595th game.  One word fits: WOW.

It marks the third time in Ryan’s short career he’s hit two slams in one single season (2005 and 2007).  Note he only does it in odd-numbered years.

So, who holds the Phillies record for most slams in one season?  I’m glad you asked.  The answer: 4 by Vince DiMaggio in 1945. 

Right behind with 3 slams are Chuck Klein (1929 and 1932), Gene Freese (1959) and Bobby Abreu (2005). 

With a pair in his back pocket in just 23 games this season, Ryan is primed to erase others from the record book.

Future Outfield?
20 games
18 runs
31 hits
6 doubles
2 triples
7 homers
22 RBI
.388 average

All in one week, the combined numbers of three Phillies minor league outfielders, John Mayberry (25-years-old), Michael Taylor (23) and Dominic Brown (21).   The week was last week.

All are impressive athletes and all are tall, Mayberry and Taylor each at 6-foot-6 inches; Brown an inch shorter.

Stay tuned.

He said that?
Radio voice Scott Franzke asked Larry Andersen last night, “Are you going up in the arch tomorrow?”  LA: “Yep, I’m going to parachute off it.  On my own.” 

Don’t stay tuned.



Soggy Monday

Good the team is on the road.  Soggy Monday would mean no game again at Citizens Bank Park.

Team left for St. Louis after yesterday’s 11 a.m. wash out.  Charter was originally scheduled to leave at 6 last night but Frank Coppenbarger was able to move the departure time to 3:15 in the afternoon.  It all depends on where the aircraft is when a game on get-away day is postponed.

An odd road trip, two games in Missouri and two games at the new Citi Field in New York.  Unpack last night, pack tonight, leave StL tomorrow night, unpack early Wednesday morning (team is scheduled for a 3:15 a.m. arrival) in NY and pack again that night for a bus ride south after Thursday night’s game.  

Albert (Planet) Pujols is off to his usual high-numbers start.  Why the nickname “Planet?”  Because he belongs on another Planet at the plate.

Phillies are 6-2 on the road (vs. 6-8 at home).  Cardinals are 10-3 in their own yard.

National TV
Depending upon where you live and blackout rules, five upcoming Phillies games are on national TV.  Wednesday night’s game at Citi is an ESPN telecast.  MLB Network is carrying the Thursday night game from there.  FOX will televise Saturday’s 3:40 p.m. game against the Braves at Citizens Bank Park.  Sunday’s 1:35 p.m. game with Atlanta will be on TBS. ESPN just added May 13 against the Dodgers.

Philly Orchestra?
Chris Ross on the abbreviated FOX pre-game show on Saturday showed Jimmy Rollins a photo of a young (10-12?) Chase Utley playing a violin.

Did you know Ryan Howard was a trombone player in high school?

Just think, it they had chosen musical careers, Chase could have been the second violinist and Ryan the first trombonist for the Philadelphia Orchestra. 


W is a W

Rubber game of weekend Mets-Phillies match is this afternoon, weather permitting.

Again, the Phillies came from behind on national TV yesterday afternoon, pulling out a not-so-pretty 5-4 win.  But, a W is a W no matter how you look at it.  Much better than an L.

Bullpen once again came through with 4.1 scoreless innings allowing the Phillies for another come-from-behind win.

Jamie and Shane (game-winner) picked up RBIs on bases-loaded walks.  Phillies have 11 of those this year, the major league leader.

Both team’s pitchers struggled.  Check these numbers:

Pitches thrown: Mets 182, Phillies 181.
Pitches called balls: Mets 82, Phillies 81.
Walks issued: Mets 9, Phillies 9.

Jayson Stark, baseball’s best at unearthing interesting and odd notes, had a couple of Phillies notes in his April review:

**The Phillies’ first eight wins of the season all were come-from-behind specials. Elias reports they are the first National League team in history to start a season with eight come-from-behind wins.

**Cole Hamels is the first starting pitcher to win a World Series MVP award and then not win a game the following April since Johnny Podres in 1955-56. But Podres had a better excuse. He didn’t pitch the following April (because he was signed as a free agent by the Navy).

Jayson, by the way, authored a great book that just came on the market, “Worth the Wait: Tales of the 2008 Phillies.”  Highly recommended for passionate Phillies fans.