A lot of the talk surrounding this year’s Spring Training has been about “lasts.” It’s the last year of Charlie Manuel’s contract. And Chase Utley, Roy Halladay and Carlos Ruiz’s too, by the way.
And according to many, this Phillies team is on its last legs.
But this Saturday will be the Phillies first exhibition game, always a date circled on my calendar. And it got me to thinking about some of the other Phils Phirsts I’m anticipating this year.
I know you’ve been anticipating my first Top Ten list of the season. Well, your wait has ended. Because here it is:
Top Ten ‘Phils Phirsts’ for 2013
10. Seeing Chase Utley take the field for the first game of Spring Training will be amazing. In fact, I feel superstitious even writing that one down. Enough said!
9. I’m excited to see our new center fielder Ben Revere, who some consider to be the fastest man in baseball, track down his first fly ball. Word is, he gets to every ball even remotely near him and he didn’t have a single error in 2012.
8. There’s nothing quite like that first Ryan Howard moonshot home run to let you know that baseball is back. The ones that you know are gone right off the bat, (pun intended,) just by the sound; the ones where Ryan stands there and watches just for a second, then flips his bat before starting his jog around the bases.
7. And I don’t know about you but I can’t wait to hear radio color commentator Larry Anderson’s first tirade on the home plate umpire’s ball and strike calls. Only a former pitcher could bring the level of disdain and sarcasm that LA does to these colorful rants. They even leave his partner in the booth, Scott Franzke, speechless.
6. Another highlight for me will be seeing the new and improved Phillies bull pen in action. With the signing of Mike Adams, arguably the best set-up man available this off-season and the return of former Phil Chad Durbin, the Phillies should have a lot more good options to get to closer Jonathan Papelbon. And after blowing 13 eighth inning leads last year, I’m really looking forward to Mike Adams first appearance in that all important frame.
5. We’ll have to wait 25 games for it but I’m looking forward to Carlos Ruiz’s first at-bat. Yes, he broke the rules and he’s rightfully paying the price but when the ever-popular “Chooch” makes his return to the Phillies line-up the fan response will be deafening.
4. And what would a Phillies win at Citizens Bank Park be without the singing of High Hopes by our beloved Harry Kalas? I can’t wait to join Harry, singing about that “little old ant” after the first win of the regular season!
3. OK, this one may topple my credibility as a legitimate baseball blogger but am I the only one who loves the trademark Jimmy Rollins smile? You know the one. Right after he makes a jaw-dropping play and either Ryan or Chase point a finger at him in tribute, he cracks a grin like he’s still a kid playing a game he loves. Come on, what’s better than that?
2. I want to see Roy Halladay on the mound looking like Roy Halladay. Yes, the Phillies are blessed to have several aces in their rotation. I like Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels as much as the next fan. But there’s just something about the Doc that gets to me. His game day focus, that look on his face when he’s on the mound, the fact that no one even talks to him on game day. With the Doc in the last year of his contract, every time he takes the mound will be a game to savor.
1. But the number one thing I’m anticipating this season is my first bite of a juicy ballpark frank at the Bank. Closely followed by my first sip of a Coors Light. Man, I can almost taste it now. Hey, does anyone know when the first Dollar Dog Night is???