Tag Archives: 2008 World Series

Happy Halloween

31 Oct

pumpkin photo

Couldn’t resist sharing this picture from the wonderful Trumbower family!

Oh yeah, Halloween also marks the 5-year anniversary of the Phillies 2008 World Series Parade.  And I am proud to say that we were in the stadium that day to hear Chase Utley utter that adjective Phillies fans will remember forever.

My Thank You Note To Charlie

17 Aug

I was always taught that when someone does something nice for you, the proper thing to do is to write them a thank you note.  So here goes.

Dear Charlie,

I have to be honest.  When you were first named as the Phillies new manager back in 2005 you weren’t my first choice.  In fact, you might not even have been in my top three.  I’ll admit that I just didn’t think that your laid back West Virginia style would be a match for Philadelphia’s anything but laid back fan base.

And I’m afraid I wasn’t alone.  Then when your first couple of weeks were filled with talk of not understanding the double switch and post game press conferences that would have benefited from a translator I was convinced that between the fans and Philadelphia’s tough press corps that you, Charlie, our new folksy manager, would be eaten alive.

But a funny thing happened on the way to your demise.  Your team, our team started winning and winning and winning.  It seemed that your laid back style and overwhelming public and private loyalty to your players did wonders in the Phillies clubhouse. The team followed your lead supporting each other both on and off the field. They played hard, they played with intensity, they played to win.

So I, like many fans who had unfairly written you off as a good old country boy, began to realize that you, Charlie, knew more about the game of baseball and the men who play it than any of us gave you credit for.  And just like that the love affair between a city and its baseball manager began.

You gave us the best years we have ever had as Phillies fans filled with excitement, passion and just plain old fun.  Going to the ballpark was a party and you, Charlie, were our gracious host.  We had a team and a manager to be proud of on and off the field which is saying a lot in this age of baseball.

As to your accomplishments, they will always remain legendary.  In your almost nine seasons as manager, the Phillies won five NL East championships, two National League pennants and one World Series title. You leave as the Phillies winningest manager with a regular-season record of 780-636 and a postseason record of 27-19.  And I’m glad you stayed around long enough to get your 1000th win overall.

But the highlight, of course, will always be that magical 2008 season when you led the Phillies to their first World Series Championship in 28 years and only the second in franchise history. And the huge and well-deserved ovation you received at the joyous parade that followed cemented your place forever in Phillies history.

You showed your class once again that day when, at a moment that could have been filled with personal victory and vindication after what this city had put you through, instead you chose the high road.  For me, Charlie, I will always remember the picture of you holding that World Series trophy high in the air for the fans in the stands to see:

“This is for Philadelphia!  This is for our fans!  I look around here and who’s the World Champions?  I thank you!”

But today Charlie, it is all of us who must thank you.  Thank you for helping to bring baseball back to our city.  Thanks for all the fun and winning and the championships but even more importantly, thanks for showing us that you really can lead with dignity and class.  In the world of professional sports where many say you have to treat your athletes like babies, you treated your players with loyalty and respect and they in turn gave you everything they had.

So Charlie, I will miss you.  I will miss you standing behind the cage watching your batters hit as you so loved to do.  I will miss you chewing your gum on the dugout steps, keeping your calm demeanor in good times and bad.  I will miss you jawing with  Jimmy Rollins during the game never failing to make him smile.  I’ll even miss your Post Game press conferences where we never knew what we might hear but we always knew that it came from the heart.  As did your words yesterday:

“I can’t explain to you guys what the last nine years have meant to me. I have had some of the best times of my life here. Philadelphia has been the high light of my career.”

And you, Charlie, have been a true highlight for us.  One we will certainly never forget.

I wish you well with wherever your path may lead.  And even if you do not choose to accept the position offered by the Phillies, I hope you know, as they say, that you will never have to buy a beer in this town again.  Or a cheesesteak.

With great respect and appreciation,

A Devoted Fan

.

Philadelphia Phillies NOT the Phavorites!

9 Feb

“You LIKE me, You really like me.”

(Younger readers just google Sally Field and you’ll understand.)

A heartfelt thanks for the warm welcome back.  (Warmth greatly needed on this snowy February morning on the East Coast!) This blogger greatly appreciates your support.  I will try to live up to all the kind words.

As I sit looking at the snowy white scene out my window it’s hard to believe that we’ll be seeing red in just a couple of days now.  And let’s hope that’s just the uniform color.  Many of you have already expressed your concerns for this year’s Phillies team.  My favorite was the description of the Phils outfield as “Moe, Larry and Curly”  (Thanks, Ron.)

