July 2009

Hot Teams Meet

Getting swept in Atlanta apparently was a wake-up call for Charlie’s troops.  Since then, they are 12-1, including 3-game series sweeps of the Mets, Pirates and Marlins.

Eight-game winning streak is on the line tonight against the Cubs at home.  Cubs are second hottest NL team, winning their last four. 

Remember, Thursday’s day off on the original schedule has been filled with a 7:05 game against the Padres, the result of a rain out in April.   Medford Franks dollar dog night promotion in July!

Seven-game homestand looks like seven more sellouts.  But, 500 standing room only tickets will go on sale prior to each game.

Unique Doubleheader
Maje McDonnell, who has been a batting practice pitcher, coach, scout, ticket seller, tour guide, Phantasy Camp instructor and goodwill ambassador in his 56 years with the Phillies, is doing a double-header, so to speak tonight.

He’s retiring by throwing out the first ball, a day in which he is also celebrating his 89th birthday. Joining Maje, his family and friends at the game are Phillies Alumni Robin Roberts, Curt Simmons, Bobby Shantz and Bobby Wine.

Maje first wore # 40 in 1947 as a batting practice pitcher for the Phillies. 

He fell in love with the Phillies as a 7-year-old kid when he saw them play at Baker Bowl as part of a knot-hole program.  Even though he’s on the door step of being 90 years old, he’s always been a kid at heart.  That’s what makes him so special. 

Unsung Hero
There are plenty of others with the Phillies who are unsung heroes such as Maje.  Another one is Hank King, our long-time advance scout who’s now a pro scout.  He’s in his 33rd year with the Phillies, a “baby” compared to Maje.

Phillies Insider is also on twitter as barons63.

VP sees gigantic win

Five runs in the bottom of the ninth for a come-from-behind win isn’t a club record.  But, it sure had to be the most runs the Phillies ever scored in the last of the ninth for a Vice President of the United States.  If anyone knows better, fire away.

Joe Biden and his wife Jill stayed through the entire game, even though it looked bleak as the Phillies trailed 7-3 for their last at-bat.  The VP headed for the Phillies clubhouse after the gigantic win and had a picture taken with Ryan Howard.

Matt Stairs, the modern day John Kruk, hit his 4th pinch homer of the season.  Only Gene Freese hit more (five) in one Phillies season and that was 50 years ago.

After today’s games, some players are leaving down for a three-day All-Star Game break, others will remain in the Philly area and a bunch of others will be heading for St. Louis.

There’s plenty for Phillies fans to watch on TV.  Kyle Drabek and Yohan Flande in the Future’s Game this afternoon, Ryan Howard in the home run derby tomorrow night and then the 8 o’clock All-Star Game on Tuesday night on FOX.  Charlie Manuel’s bidding to extend the Phillies unbeaten streak as All-Star managers to 6-0.  Five of his players will be there.

Charlie’s also taking his coaching staff.  Phillies have chartered a Delta airplane for the All-Star trip.  In addition to those in uniforms, front office executives, media relations department personnel, some sponsors and suite holders will be on the flight after today’s game.  Frank Coppenbarger, who handles all the travel arrangements, won’t be having a break but he’s fine with that.

Everyone will return on the same plan after Tuesday’s game.  Then, Wednesday afternoon, the team heads for Miami to start the second half.  The original four-day break was narrowed to three days because the Marlins moved a September game to Thursday night.

So, the second-half of the season will begin with a four-game series against the second-half Marlins. 

Present, Past and Future


Charlie Manuel picked Jayson Werth to replace Carlos Beltran on the All-Star team.  First time in Phillies history that we have 3 All-Star outfielders.  In 1951, Del Ennis and Richie Ashburn started for the NL.

Impressive Company

Jamie (254) moved into 10th place on the all-time list for wins by a LHP: Warren Spahn (363), Steve Carlton (329), Eddie Plank (326), Randy Johnson (307), Tom Glavine (305), Lefty Grove (300), Tommy John (288), Jim Kaat (283) and Eppa Rixey (266).

Carlton, Kaat and Rixey wore Phillies uniforms during their careers; Plank and Grove, the Philadelphia A’s.  Pretty neat that six of the ten pitched in Philadelphia.

NL First

Phillies are the first NL team to have four players with 20 or more home runs by the All-Star Game break.  Jayson Werth joined the group last night.

Another dinger for Jayson tonight would make it 5 straight games, which tie a club record shared by Dick Allen, Mike Schmidt, Bobby Abreu and Chase.

Futures Game

RHP Kyle Drabek and LHP Yohan Flande will represent the Phillies in the XM Futures Game (ESPN 2, MLB.TV, XM 175) on Sunday in St. Louis (2 p.m. EDT).

Phillies prospects ho’ve been in this game: Pat Burrell (1999), Carlos Silva (2000), Marlon Byrd (2002),  Gavin Floyd (2003-2004), Ryan Howard (2003), Brett Myers (2001-2002) and Chase Utley (2001).

