As the season finally enters its last weekend, at least for my team, I thought it only fair to give a tip of the cap to those teams whose seasons are far from over, those lucky enough to be playing Post Season baseball.
So while there will be no Red October for the Phillies, congrats to all the fans whose teams are still in the hunt especially the Braves, the Dodgers and the Red Sox. I know there are fans of those three teams who have been long-time, loyal Girls Best Phriend readers so I thank you for your support and hope that you are well stocked with chardonnay, ice cream or TUMS, whichever is your stress reliever of choice as you root on your teams through the Play-Offs.
As for me, just as the Phillies will wind up their run, so must I write my last Girls Best Phriend post.
And it only seems appropriate to end this one the way it started,
with the phrase baseball fans have uttered since baseball became America’s national pastime,
with the vow that all teams save one must ultimately make at season’s end,
with those four simple but powerful words that even after the bleakest of seasons still give baseball fan’s reason for hope:
“Wait till next year!”
Thanks so much for reading and I hope you never stop rooting.
Sometimes, baseball can be a cruel game.
There are also times when baseball, like life, can seem unfair.
But worst of all, baseball can be a sad game.
And I can think of nothing sadder than Roy Halladay leaving the game the other night and ending his season after only 16 pitches (his shortest outing ever.) He faced just three batters and walked two. Only five of his 16 pitches were for strikes. And for me, that’s as heartbreaking as it gets.
But the man who left the mound that night, head down, shoulders slumped, is not the man who I will choose to remember, if that indeed is to be the last time we see Roy Halladay pitch as a Phillie, or perhaps pitch at all.
I will choose to remember a different Roy Halladay. The man who earned the nickname the “Doc” because of his surgical precision on the mound, the man who dominated the game he played for most of his long and brilliant career.
I’ll remember the Roy Halladay who pitched his first game for the Phillies on Opening Day 2010. He pitched seven innings on that day, had nine strikeouts and gave up only one run earning his first win as a Phillie.
As fans, we knew we were watching something special but we had no idea how special it would be.
My Roy Halladay is the man who went on to win 21 games that year and become the Phillies first 20-game winner since Steve Carlton in 1982. And the first right-handed Phillies pitcher to win 20 since Robin Roberts did it in 1955.
But that wasn’t all the “Doc” had in store for us that year.
All baseball fans will remember May 29th when Roy Halladay, who we already thought was perfect, made it official. He pitched a perfect game against the then Florida Marlins retiring all 27 batters he faced, 11 with strikeouts.
And I’ll also remember Roy Halladay, the man, who gave Swiss-made watches to everyone in the clubhouse after that game with the inscription: “We did it together. Thanks, Roy Halladay.”
Roy Halladay would go on to finish that 2010 season with a record of 21-10 and a 2.44 ERA. He had a career high 219 strikeouts and only 30 walks. He led the National League in wins, innings pitched and complete games with nine, including four shutouts. And he would win the Cy Young Award that year becoming only the fifth pitcher to win that prestigious award in both leagues.
But what will make Roy Halladay truly impossible to forget, is what he did on October 6th, in his first ever start in the postseason, the start he had waited for his entire career. On that night Roy made up for all those years of frustration by doing something only one other pitcher in the history of baseball had done before him.
Ray Halladay pitched a no-hitter against the Cincinnati Reds in the first game of the National League Division Series.
Halladay would continue his dominance in his second year with the Phillies. He finished the 2011 season at 19-6 with a 2.35 ERA and was named the starting pitcher for the All-Star Game that year. He finished second in the Cy Young balloting and was named the Sportsperson of the Year by the Philadelphia Daily News for the second year in a row.
I could go on and on listing Roy Halladay’s countless accomplishments and awards. And for fans of the game, like me, those feats will always way overshadow the disappointments of the past several years.
I will always remember the Roy Halladay we called “the Doc,” his intense, commanding presence on the mound, his team first attitude, his respect for the game he loves and his appreciation of his teammates and the fans.
But as I sit here writing and reflecting on this beautiful Fall morning, my greatest hope is that Roy Halladay himself will come to appreciate and remember that great man as well.
To no one’s great surprise, the interim was removed from before his name and Hall of Fame second baseman Ryne Sandberg, is now the new manager of the Philadelphia Phillies. The reaction in the Phillies clubhouse was enthusiastic applause.
Phils second baseman, Chase Utley, had this to say about the move:
“Ryno is positive. He’s always talking during the game. He’s definitely into the game, and guys respect him for that. He’s given a lot of guys an opportunity to play, which is nice. So far he’s done a great job.”
And my personal baseball guru, former Phillies shortstop, coach and manager Larry Bowa, is a big Sandberg supporter:
“He pays attention to detail. You’re going to see his quote, ‘Play the game the right way. Play hard.’ That’s how he played. He played it the right way. Forget his Hall of Fame numbers. His work ethic before a game was unbelievable. And he wants guys to be prepared. I don’t think you’ll ever see him get on anybody if they’re prepared.”
