Mother Knows Best

8 Jun

Ok, Ok, I know it has been a while since my last post but as if  COVID-19, the economic meltdown and the racial protests aren’t enough, we lost power, internet, cable, you know the deal, for 4 days.  Now I’m not complaining, just explaining.  

Not to mention the fact that Major League Baseball has done nothing since my last post to make it seem any more likely that we will be seeing baseball any time soon.

But the most important reason I haven’t posted is that I’m listening to my mother who always says:

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

Mission accomplished, Mom!

So let your voice be heard but please stay safe out there.

A Bad Look for Baseball

28 May

As both the NBA and the NHL seem to be moving closer to a return, Major League Baseball is resorting to its age old playbook—fighting over money.  And in a country with 33 million people out of work and a sinking economy, that, my friends, is not a good look.

Baseball has seen a decline in popularity over the last several years and this could have been an opportunity for baseball to have the field to themselves, an opportunity for ‘America’s pastime’ to live up to that name. This could have been an opportunity for baseball to give people a desperately needed escape from the uncertainty and fear that have been plaguing our country, a chance to even play a part in the country’s economic recovery.

But instead of readying themselves for a return to the playing fields, baseball’s players and owners are putting their money squabbles front and center.   That’s right, these millionaires and billionaires are fighting over money.

Talk about not reading the room (field.)  Come on MLB, get it together!  Every day that passes is another day lost, another day not playing and watching the game we love. And if you  won’t listen to me, how about James Earl Jones?

It’s All in the Numbers

14 May

Major League Baseball continues to move forward with plans to resume baseball.  The owners have approved a plan and have submitted it to the Players Association.  There are several sticking points to resolve including money and player safety but at the time of this this writing the common consensus is that there will be a baseball season with Spring Training resuming in June and an Opening Day during the first week of July.  July 4th weekend has been suggested as a target date.

But Phillies Skipper Joe Girardi has been keeping busy while he waits, most recently, by teaching several online math classes, one for sixth grade and one for seventh, at the William M. Meredith School in Philadelphia.

His topic?  Math and baseball, of course.

“I want to show you all the importance of math in baseball. Sometimes we don’t equate math to baseball, but it’s so heavily used on a daily basis… and it’s going to be that way more and more as we move forward.”

Girardi’s lesson involved giving students a list of nine current and former major leaguers with batting averages and asking students to fill out a line-up card batting order.  However, after that exercise was complete, Professor Girardi had this to say:

“Sometimes batting average can be very misleading,”

Ain’t that the truth!

Girardi went on to explain the meanings of other commonly used baseball stats like on- base percentage, slugging percentage and OPS (on-base plus slugging) and even offered some insight about which stats are most important to him when he puts together a line-up emphasizing the importance of putting players with a better OPS higher in the order.  (Shhhh, you might want to keep that strategy on the down low for now. :))

The students were also taught the math behind many of these stats by manually figuring them out for themselves.  Maybe Girardi was doing some early recruiting for future analytics stars.

“That’s why baseball has such huge analytical departments now,” Girardi said. “Numbers always tell a story, but maybe some don’t tell the whole story. But still, numbers certainly tell you something — and that goes for everything in life, not just baseball.”

Girardi’s own educational path included lots of numbers. He graduated from Northwestern in 1986 with an industrial engineering degree and had this advice for “his” students.

“I’m not asking you to fall in love with math, but I’m asking you to understand how important it’s going to be no matter what you decide you want to do with your life. I know some of you may not like math, but I ask that you embrace the critical thinking aspect, because it’s going to help you be better in anything you choose to do in the future.”

Well said, Skip! Of course class wasn’t complete without some Q & A.  After “fielding” some questions about the line-up, Girardi was asked whether there will be a 2020 season.  In response, Girardi crossed his fingers for the camera.

And I’m crossing mine now though it’s hard to type that way. 🙂

Girardi did add one final hopeful note making a deal with the students’ teachers.

“If we’re able to win the World Series,” Girardi said, “you have to make a deal with Mrs. Tilli that you get the day off of school for the parade.”

From your lips Joe…..

Bryce Still Nice

7 May

As talk continues about a possible return for baseball, Bryce Harper continues his love affair with Philadelphia. The latest scenario propsed by Major League Baseball involves a second Spring Training in mid-June and a start to a 100-game season in early July. Phils skipper Joe Girardi gave a bit of credence to this proposal in an interview on WIP saying that he’s “heard some chatter about that as well.”

Not exactly a ringing endorsement but these days we’ll take anything we can get.

As for Bryce Harper, he’s raring to go as evidenced by this recent Instagram post.

And he’s not spending his quarantine just sitting around and eating junk food like the rest of us.

I’d rather be lifting one into the second deck for a “3” run shot but this will have to do for now. Philadelphia I miss you!

We miss you, too, Bryce. Here’s hoping that we may get to see you and all of our Fightin’ Phils before too long.

But until then,

Stay safe out there!

