Tag Archives: Chase Utley

“Ryno” Is For Real

23 Sep

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!

Advertisements

Chase “Friggin” Utley

18 Sep

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.

Chase+Utley+Philadelphia+Phillies+Photo+Day+LgivyFsPGHol

 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 high fives

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.

good slide

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.

chase intense lookd

“Who Said That?” I’ll Tell You Who!

22 Aug

Yes, the Phillies had a walk-off win yesterday beating the Rockies 4-3 on a Michael Young single in the bottom of the ninth, driving in Carlos Ruiz who had a out-out double. It gave the Phillies their third victory in four games, two of them walk-offs.  This comes after a 4-21 stretch that ended with manager Charlie Manuel losing his job Friday.

But enough about the Phillies.  I know you’ve all just been waiting in suspense for the answers to yesterday’s “Who Said That?” quiz.

And just in case there were a couple of you who didn’t happen to read yesterday’s post (and you know who your are!) I have kindly included the questions along with the answers.

  1. He’s my guy and it hit me hard.  It was a very difficult day for me.  Charlie is a father figure to me.  I respect and cherish everything he has done for me.”

Yes, this one is from perhaps Charlie Manuel’s biggest fan and supporter, Jim Thome.  The close relationship between the two men is legendary and began when Thome was just a 20-year old in Triple-A.  Thome has always attributed much of his success to Charlie and will alway consider him his greatest mentor and friend.2

2.  “I probably was a little overzealous in throwing out that balk.”

This one comes from home plate umpire Jim Joyce who called a controversial balk on Phillies pitcher Jake Deekman in the eighth inning of Monday’s 5-4 win against the Rockies Joyce actually later admitted that he “implemented the balk [rule]wrong.” An umpire admitting he was wrong?  Now that is quote worthy!

3.  “You hear his country accent and you think he’s a little bit slow but he’s sharp as a tack.  I guess I’ll have a fishing buddy now down in Florida.”

You may have guessed this one.  Jimmy Rollins said this about his former manager, now friend Charlie Manuel.  Although Manuel was known to be hard on Jimmy at times, making him an example when he broke some of Charlie’s basic team rules, the two men were often seen together in the dugout laughing and talking baseball.  Now those will be some great fish tales.

4. “I achieved a couple of firsts today personally.” 

Phillies new manager Ryne Sandberg on getting his first win as a major league manager and his first runs (The Phillies were shut out in his first two games as skipper.)

5.  ”The fans have been great.  It’s obvious they’re extremely passionate about the [team.]  That’s evident no matter where you go. But we haven’t played a game yet either, so that could change.”

OK, I cheated a little with this one.  It was from first year Eagles coach Chip Kelly on how the Philly fans have treated him so far.  He’s right about one thing, though…his team hasn’t played a game yet!

6.  “I definitely didn’t come here for this. I would like to stay here. But if I’m going to have to put up with this year after year, then no, I don’t want to be here. Why would you? Why would anybody?”

Who else but Phillies often outspoken closer Jonathan Papelbon.  But enjoy his wacky quotes while you can.  He may be blowing saves and making headlines somewhere else next year.

7.  ”I think if Charlie could adopt Chase Utley I think he probably would. He loves him that much… Chase was the model of who Charlie really wanted everybody to play like. Plays hard, plays the right way, keeps his mouth shut.”

This one surprised me.  It’s from none other than Jayson “take the money and run” Werth.  It sounds like Jayson may be the one with the man crush.

8.  “I’m not playing for money at this point.  I’m fortunate to have played a long time. If I have a situation where I can win, I might be paying them to play.”

Said by none other than two-time Cy Young winner Roy Halladay after pitching in a rehab start, his first action since May 5th.  In the last year of his contract, it certainly doesn’t seem like money will be a problem if the Phillies want him back.  But about that fast ball…

9.   “All Charlie did was come to the park every day with an attitude to win. We didn’t uphold our end of the bargain… He’s someone I’ll always have in my cellphone. “

Chase “You are the Man” Utley had this to say about his manager of nine years.  I hope he has an unlimited minutes plan.  So maybe that’s why Charlie wanted to adopt him.