Bowa and Sandberg will always be linked because of the infamous trade that sent them both from the Phillies to the Chicago Cubs in 1982. While Bowa was considered the big name in the deal at the time no one yet knew much about Sandberg who went on to become an MVP, a 10-time All-Star, a nine-time Gold Glove winner, a Hall of Fame second baseman and a Cubs icon.
But will they be linked again? Will Sandberg, as rumored, offer friend and former mentor Bowa a spot on his new coaching staff???
Whoever joins him in the dugout, “Ryno” will have a big job ahead of him. It may take more than a good work ethic for this team to have the kind of turnaround fans and the front office are hoping for. In fact, before Sandberg takes the reins next season, it will be Phillies GM Ruben Amaro who will be in the hot seat with decisions to make and holes to fill.
But as this season mercifully enters its final week, let’s be positive about the Phillies new manager choice. He’s worked hard to earn his stripes (6 years in the minors is a lot of bus rides,) he certainly knows the game and he seems to have the respect of his players both young and old. Sandberg called getting the Phillies manger’s job a dream come true:
“I think it’s a bright future, I’m ecstatic about being here.”
Let’s hope we’re all ecstatic this time next year!
As the Phillies played (and lost) their final home game of the season and the circus that was the Eagles game (they lost to Andy Reid’s Kansas City Chiefs) leaves town, I have something else on my mind today. And I promise, this will be my last plug for my very stylish “Baseball Rocks” T-shirts.
But September is National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. And for every t-shirt purchased, a percentage of the proceeds will go to the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance.
I want to thank everyone who has already bought a shirt, and some of you have even purchased several!! I can’t tell you how much that means to me and how great I felt making my first “t-shirt” donation.
22,240 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer this year. One in four of them will lose her life to the disease within a year of diagnosis.
Please consider buying a t-shirt (did I mention they’re very stylish? And unisex!) to support research that can change those numbers for the better.
OK, I’m done. Except to remind you that the t-shirts only cost $14.99; they come in M, L and XL and to order just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Now that wasn’t so bad, was it? A lot less painful than watching the Eagles lose to Andy Reid and the Chiefs last night in front of a national television audience. They said it was no big deal having their former coach on the opposing sideline but the Eagles sure played like they had seen a ghost.
They had five turn-overs in the game, four in the first half alone as they lost in ugly fashion to the Chiefs 26-16. Andy Reid and his new team will leave town at 3-0 (the Chiefs only had two wins all of last season) and his old team? Well, after their promising first win against the Redskins the Eagles will fall to 1-2. Ahhhhh, what a difference a change of sideline makes.
In conclusion, the Phillies are heading down the home stretch while the Eagles may never win again at home (0-8 in their last 8 home games) but you can hit a home run by buying a Baseball Rocks T-shirt and helping to support the fight against ovarian cancer.
This post is dedicated to P who is currently fighting her own battle. You go, girl!
In this all too forgettable season, there is one man whose accomplishments we should remember.
In a season filled with disappointments, injuries and the demise of Charlie Manuel, there is one Phillie who has consistently risen above it all.
In a year where everything seemed to go wrong, there was one thing that seemed right as rain
After years of dealing with a debilitating knee injury that medical experts said would only get worse, the man born to play baseball was somehow re-born.
While many believed that he should hang up his cleats, that his best days were well behind him, the only one who was not ready to call it a career was ‘the man’ himself, Chase “you are the man” Utley.
After playing in only 83 games last season, last night was Chase’s 121st game played this year. That’s the most games Utley has played in a single season since 2009. And he’s not just playing, he’s performing.
He is currently batting .280. (If the season ended today that would also be his highest batting average since 2009 when he finished the season hitting 282.) But most encouraging might be that while in the past several seasons and even earlier in his career, Chase’s body seemed to break down towards the end of the season, this year even as the season wanes, Chase is still going strong.
Tuesday night Utley hit his second three-run home run in as many games and drove in four to help the Phillies and “Doc” beat the Miami Marlins.
Chase has 18 home runs, 66 RBI’s, 24 doubles and he leads the Phillies in triples with 6. And it is those triples that will be my enduring image of Chase from this season.
Watching him motor around second full throttle, the trademark Utley look of intensity on his face, followed by a hard slide into third was a sight I did not expect to see again once we learned the seriousness of Chase’s knee problems.
But since his mysterious rehab stint in Arizona, Utley at 34 looks more like the Utley of old than he has in years.
He has looked so impressive that the Phillies have already signed him to a 2-year extension.
So despite all that has gone wrong this dismal 2013 season for the Phillies, the return of Chase Utley is one thing to celebrate. And this fan, for one, will relish every chance I get to watch “the man” play the game he was born to play.