There’s No Crying In Baseball

29 Sep

Well, it’s all over way too soon.  Another disappointing Phillies season.  But after a day spent atoning, I’ve decided to try and stay positive.  Ok…

  • Well, there was…..    
  • And what about…..  
  • And, of course…
  • At least this one was shorter?

Let’s face it.  It’s tough to put a good face on this season, other than the fact that there actually was one.   And for me, it all comes down to the number 9.  The Phillies lost 9 games this season after leading by 3 or more runs.  NINE!  As for the other teams in the NL East:

  • Braves 1
  • Marlins 1
  • Mets 2
  • Nationals 4

So Phillies 9, all other NL East teams combined 8.  Hmmmmm, are you sure there’s no crying in baseball???

And it’s not like the off season will be any easier.  The Phillies have some major issues to deal with starting with Bryce Harper’s biggest concern:

“J.T. Realmuto needs to be our catcher next year — plain and simple. He’s the best catcher in baseball,” Harper said. “Anybody that’s the best at their position — hitting and fielding — needs to be signed and that is J.T.”

I’m with Bryce on that one. And Realmuto isn’t the only free agent the Phils have to deal with.  Shortstop Didi Gregorius who was excellent for the Phillies this year is also eligible for free agency.

And who pray tell will be making all these important signings and decisions?  As of today, that is still Phillies general manager Matt Klentak who has not had a winning season in the five years he has been in his position.

What does Harper have to say about that one?

“I’m not an owner. I’m glad I don’t have to make those decisions.”

Well, neither am I but this is what I would do:

Fire Klentak, Sign Realmuto and Gregorius, find relievers some way, some how. See? That’s not so hard.

But getting back to Realmuto, Harper had a little more to say:

“There’s going to be two teams or three teams in the NL East who are going to go after that guy and if that happens, I mean, that’s going to be tough to swallow for us.”

And for a lot of Phillies fans who right now can only rely on that four word phrase uttered by disappointed baseball fans for generations:

Wait till next year.

So, thanks for reading.  I wish you health and happiness in the year ahead.  And I’ll end this post with yet another four word phrase, one I truly hope will not be uttered for generations.

Stay Safe Out There!

“Back” In the Running

24 Sep

He arrived at the ball park for treatment a little after noon for a 6:05 game.   Several hours later he told his manager that he could play as a designated hitter and then used his first at bat to set the tone for his struggling team by hitting a solo home run in the first inning.

As sore as his back has been for the last 5 or 6 weeks, Bryce Harper is still trying to carry his team on it to a play-off berth as they enter the final series of this shortened regular seasons.

“We’re at the part of the season where I need to be on the field,” Harper said later. “Nobody wants to hear me complain.”

So instead he just let his bat do the talking adding another homer in the sixth to give the Phillies a 3-2 lead. Apparently the home run bug can be as contagious as COVID-19 as Andrew McCutchen, Didi Gregorius and Andrew Knapp also homered in the Phillies must-have 12-3 victory over the Washington Nationals who ironically were eliminated from play-off contention last night by their former superstar.

Harper has been dealing with lower back pain for about 5 weeks and it has has definitely taken a toll on his performance.

“What Bryce did was huge. We needed it. He needed it. He got us off to a really good start early in the game,” said manager Joe Girardi. It’s so important to have his bat in the lineup. He was really hurting last night but he wanted to play. We need him.”

The Phillies also need more performances like the one Zach Eflin turned in last night who pitched eight strong innings in the biggest stat of his career, holding the Nationals to just four hits and one run and striking out nine before allowing two runs in the ninth inning, when the game was really out of reach.

The Phillies are off today before starting their final three game series of the regular season with a playoff berth still hanging in the balance.  It hasn’t always been pretty but given the way the schedule turned against them after the unwanted time off due to the Marlins COVID woes and the Phils recent rash of injuries not to mention an historically bad bull pen, the fact that we still have something to root for in the final weekend of the season is nothing to sneeze at (pun intended.)

Go Phils and as always,

Stay safe out there!

“It Stinks”

18 Sep

If anyone ever questioned the importance of a strong bull pen in baseball, this Phillies season could be Exhibit A.  

How bad is it? Thanks for asking.

Not only is their bull pen bad, it’s historically bad.  According to FanGraphs, only three teams in MLB history have been worse and none in the last 70 years.

The Phillies blew a 4-run lead with Zack Wheeler on the mound Wednesday night and a 3-run lead last night with Nola pitching.

That means that they will open a series against Toronto tonight with a double header, neither of their aces available  and the worst bull pen ERA in baseball.

How bad is is it?

The Phillies pen’s ERA currently sits at 7.17.

But didn’t they get some ‘relief’ (pun intended) at the trade deadline you ask?