10.  “I loved putting that uniform on. I would have wore it over here today if I could.” 

We end appropriately with this comment from Charlie Manuel at his farewell news conference at Citizens Bank Park.  No one loved talking and being around baseball more than Charlie.  And though he will turn 70 in January he hopes to be wearing a uniform again soon.

We hope you will, too, Charlie.

Well, how did you do?  Any perfect scores???

Philadelphia Phillies: Say What?

21 Aug

So much for Ryne Sandberg’s modest two-game win streak.  Enough said.

Today we’re going to play a little game called “Who Said That?”  I’ll give you some quotes and you try to guess who said them?

Sounds like fun, right?  No googling!!

1.  “He’s my guy and it hit me hard.  It was a very difficult day for me.  Charlie is a father figure to me.  I respect and cherish everything he has done for me.”

2.  “I probably was a little overzealous in throwing out that balk.”

3.  “You hear his country accent and you think he’s a little bit slow but he’s sharp as a tack.  I guess I’ll have a fishing buddy now down in Florida.”

4.  “I achieved a couple of firsts today personally.” 

 5.  “The fans have been great.  It’s obvious they’re extremely passionate about the [team.]  That’s evident no matter where you go. But we haven’t played a game yet either, so that could change.”

6.  “I definitely didn’t come here for this. I would like to stay here. But if I’m going to have to put up with this year after year, then no, I don’t want to be here. Why would you? Why would anybody?”

7.  “I think if Charlie could adopt Chase Utley I think he probably would. He loves him that much… Chase was the model of who Charlie really wanted everybody to play like. Plays hard, plays the right way, keeps his mouth shut.”

 8.  “I’m not playing for money at this point.  I’m fortunate to have played a long time. If I have a situation where I can win, I might be paying them to play.”

 9.   “All Charlie did was come to the park every day with an attitude to win. We didn’t uphold our end of the bargain… He’s someone I’ll always have in my cellphone. 

10.  “I loved putting that uniform on. I would have wore it over here today if I could.” 

And just because I can, I’ll leave you with a couple of my favorite Charlie quotes from over the years.

“I think we’re out on a limb right now, hanging over a cliff, and we’re trying to find a way to get back.”

” Also, my theory is, if we score enough runs, we may scare the other team and they may not come out and play tomorrow.”

“Yeah, I’m flustrated.  Of course, I’m flustrated.”

“I’ve got two rules.  Be on time and hustle.  Once they buy into it and accept things, that’s when you can be more relaxed.”

” They’ve got all winter to rest.”

“I want them to be who they are… They pay their money to get into the game, why shouldn’t they demand us to play right.  There’s nothing wrong with that.”

“We stayed in there right to the end.  We had a lot of fun, we had a lot of fight, and we had a lot of exciting moments.”

Oh, yeah, you’re wondering where the answers are?  Come on, I need something to write about tomorrow. 🙂

Not the Start the Phillies Were Hoping For

24 Jul

They started with a bang but since their 13-8 win against the Mets, the Phillies have now lost three straight.  They are seven games behind the first place Atlanta Braves and seven and a half games behind in the Wild Card race.

This is not the start we were hoping for.

The Phillies inconsistent offense is still, well, inconsistent.  After that offensive outburst against the Mets, the Phillies have scored only one run in their last two games.

This is not the start we were hoping for.

What makes it even worse is that the teams ahead of the Phils are almost trying to hand them the division.  The Braves are 2-3 since the Break and the Washington Nationals are 0-5!  Yes, the Cardinals have the best record in baseball but it was critical for the Phils to win at least 2-3 from a not-so-good Mets team.  And, by the way, teams that need to play at an above .600 clip to make the play-offs need to beat the good teams, too!

This is not the start we were hoping for.