Hump Day Hope

29 Apr

Just as I was contemplating what to write now for my ‘Phillies baseball with no Phillies baseball’ blog, I got a timely text from my fellow super-fan (and super-sister) Holly:

“Possible good news about baseball today!”

Good news you ask? What could she possibly mean?

Are you sufficiently teased?  Is the suspense building?

OK.  I won’t make you wait any longer.  Major League Baseball has actually suggested a new plan and it’s not the ‘kidnap the payers and make them play and live in Arizona plan’ that Mike Trout was so excited about.  (Not!)

No.  This is a new plan that has baseball officials “cautiously optimistic” about a baseball season starting in late June.  Here are the main points.

  • all teams would play at least 100 regular-season games followed by “playoffs with an expanded format.”
  • teams would play in their own ballparks but with no fans
  • teams would be divided into three 10- team divisions and only play games within their division
  • traditional American and National League labels would be gone and divisions would be realigned based on geography.

For example, the Phils would be in the EAST along with:

the New York Yankees and Mets, Boston Red Sox, Washington Nationals, Baltimore Orioles, Pittsburgh Pirates, Toronto Blue Jays, Tampa Bay Rays, Miami Marlins

Sounds like fun, right? I mean at this point, I’d take games any way I can get them (as long as it’s safe.)

Advantages of this new proposal are that it will greatly reduce travel and allow players to play in their home ballparks and not be separated from their families for an extended period of time.

Of course the plan is “pending approval of medical experts and providing that COVID-19 testing is available to the public.”

Hmmmm, I can already hear Larry Anderson complaining about the umps!

Uncle Larry

24 Apr

Being in quarantine can do some strange things to people.  Just ask Phillies centerfielder Andrew McCutchen.  Or better yet, ask Uncle Larry.  After all he taught Andrew everything he knows.

Now McCutchen’s not new to filmmaking. He’s been making his mini-movies for years now. But time in quarantine has definitely given a boost to his creative side.

Thanks for the much-needed laugh, Andrew. You know what they say? It’s always good to leave ’em laughing. Especially before the weekend. So have a great one!

And stay safe out there!

The Larry Andersen Story

20 Apr

My dose of baseball this weekend came from an extended interview with former Phillies pitcher and current Phillies broadcaster Larry Andersen done by Glen Macnow and Ray Didinger as part of the “Tell Us Your Story” feature that they’ve been doing on WIP sports radio during the pandemic.

I don’t know about you but just hearing LA’s voice says Phillies baseball to me but what I realized listening to this interview is that I really didn’t know much about him.

Some memorable stories include the tragic death of his father, Dale, when Larry was just 13.  Larry idolized his Dad who was an airline pilot at the time for  West Coast Airlines, which eventually became Northwest Airlines.  In fact, his first love was flying and his dream was to follow in his father’s footsteps as a commercial pilot.  But when it was discovered that he was deaf in his right ear due to a case of the German Measles when he was young, flying was out of the picture.

Lucky for all of us, Larry’s second love was baseball. But it didn’t come easy for him. Andersen got his first “cup of coffee” when he was 22 as a September call-up. His first game in the majors was on Sept 5, 1975 and he pitched a clean inning against the Detroit Tigers. But despite several other brief call-ups, it wasn’t until 1981, when he was 28 years old, that Andersen was in the majors to stay. For most young players, if they haven’t made it by the age of 28 it’s just not going to happen.

But Andersen explains it as only LA could. Growing up in the Portland area he was a fan of the minor league Portland Beavers and he attended as many of their games as he could. In fact he loved them so much…

 “My dream growing up was, I wanna pitch for the Portland Beavers .  Well it came true.  And then it came true again.  And then it came true again.  And I’m like, ok, enough of that dream.  Can I get back to dreaming about maybe getting into the big leagues now?

Well Andersen finally did upgrade that dream and went on to have a 17- year career in the majors. He played for six different teams, pitching in three different decades which included two memorable stints for the Phils from 1983-1986, and again from 1993-1994.  In fact, I didn’t realize that Larry Andersen is the only Phillies player to play in both the 1983 World Series and the 1993 World Series

Check out the pitching staff he joined in 1983.

Steve Carlton, John Denny, pretty rarefied air, right?

And, of course, the 1993 Phils will always be remembered as making one of the most improbable runs in Phillies history.

There are a lot more stories where those came from including thoughts about his memorable but unexpected second act as a Phillies broadcaster. So if you would like to hear more, here’s a link to the entire interview. (The Larry Andersen part starts at 1:31:50)

I hope you enjoy it and I really hope that we’ll be hearing LA and Scott Franzke from the broadcast booth one of these days…

But until then,

Be safe out there!

Blast From the Past

15 Apr

Last night when I went to bed I switched on the radio to listen to sports talk as I always do.  (It’s a habit I inherited from my Dad.)  And as luck would have it they were re-broadcasting a Phillies game from 2008, September 27th, 2008 to be exact.  And it wasn’t just any game. 