Eight years ago, Utley was in this game.  Tuesday he starts at second base for the NL for the fourth straight season.  Pretty impressive.

Representing baseball administration will be Pat Gillick, Chuck LaMar and Charley Kerfeld.

Phillies Insider is on twitter as barsons63.


More Shane Moments

More Shane Victorino moments from fans:

“My favorite time was when Shane came to the Celebrity Bowling Classic sponsored by Garry Maddox and Drew Katz.  Shane was the celebrity on our alley.  He signed autographs & had pictures taken all night.  He is a very good bowler & laughed & had as good a time as anyone else.”

“Our season tickets are in the outfield between Jayson and Shane.  It’s fun to watch the occasional banter between them.  During one game, Jayson was moved to left field.  At the top of the next inning, he started heading out to right field as usual.  The fans in our area started pointing towards left field, but he paid no attention.  Shane came over to Jayson, wrapped an arm around him, and escorted him to left field, laughing the whole way.”

“Favorite Shane moment?  How about a HUGE GRAND Slam off CC Sabathia last year.  Talk about important.”

“How about that walk-off hit tonight?? Really, every recent moment with Shane is my new favorite….he just gets better & better.”

Thanks everyone for contributing.  Keep ’em coming and don’t forget to vote before 4 o’clock this afternoon.



Favorite Shane Moments

Fans have offered their favorite Shane Victorino moments:

“OMG, the ultimate Shane moment came last season when he led his team to help the grounds crew of the Colorado Rockies during a sudden storm. His infectious sense of fun and his great-guy attitude brought out the best in the team as they literally weathered the storm to hold down the tarp. (I might add that all this occurred while the home team stayed dry below.)

“My second favorite moment also came last year when Shane ran into the stands past first base to catch a fly ball. So focused on the ball, he did a header and landed in the stands. What a great attitude. That’s when I knew he would be my favorite!”

“One of my favorite Shane Victorino moments came in 2005, when I went to Moosic to see the Red Barons play. Victorino hit a home run in both games I saw and made a leaping catch at the centerfield wall. He also was ejected for arguing balls and strikes. When I got home, my dad asked me if I saw any prospective Phillies. I told him Victorino would be up in September and would be a factor down the stretch. He did a great job that season, mostly pinch-hitting, including. “

Thanks for these moments.  Feel free to send me more.

Don’t Forget
NL Final Vote ends at 4 p.m. (EDT) tomorrow, Thursday.  You can vote as often as for Shane Victorino online. 

Trophy Trifecta
Yesterday, an estimated crowd between 6,500 and 7,000 showed up in the Capitol Building in Harrisburg.  Three championship trophies were on display in the rotunda, World Series (Phillies), Stanley Cup (Pittsburgh Penguins) and Super Bowl Trophy (Pittsburgh Steelers).

The crowd was believed to be the largest ever in the Capitol Building for one event or display.

Pretty cool that Pennsylvania can boost of having three world champions.

Believe it or not
On Monday night, Raul Ibanez played left field for the Reading Phillies in a rehab appearance and Kyle Drabek was on the mound.  On August 16, 1997, Ibanez got his first big league hit off Doug Drabek, Kyle’s dad.

Check twitter for barons63.



Vote for Shane

History was made last night at Citizens Bank Park, the largest margin of victory in Phillies history. As reported, the previous margin was 19 runs, 26-7, against the Mets at the Vet in 1985, the night Von Hayes hit two home runs in the first inning.

Word of caution, Mets won the next night, 7-3.  Last year, the Phillies pounded the Cardinals, 20-2, in St. Louis on June 13 and lost the next game, 3-2.  Following a 23-22 win against the Cubs at Wrigley Field in 1979, we lost the next game, 5-3.

So, we’ll see what happens tonight.

Perfect Mark
All-Star Game is a week from tonight.  Phillies mangers are a perfect 5-0 when direction the NL squad: Eddie Sawyer (1951), Gene Mauch (1965), Dallas Green (1981), Paul Owens (1984) and Jim Fregosi (1994).

Campaign Continues
Yep, electing Shane to the All-Star team as part of the NL Final Vote continues today. 

Shane certainly made a loud statement last night, single, 2 doubles, home run, 5 runs scored, 4 RBI. 

Philly Mayor Nutter campaigned door-to-door with Shane yesterday.  Great coverage by Channel 10’s John Clark.

Saw a note in the one of the papers that fans are limited to voting 25 times online.  That’s not the case during the Final Vote.  Vote as often as your fingers allow.

Community Work
J. C. Romero hosted at-risk minority children (St. Joe’s Pro Cathedral) last night . . . Tonight, J-Roll, kids from Philadelphia Reads and Ibanez Team Resurgence, a program involving homeless children from The Covenant House . . . Tomorrow night, Lidge’s Legion, children from C.H.O.P. Oncology department.

In each case, the players purchase tickets and food for the kids and meet them after batting practice, signing autographs and posing for pictures.

