Phillies Chase Marlins, Prepare for Mets

April 30, 2009 by Michael Gross  
Filed under Fan News

All things considered, April didn't turn out that badly for the Phillies.  They finished the month with an 11-9 record, and trail only the Florida Marlins in the NL East.  For a team coming off a World Series Championship, the first month of their defense was far from smooth.

Not only did they stumble out of the blocks with inconsistent offense and awful starting pitching, but they also lost Harry Kalas.  Kalas, the voice of the franchise and millions of Philadelphia childhoods, will hopefully provide inspiration along with a sobering dose of reality for this team the rest of season.

The Phillies start the second month with a big weekend series at home against the Mets on Friday, and for two teams that have underperformed to this point, these divisional games are critical.  The heightened state of the Mets-Phillies rivalry means that the players don't need to be reminded of the importance of this early season matchup. 

This is the first meeting of the two teams since Cole Hamels called the Mets "choke artists" over the winter, and the Phillies have used late-season runs the last two years to pass the Mets for the division title. Hamels will not pitch in the series, but that shouldn't diminish any of the intensity. 

The Mets need to make up ground, and the Phillies have the perfect opportunity to put some space between themselves and arguably their most dangerous rival.  To handle the Mets and have a successful remainder to the season, the Phillies will need to accomplish some of the following. 


The Phillies Have To Pitch Better


Starters, relievers, no one is free of blame here.  It starts with Hamels and Brad Lidge getting healthy and returning to form.  Lidge is the larger concern, already with a blown save and a 7.27 ERA.  If Lidge can't fill the closer's role like he did last year, the Phillies would probably end up turning to Ryan Madson, but with him pitching the ninth, it raises the question of who would pitch the seventh and eighth.  J.C. Romero cannot get back from his suspension soon enough. 

Someone out of the group of Blanton, Myers, and Park is going to have to emerge as the No. 2 starter.  Jamie Moyer is 3-1, but with a 5.09 ERA, he's hardly been spectacular.  Moyer gives you all he has, but there will be games where he gets hit.  Myers is pitching the best out of the other starters but needs to avoid the long ball, big innings, and manage his pitch count a little better. 

Park has yet to show the form he displayed in Spring Training that won him the job, and Blanton has been the worst of the bunch at 0-2 with an 8.41 ERA.  The Phillies have a dangerous offense but not enough firepower to overcome these bloated pitching numbers. 


Speaking of the Offense

It's the same old story.  The Phillies need consistency.  Capable of scoring double-digit runs on any night, the Phillies also go stretches of games where it looks like they'll be lucky to ever score again.  Strikeouts still plague the starting eight, and the slow start of Jimmy Rollins leaves the team without its catalyst. 

Rollins will likely rebound, Ryan Howard will have one of his big months, and in the best case scenario for Phillies fans the team's stars will take turns carrying the offense.  The task in April fell to Chase Utley and Raul Ibanez.  Utley's play, considering he was coming off serious surgery, was nothing short of remarkable.  Ibanez was the team's most consistent and dangerous offensive weapon, and the team MVP for the opening month. 

Utley has it in him to hit .340, but Ibanez will eventually cool off, and when he does the Phillies will need someone to pick up the slack.  Jayson Werth also still needs to prove himself as an everyday player.  One hot stretch is all that kept Werth from having a dreadful opening month.  If the Phillies have to start exploring platoon options in right, they become a much weaker team.


If the pitching just gets marginally better, the Phillies should be in position at least to contend for their third straight division crown.  It appears that, aside from the Nationals, this division is going to beat itself up pretty well.  This means it would be a surprise if any team streaked out to any kind of significant lead.  It also means that every game counts, especially home divisional games like the Phillies have this weekend. 

Chan Ho Park (0-0, 7.16) faces Mike Pelfrey (2-0, 6.32) at 7:05 Friday night in the opener.

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Raul Ibanez: Writing His Own Legacy in Philadelphia

April 30, 2009 by Tom  
Filed under Fan News

When the Phillies made it official that Pat Burrell would not return to Philadelphia, there was a huge void to fill in left field—both in the clubhouse and the stands as well.

Enter Raul Ibanez.

The Phillies signed Ibanez to a three-year deal this past winter to replace a fan-favorite—who by the way, the Phillies had plenty of chances to resign.

Not only did Ibanez have to replace Burrell, but he needed to replace his numbers as well.

With Burrell out of the lineup, the Phils lost a 30 home run, 100 RBI-guy and the only big threat in the lineup that was a natural right-handed at-bat.  With Ibanez, the Phillies were getting a 20-25 home run, 100-RBI guy from the left side of the plate.

The fans were confused, angered and, frankly, not surprised with the move.  Why did the Phillies add another lefty in a left-handed dominant lineup?  Why did they let Pat get away?  What are they thinking?

Ibanez was advertised as the same bat with a better average, better fielder and three years older.

When you looked at his numbers over his career, you saw that he got better as he got older.  In the first four full seasons in the majors, Ibanez wasn't anything special.

In his fifth full season, he drove in 100 runs for the first time when he was a Kansas City Royal.  Over the next five seasons, Ibanez drove in on average 115 runs per year.  While averaging 26 homers, with his career high being 33 hit in 2006.

So when you looked at the numbers, you knew the Phillies were getting a pretty good player.

Except one thing was missing.  He wasn't Pat Burrell.

As every fan does, it easy to compare the two guys at similar positions.  From first sight, you see Burrell produced more runs and homers on average.  In eight seasons with the Phillies, Burrell averaged 31 home runs—his career high is 37 hit in 2002—and 103 RBIs.

The biggest difference between the two:  batting average.

Ibanez had a significantly higher average that Burrell.

So that was a positive in Ibanez's favor.

Burrell's low average and high strikeout numbers always were the negatives to his play, and of course, his fielding.  However his high strikeouts and low average weren't stressed as much as Ryan Howard's numbers are now.

The fans always gave Burrell the benefit of the doubt because he always came up with a big hit when he needed it and his constant Met-killing.  Burrell is second behind Chipper Jones for most career home runs against the Mets.

However, ask any Phillies fan, and they won't lie. They never expected what Ibanez has done in the first 20 games with the Phillies.

Ibanez has made the city of Brotherly Love forget about Pat Burrell—the guy who received the biggest ovation at the ring ceremony—and has started writing his own legacy in Philadelphia.

Through 20 games this year, Ibanez has seven home runs, 17 RBIs, 20 runs, 11 walks, 3 stolen bases and leads the team with a .359 batting average.

He assisted in the Phillies epic comeback victory against the Atlanta Braves, had a walk-off solo home run against the San Diego Padres and the moment of the season thus far, Ibanez had the go-ahead grand slam against the Washington Nationals.

In 20 games, he already has some home runs and hits that Phillies fans will look back at when the season is over and say, "Remember that Ibanez homer?"

Not only has he filled the void with his bat, but he has done more than a swell job in left field as well.  He has proven the city wrong about the perception that he isn't a good defensive player.

He has made some great grabs in the field, thrown out a runner or two at home and has given manager Charlie Manuel the chance to keep him in the game after the seventh inning.

If you want to compare through 20 games how Ibanez and Burrell have done, then you'll find out that Ibanez has been white-hot, while Burrell is off to another slow start.

Let's take a look at Burrell's stats through 20 games with the Rays:

1 HR, 9 RBI, 15 SO, 14 BB, .268 AVG.

The numbers say that Ibanez has been the better signing, but it’s too early to really compare the two players.  At the end of the season and where the two teams are, that's when we'll know who got the better deal.

I can't remember the last Phillie to win over the city in such a short period of time than Ibanez.

Certainly, “Raauuullll” has been a big difference maker for the Phillies in the first 20 games of the season.

The only question can he hit like this for the rest of the season?

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Analyzing the Philadelphia Sports Scene, Part 1: The Media

April 30, 2009 by christian karcole  
Filed under Fan News

Sadly, the voice of Philadelphia sports passed away just a few weeks ago.

Yet, the deep, movie-like voice of Harry Kalas was not the only polarizing voice in Philadelphia.

While Harry-the-K was the most famous of the Philadelphia media, the city is kept alive with a lively local radio station, and a few talented television broadcasters.

The main piece of the puzzle to the City of Brother Love's sports media is held in place by a local sports network, Comcast SportsNet (CSN).

CSN is where we will begin our tour of the best and worst sports media personalities in Philadelphia. So if you are ever passing through this great city (you may not think so), this may help you decide what to turn on and whom to listen to.

If you already live in the area, well then maybe you'll be interested in seeing my opinion on the men and women who bring to you our sports news.

So without further adieu, please take your seats, identify your closest emergency exit, and enjoy.

 

Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia (CSN) - Philadelphia-based sports television network

Comcast SportsNet was founded in Philadelphia in 1997. Ever since, the network has been a staple in Philadelphia sports.

In its 11 and a half years of existence, CSN has come to branch out to 10 locations around the United States. In the Philadelphia area, CSN mainly televises Philadelphia Flyers, Phillies, and 76ers games.

In the mornings, at noon on weekdays, at 6:30 PM every night, and at 10 PM every night, CSN Philly airs a sports newscast, similar to ESPN's SportsCenter.

Over the years, CSN Philly has employed 18 anchors, nine of which are still on the network and are actively anchoring.

Just two of the six original anchors for the network are not currently with CSN.

Most anchors also do on-location reports, such as post-game interviews and pre-game coverage. Some go as far as to travel with the Eagles to away games.

As briefly stated above, CSN Philly televises Flyers, Phillies, and Sixers games. Yet, they also show special programs such as: Eagles Pre-and-Post-Game Live, Monday Night Live, Daily News Live, Inside the Eagles, Eagles Locker Room, Phillies Clubhouse, Phillies Post-Game Live, Flyers Post-Game Live, Sixers Post-Game Live, and special pre-and-post-game specials for the Phillies, Flyers, and Sixers during their respective postseasons.

Other various programs include Inside Golf, Golf Shots, Fantasy Fix, Pro Football Now, 'net IMPACT, and occasional horse racing specials on weekends.

The most famous of the CSN Philly team is popularly thought to be Michael Barkann. Barkann is a lively and enthusiastic character to watch during his television specials.

Although Barkann does not appear on the networks' sports newscasts, he hosts popular shows such as Daily News Live, Eagles Pre-and-Post-Game Live, and some Flyers Post-Game Live specials, as well as occasional Phillies and Sixers Pre-and-Post-Game Live specials.

Barkann is never afraid to get emotional (just look at his job as host of the Harry Kalas special when he teared up during the introduction), nor is he too shy of getting personal. Overall, many consider Barkann as one of the most talented members of the Philadelphia sports media.

Personally, I think of Barkann as the most truthful and "real" member of the CSN team.

Other popular CSN Philly anchors include Ron Burke, Derrick Gunn, Leslie Gudel, Neil Hartman, and Dei Lynam. New anchors to the team include Amy Fadool, Marshall Harris, and John Boruk.

Overall, Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia provides a more unbiased view at Philadelphia sports, as well as national sports. While the main focus is on Philadelphia, as it should be for a local station, the network also gives all scores from all professional sports. Something the, eh-em, national four-letter network does not do.

As we move on, we turn our attention to the local sports radio station, 610 WIP.

Sports Radio 610 WIP - Philadelphia Sports Radio Station

Coincidentally, 610 WIP was created during the same year of Jamie Moyer's birth. This was also the year of ending to the Ice Age.

If you guessed correctly, neither of those statements were correct. Yet, WIP really is one of the older radio stations in the tri-state area.

610 WIP's first show was aired in 1922, yet did not convert to a part-time sports station until 1986 before completing their transition a few years after. You see, Moyer was older than the sports version of WIP, yet this was nowhere near the end of the ice age...

Anyway, ignore my painful attempts at humor. Turns out "Jokes for Dummies" doesn't work. (See, there's another one.)

Back to WIP...

In 1986, Howard Eskin was the original broadcaster for a sports talk radio show from 5PM-6PM. Eskin is still with the station today, yet is considered the most controversial on the team.

Eskin is criticized by many for his apparent hot-headed attitude and his rudeness to callers who disagree with his opinion.

He can be a pleasant, knowledgeable radio show host, and he does provide entertainment to his listeners with his occasional outbursts. Yet, most of the time people find him unreasonable.

Personally, when seeing him at professional sports games, I cannot stand the guy. It becomes obvious to those around him that he wants the attention on him.

Also, it is partly because of him that I no longer listen to the talk shows on WIP.

So even with Eskin being the only member of the WIP team to still hold a talk show, he is not the most pleasant guy to listen to.

The other most notable WIP host is Angelo Cataldi.

Cataldi is known for his humor and connection with the fans. While he can provide outbursts of his own just as Eskin will, Cataldi tends to be more humorous and sarcastic in his rants.

His partner in crime, Al Morganti, is a big piece to that humor. The two make a great pair for entertainment. Other notable hosts such as Keith Jones, Chris Therien, Mitch Williams, and Hugh Douglas make appearances on Cataldi's morning show.

Cataldi has been involved with numerous conflicts, including a long-standing riff with Howard Eskin, and a moment when Cataldi challenged Phillies manager Charlie Manuel to a fistfight and signed legal papers to do so (Manuel, of course, never responded).

Yet, these are all what makes Cataldi such a lovable loser. He is quite frightening at times, to the point where I wouldn't want to be alone with the man for more than five minutes. But from afar while listening on the radio, it's a treat to listen to him.

Other notable WIP hosts include Ray Didinger, Hugh Douglas, Mitch Williams, Keith Jones, Chris Therien, Brian Startare, Glen Macnow, Joe Conklin, Ike Reese, and Anthony Gargano.

The station airs Flyers and Sixers games throughout their seasons, while two other stations air Eagles and Phillies games.

Tim Saunders and Chris Therien present Flyers games, while Tom McGinnis and Todd MacCulloch present 76ers games. Both teams are enjoyable, yet I find Saunders and Therien to be more entertaining.

Overall, 610 WIP is a decent station to listen to. The hosts are not the most experienced, and can become annoying at times. Yet, there are enough hosts that will keep your interest with knowledgeable opinions.

Philadelphia Inquirer and The Philadelphia Daily News - Local newspapers providing largest sports sections in area

Who needs newspapers nowadays when we have Bleacher Report?

Yes, even with Bleacher Report, the journalists who are paid to do their job need to be recognized.

Philadelphia is blessed with one of the most talented groups of journalists.

Countless writers consistently publish solid material into the city's main newspapers. Many of these writers are distinguished and experienced, providing Philadelphia's sports fans with quality writing and material.

Among the many notable journalists, Bill Conlin, Les Bowen, Phil Anastasia, Paul Domowitch, Sam Donnellon, Bob Ford, Paul Hagen, Stan Hochman, Rich Hoffman, Dick Jerardi, Rick O'Brien, Jim Salisbury, and Phil Sheridan stand out.

Most of these various writers contribute to multiple sports day in and day out.

While there are a few included in this bunch that bring race into the picture on too many occasions or look at themselves as superior to the rest, the work generated is still consistently solid.

Finally, we end this article with each of the individual broadcast teams for the four major sports franchises in Philadelphia.

We begin with the Philadelphia Flyers and their broadcast team.

Jim Jackson, Steve Coates, Keith Jones - Philadelphia Flyers' broadcast team

Jim Jackson has emerged into one of the finest broadcasters in hockey. I don't know if it's just me, but Jim Jackson has the touch. There is just something about that energetic voice.

He follows the game so well, it's hard to miss anything.

But what makes Jim Jackson that much more talented of a broadcaster is his ability to call the big moment.

There is this great call from the 2008 NHL playoffs:

"Briere the shot, bounces back, Timonen, shot, save, rebound, THEY SCORE! They score! Joffrey Lupul tucks it home, and the Flyers win game seven in overtime and head to round number two!" You can here that call here.

There is also this call from the 2004 NHL playoffs:

"And here's Roenick the other way, two-on-one with Amonte, Roenick with the puck...Roenick the shot, HE SCORES! He scores! Jeremy Roenick sends the Flyers to the Eastern Conference Finals! Sudden death magic for J.R.! And the Flyers move on!" You can here that here.

I know I'm not the only one who likes this guy. He may not be the next Gene Hart, but he could be pretty close.

Jackson's partner, Keith Jones, is improving as a color commentator, while the team's ice correspondent, Steve Coates is a lively character commonly known to liven up any dull game.

Next is the Philadelphia Eagles' broadcast team.

Merrill Reese, Mike Quick - Philadelphia Eagles' broadcast team

It was 1977 when Merrill Reese began calling Eagles games. For these past 32 years, he has done a tremendous job.

His deep, charismatic voice faintly resembles that of Harry Kalas'. Reese's impact on Philadelphia has not been anywhere near Kalas', because most fans watch the Eagles on television, while Reese is forced to do radio since FOX, CBS, NBC, and ESPN carry most NFL games.

Reese's ability to call a game in its entirety is one of the best in the league. This is mostly because of his knowledge of the game. When listening to Reese, it is apparent that he knows what is going on. He can take a situation earlier in a game and apply it to a current situation better than most out there.

He is commonly known for his ability to call a long-play and field goal kicks. His "He's at the 30, the 25, the 15, the 10, the five, TOUCHDOWN!" phrase flows with perfect rhythm, while his high-pitched "Goooooooood!" after made field goals is one-of-a-kind.

His partner, Mike Quick, compliments Reese well. Although he may not be the most talented commentator, Quick knows the game very well and adds in quite a few witty comments every game.

The Phillies' commentators are up next, yet not lead by the most influential man in Philadelphia broadcasting history.

Tom McCarthy, Chris Wheeler, Gary Matthews - Philadelphia Phillies' broadcast team

Without Harry Kalas, this team of commentators is lost.

Personally, Chris Wheeler is my favorite of the bunch. Gary Mathews can be pleasant at times, as well with Tom McCarthy, but both get somewhat annoying.

McCarthy's fanhood lies somewhere between the Phillies and the Mets, something that obviously interferes with his job with the Phillies.

For example, he often announces home runs for the opposing team almost like the Phillies knocked it out. Also, a few nights ago, he labeled a home run that was hit near Ashburn Alley as "Mike Piazza territory".

Are you serious? Mike Piazza territory? In Philadelphia, of all places? Where does your heart lie, Mr. McCarthy?

Before Kalas passed, McCarthy was not a main commentator, as he was a Peter Gammons-type of reporter. Yet, ever since he was promoted into the booth, his stock is falling for me.

Overall, this trio of announcers doesn't need a complete face lift, but could use some help.

Finally, we end with the Philadelphia 76ers.

Marc Zumoff, Bob Salmi - Philadelphia 76ers' broadcast team

I cannot recall one game this entire season in which I watched more than two minutes of a Sixers game.

Oh wait, there was that one time...wait, no, that was a nightmare a few weeks back.

Anyway, even with only watching two or three Sixers minutes of the entire season, I have heard Marc Zumoff to know that he is a very good broadcaster. His style fits well with the team, I believe.

He does over exaggerate many times throughout his games, though. Just take his "and the fans at the Wachovia Center rise to their feet!" when there is only 27 fans in the building. But hey, the extra enthusiasm is needed for a team that can't even sell out a playoff game.