And it doesn’t get any easier for the Phillies on this critical road trip.  They have two more games against these Cardinals and then a series against the first place AL Detroit Tigers, and interleague play has historically not been this team’s strong point.  They have a total of six games remaining before the 4 p.m. Trade Deadline next Wednesday.  If the Phillies can’t find a way to win at least four of them, this team could look a lot different a week from today.

This is not the start we were hoping for.

And if you really want to hear some bad news, in the nightmare scenario that has many fans seeing red, the Phils iconic second baseman Chase Utley could be one of those Phillies not wearing red real soon.  He had three hits last night and is eight for his last 16.  He has raised his average to .286 and his troublesome knees have just not been an issue this year.  In short, he has been one of the most productive offensive middle infielders in the game.  He’s also in the final year of his contract all of which make him a big target for a team looking for some help down the stretch.  Would they, could they, trade the beloved second baseman?

This is not the start we were hoping for.

But…this Phillies team does have a habit of making their runs when everyone has counted them out, when their backs are against the wall, when all they’ve got is each other and their will to win to stay together as a team.  But every year they get a bit older and those runs are harder to find.  Does this team have one more run left?  Can they at least win enough in these next six games to stay together just a little longer?

This is not the start we were hoping for.

Well, I for one am, not a bandwagon fan.  Yes, the losses and inconsistency frustrate me but I am always a fan win or lose.  Yes, deep down I know whether it’s now or later this team must make some changes to keep up with a league getting ever-younger. But I’m hoping for a min-run starting tonight so we can watch the Utleys and Rollins play together just a little bit longer.

Call me sentimental but I’ll be at the ballpark August 1st, when the Phils will  honor Brad Lidge who has chosen to retire as a Phillie.  The night will surely bring back memories of that great 2008 team, you know, the “World F-ing Champions.”  It sure would be a shame if I’m there but the man who uttered that famous phrase is not.

Philadelphia Phillies Break Baseball’s Golden Rules

21 Jul

With the Phillies facing a stretch drive where they will have to play above .600 baseball to even sniff the playoffs every game takes on greater significance. Every series becomes a must win.  Every pitcher’s outing is critical.  Every managerial move is scrutinized.  And yesterday’s game is a prime example of the kind of game this team needs to find a way to win if they are really going to make a run.

There was a lot that went wrong in yesterday’s 5-4 loss to the New York Mets but for me there are three major things that must improve if we don’t want to see some familiar Phillies faces wearing some unfamiliar jerseys before too long.

 1.  Cole must be Cole

Cole Hamels entered yesterday’s contest on a bit of a hot streak.  He had three strong outings before the All-Star Break and was starting to look like the Cole Hamels of old.  But he had trouble throwing strikes on Saturday and after being given a 1-0 lead to start the game, on a lead-off home run by Jimmy Rollins, Hamels wasted no time giving that back and more with a 35 pitch first inning where he allowed two walks, three hits and three runs.

Later, after the Phillies had cut the lead to 3-2 in the fifth, instead of the shutdown inning his team needed, Hamels gave that run right back making it 4-2.  In a game the Phillies ultimately lost by one run,  every run was critical.  It was Cole’s career high 12th loss, and the most of any National League starting pitcher this year.

Was Hamels pounded?  No.  Was he the only reason the Phillies lost the game?  No.  But when you’ve just signed a huge contract and you are your team’s opening day starter you are expected to come up big when the stakes are the highest.  Hamels has not been able to do that this season.  The Phillies are a dismal 6-15 in his 21 starts and if they are to have any chance down the stretch Kid Cole is going to have to start being King Cole once again.

 2.  Drive ’em Home

Are you as tired as I am of hearing about the Phillies inability to capitalize with runners in scoring position?  And it’s not just this season.  Call it small ball, call it situational hitting, call it smart baseball, call it luck.  But whatever you call it, the Phillies just can’t seem to do it. They had runners on base in seven of the nine innings yesterday but they were a woeful 1 for 10 with runners in scoring position and they stranded 10 on the bases overall.

The Phils best chance might have come in the fifth inning when, trailing by one run, they had the bases loaded but couldn’t get that tying run in.  Which brings me to point number three.  And this one really gets me going!

 3.  Patience is a Virtue

Isn’t 3-0, let it go, one of the first things every kid learns in little league?  What about another favorite, a walk’s as good as a hit?  There’s a reason that these phrase have become baseball clichés because they’re true!  I like loyalty as much as the next guy, but am I the only one who cringes when Phillies hitters are routinely given the green light with a 3-0 count only to swing at a pitch way out of the strike zone?

In a sport where on average managers give the 3-0 green light only 10% of the time, Charlie Manuel gives his batters the freedom to swing 3-0 at a shocking rate of over 40%!  Yes, 40%!!

Sorry Charlie, that’s just not good baseball.  Especially when your team is as offensively challenged as this Phillies team has been.  Take the base, put more  pressure on the opposing pitcher, make him throw more pitches and you never know what can happen.

The at bat in question came in the fifth inning when the Phillies, trailing at the time 3-1, had the bases loaded with nobody out.  Chase Utley made it 3-2 with a sacrifice fly, and that brought Domonic Brown to the plate with two men on and one out.

Mets pitcher Zack Wheeler fell behind Brown 3-0 but then Brown was given the green light and he hit a pop-up out to left field  on a pitch that he admitted later he should not have swung at.

“I don’t know if it was out of the zone, but it definitely wasn’t a pitch I want to swing at 3-0.”

 I can’t think of a single reason for Brown not to take a pitch in that situation.  The Phils only needed one run, Brown is still a young player prone to getting over-anxious, which he did.

“I was looking for something middle-in and he threw it away. I tried to take it, but by that time my swing was already through.”

The pressure should be on the pitcher  to throw a strike in that situation not on a young hitter wanting to make his manager look good for having the confidence in him to give him the green light.

 “I should have taken the pitch and let Ruf drive us in.”

No, Domonic, that decision should have been taken out of  your hands.

Are you listening, Charlie???  3-0, let it go!

Does that make today’s game a must win for the Phils?  I guess it’s hard to say ‘must’ in July but if this team is going to make a run they need to continue to win series (they won four straight leading into the All Star Break) and that means a win today.  It won’t be easy as they are facing Matt Harvey, the Mets young ace who started this year’s All Star Game for the NL.

But the Phillies have an ace of their own on the mound, Cliff Lee.  Something tells me this will be the first of many games that we’ll be sweating it out right along with the players on the field.

Philadelphia Phillies: Second Half Statement?

20 Jul

If a team can start the second half of the season with a statement game then the Phillies 13-6 victory over the New York Mets last night was a statement with an exclamation point (or two.)

Let’s make that three as the Phils’ Michael Young, Chase Utley and Domonic “who needs the Home Run Derby” Brown all had home runs.  Utley also tripled and both he and Young finished the night with three RBIs while Brown added three hits and two RBIs.

If  a team can come out of the All Star Break with a game that says, don’t write us off, yet, then last night’s 13 run outburst said though this Phillies team may be old, they’re not dead. 

Very much alive, in fact, judging by last night’s performance.  The Phillies scored 11 runs before the Mets even got their first hit. The top five hitters in the lineup each scored two runs and every position player had at least one hit and scored a run by the third inning.

If one game can send a message to an undecided general manager about what direction to go come this year’s ever-nearing trade deadline, then the message the Phillies sent Ruben Amaro last night was loud and clear:  BUY!

The win put them over.500 for just the second time all season and the Phillies pulled into second place, a half game ahead of the Washington Nationals, in the National League East.

No, one game does not a season make, but if any team can point to a history of second half success, it’s the Phillies.

Since 2007, the Fightins’ have gone 269-198 after the All Star Break, the best second-half record in the Majors.

So while many are hoping for a break in the record heat wave suffocating the East Coast Phillies fans are hoping that their team can keep the heat on the first place Braves and that their hot bats won’t be cooling off any time soon.

%d bloggers like this: