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Short and Not So Sweet

10 Aug

I was actually feeling prtetty good about the Phillies before Sunday. I mean a split against the red-hot Yankees after an unexpected and unwanted lay-off and then a win against the Braves. Not bad, right?

Then came Sunday. And what is a blogger to say? Hmmmm.

“It’s always darkest before the….”

Nah. How about:

“Every cloud has a..”

Nah. Maybe,

“It’s not how you start…”

OK. I give up. I’ll just follow my mother’s advice.

“If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

Stay Safe out there!

We’re Back! Take 2

3 Aug

Well, fingers crossed, the Phillies SHOULD take the field again tonight against the New York Yankees.  It has been eight days since they played last against the Miami Marlins.  Following that game, 18 Marlins players and 2 staff members tested positive for COVID-19 forcing both teams to shut down.

The Marlins reportedly broke health protocols during a trip to Atlanta to play 2 exhibition games but Phils Skipper Joe Girardi, who has remained upbeat through the process, isn’t holding a grudge.  (That makes one of us!)

“No,” Girardi said. “They had one player who had it and then they traveled and they were on buses and planes and no one knew. For me to judge — I could walk in one day and have COVID here and not know it and spread it around.”

He went on to say that he had some communication with members of the Marlins organization and those people felt “a real sense of guilt and remorse.”

Well, isn’t that special?

As to the realties of playing after an unexpected lay-off, Girardi had this to say:

“I give our pitchers credit.  They’ve kept up trying to do as much as they could by themselves. I’ve heard guys throwing baseballs against mattresses and brick walls on the outside of their homes and wherever they are. It’s challenging, but we knew that it would be coming into the season. We knew that we had to be somewhat prepared for anything and I think our guys have done a pretty good job of handling that.

However, positivity aside, it must be said that the realities of a long lay-off put the Phils at a competetive disadvantage.

“I think we’ll be cautious a little bit in the beginning,” said Girardi. “Our starters won’t be up to where other teams’ starters are that have made two starts and some will be coming up on their third start pretty soon. Our starters won’t be there and we just have to deal with it.

And it’s not just the pitchers.  A long break from facing live major league pitching can definitely effect a hitter’s timing.  Which will certainly be tested tonight as the Phillies face Yankees newly signed ace Gerrit Cole who is 37-10 with a 2.69 ERA since the start of the 2018 season.

While the Phillies were the innocent victims of the Marlins outbreak, the Yankees are the team that has probably benefitted the most from all the COVID craziness.  Their adjusted schedule had them facing the Baltimore Orioles where they scored 17 runs in two wins.  They then headed to Boston where they swept the rival Red Sox scoring 19 more runs in the process.

So Phillies re-opening pitcher Jake Arrieta will have his hands full tonight facing that Yankees power-packed line-up.  As for Girardi, this marks a return to New York for the Phils Skipper who managed the Yankees from 2008-20017, including a World Series win against the Phillies in 2009.

Finally pitching after 357 days rest!

So here we go….again.  If there really are baseball gods, (and I for one believe there are,) they should be strongly on the side of our Phils who had to deal with a lay-off through no fault of their own and, according to their manager, seem to be taking it all in stride.

“They’re not blaming anyone, but they want to play. That’s what we do. I think our players are handling this great.”

Let’s hope they can handle Geritt Cole the same way.

Go Phils!

And, as always, stay safe out there!

Now We Wait

31 Jul

Really not much to say as we continue to wait to see if and when our short-lived baseball season will continue. Let’s hope that the majority of further testing will come back negative and we certainly wish speedy recoveries to those that have been infected by the virus.

For now, we’ll have to try to enjoy our baseball-less weekend. (sigh)

And stay safe out there.

And, as always, stay safe out there!

It’s Not How You Start

27 Jul

Well, it wasn’t the start we were hoping for.  In fact, the Phils‘ won-loss record, according to Manager Joe Girardi’s formula, (each game this year is worth 2.7 games in any other season) is 2.7 wins and 5.4 losses to start this long-awaited 2020 baseball season.

But today, after a glorious first weekend of just having sports back, (We did have those Sixers exhibition games, too.) I choose to be positive and thankful.  So with that in mind, here are my 

Top Ten Sports Highlights From the Weekend

  • #10 One of Joe Girardi’s highlights starts off my list.  Joe got his first taste of the passionate fans from Philly and he liked it!

“It was pretty neat the fans outside in centerfield. That’s something I won’t forget,” said Girardi in his post-game comments.

  • #9 Speaking of Joe, the new Phils Skipper is next on my list.  Listening to his answers during the postgme press conference with nary a mention of ‘positivity’ or ‘data driven’ or even ‘launch angle’ was a dream come true for this fan!
  • #8 Watching pitcher Zach Wheeler finally get to make his Phillies debut Saturday night was worth the wait! With everything going on, I almost forgot about the Phils‘ big off-season acquisition.  But Zach had a week he won’t soon forgot.  His first child was actually due on Saturday, yes, the night he was supposed to pitch.  But a healthy Wesley was born on Monday allowing his Dad to take the mound on Saturday and chalk up his first Phillies win.  Talk about a timely entrance. Thanks, Wesley!
  • #7 A picture is worth a thousand words.
The love affair continues……
  • #6 I LOVE the designated hitter. And so does 31-year-old journeyman major leaguer Phil Gosselin. In his 11-year baseball career, playing for 6 different teams, Gosselin had hit a total of nine career home runs. As the Phils designated hitter Saturday night, he raised that total to 11, slamming two homers leading the Phils to their only win of the opening weekend.
  • #5 How about those Sixers? Sorry, I just had to give a shout-out to another returning Philly sports franchise. They were only exhibition games but Ben Simmons shooting and hitting a 3-pointer and the “new and improved” starting line-up made for some entertaining hoops action.
  • #4 Welcome to Philadelphia, Didi. The new Phillies shortstop hit a homerun in each of his first two games and played a sizzling shortstop all weekend long.
  • #3 “Watching” the game with my family was a special treat! Though we were all in different locations, texting our way through the game almost made it seem like we were all together. And isn’t that what sports are all about???
  • #2 The Black Lives Matter tribute was beautifully done and it was led by our own Andrew McCutchen. Before the national anthem, players, coaches and staff members from both teams lined up along the first and third base lines holding a symbolic black ribbon celebrating diversity and inclusion while a recording played of Morgan Freeman reading a powerful script written by McCutchen. I think it’s great that this baseball-wide tribute was led by one of our own. Great job, Andrew!

And #1 on my list is simply this:

Baseball’s Back!

So those are my highlights, now it’s your turn. What were some of your favorite moments from basbeall’s opening weekend?

And, as always, stay safe out there.

It All Starts Tonight

24 Jul

IT ALL STARTS TONIGHT

After a battle through a pandemic and even worse, contract negations…

IT ALL STARTS TONIGHT

It may not look and sound exactly like the sport we’re used to.  There won’t be any fans or chest-bumps or pitchers taking their swings but…

IT ALL STARTS TONIGHT

After a “summer camp” where seemingly NO rules applied…

IT ALL STARTS TONIGHT

You won’t see Ryan Zimmerman or David Price or Buster Posey, but…

IT STARTS TONIGHT

Yes there will be some changes and

Yes, this season is fraught with peril and

No, we don’t have Gabe Kapler to kick around any more but…

IT STARTS TONIGHT

Despite all of the above and despite the fact that we’re still in the midst of a raging pandemic and we don’t know when our kids might go back to school or if it’s safe to finally get our hair cut (or colored :)…

IT ALL STARTS TONIGHT

And with the ongoing nightmare that has become the Spring and Summer of 2020, 

with fear and uncertainty plaguing our lives, 

after everything we’ve all been through, 

I don’t know about you, but the thought of switching on the TV at 7:05 tonight to see Aaron Nola take the mound while the rest of the Fightin’s fill in the field behind him even to canned applause,  

to me, that bit of “normalcy” feels like just about the greatest thing in the world.

So say it with me now…

IT ALL STARTS TONIGHT

So enjoy the game and as always,

Stay safe out there!

Watch Phillies Baseball Tonight!