Actually, the pen has gotten worse.  At the deadline their ERA was 7.01.  I guess you just can’t win bringing Workman-like (pun intended) relievers in from the bull pen when other teams all seem to have young arms firing at 100 mph.

And speaking of Workman, since joining the Phils he has allowed 22 hits, including three homers, and nine runs in 11⅔ innings. And there’s more bad news.

How bad is it?

The Phillies are desperately clinging to the 8th and final spot in the expanded playoffs by just half a game.

Ok, ok, I know what you’re thinking.

Isn’t there any good news?

The only possible good news I can think of is that at least we can’t see them blow lead after lead in person. Joe, help me out here!

“It stinks,” manager Joe Girardi said.

Can’t argue with that.

L’shanah Tovah to those celebrating tonight. I recommend a baseball free evening to begin the new year and as always,

Stay safe out there.

Who’s on First?

16 Sep

Sadly, not Rhys Hoskins as he is one of many Phillies currently dealing with the injury bug.  Let’s just say that when your starting line-up includes names like Rafael Marchan, Kyle Garlick, (who left last night’s game with an injury of his own) and Ronald Torreyes (since designated for assignment) you know all is not right in Phillies land.

And here’s a good trivia question for you?  What do Blake Parker, Ramon Rosso, Connor Brogdon, and David Hale have in common?  They all took the mound for the Phillies during their disastrous series against the Marlins.

Even last night’s much needed win agains the Mets didn’t come without a price as pitcher Jake Arrieta was forced to leave the game in the sixth inning with a strained hamstring.

Yes, I know every team deals with injuries but the Phillies have been slammed at the worst possible time as they head down the season’s final stretch where they’ll play 14 games in 13 days trying desperately to hang on to a playoff spot.

“I’m just going to focus on tomorrow,” manager Joe Girardi said, laughing, “because it’s easier. We’ve lost some starters. … It will be a challenge — definitely.”

Well, at least the Phils manager can still laugh. As for Hoskins, his injury is no laughing matter. He is currently on the 10-day injured list as the team continues to evaluate his elbow injury. He would be elibgible to return on Sept. 23 at the earliest when there will be 4 games left in the regular season.

The worst-case scenario for Hoskins, however, would be Tommy John surgery a procedure most commonly performed on pitchers.  While the recovery time is shorter for position players, Hoskins would still be out for at least 6-8 months.

“We just have to keep our fingers crossed for Rhys.” said Girardi.

And whole we’re at it, let’s cross ’em for the whole squad.

And as always,

Stay Safe Out There

No Lead Is Safe!

11 Sep

Sorry I haven’t written in a while but life got in the way and more importantly things were going pretty well for the Phils so my baseball superstition kicked in. If things are going well, don’t change anything.

Well, I think it’s safe to come back now.  Man, this team is hard to watch.  They blow leads like I eat ice cream.  And let’s just say I eat ice cream a LOT!

And how many games have they actually lost after blowing big leads?  I googled Phillies blown leads 2020” to try to find out and so many headlines came up that I didn’t have the heart to count. (I don’t recommend this exercise for the faint of heart.)

Let’s just say TOO MANY!  Way too many. As good as this Phillies team looks when they’re winning, and they can look pretty good, it’s impossible to imagine them doing anything in (or even making) the post season with this bullpen.

The pen has allowed 23 earned runs in their last six games.  And in case you’re wondering, that is NOT good.  

The Phillies play 6 more games against the Marlins in the next 4 days.  That kind of schedule is hard on any pitching staff and bullpen.  With this one?  I may need to use my mask to cover my eyes!

And as if that’s not enough, apparently one of the Phils most consistent starters, Zack Wheeler, will miss his next start due to an injury to his middle finger.  And how did he get this injury you ask? According to manager Joe Girardi, he was putting on his pants on Wednesday and caught his fingernail on something.

He was what?  And he did what?? 

Tell me it aint so Joe!  But all the Phils manager could say was, 

“You can’t make this stuff up!”

And that fact is impossible to argue. Where’s my ice cream?

As always,

Stay safe out there.

Tom Terrific RIP

3 Sep

No true baseball fan did not pause for a moment of reflection on hearing of the death of pitcher Tom Seaver. I was coming of age as a baseball fan during his prime with the New York Mets and I remember groaning every time I saw his name listed as the opposing pitcher agaist my Phillies.

And I was not alone in my respect for the pitcher Mets fans called The Franchise.

Seaver respected the game he played and wanted others to do the same.

He also wasn’t afraid to use his platform to speak on off-the- field issues.

Tom Seaver loved the game and the game loved him. He died yeterday at 75.

Tom Seaver was a larger than life baseball Icon, he embodied all that is desired in a player and a man, dedicated, loyal, sincere and fiercely competitive. Showed strength and dignity during his recent suffering. He will be missed.

Mike Piazza

Not This September!