Salmi provides a more calm side to the broadcast. Salmi is a very knowledgeable fan, so he fits well.

Watching the Sixers can be compared to trying to watch water boil. The water won't boil, and the Sixers won't win. But at least their broadcast team is a decent one.

With that, I salute to you, the reader. I don't know why, but I do.

This may help you sometime down the road, it may not. Either way, I was inspired by Rory Brown's request for sports personality articles, and although this was longer and a bit tweaked from his requests, I wanted to cover all of Philadelphia.

Plus, as you read in the headline (unless you are incapable of reading, in which case you would not be reading this sentence, so no worries...), this will become a series. The next segment should come over the weekend. The topic is a secret until then.

I enjoy writing this and I hope you enjoyed reading it. Be sure to look out for part two.

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Phillies-Mets: Let the Fireworks Begin

April 30, 2009 by tortured phanatic  
Filed under Fan News

I can feel the excitement already.  This weekend the New York Mets come to town to renew what has become a heated rivalry in the past few years with the Philadelphia Phillies.  The rivalry may not have the storied past of the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry yet, but in recent years you can find fans just as passionate about it. 

It really got started a few years ago with Jimmy Rollins calling the Phillies “the team to beat.”  Last season he predicted the Phillies would win 100 games (including the postseason, they won 103).  This offseason, Cole Hamels was caught on radio referring to the Mets as “choke artists."  I’m sure his comment will be brought up over and over again this year each time the two teams square off.

We all know the story of the past two years.  It is an enjoyable little tale about a team choking away what seemed to be insurmountable leads the past two Septembers.

This offseason, the Mets went about rebuilding their bullpen.  They added J.J. Putz as their setup man and signed K-Rod to be the new closer.

After remaking their bullpen, the Mets became the trendy pick in preseason to win the NL East.  Many “experts” have even picked the Mets to win the World Series.

Although neither team is currently in first place, most expect both teams to be battling it out for the division title at the end of the year.  Both teams has had their share of struggles throughout the early going.

Philly starters haven’t been at their best.  Cole Hamels has been hurt three different times already this season.  Brad Lidge blew a save.  The offense struggled at the beginning of the year, but has since been more consistent.

The Mets' bats have struggled.  They have blown a few games because of shoddy defense. Starters not named Johan Santana have a 6.64 ERA so far this year.

The weekend series will not feature the staff aces. 

Friday night is Pelfrey versus Park. 

Saturday will be Jamie Moyer taking the mound for the Phillies against Oliver Perez, who with his 9.31 ERA, may be on his final chance with the Major League squad. 

Hopefully Philly fans will come loud and proud on Saturday.  The series wraps up on Sunday with John Maine facing off against Joe Blanton.

Between the two, at this point in the season, the Phillies are looking more like a champion.  They have had nine come-from-behind victories already this year, showing their grit once again.  Last weekend, the Phillies went into Florida and swept the first-place Marlins with two comeback wins and a Sunday thumping.

I will be glued to the action all weekend.  Hopefully the Phillies make a statement for the second weekend in a row and remind the Mets who the defending World Series Champions are.  One thing is for sure: the Phillies and Mets rarely leave viewers disappointed.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Philadelphia Phillies Players Most Hated by New York Mets’ Fans

April 30, 2009 by Michael Ganci  
Filed under Fan News

Right now, I am sitting in the Editing Suite for my college, and my group members and I are working on a documentary on farming.

Even on an off day, and while working on something that has nothing to do with it, I am still thinking about the Mets—and with a big weekend series with the Phillies coming up, all of the rage of the past couple of seasons has risen from the depths of me.

So I got myself thinking: Who do Mets fans dislike the most when it comes to the Philly Players?

I am going to list the top five, in descending order, and I will give the reasons for why I think so. Enjoy!

 

5. Jayson Werth

Werth has been one of those new found Mets’ killers that has seemingly came out of nowhere. He has a couple of big homers against the Mets, including one that was a major killer against Billy Wagner, whose Mets career is essentially over.

The reason Mets’ fans can’t stand Werth is kind of ironic. He isn’t great, but he knows how to hit against the Mets in the clutch. In fact, in just 108 career at-bats against the Mets, he is hitting .315 with five homers and 14 RBI. It just irritates Mets’ fans to know that he has beaten them.

 

4. Cole Hamels

Hamels has been excellent since his inception into the league. Although Hamels is only 1-3 in six career starts against the Mets, he has been front and center when it comes to the media.

Hamels had a pretty controversial interview on the radio during the preseason, where he essentially said that the Phillies are better than the Mets. But in his defense, he was definitely baited into giving the answer that the reporter was looking for, which was bad journalism.

This is one of those cases, at least for me, that I think we hate based on respect. Chipper Jones would be another guy who would fall into that category. This guy is probably going to haunt the Mets for years to come.

 

3. Chase Utley

When healthy, Utley may be the best-hitting second basemen in all of baseball. Utley has 82 career hits against the Mets, 37 of which have been for extra bases. Although his average against the Mets is only .266, he seems to perform the best when the pressure is at a high point.

This hatred from Mets’ fans may be based on jealousy, because Chase Utley may be what their lineup is missing to be excellent once and for all.

 

2. Jimmy Rollins

Rollins may be the leader on the Phillies in being the Mets’ killer of the present. He has hit 21 homers against the Orange and Blue in his career, and he has infuriated people in New York even more with his comments in preseason.

He also likes to mock the Mets, and that just fuels the fire even more. Rollins even said that the

Phillies were going to win the NL East, and we need to give him credit. He not only was a man of his word, but he won an MVP to boot. Rollins is getting up there in years, and he will still be front and center as long as he can still play.

 

1. Shane Victorino

There are not many people that I personally dislike in professional sports more than Shane Victorino.

People in Philadelphia consider Victorino to be their version of Jose Reyes, which angers Mets fans to the fullest extent.  Victorino is not as good as Reyes. He steals fewer bases and he doesn’t get on base as much.

His 11 career stolen bases against the Mets are the second-highest against any one team in his career. He is one of those guys who loves to mock the Mets, and he likes to mock Jose Reyes as well. A lot of Mets’ fans’ can’t even stand the thought of Shane Victorino.

 

Your thoughts?

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Mets Get Ready to Visit House of Horrors: Mets-Phillies Series Preview

April 30, 2009 by Doug Gausepohl  
Filed under Fan News

The Mets—erm, the 9-12, 4th place New York Mets—have been shaky to say the least so far this season. 

But May is a new month, and if there was a time for the Mets to get pumped, it's this weekend, as they visit Philadelphia for the first time in 2009 to play the Phillies—erm, the 2008 World Series Champion, Philadelphia Phillies ( if there needed to be any more reason for the Mets to hate the Phillies, there it is).

To call Citizens Bank Park a "house of horrors" for the Mets may be a bit of an overstatement, as they did go 6-3 there in 2008. But if you want to look back on a season full of disappointment, that game on August 26th when the Mets had a 7-0 lead get away on a day they could have moved into first place and stomped the confidence of Philly would be at the top of any Mets fan's list.

Breaking down every series starts with the starting pitching, and Friday we have:

Mike Pelfrey (2-0, 6.32 ERA) vs. Chan Ho Park (0-0, 7.16 ERA)

Outlook: Pelfrey had a good outing last time out against the Nationals, as he seems to have recovered from forearm tendinitis. Mr. Park pitched quite well his last outing, but has been pretty awful outside of that, going no more than five innings in his first two starts.

The Mets are also going to be desperate to win this game. I think we DESTROY Park, and Pelfrey goes six strong. 

Game 1: Mets win big.

 

Saturday: Oliver Perez (1-2, 9.31 ERA) vs. Jamie Moyer (3-1, 5.09 ERA)

Outlook: This is one of the biggest starts of Perez's career. If he does not pitch well Saturday, he could find himself in Buffalo Sunday morning. I'm rather confident, because Perez was money against the Phillies last year (ERA of 0.35 in 4 starts, 26 innings pitched). But Jamie Moyer always somehow keeps the Mets to a bare minimum of runs.

Look for this game to be a low scoring affair.

Game 2: Mets win, but barely.

Sunday: John Maine (1-2, 5.40 ERA) vs. Joe Blanton (0-2, 8.41 ERA)

Outlook: Maine pitched well Monday against the Marlins, allowing no earned runs through six innings. But the Phillies will be chomping at the bit against him, because they do NOT want to get swept at home by the Mets if my first two predictions are correct. They're going to work the count against him, because he has always been a high pitch count pitcher, and the Phillies are notoriously patient at the plate. Also expect Joe Blanton to have a good start, he's due.

Game 3: Phillies win by 3-4 runs. 

Players to Watch For:

Mets: David Wright  He's been having trouble seeing the ball lately, and is on pace for 208 strikeouts. Hopefully a few at bats against Chan Ho Park will get his bat going for good.

Phillies: Shane Victorino. He always spoils the Mets fun, especially on the basepaths and in the field.  Keep him off base, he's only half the pest he usually is. 

Outcome: Mets win 2 of 3

 

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

An Interview with Chad Durbin, Philadelphia Phillies RP

April 30, 2009 by Peter Schiller  
Filed under Fan News

A few months back, we welcomed 2008 World Series Champion relief pitcher from the Philadelphia Phillies, Chad Durbin to Baseball Reflections.com. We contacted Chad to talk about the World Series, his career and to discuss ShowcaseU.com which he co-founded.

Showcase U gives high school student athletes a way to showcase themselves so that they can increase their opportunity to be recruited by college coaches and pro scouts. To read more about ShowcaseU follow this link to their About Us page or just read what Chad has to say about it below (or you can do both).

Now, without further ado...the interview!