But is it already time, before a single pitch is thrown, to  ‘throw’ in the towel??

 I think not.

It’s hard to argue with the fact that this may be the hardest Phillies team to get a handle on in years.  Lots of major players returning from injury, an aging lineup, no huge off-season acquisitions.  Wait a minute, isn’t this usually an uplifting blog?

Well, here’s my spin.  After several painful years of being the favorites but never living up to expectations, including a year with a record-breaking number of wins during the regular season only to be followed by elimination in the first round of the playoffs, is this fan sorry that the Phillies will NOT be a favorite again this year?

I think not.

Those of you who have been reading my blog for the last several years know how I feel about being picked to win.  I HATE IT!  Why?  Because if you win, you were expected to and if you lose (which every team but one ultimately does,) you blew it.  Where’s the fun in that?

Look at it this way.  Close your eyes and think back to 2008, that magical World Series year.  You’re smiling right?  Did we have Cliff Lee on the mound?  Or the “Doc?”  Did we have a starting rotation thought to perhaps be the best baseball has ever seen?

I think not.

How about a starting rotation featuring Brett Myers, Joe Blanton, a 45-year-old Jamie Moyer, who in 2008 was the oldest active player in Major League Baseball, and a then-unproven young lefty named Cole Hamels.

And did that 2008 Phillies team, the one that won the World Series, did they have a $50 million closer?

I think not.

They had a bullpen full of unknowns like JC Romero, Scott Eyre and Chad Durbin.  And their closer?  Well he was trying to come back from an injury-filled season not to mention the fact that many had written him off after he gave up a 3 run homer to Albert Pujols in the NLCS.  What was his name again?  Oh yeah,  Brad Lidge.

And what about the outfield?  Let’s see,  it was the oft-maligned Pat Burrell in left, a Rule 5 draft pick from Hawaii, Shane Victorino in center and a platoon in right field of an unknown Jayson Werth and an even lesser-known Geoff Jenkins.

Were they the favorites?

I think not.

OK, I’m not saying that I think this year’s Phillies will win the World Series.  I’m not even saying that they’ll win 80 games or 90.  But am I ready to write the season off before it even starts???

I think not!

Now I’m going to make myself a cup of hot chocolate, sit in front of a warm fire and watch my old dvd of  The Perfect Season.  And I suggest you do the same!

Say It ‘Aint So, Joe

4 Aug

But alas it is.  Joe Blanton became the latest victim of the Phillies payroll purge yesterday as he was traded to the LA Dodgers where he will join fellow ex-Phil Shane Victorino.  Who needs a Trade Deadline?  Certainly not Ruben Amaro, Jr. who continues undaunted in his trade-happy ways.  I wonder who’s next?  Hey, I heard the Phillie Phanatic brought his suitcase to the ballpark last night.

But back to Big Joe.  Now I know it’s easy to overlook Joe Blanton.  There has been no outcry about his departure.  Perhaps it’s because after the trades of Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence, fans are resigned to the inevitable.  Maybe it’s because Big Joe has spent the last three years in the shadows of the big four, now three, aces.  Perhaps the reaction matches Blanton’s laid back style.  But whatever the reason Joe deserves better.

He came to the Phillies in a Trade Deadline deal in 2008 courtesy of former GM Pat Gillick.  His arrival, like his departure, came without fanfare.  Most fans were hoping for a bigger name.  “Joe who?”  was the most often heard refrain.

But Blanton was a critical part of the Phillies 2008 rotation, going 4-0 down the stretch, helping the Phils win the NL East, positioning them for their historic playoff run.  And he wasn’t finished.  Joe was 2-0 in the 2008 postseason including his most important win as a Phillie in Game 4 of the World Series against the Tampa Bay Rays.

But the lasting memory most of us will always have of Big Joe is not for his pitching but for his big hit also in that memorable Game 4.  In the fifth inning Blanton blasted his first ever (and so far only) major league home run as the Phillies went on to win 10-2 to take a commanding 3-1 series lead.

Overall, Blanton appeared in 105 regular season games for the Phillies earning a 34-25 record.  This season he has 8 wins, second only to Cole Hamels among Phils starters.  He leads the National League in strikeouts to walks ratio.  And many may be surprised to learn that Blanton has been the most successful second half pitcher in the majors during the last four years with a 17-5 record.  Not bad for a guy who most fans had never heard of when he arrived.

So today we must say goodbye to yet one more piece of that magical 2008 World Series team.  In fact, of that 25 man roster, only 6 are now left:  Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Carlos Ruiz, Cole Hamels, and Kyle Kendrick.