15 Jul

Yep!  After 4 long months, you can actually watch a Phillies game tonight.  Kind of.   This evening at at 6 p.m. the Phillies will be streaming their intrasquad “pre-season” game live from Citizens Bank Park.  

You can watch the live stream on Phillies.com or on the Phillies’  YouTube, Twitter or Facebook accounts  They will continue these livestreams through Friday.

The plan is for Tom McCarthy and Kevin Frandsen to “host” these games.

So far, these intrasquad contests have been pretty entertaining as players re-learn how to celebrate with teammates after big hits. There was even a sighting of Bryce Harper playing third base!

And in case you just can’t wait till tonight, here’s a link to last night’s game, the first to be live streamed.

The Phillies will then begin playing exhibition games this weekend with three games scheduled:  on the road against the Nationals on Saturday, at home against the Orioles Sunday and in New York to play the Yankees Monday.

Only one of those games is likely to be televised by NBC Sports Philadelphia, Sunday’s home game against the Yankees.  It is yet to be announced if any of the three exhibition games will air on SportsRadio 94 WIP.

This is all leading up to the Phillies’ regular season opener Friday, July 24 at home against the Marlins.

More on plans for that game and those to follow coming up as they are announced.

So put a dog on the grill, crack open a cold one and Stay Safe out there!

Spring Training 2.0

6 Jul

While many of us were waving flags and only removing our masks to eat hot dogs this weekend, many major league baseball teams, including the Philadelphia Phillies, spent the holiday weekend revving up to start playing “real” games. The Phils first game will be July 24th against those Miami Marlins at Citizens Bank Park.

And though these pictures aren’t exactly the boys of summer we’re used to seeing, they were a welcome sight to this fan’s eyes. I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of talking Coronavirus so instead let’s start this week just talking baseball.  So, here are five things to look forward to when the 2020 Phillies finally take the field.

  • Joe Girardi

Remember him?  The Phillies have a new, experienced  manager this year, a REAL baseball guy whose teams have never won fewer than 84 games.  Hmmmm, I wonder how that translates to a 60 game season?

  • Bryce Harper

Phils superstar Bryce Harper will play just his second season with the team. And if last season was any indication, corona won’t be enough to keep this Phils slugger down.  In fact, he’s already planning for success.

“I think the air high five is going to come back and be the coolest thing in baseball this year and be the coolest thing in sports,” Harper said. “So all of our handshakes are going to be air high fives and air slaps and things like that. It’s going to be different. We just have to transition the best we can and keep everyone safe to the best of our ability. “

  • The DH

The National League is adopting the DH for the first time this season.  And the Phillies seem well-positioned to make the adjustment.  Jay Bruce who hit 26 home runs last year (with the Phils and Mariners) seems to be the most natural fit for the role but JT Realmuto, Rhys Hoskins, Harper and even rookie power-hitting prospect Alexc Bohm could take some swings as a DH.

  • Dynamic Duo?

And speaking of Boehm, both he and right-handed pitching prospect Spencer Howard will likely make their big-league debuts with the Phils this season.  Both are highly touted and should be fun to watch!

  • Having Baseball Back!

Just close your eyes and imagine hearing this:

And that, my friends, says it all!

Stay safe out there!

Play Ball!

24 Jun

The Good:

Baseball is back!  Really.  After contentious negotiations featuring the obscenity of millionaires whining to billionaires, America’s pastime is finally set to take the field.  Players are expected to report to Spring Training 2.0 on July 1 with the regular season scheduled to begin either July 23 or 24.

The normal 162-game season has been reduced to 60 games and in order to reduce travel, each team will play 10 games against its four divisional opponents, and 20 games against the opposite league’s corresponding geographical division (for example, the NL East will play the AL East.)

Spring training will take place in teams’ home cities instead of their Spring Training complexes many of which, including the Phillies, have been hit with COVID-19 outbreaks.

The Bad:

Tempering the excitement was the announcement by the Phillies that two more players and two more staff members have tested positive for COVID-19 bringing the total number of members of the Phillies organization with the virus to 12.  

All other testes have come back negative according to the team.

In total, forty MLB players and staff have tested positive for COVID-19 in the last week, according to reports.

The Ugly:

In order to protect players and staffs these are just some of the protocols to be adopted by baseball:

  • All players will undergo COVID-19 testing when they report for  Spring Training.  If they test negative they will be cleared to begin workouts.
  • Players, coaches and support staff will then be tested for the virus every other day during training camps, the regular season and the postseason. 
  • Anybody testing positive will be quarantined with two negative tests required for a return. 
  • Players will also receive temperature/symptom checks at least twice per day, and antibody testing will be conducted once a month.
  • The designated-hitter rule will be used in both leagues in 2020, part of the league’s health and safety protocols for this season. (Maybe it’s for the health and safety of National League pitchers?)

And now for…

The Absurd

  • In order to encourage social distancing both on and off the field, players and team personnel not participating in the game will be sitting in the stands, at least six feet apart.
  • Non-playing personnel must wear masks in the dugout and bullpen at all times.
  • There will be no pregame exchange of lineup cards.
  • There will be no celebratory high-fives, fist bumps, hugs, or player contact of any kind. (I hope the Phillies can come up with non-contact versions of all those celebratory handshakes.)
  • No spitting or chewing of tobacco and/or sunflower seeds will be allowed. (Who said there’s no crying in baseball???))
  • A ball will be thrown out once it has been touched by multiple players.
  • Fights are strictly prohibited.

The Bottom Line:

Ok, Ok, let’s not bury the headline here. Spitting or not, there will be baseball! And in a world filled with fear, uncertainty and angst, the idea of turnng on a baseball game sounds pretty darn good right now.

Stay Safe Out There!

Too Close To Home

22 Jun

Talks of a start-up for baseball may have to take a back seat as Florida’s new outbreak of COVID-19 hits the Philadelphia Phillies Spring Training facility in Clearwater.

The Phillies confirmed Friday that five players and three staff members working at that facility have tested positive for COVID-19.  The team awaits the results of 32 other tests including 12 staff members and 20 players.

As a result all facilities in the Clearwater complex have been closed indefinitely. Phillies managing partner John Middleton issued this statement:

“The Phillies are committed to the health and welfare of our players, coaches and staff as our highest priority, and as a result of these confirmed tests, all facilities in Clearwater have been closed indefinitely to all players, coaches and staff and will remain closed until medical authorities are confident that the virus is under control and our facilities are disinfected.”

And the Phillies are not alone.  All Major League Baseball training camps in Florida and Arizona will temporarily close to undergo a deep cleaning as other teams also reported positive test results late last week.  

As for the impact on the long-awaited 2020 season, John Middleton had this to say via text:

“I think it’s premature to say definitively, unequivocally , yes or no [to canceling the season], but we went from zero infections to eight in two or three days, and who knows how many others will test positive. Eight other people have tested negative and 32 people are in the process of being tested.”

Not the news any of us wanted to hear this weekend. 

But on the much lighter side, here’s a safe way to get your baseball fix.  Check out this ZOOM Reunion of the Phillies 2008 World Series winning team hosted by Brad Lidge including: Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Jayson Werth, Pat Burrell, Shane Victorino, Scott Eyre, Charlie Manuel and bullpen coach Mick Billmeyer.

Stay Safe Out There

“Tell Us Where and When”

17 Jun

As baseball continues to “fumble” their return plans, some of the biggest names in the game have had enough.  

After MLB Commish Rob Manfred’s recent comments that he is “not confident” that there will be a 2020 baseball season at all, the players took to twitter to make their intentions clear.  It started with Washington Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer :

Rob Manfred and the owners are walking back on their word…AGAIN. The fans do not deserve this. So I’ll say it one more time, tell us when and where.

Several of the Phillies‘ stars were quick to follow:

Rhys Hoskins

Tell us when and where. We’re ready! We’ve been ready.

Bryce Harper

Tell us where and when.

As for Bryce he thought he’d “cover all the bases” with this shout out to another Philadelphia sports franchise.

What’s good @Eagles?

He followed the tweet with this:

Harper ‘doubled’ down on Eagles tackle Lane Johnson’s “Outside the Lane” Instagram show:

“Man, you know what, if baseball doesn’t come back, I’ll just go play for the Eagles.”

The only problem with that plan? Harper sure would miss his other green friend.

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