 

Peter @ Baseball Reflections: By the way, congratulations on your first major league hit this year! Can you tell us what it was like to accomplish that feat?

Chad Durbin: First Major League hit, man...that one was a long time coming!! I grew up dreaming of my first hit and not my first strikeout...so, it was great!

BR: This may be a dumb question, but which do you prefer starting or pitching in relief?

Chad: I prefer succeeding, to be honest. I had some success in Detroit starting, and in the previous year in AAA-Toledo starting. The bottom line, though, is the obvious jump into an important role in the bullpen. So, I’ll do what I’m asked to do…but I enjoy where I am and what I’m doing now, winning.

BR: Would you say that you have finally felt at home in the bullpen now after a year that saw you pitch in 71 games while keeping an ERA of 2.87 with a WHIP of 1.32?

Chad: I definitely agree with you, I’m comfortable in the bullpen knowing how important a bullpen is to accomplishing the ultimate goal—A World Championship.

BR: What would you say you’d attribute your new found success to? Was it working with Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee or bullpen coach Mick Billmeyer or something else altogether?

Chad: I would say the new found success was attributed to feeling like I’m playing an important role and my family was in a good situation having signed a contract before the 2008 season for $900,000. I had great pitching coaches throughout my career, so it’s not to take away from anything they did or didn’t do. Mick and Rich are fantastic and help out on every level they can and it’s very appreciated.

BR: Aside from Philadelphia (for obvious reasons), where did you like playing the most (KC, Cleveland, Arizona or Detroit)?

Chad: Cleveland and Detroit stick out most because of the personal relationships I had with some great guys. Kansas City will always be memorable because it’s where I broke into the Big Leagues.

BR: What adjustments did you have to make after having Tommy John surgery? Did it affect your velocity?

Chad: I made some mechanical adjustments after reconstructive elbow surgery in 2002. The obvious thing about having surgery is that you’ve done something mechanically to expose a weak point in your body.

I put a lot of time and effort into looking at the pitchers with longevity and a look of effortlessness. I try to incorporate those aspects of pitching into my own pitching motion today.

BR: What has been the best thing that has come from being a World Series Champ?

Chad: I might not be ready for this question. I think the sense of accomplishment, permanent accomplishment, is amazing...knowing that the World Series Championship can never be taken away. I think I’ll be better equipped to answer this question as my career goes forward.

BR: Who are you most impressed with as a player in the way they handle the pressures with being a major league player both on and off the field?

Chad: The person that sticks out most to me, because of the demanding exposure and venue, is Derek Jeter. It just seems like he never has an off the field incident and anything he says in the media is said with integrity and conviction. And let’s not forget the caliber of baseball he brings to the park every game.

BR: How much longer do you think you will be able to pitch at the major league level?

Chad: I’ll work hard every season and off season to stay healthy and competitive. I can’t control the variable of time, it will not wait for anyone. So, I try to take notes as to what Jamie Moyer has done, or Kenny Rogers did, or anyone who has had that type of longevity.

If I can play one or two more years than I otherwise would have because of their experience, I’ll take it!

BR: Who had the original concept for ShowcaseU; Jake Chapman or yourself? When did you both start talking about this concept and how long was it before the concept became a reality and did the website come after the forming of the company or in conjunction with it?

Chad: Jake Chapman had the original conceptual idea for ShowcaseU.com. Jake mentioned his experience with the recruiting process to me while we were playing minor league baseball together in the Kansas City organization and it was compelling.

When Jake retired in 2004, he started kicking the idea of an Internet database where college coaches could find players by criteria (such as velocity, GPA, SAT, Batting Average, 60 yard dash, etc.).

In 2005, he approached me again with the idea after he’d fine tuned some of the concept. From there, we took the idea to fruition over the next two years. Jake continued to work and I continued to play while we exchanged phone calls and emails to finish our Business Plan and Business Model.

The Web site was always in concept, but the actual beta launch was in late May 2008 and we took the beta tag off the website in August. So, we’re young!

BR: Has the concept of ShowcaseU changed since you first started it?

Chad: The concept of ShowcaseU.com is changing right now. The users, mentors, investors, friends, etc…they all give feedback and our community will drive the site, with our subtle guidance.

BR: How do you see ShowcaseU evolving in the next few years?

Chad: I see ShowcaseU.com evolving into a hub for students and student athletes to Showcase themselves to colleges through video, messaging, verified information, and eventually through live feeds where anyone in the ShowcaseU Community can sign in and experience a virtual “audition” or “tryout.” Every day we have new ideas.

BR: How do you think that the current economic downturn will affect ShowcaseU?

Chad: I’m not going to say that the company is “Recession Proof,” but the aspects of what we do help families find options for their sons and/or daughters to find athletic scholarships. College is expensive and the more options available, the better off a student is moving forward and making those tough decisions.