  • It was the one where the Phillies clinched the NL East title for the second year in a row. 
  • The one where Brad Lidge remained perfect but not without angst. 
  • It was the one where Jimmy Rollins, he of the “team to beat” slogan, backed it up by making a sliding stop to start a double play with the bases loaded in the 9th giving the Phils a 4-3 win against the Washington Nationals.

But enough of my words, here are Harry’s.

Aaaaah, and even if just for one night, the world was as it should be and baseball was back! We truly hope that day will come soon. But until then,

stay safe out there.

Friday Mailbag

10 Apr

As many of us celebrate Passover and Easter, our quarantine continues.  But it’s good to see that most Americans haven’t lost their sense of humor.

It’s also good to see that I’ve been receiving mail from blog readers and I thought I’d take this Friday to share some of it.

Longtime fan of the blog Ron offered his own Phils Haiku on baseball’s supposed-to-be Opening Day. 

Phillies Haiku

today baseball starts

covid took out the new year

damned you rat eaters

He also shared that he toasted the not-to-be opener with a Phillies Yuengling. Cheers, Ron!

And these were some of the responses to my “Quarantine with the Phillies post.

Longtime Girls Best Phriend reader and Phillies fan Holly’s choices were

John Kruk and Richie Ashburn 

Both make/made me laugh and that’s what I need- laughter! Richie made me laugh without meaning to, though.

Holly’s right about that!  One of my personal Ashburn faves was when there was a runner on first and he would say, “He looks runner-ish, Harry.

Drew casts her vote for Jimmy Rollins.   

Jimmy has a great sense of humor and predicted the Phillies would win so I trust his judgment.”

Fine choice, Drew. Man, I miss that J-Roll smile!

OK, Jimmy’s the ‘one to beat.’ Who’s next?

Well, Spencer’s choice of Scott Rolen may raise a few eyebrows. Though there’s no denying he was a talented third baseman during his time with the Phillies, my memories of him are more about the way he left. Do the words “baseball heaven” ring a bell???

But Spencer’s next choice more than makes up for that.

Yep! It’s the Big Man, Jim Thome. No more need be said.

This next guy got a couple of shout-outs!

Syd thinks the Flyin’ Hawaiin,

Shane Victorino would be fun.”   

And new blog follower Rob won’t argue with that. Shane makes his list as well.

“It’s definitely Chase Utley and Shane Victorino. Now of course Chase won’t say a word but that’s OK I just want to say I hung out with him and Shane I’m sure won’t shut up so he can talk for both of them! 

Well said Rob. And when it comes to Chase, many of us might share Aunt Ger’s sentiments.

Charlie for his wit, and Chase Utley, well I just want to stare at him over a bowl of soup.”

I might not even need the soup!

Thanks for all the great reposnses. I hope you all have healthy and happy holiday celebrations. And as always

Stay safe out there.


My Quarantine Line-up

7 Apr

As we continue living in our “new normal” world of personal grooming and group zooming, we’re all spending a lot of quality time with our quarantine mates.  And as lovely as that is, (and it is lovely honey!) I got to thinking about other possible quarantiners involving our local baseball team.

So here’s today’s question:

Which 2 Phillies players or managers past or present would you like to be quarantined with?

For me, the first one is obvious.  You guessed it, Larry Bowa.  I’ve already shared that he’s my favorite player.  You’ve even seen my LB trash can so that’s a no-brainer.

But my second choice may surprise you.  I’ll give you a couple hints. 

  • He’s the guy who actually replaced Bowa as Phillies manager in 2004. 
  • He’s got a southern drawl and initially many thought (including me!) that he wasn’t cut out to be a manager. 
  • Happily, he proved all of us wrong by leading the Phils to a memorable World Series title in 2008.

Yep, it’s Charlie Manuel.

And what may be even more surprising (even to the two of them) is that these two competitors have actually become the best of friends.

But over the years, first on opposing teams and continuing when Bowa rejoined the Phillies, the two men realized that they actually have a lot in common.  

One of the things I always loved about Bowa  was that he was an over-achiever.  He was a little guy, cut from his high school baseball team and undrafted.  Manuel was underestimated for his entire career both as a player and manager.

And they’re both true old school baseball guys. According to Manuel:

“We came from the same era of baseball. We love to hash over the game and project what guys are going to do. We just have a lot of fun talking about baseball.”

Bowa agrees.

We definitely had a lot of the same thoughts. We are old-school.”

But the reason I would want to hang with them is purely for the entertainment!  I don’t know if you’ve ever heard them interviewed together but they are hilarious!

According to Bowa:

“He’s just fun to be around, and he is really funny. I don’t know if people realize how smart he is, either.”

And Charlie shares his friend’s views.

“I know I’ve got this Southern drawl, but I’m pretty funny with my one-liners. Some funny things come out of my head. And Bo is the same way. The real Larry Bowa is a funny guy, and when we get together, some funny stuff pops out.”

So that’s my duo. It’s time for you to share yours. I know you have some time on your hands!

Stay safe out there!

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