2 Sep

In recent years, September has not been a month to remember for the Phillies.  And that is an understatement!  Since 2012, they are 30 games under .500 in the month of September which ranks them 27th out of 30 teams during that time.

No fan can forget their recent September swoons which took them way out of post season contention. So let’s hope the start of this September (and the second half of this abbreviated 60-game season) is a sign of good things to come as the Phillies beat the Washington Nationals last night 6-0.  That makes seven wins for the Phils in their last eight games and they have finally climbed over 500 with a 16-15 record.

While the offense continues to perform, last night clearly belonged to starting pitcher Aaron Nola who bested of Nats ace Patrick Corbin.  Just ask him:

“When he’s on, he’s one of the top pitchers in the game,” Corbin said.

And Nola was clearly on last night earning his 4th win of the year pitching eight innings of 2-hit ball in which he walked three and struck out nine.  Just ask his manager:

“He was great,” Girardi said. “You could see his stuff was really good right from the beginning. I had a good feeling after watching his breaking ball in the first inning.”

And the Phils offense behaved accordingly backing Nola’s gem with a strong performance of their own.  Rookie Alec Bohm hit his second home run of the season and added an RBI double and Andrew McCutchen hit a 3-run homer in the sixth to give the Phils some breathing room. 

And how does Andrew feel about his team entering September? Just ask him!

“I personally don’t feel like we’re even hot yet,” he said. “I’m feeling like this is going to be a big month for us. We’ve got a great group of guys. We know what we’re capable of. Things are starting to click. I definitely feel we can be even better.”

And that’s a ‘closer’ if I ever saw one.  Thanks, Andrew!

Another great pitching matchup tonight with  Zack Wheeler vs Max Scherzer. Let’s hope this September to remember will continue. And as always,

Stay Safe Out There!

Bigger Than Baseball

28 Aug

As I’m sure you know by now, last night’s Phillies finale against the Washington Nationals was postponed along with 6 other National League MLB games scheduled for last night.

This news follows 6 MLB teams that did not play Wednesday night. The NBA, WNBA and MLS postponed games as well.

This was all in response to Sunday’s shooting of a Black man by a Kenosha, Wis., police officer. Jacob Blake, 29, was shot seven times in the back and remains in the hospital paralyzed from the waist down.

According to sources, the Phillies met at their hotel outside Washington, D.C., on Thursday afternoon to discuss that night’s series finale against the Nationals.  The meeting lasted 30-40 minutes and “got emotional.” Phillies players were “passionate in taking a stand” against racial injustice and equally passionate about “staying unified” as a team.  

In the end, the decision was unanimous not to play.  Rhys Hoskins, the team’s player rep, then notified manager Joe Girardi who supported his team’s decision as he said he would after Wednesday night’s game, Girardi’s 1000th win as a manager. 

“I would tell them to go with their heart,” he said. “Feelings are feelings. They’re never right or wrong, they’re just feelings. And you’ve got to go with what your heart tells you. I would support them whatever they did.”

Girardi called Nationals manager Dave Martinez about 15 minutes later who told Girardi that he supported the Phillies decision.  The Nationals held a similar team meeting shortly after.

When asked what the players want, Hoskins had this to say:

“Obviously, change. We’re hoping for change. We know that some of these issues that are going on in this country are rather big issues. But even if there are baby steps toward changing those issues, that feels like a win. I think that change starts with these conversations.”

In a world too often filled with divisiveness and fear, I, for one, am glad to support a team that uses its platform for good.

Have a great weekend and

Stay Safe Out There.

1000 and Counting

27 Aug

Phillies manager Joe Girardi recorded his 1000th win as a manager last night. 

“One thing I’ve realized in managing a while is it’s never easy.” 

You can say that again, Joe.

And last night’s 3-2 nail-biter against the Washington Nationals was no exception.  After a 23-pitch ninth inning that ended with runners still stranded at the corners, the players celebrated Girardi. 

J.T. Realmuto, who saved the win with a block of a ball in the dirt, gave his Skipper the ball from the final out.  The team presented him with a bottle of champagne with the label “1000 wins.”  And Bryce Harper was elected by his teammates to say a few words.

“Everybody knows the type of person Joe is. He’s a great manager, person, family man. One-thousand wins is an incredible milestone.”

You can say that again, Bryce.

And, by the way, the Phils are on a bit of a roll themselves winning three straight games.  And the designated team spokesman had something to say about that, too.

“Hopefully we can get him 1,001 tomorrow.”

Okay all together now,

You can say that again, Bryce!

Go Phils, Go Flyers and

Stay safe out there!


21 Aug

Let me just say this: Today we have two reasons for wearing a mask.

  • 1. To safeguard our health and the health of others.
  • 2. To hide our identity as Phillies fans.

Try to enjoy the weekend.

And as always,

Stay safe out there.

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