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July 8, 2012 at 2:17 pm ET
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The Phillies At The Half

Remember when the Phillies were the best team in baseball last season, and then got greedy and beat Atlanta in the final game of the season so St. Louis could squeak into the final playoff spot and then they (with the help of a freaking rally squirrel) beat us and then they won the World Series and Ryan Howard recorded the final out for the second year in a row but not before injuring himself and Oh, Look! Chase Utley’s Also Injured! and then we got the closer of a team that experienced an even bigger choke job than us late last season and that was the big free agent signing and then we forgot to get middle relief so we let Chad Qualls pitch and we wound up with no middle relief and no Howard and Utley and oh yeah we let Roy Oswalt go and now Cliff Lee sucks and Roy Halladay is injured and Cole Hamels is probably going to help some other team later this season and so either Vance Worley or Jeff Blanton will be our ace for the playoff stretch which we won’t be a part of and the damn Pittsburgh Pirates will probably be in the World Series instead of us and even Shane Victorino is in the doghouse while CARLOS RUIZ of all people is our best player and there is no hope, no hope at all and the Phillies are all of a sudden doomed, doomed, DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMEEEEEEDDDD?!!!!!!!!!!! Neither do I.  Have a good All-Star Break.

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June 22, 2012 at 1:49 pm ET
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The Rheal Deal

Rheal Cormier, the greatest Canadian Phillie pitcher since Paul Quantrill (Fergie Jenkins doesn't count).

This Phillies season may not be going as well as we originally hoped, but this weekend we can ignore the dread of perhaps finishing less than ten games above .500, and remember a player during those heady days of the early 2000’s, when the 86-76 plateau was the best we could hope for.

Rheal Cormier, who was the set-up man for the Phillies throughout the first half of the last decade, will be inducted this Saturday into the Canadian Baseball Hall Of Fame.  A native of the province of New Brunswick, Cormier went 28-21 with Philadelphia from 2000 to 2006, but had a career year in 2003, when he went 8-0 with a 1.70 ERA.

Since 1984, the Canadian Baseball Hall has inducted dozens of Canadians (and guys who spent significant time with the Expos and/or Blue Jays) who have made the game more interesting, if not better.

Notable names include Baseball Hall of Famers Gary Carter (former Expo), Roberto Alomar (former Blue Jay), Jackie Robinson (played minor league ball with the Montreal Royals) and actual Canadian Ferguson Jenkins.  Pete Rose, who half of the 1984 season with Montreal and earned his 4,000th hit as an Expo, is eligible but has not yet been elected.  Le Grande Orange, Rusty Staub, will also be inducted this weekend, along with Milwaukee Brewers GM Doug Melvin and the 2011 Pan American Games champion Canadian team.

It may be a little late to book a trip to the induction ceremonies in St. Marys, Ontario, but Phillies fans won’t have long to celebrate again:  St. John, NB native Matt Stairs will be eligible for the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 2015.  If Rheal Cormier and Paul Quantrill are in, I say “In Case Of Emergency Use” Stairs is a lock.

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October 20, 2009 at 1:42 pm ET
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NLCS Game 4: Much Joy In The City Of Brotherly Love

Random thoughts/ramblings/game notes on yesterday’s Phillies game

-How much fun must it be to be a Phillies fan right now? As most of you know, April through September, I’m a (certifiable) but ardent fan of the Pittsburgh Pirates. The reason I keep following the Bucs  is the hope that someday they’ll put together a run like the Phillies are on right now. Enjoy it, Philadelphia.

-Advantage Philly in the battle of the bullpens. The difference last night was that the Philadelphia relievers pitched three shutout innings, while the vaunted Dodger corps couldn’t shut the door when handed a one-run lead in the sixth.

-Any Dodger fans care to tell me if Jonathan Broxton is better at closing games when he only has to go one inning? I know that extra hitter shouldn’t matter, but with how highly specialized reliever roles are these days, sometimes it’s mentally difficult for a closer to start the game in the eighth.

-That said, give credit to Jimmy Rollins for that last at-bat. Broxton made his pitch and Rollins, great hitter that he is, managed to cream it.

-Where Broxton lost the game was in the Matt Stairs/Carlos Ruiz combo. I understand there’s some hesitation after what Stairs did to the Dodgers in Game 4 last year, but even if you make a mistake to him in that situation, the worst case is a tied game. And there’s no excuse for hitting Carlos Ruiz.

-The Dodgers actually outhit the Phillies eight to five last night, and each team drew four walks. The difference? Three of the Phillies hits went for extra bases, while just one of the Dodgers eight (Matt Kemp’s home run) was more than a single.

-Your time is now, Cole Hamels. After being the all-everything MVP in last year’s postseason, you have the chance to curb a mediocre postseason and end the NLCS at home on Wednesday night. A win means no cross-country trip back to LA and having to win one of two on the road. It also would mean the Phillies could set up their rotation and rest before the World Series.

-I still would like the Phillies chances to take one of two in Los Angeles with Pedro Martinez and Cliff Lee slated to pitch.

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October 17, 2009 at 12:01 pm ET
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NLCS Game 2: Walked Away

APTOPIX NLCS Phillies Dodgers BaseballRandom thoughts/ramblings/game notes on yesterday’s Phillies game:

-On July 1 of this season, did anyone think they’d be watching a Pedro Martinez/Vicente Padilla pitcher’s duel in the NLCS? Strange perspective I suppose, but it didn’t really take away from what was an outstanding playoff game yesterday.

-The Dodgers crowd was very into this game that they really had to have. I loved the standing ovation that graced Padilla as he walked off the field, having shut down an offense that had been rolling throughout the playoffs.

-He’s been subject to fair criticism, but give Chip Caray credit. He knew to just shut up and let the crowd noise speak for itself when Padilla strolled to the dugout after his day was done.

-How amazing was it to watch Pedro Martinez? It was very much a lion in winter performance. He didn’t have his overpowering stuff of a decade ago, but he still changed speeds masterfully, hit his spots and kept a good Dodger line-up off balance all day.

-The bottom of the eighth had to be one of the most anti-climactic comebacks in postseason history. Five pitching changes and the runs scoring on an error and a bases loaded walk. That had to be interminable for any Phillies fans at Dodger Stadium to sit through.

-What did you Phillies fans think of Charlie Manuel’s handling of the bullpen in that inning?

-Isn’t it weird that a manager is getting criticized for possibly pulling Pedro Martinez too early in a playoff loss?

-Rough game for Chase Utley. I’m not sure exactly what happened on that throw to first in the eighth, other than perhaps he was accounting for a takeout slide from Raphael Furcal that never came. Utley just missed making amends with two outs in the ninth, but he was a hair late on Jonathan Broxton’s pitch and ended up lining out to Andre Ethier.

-Given the state of the Phillies rotation, how big does Game 3 at home with Cliff Lee pitching become?

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July 23, 2009 at 1:12 am ET
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This Town Wasn’t Big Enough For Two LaRoches

For thoughts on the Adam LaRoche trade, check out my LaInterview with B&C Red Sox maven Dan Tobin. There’s no mention of hunting videos, but at-bat music inspired by the Karate Kid, ADHD, and the Red Sox staking their division title hopes on two members of the 2007 Pittsburgh Pirates all come up.

Check it out if for no other reason than Dan actually makes me look funny.

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June 23, 2009 at 10:57 am ET
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Worth The Price Of Admission?

With their most accomplished hitter traded and fresh off getting swept in three games by the Rockies, the Pirates sit at 31-38 and in last place in the NL Central. Basically, it’s June baseball in Pittsburgh.  The only difference is that this year, one of those mythical five-tool prospects we’ve been dreaming about for almost a decade and a half is finally on the roster. And wouldn’t you know it, he’s playing well!

Really well, in fact.  Andrew McCutchen’s numbers through 17 games speak for themselves, but what sets him apart is the flash in his game.  Five of McCtuchen’s 26 hits have been triples, which speaks to unbelievable speed, as well as an aggressive approach to the game. It’s also blink-worthy to watch ‘Cutch chase down fly balls in center field. There’s a confident ease to his defense, and he cheats in to take away hits to shallow center field, gracefully gliding back to snag balls that would drop in the gap for most other outfielders.

If the rest of the season plays out as expected, the Pirates roster will be decimated of most of its major league talent (Laroche, Sanchez, Wilson) by August. If that happens, McCutchen would be just about the only reason to come to PNC Park. That scenario brings up an interesting hypothetical: is a position player worth the price of admission?

The only time I’ve been shut out of walk-up tickets to a Pirates game came in the summer of 2004, when Oliver Perez pitched against the Braves. It was during a particularly dominant run for Perez, and it wasn’t a fireworks night, leading me to believe the seats were sold by folks coming specifically to see Oli. However, a starting pitcher controls a much larger portion of the game, and, not to mention, only takes the field once every five days.

A once-in-a-generation hitter like Albert Pujols, in his prime right now, is probably worth the price of admission because there’s a chance that in every game he could put on an historical performance. In the same vein, it was probably worth it in the summer of 1998 for Cardinals and Cubs fans to pay to watch Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, because every at-bat was an opportunity to watch a piece of a hallowed record fall.

McCutchen isn’t nearly the hitter Pujols is right now, nor is he chasing a record like McGwire or Sosa. But given the dearth of people with his skill set to wear the Pirates uniforms over the last 17 years, plus the fact that watching him play is a wonderful excuse to daydream about better days, I think he might just be worth the $16 it costs to sit in my favorite seat.

What about you? Any of you have a position player out there that is worth the price of admission alone?

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March 1, 2009 at 1:40 pm ET
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This does not look right.

Those colors don’t look good on him at all. I don’t think it will ever look right on the man. He should be popping out with runners on base for one team and one team only! Continue reading »

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February 25, 2009 at 7:39 pm ET
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Pirates trounce Phillies, fans look to training camp

Year after year, we go through the same song and dance. Phillies players emphasize their desire to get out the gate fast. They don’t want to suffer from a slow start and have to play catch-up the rest of the season. Yet, all this talk, all this supposed confidence clearly gets left in the clubhouse the moment the team steps on the field. 2009 was no different, as the defending champion Phillies suffered through a lifeless 8-2 loss to the lowly Pittsburgh Pirates to open the campaign.

Two key moments in the game in the early frames. Three walks from Matt Capps loaded the bases for the bearded wonder, Eric Bruntlett. Continuing a theme from last season of struggling with runners in scoring position, Bruntlett hit into a inning ending double play, stifling the rally. The following inning, the Pirates faced a similar situation with 2 on and 2 out. Shelby Ford proceeded to "hop in the Cadillac" and cranked a 3 run bomb off of Joe Bisenius, and the rout was on. 3 more runs off of Scott Nestor in the following inning turned the game into a laugher.

A few bright spots came from Raúl Ibañez had his first RBI as a Phillie with a 3rd inning RBI single, and Jamie Moyer pitched two scoreless prior to the game getting out of hand. However, losing to a lowly Pirates team cannot be tolerated by team management. I fully expect Charlie to stir the team awake. They cannot afford to be mailing in games out of the gate, and to fall behind in what’s expected to be a competitive division. More games like this one, and the hot seat will quickly get warm.

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February 18, 2009 at 6:32 pm ET
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Seriously?

I’d like to direct this article to one Mr. Jose Reyes. It seems that you have a slight misconception about your fellow teammates. A recent post on High Cheese sited a New York Post report, where you were none too happy with the Phillies suggesting that you “pimp” your home runs too much. They even went so far to post a picture of you on the locker of Shane Victorino after he celebrated his grand slam off of CC Sabathia in the playoffs a little too exuberantly.

“I heard that,” Reyes said, as reported by the New York Post. “I don’t know why they said that because I’m not the only when I hit a home run that I ‘pimp’ it. A lot of people do that. A lot of people from Philadelphia too.

Ok, sure. That is true. Jayson Werth got a little too excited on his Game 4 home run to put the Phillies up 6 runs, and FOX microphones overheard Shane giving Werth the business in the dugout afterwards.

But then you took it one step further.

I don’t know why the Phillies focus so much on the New York Mets. We just worry about us.

I don’t know why they always focus on us. They are the ones to win the World Series. We don’t say nothing about them. We just say congratulations to the Phillies. They always say something about us and we don’t even focus on them. We focus on them when we play against them.

We don’t worry about the Phillies – we focus about the New York Mets,” Reyes said. “They have to be happy because they win the World Series. Why do they focus on us? What did we do to them? If they don’t like us, that’s OK.

Um, wrong. Continue reading »

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February 16, 2009 at 10:23 am ET
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The champs are here!

In case you forgot... (h/t: The Fightins)Over the past weekend, the defending World Champion Philadelphia Phillies ::milks it for effect:: reported to the lovely Clearwater, Florida spring training complex to begin preparations for the upcoming season. Some interesting observations:

Chase Utley continues his preparations for Opening Day: The man who coined “W.F.C” was one of many Phillies who reported early to camp to continue rehabbing the injured hip that plagued his entire second half. The standing of the star 2nd baseman will be monitored closely over the course of the next two months. Early reports indicate that Chase is ahead of schedule, to no one’s surprise, and barring any setbacks, the man will be ready to go on day 1. The only way that Chase does not take the field on Sunday night is if Charlie ties him up in the manager’s office.

Ryan Howard and Brett Myers ditch Subway diet for Jenny Craig: Continue reading »

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