Phillies Insider is on twitter as barons63.

Anyone for Hawaii?

Wheels are in motion for drumming up votes for Shane Victorino on the NL Final Vote.  Sure the other clubs involved are doing the same.

Seems to me Hawaii can be a big player in the voting.  We need a volunteer to fly to Honolulu right away and parade around the islands campaigning for Shane.  Anyone interested?  (Just kidding).

Have you favorite Shane Victorino moment?  Post it in the comments.

Hello NL Central
Seven games this week are against two NL Central teams, Reds (four starting tonight) and Pirates (weekend). 

That division is baseball’s tightest.  The last-place Pirates are just 7 games behind the leading Cardinals. 

The Reds at 40-40 are only 3 out.  Home or road, it doesn’t matter as Cincinnati is 20-20 for both.

Sergio Escalona is seeing the country.  The 24-year-old lefty reliever’s best friend is a suite case.

He began the season with the Reading Phillies and was promoted to the Lehigh Valley IronPigs after 14 games.  He relieved twice in AAA and then began a yo-yo to the major leagues.  Five times he’s been up with the Phillies and five times, back to LV, all between May 17 and July 5.

Phillies radio voice Scott Franzke had a great line, “Sergio’s spent more times in an airplane than on the mound in his big league career.”


Phillies Insider is on twitter as barons63.



Send Shane to StL

We wept when we were swept in Atlanta.  Now, we can sleep because of the weekend  sweep.

Lots of good signs this weekend, great starting pitching from Lopez, Moyer and Blanton . . . return to Lights out Lidge and J-Roll on a roll. 

Joining the good news is the All-Star news, Chase starting at second base for the fourth straight year, Rauuuuul making the mid-season game for the first time and Ryan Howard returning to his hometown for his second All-Star game.

Michael Jack Schmidt holds the Phillies record for All-Star consecutive starts, six, starting in 1979.  Ibanez last was an All-Star in 1995 when he played at Riverside in the Class A California League.

Thanks to the fans who voted.

But, NOW, the challenge is on.  Shane is one of the five players in the NL
Final VoteVoting is underway and ends at 4 pm. on Thursday.  Five years ago, Phillies fans voted Bobby Abreu onto the team in a similar situation.



A valley


This game can be just that.  Marathon seasons are filled with peaks and valleys, ups and downs.  That applies to teams and individual hitters or pitchers

Right now, we’re in a pothole in a valley. Charlie Manuel put it best:  “We’re playing bad baseball.”

**Ryan Madson is going through a valley right now.  He ended last season on a brilliant roll, 0.63 ERA, for final 14 appearances.  Season-best 14.2 scoreless inning streak ended in Toronto on June 16.   Since then nine runs in 6.2 innings in seven outings.

**J-Roll broke an 0-28 spin with two singles last night.  He’s been in an offensive funk most of the season.  Yet, in his career, he’s been a model of consistency.  Going into this year, his monthly averages: April (.271), May (.270), June (.274), July (.276), August (.277), Sept. (.293).  Hey Jimmy, you should know Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt went 0-30 in 1988 over nine games.

**Phils just finished their third straight, three-city road trip at 3-6.  Previous two, 15-5.  Looking at the schedule before the season started, an 18-11 record for these three trips would have been a welcomed thought.  One more three-city journey remains, the last trip of the season: Atlanta, Florida, Milwaukee. 

**Even with a losing trip, the Phillies continue to have the best road record (26-15) in the NL. 

**They enter the Mets series having lost their last six home games, one shy of the longest Citizens Bank Park funk (August 12-19, 2004).  13-22 home record is matched only in the NL by the Nationals (13-25).

Enjoy the holiday weekend.  Hard to believe July is here already.





Gloomy June

Meteorologist Cecily Tynan mentioned on Channel 6 last night that June had only one day of total sunshine.  The rest of the days were cloudy, rainy and gloomy.

Cloudy, rainy and gloomy seems to mirror the month that ended for the Phillies last night, 11 wins, 15 losses.  It nearly matches June of a year ago, 12-14, our last losing month.  July 2008 turned around at 15-10.  We need a similar path.

Three homers but no win.  We lead the NL in home runs hit and the Braves are the stingiest.  Figure.

Also figure that we had to get to June 30 to play our first game in Atlanta.  We’re in the same division but a schedule quirk kept us out of Georgia until last night.  The loss was our first in Atlanta since September 5, 2007, after nine straight wins. 

Two more in Braves country and then the start of a 10-game homestand leading up to the All-Star Game break. 

Sounds as if Raooool will not be ready to come off the DL on Friday, the date he is eligible.  We do miss his offense but patience is needed right now.  Need to get him totally healthy.

Tickets are available for 4-game series with the Reds that starts on Monday night.

Sign of the Week
I signed up for an exercise class and was told to wear loose-fitting clothing. If I HAD loose-fitting clothing I wouldn’t have signed up in the first place.