So here’s a big thank-you to Big Joe who will always have a big place in this fans heart.

Ph-ire Sale???

1 Aug

That’s what some are calling the unloading yesterday of Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence, 2/3 of the Phillies starting outfield.  Others are saying they didn’t go far enough and were hoping to see additional players leave the Phillies fold, or should I say, billfold.

After five straight seasons of welcoming in talented new faces at the Trade Deadline, this year the Phillies had to say goodbye to some old friends.  Since the particulars of the deals have been well-documented by now, and much will continue to be said and written about what it all will mean for the future, I’ll take a moment today to remember the past.

Hunter Pence was only a Phillie for a short time.  In fact, it was almost exactly a year ago, at last year’s Trade Deadline, that he joined the team.  But he quickly became a fan favorite with his enthusiasm and ‘leave it all on the field’ playing style.  He even coined his own slogan, “Let’s Eat,” when those were his first words after scoring a game-winning run.

Pence brought a welcome burst of energy upon his arrival last year and helped the Phillies to their record 102 win season.  But he did not perform as well in the playoffs (along with the rest of the Phillies offense) and this year, though his numbers have been OK, Pence’s less than stellar defense and unconventional hitting style may have been factors in the Phillies decision to move him.  So off he goes,  and for the second year in a row, he will go from last place to first as he joins the offensively-challenged San Francisco Giants where he will undoubtedly be a welcome addition.

And for those who still feel the need to have something to remember him by, Hunter Pence bobblehead day is still scheduled for August 21st.  Oooops!

It’s a bit harder to say Aloha to the “Flyin’ Hawaiian.”  Shane Victorino has been with the Phillies since 2004 when they took a chance on the young speedster from Hawaii, claiming him when the Dodgers left him unprotected in the Rule 5 Draft. It was a  chance that would pay off in a big way for both the Phillies and Victorino.

So as the “Flyin’ Hawaiian” flies off to the West Coast (ironically to rejoin the Dodgers) here are some of the memorable moments he leaves behind:

On June 3, 2007 the Phillies celebrated “Shane Victorino Day” with Victorino hula figurines. And the game itself couldn’t have been scripted any better.  After the Phils fought back from a four-run deficit to take an 8-7 lead in the seventh, the Giants tied it up in the top of the 9th.  But in a storybook ending, Victorino ended the game with a walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth to give the Phillies the win.

And of course there was that unforgettable moment in the second inning of Game 2 of the 2008 NLDS against the Milwaukee Brewers.  It was all started by Brett Myers who fouled off pitch after pitch against Brewers ace C.C. Sabathia who was pitching for the third straight start with only three days’ rest.  The crowd got into the act cheering with each foul ball until after nine pitches, Myers was on first base with a hard-earned walk. Then, two batters later, Victorino made C.C. pay as he blasted a 1-2 pitch into the left field seats for a grand slam, leading the Phillies to a 5-2 victory.  It was Victorino’s first ever slam in the majors and the Phillies first postseason grand slam.

And that was not Shane’s only big postseason home run.  We all remember Matt Stairs game-winning blast in Game Four of the 2008 NLCS, but Stairs‘ heroics wouldn’t have been possible without Victorino.  The Phillies trailed the Dodgers 5-3 with one out in the top of the 8th when Shane lined a pitch from reliever Corey Wade into the bullpen for a game-tying two-run home run. Three batters later Stairs hit his historic blast capping off a four-run eighth inning for the Phis, giving them a come-from-behind 7-5 win.

Victorino had some personal highlights as well:

He won the All-Star Game Final Vote in 2009 with a record breaking 15.6 million votes and became the first Hawaiian-born position player to be named to an All-Star team.

And this season Shane became the first Hawaiian-born player to reach 1,000 career hits.

But one of my favorite moments came off the field, when a very emotional Shane Victorino had to hold back tears at the grand opening ceremony for the Shane Victorino Nicetown Boys and Girls ClubShane and his wife had pledged 1 million dollars to rebuild the decaying structure.   He ended his remarks on that day with these words:

 “I know for the rest of my life, that I can make an impact in this community. That I can come back, say 30 years from now, my kids can come back, and say look at what my dad did for our community.” 

But Shane does not leave us empty-handed.  He takes with him two All-Star game appearances, 3 Gold Glove Awards and, of course, a World Series ring.  And he leaves us with a couple of things as well: memories that will live forever in Phillies history and the beautiful Boys and Girls Club that will stand as a reminder of all that this Hawaiian-born athlete did for his adopted city of Philadelphia.

Mahalo, Shane.

 Aloha.

%d bloggers like this: