December 2011

Happy Holidays

(Al Cartwright is my mentor, the fella who gave me a chance in the newspaper world a few decades ago, a move that paved the way for me to land with the Phillies.  Al was the Wilmington News-Journal Sports Editor who later served as a Publicity Consultant for the Phillies in 1970-71.  He’s been retired for some time but I’d like to continue one of his traditional “Ala Carte” columns, a take-off on the “Twelve Days of Christmas.”)

Legendary letters written by Agnes Hollister to her beau:

When I answered the doorbell today, the postman delivered a partridge in a pear tree! What a thoroughly delightful gift!  I couldn’t have been more surprised.
With deepest love, Your Aggie.

Today, the postman brought your very sweet gift–two turtle doves!.  I’m delighted at your thoughtfulness.  They are just adorable.  The partridge likes them, too.
All my love, Aggie.

Oh! Aren’t you the extravagant one!  I really must protest, though, John.  I really don’t deserve such generosity–three French hens!  They are just darling, but I must insist: you’ve been TOO kind.
Love, Aggie.

Today, the postman delivered four calling birds.  Now really. They are beautiful birds, but don’t you think enough is enough? You’re being  too romantic.  Besides, the partridge, the turtle doves and the French hens have eaten all the pears.  You dear silly boy, you!
Hastily, Ag.

What a surprise!  Today, five golden rings–one for each finger! You’re impossible, but I love it.  Frankly, all the birds squawking were beginning to get on my nerves.
All my love, Your Aggie.

When I opened the door this morning, there were six geese a-laying on my front steps.  So you’re back to the birds again, eh?  These  geese are huge.  Where will I ever keep them?  The neighbors are already complaining and I hate to think what will happen when the goose eggs hatch.  I can’t sleep through the racket now. Please stop, John.
Agness Hollister.

What’s with you and the birds?  Seven swans-a-swimming!!! What kind of joke is this, you sickie!  The while house is full of feathers and broken goose eggs and this zoo is so noisy I couldn’t sleep even if my bed  wasn’t full of you-know-what.  It’s not funny, so if you’ve got any more birds up your sleeves, you know what you can do with them.
I mean it, A. H.
I think I prefer the birds.  What in God’s name am I going to do with all these eight maids a-milking?  It’s not enough with all those birds messing, but eight maids had to bring their eight cows! I’m trapped and I can hardly breathe.  Lay off, wise guy!
Agness H.

Nine ladies dancing, eh? How dare you call them ladies?  The Health Department has subpoenaed me to show cause why the whole building shouldn’t be condemned.  The Vice Squad is staking out the place.  If I ever catch you around here again–well, have you ever been skulled by a pear tree?
One Who Means It.

The cops are coming for you, as soon as they finished rounding up those 10 lords a-leaping.  The place looks like the Gong Show.  All 23 of the birds are dead–trampled by the lords.  I hope you’re satisfied, you low-life.
You Know Who

What are you–some kind of sadist?  Now there’s 11 pipers piping!  And geez, do they play–even without the pipes.    They’ve never stopped chasing the milkmaids since they got here yesterday morning.  Some of them even chased the cows, so the cows got panicky and stepped all over the deceased birds.  There’s feathers and milk flying all over the house and the aroma has killed the pear tree.  The neighbors have entered a petition to evict me.
You’ll get yours! A. Hollister.

This is to acknowledge your latest gift of 12 drummers drumming which you saw fit to inflict upon our client, Ms. Agnes Hollister.

Any further correspondence with Ms. Hollister should be addressed in care of this law firm, inasmuch as the destruction of her residence was, of course, total.

Please do not attempt to make personal contact with our client, as Ms. Hollister has given explicit instructions to her attendants at Happy Dale Sanitarium to shoot you on sight.  Fatally.

Naturally, a suite is being prepared against you, entered jointly by Ms. Hollister, the Postal Service, the Department of Health, the U. S. Department of Agriculture, the Federal Immigration Office, United Parcel Service and the Humane Society.  The State Department of Mental Health is instituting a separate action with a different objective in mind.
Very truly yours,
Badger, Bender, Loophole & Mulford.


(Phillies Insider will take a holiday break.  Be back after the New Year).

Peace to all!

J-Roll At Home

J-Roll’s home for the holidays and a few more years.

Big press conference in the Media Room for his return took place this evening.  Of all the 2011 “major” free agents, he’s the only one to return to his original team.  At least, so far.

It is rare that players remain with one team their entire career.  There’s Carl Yastrzemski, Cal Ripken, Jr., Brooks Robinson, Stan Musial, Tony Gwynn, Ernie Banks and Mike Schimdt, just to mention a few.  Derek Jeter is probably headed there.

Yaz and Brooks hold the major league record for most career seasons, same club, 23.

In the Phillies world, there are four who have worn that uniform their entire career (minimum 10 seasons): Schmidt, 18, Larry Christenson, 11, Terry Harmon and Bob Miller, 10 each. Jimmy’s heading into his 12th season.

Will J-Roll always be a Phillie?  Will there be another contract after this one?  Will he leave then?  Will he ever be traded?

No crystal ball to answer those questions.  But history shows that Hall of Famers Robin Roberts and Richie Ashburn, two great Phillies icons, played elsewhere. Mike Lieberthal had 13 seasons with the Phillies and then ended 2007 with the Dodgers in 2007.

So, J-Roll remains as the Phillies longest tenured player.  Heck, he’s the longest tenured of all Philadelphia athletes.

He’s come a long way from his Phillies debut, September 17, 2000, against the Marlins. He tripled in his first at-bat against someone named Chuck Smith.  Comcast Sportsnet showed that triple the other night, a ball hit in to the right field corner at the Vet.  See Jimmy run.  By the way, he was wearing uniform # 29.

He also had a single, walk, two runs and a stolen base in that first game.  A lot has changed since then, including wearing #11.  Will have more on J-Roll’s numbers and where he ranks in Phillies history in a January blog.

In the press conference, he mentioned he’s been a Phillie since he was 17 years of age. This is home and where he belongs. 


Phillies Hodgepodge

Jumping from here to there………

Congratulations to Ryne Sandberg who was named the minor league Manager of the Year by Baseball America.  Ryne returns for his second season as manager of the Lehigh Valley IronPigs in 2012.

Phillies scouting staff is busy, even though there is basically no baseball being played at this time of the year.  In anticipation of the draft, some scouts are doing in-home visits with potential draft picks.  Workouts are being scheduled throughout the warm climates of the country, including one in Puerto Rico today.

Phillies season ticket holders are being be treated to an Q&A with Ruben Amaro Jr.  Questions were submitted by season ticket holders, a sampling will be given to Tom McCarthy to ask Ruben.  Q&A will be posted on on Friday evening, providing some weekend reading.

Today’s the deadline (5 p.m.) for online voting for the final slot on the Phillies Mural, which will be unveiled sometime next summer.  Final candidates include Del Ennis, Greg Luzinski, Carlos Ruiz, Shane Victorino, Cliff Lee and Jim Thome.  If you haven’t cast your vote on, hurry.  Over 5,600 fans submitted names for the final slot and the six listed drew the most votes.  Thanks to all who participated.

Membership drive for the 2012 Fightin’ Phils Fan Club is underway.  650 signed up the first week.  Renewals or newcomers by January 1 will receive a complimentary copy of Video Dan Stephenson’s 2011 DVD yearbook, “Making History.”  A record 2,424 fans were members in 2011.

Promotion schedule for 2012 is being fine-tuned by Kurt Funk, Scott Brandreth and their respective staffs.  One of the items is a Charlie Manuel 646 collectible baseball to commemorate the 646 wins for Charlie, most in Phillies history.  The item will be given on Kids Appreciation Day, Saturday, April 14.  Turkey Hill is the sponsor.

Things are heating up (or frozen up) for the NHL Winter Classic (Flyers vs. Rangers) that will take place at Citizens Bank Park, January 2.  Additional seats in the form of bleachers have been installed in center field.  If there was a baseball game, Shane would be stationed under the bleachers.

Then on Monday, construction of the ice rink begins.

I can hear Richie Ashburn talking with Harry Kalas, “Hard to believe, Harry, that there’s going to be an ice hockey game on the ball field.  What’s next, mud wrestling?”

Phanatic Returns To Birthplace

(Guest author today is Tom Burgoyne, best known as the best friend of Phillie Phanatic).

For the first time since his debut as the mascot of the Philadelphia Phillies in 1978, the Phillie Phanatic recently traveled to his homeland, the Galápagos Islands, with the help of Lindblad Expeditions and National Geographic. The Phanatic explored the islands aboard the National Geographic Endeavour, an expedition vessel outfitted for adventure travel with Zodiacs, kayaks, snorkeling gear, underwater video cameras, and a team of naturalists to bring the experience to life.

During his journey, the Phanatic learned how the volcanic islands were formed and about all the unique animal species, plant life, and marine life that exists only in the Galapagos. He got up close to animals that have no fear of humans (or mascots), visited giant tortoises in the wild, and met marine iguanas, penguins, and sea lions on beaches and along the coasts.

As part of the “Be a Phanatic about Reading” program, the Phanatic also visited the Tomas de Berlanga school located in the Highlands of Santa Cruz Island. The Phanatic danced, the children sang, and his book – The Phillie Phanatic’s Galapagos Islands Adventure – was read to the students. Check out for photos of the trip.

The Phillie Phanatic will present a slideshow of his special trip to schools participating in the “Be a Phanatic About Reading” program in the Delaware Valley.

The Phanatic and Lindblad Expeditions are planning a Phillies fan trip back to the Galapagos Islands in late 2012.  For more information about how fans can be part of this trip, email


Congratulations to Tim McCarver

Tim McCarver, who played for and got his broadcasting career started with the Phillies, is the 2012 recipient of the Ford C. Frick Award, presented annually for excellence in baseball broadcasting by the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

The 70-year-old will receive his honor on Saturday, July 21, as part of the July 20-23 Hall of Fame Weekend in Cooperstown, NY.

“Tim has been the face and voice of baseball’s biggest moments on national television,” said Hall of Famer President Jeff Idelson.  “His wit and intuition, combined with his passion for the game and his down-home style, delivers a trusted insight for viewers.”

“I deeply appreciate being recognized with the Frick Award. I’m genuinely, genuinely humbled by it,” said McCarver.

Following 21 seasons as a player (1959-1980), he moved into the broadcasting booth and has been there ever since. While a member of the Phillies broadcasting team in 1980, McCarver was activated in September, giving him a career that spanned four decades.  His last game was October 5 in Montreal, the final game of that season.

“I’ll never forget that game.  Timmy had a double, which turned out to be his last hit (#1,501).  When he got to second base, he was smiling and he pointed to the broadcast booth,” recalls Chris Wheeler.  “All of us in the booths were laughing.”

McCarver credits Bill Giles (then Phillies president) for his post-playing career.  “Bill came to me in 1977 and said when my playing days were over, the Phillies would have a place for me in the broadcasting booth,” McCarver recalled.

His broadcasting career started in 1980 on the Phillies cable outlet, PRISM.  “I was very fortunate to work with Andy Musser, Harry Kalas, Wheeler and Richie Ashburn.  Three great years of learning under that guidance.  They were so thoughtful in teaching me the broadcasting business, specifically what my job was a color commentator.  I’m forever grateful to them.

“I’ll always remember the advice Ashburn gave me in spring training in 1980, “Timmy, if you don’t have anything to say, don’t say it.”

In addition to the Phillies, he also broadcast with the Mets, Yankees and Giants.  Nationally, NBC, ABC, CBS and The Baseball Network.  He has been on the FOX network since 1996.  He’s won six national Emmy Awards for “Best Sportcaster/Aanlyst.”

Previous winners for the Phillies include By Saam (1990) and Harry Kalas (2002), along with Alumnus Bob Uecker (2003).

“What makes it particularly satisfying is that it comes on the heels of one of the greatest World Series ever.

“I’ve never seen anything like Game 6.  Talk about urgency.  One strike away, two runs down in both the ninth and 10th innings.

“My scorecard looks like a wreck.  I’m thinking of sending it to Cooperstown.  I’m serious about that.  I can’t read it.  But it was so much fun and so much that went on, as we all know,” continued McCarver.

“And this World Series, as much as any that I’ve seen, was about guys playing hurt.  I mean, a lot of guys.  Guys like [Adrian] Beltre, [Josh] Hamilton, that was pretty well chronicled.  But Beltre had a very, very painful [anterior cruciate ligament] and [the Cardinals] kept wearing him out inside with those sinkers and he kept fouling balls off his legs.

“And then [Mike] Napoli.  What can you say about him?  In fact, I voted for Napoli as the MVP, even knowing the Cardinals were going to win.  I don’t know if anybody else did, but Joe Buck and I both did.”



Mixed Bag of “Stuff”

Non-roster players usually are assigned high uniform numbers and usually dress at the far end of the Bright House Network Field clubhouse.  Some are young prospects, some are veterans signed for AAA but invited to camp.

Phillies, so far, have invited eight such players to spring training in February: RHP Scott Elarton, INF Kevin Fransden, C Tuffy Gosewisch, LHP Pat Misch, INF Pete Orr, OF Scott Podsednik, RHP Brian Sanches and LHP Raul Valdes.  Tuffy is the lone player without big league experience.

All probably will open the season with the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs but all could possibly end up in the bigs with the Phillies.

Here’s a capsule of non-roster players who did just that:

RHP Clay Condrey
RHP Brian Sanches
C Chris Coste

RHP John Ennis
LHP J. A. Happ
C Lou Marson

LHP Matt Smith
INF Michael Cervenak

LHP Antonio Bastardo
C Paul Hoover
INF Miguel Cairo

C Dane Sardinah
INF Cody Ransom
INF Wilson Valdez
1B Andy Tracy

Of that group, the most impact has come from Valdez.  He was a savior last season filling in at second, short and third when there were injuries.

New Nix
Rumors having OF Laynce Nix signing with the Phillies, giving them a left-handed bat for the field and the bench.  It will mark the first time in the last three spring trainings that Nix will be on a major league roster.  Last year, he was non-roster in DC and the two previous springs, the same with the Reds.

Nix, Thome and Wigginton will give the Phillies some pop off the bench.  Nix and Wigginton add some versatility in that they can play multiple positions.

Happy birthday to Larry Bowa, 66; Steve Bedrosian, 54 and Jose Contreras, 40 . . . Rule 5 draft is Thursday morning.  Phillies have one roster spot open . . . Charlie Manuel and Vance Worley will be at Citizens Bank Park this Saturday evening for the lighting of the Christmas tree at the Third Base Gate.  Majestic Clubhouse store is a great place to do your holiday shopping.  Matter of fact, I need to get there soon.

Winter Meetings
Interesting stuff coming out of Dallas.  Stay tuned to for the latest news and gossip.  Todd Zolecki is on top of everything.



Winter Meetings Time

Golly, it is December 1 already. 

On the baseball calendar, early December means it is winter meetings time.  Ruben heads an entourage that heads to Dallas on Sunday.  They return following the Rule 5 draft that takes place on December 8.

A large media mass will be there, reporting facts and rumors.  Social media has replaced tomorrow’s newspaper.  Where should you go to get the latest?  Start with For TV: MLB Network.

The meetings are taking place at the Hilton Anatole Hotel.  In Texas, everything is big and the hotel fits that bill (some 30 stories high).  It is a massive square with a big atrium lobby that includes a couple of bars and a restaurant.

General managers get large suites.  Club meetings take place their daily as they map out trade talks, free agency talks.  Once, the friendly hotel phone was the method of reaching out to other clubs.  Plus, sending someone from your club to the lobby to look for somebody from another club.  The latter still is in place but cell phones, texting and laptops have replaced the hotel phone. 

A snoopy reporter can just park himself in the lobby and watch.  “Look, their goes Ruben into the Yankees’ suite.”  Later……”Now, the Reds are going in the Phillies suite.”  Only difficulty, the higher floors are difficult to scout unless you have a telescope.

Agents will parade through the lobby and the media will follow like a pied piper.  What better setup for an agent: all 30 clubs under one roof.  Agents can drop a tip to a reporter and the chain reaction follows.  Rumors, rumors.

The Baseball Hall of Fame will have announcements on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

On the first day, the Hall will announce the winner of the Golden Era ballot, which consists of eight former players and two executives.  Phillies Alumni Jim Kaat is on the ballot.  The next day, the Taylor Spink Award for baseball writers and Paul Hagen, long-time Philadelphia Daily News writer is one of three on that ballot.  Then, the Ford C. Frick award to a broadcaster on Wednesday.  Tim McCarver is a candidate.

Football has a similar industry post-season meeting but coverage for baseball blows away the NFL.  It isn’t even a contest.

Someone once said the two best sports are baseball and talking baseball.  Well, we’re headed for a week of talking baseball.