At $99/year, we are very affordable and provide many of the resources in the site for no cost. The site is free for college and high school coaches, as well as summer coaches, facility owners, instructors, and vendors. The cost per student athlete is in place for two reasons.

One being the unlimited video uploads, and the second is the verification of statistics and information.

BR: How well would you say that ShowcaseU is going so far?

Chad: I would say that ShowcaseU.com is gaining momentum every day. I’m also ambitious in my vision for the company and think we are about 5-10 percent of where we want to be in the next 12-24 months.

BR: Do you see yourself coaching, broadcasting or working with ShowcaseU after your playing career is over?

Chad: Good question! I see myself taking a hard look at the options available and making a decision involving my family as the lens through which I view those options.

Thanks Chad, I had a lot of fun on this one! I’m sure Phillies Phans are sure glad to be seeing No. 37, Chad Durbin back on the mound in 2009. Good luck with the Phillies this year, Chad.

showcaseu-chaddurbinAnd for all of you student athletes, college coaches and recruiters who read this blog, please check out ShowcaseU if you have NOT already done so!

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

For Phillies and Mets, the Time Is Now

April 30, 2009 by kevin mcguire  
Filed under Fan News

Over the course of the past two baseball seasons, the rivalry between the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Mets has reached a level it never had.
For the first time in the history of the two franchises, each team had a legitimate shot at winning the NL East division.

The Mets' story has been well documented. Big division leads in September vanished in a New York minute and the Phillies went on to the playoffs. While the Mets were sitting at home, the Phillies were developing into a World Series champion.

So the Mets went out and rebuilt their bullpen and entered the 2009 season as a popular pick in the media to come through finally and win the division, overcoming the faults of the past couple of seasons.
This weekend, the Mets and Phillies play for the first time this season.

While neither team is in first place at the moment, you just get the feeling that they will both be in the mix in September. Each team has problem areas, but the Phillies seem to be coming into this series on the upside at the moment.

This weekend will feature neither team's big name pitcher (Cole Hamels for the Phillies and Johann Santana for the Mets) and on paper, it looks like it could be a high-octane weekend for the offenses.
For the Mets, they need to win this series to build some momentum in their clubhouse. For the Phillies, they need to win this series to prove themselves to be the class of the division once again.

I know it is not necessary given the crowds at these games anyway, but Phillies fans I am calling on you to do your part and make some noise this weekend.
As mentioned the other day, Mets manager Jerry Manuel is using pitcher Oliver Perez in what seems to be his final opportunity to prove himself worthy of a starting job on Saturday.
This is where the fans can really be a difference maker. Make this guy nervous! Make him wonder if he is worthy! Make him wish he was in the dugout! Be loud and be proud.

We all know the Mets fans will be abundant and boisterous, and hopefully the Phillies do their part to silence them. You also have probably seen a commercial running in New York about this series...



The Phillies made a statement in last weekend's series against the Marlins, but this is the series baseball experts have been waiting for. The time to make a statement is now.

Let's go Phillies.
Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Recap: Philadelphia Phillies Lose Series Finale to Washington Nationals 4-1

April 30, 2009 by kevin mcguire  
Filed under Fan News

When Shane Victorino hit a first inning home run to jump on top of the Washington Nationals it would be a lie to say I didn't say "Alright, here we go again."

Like many Phillies fans I was expecting the Phillies' offense to continue their recent hot streak and jump all over Scott Olsen early on en route to a solid victory and series sweep.

Olsen had other things in mind. The left handed pitcher went 5.2 innings (although I think he was pulled a little early) and scattered six hits and only allowed Victorino's home run for the Phillies' lone run of the night. Olsen struck out six batters and the Nationals bullpen finally held on to a late inning lead, winning 4-1.

Brett Myers got the start for the Phillies and was pegged with the loss, although he pitched ok. He got into a bases loaded jam in the third inning and actually walked in a run at the time, but he escaped with no more damage done.

Myers gave up two runs in the sixth inning though after giving up some base hits in the inning. Myers' line shows three earned runs on eight hits and three strike outs and three walks.

The Phillies had some opportunities to score more runs tonight but failed to capitalize with runners in scoring position. Chase Utley went hit less and the bottom of the lineup (Pedro Feliz, Chris Coste and pinch hitters/Myers) failed to reach base except for one walk by Coste.

Jimmy Rollins had a two hit game which nudged his season batting average above .200 (.207).

The Phillies have an off day today before starting a weekend series with the New York Mets. The Phillies fall to a game and a half behind the Florida Marlins with the Marlins winning yesterday in New York.

This was originally published on Macho Row, a dedicated Phillies website.

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Phillies vs. Nationals Phinale: Brett Myers Needs His Mojo

April 30, 2009 by Flattish Poe  
Filed under Fan News

It was a cold night.  As much as Phils fans are fair weather friends, Phils hitters are definitely warm weather bats.  I know how they feel.  I spend November through April in my thermals.  I say I’m just cold-blooded but my husband has another word for it.

 

“Frigid.”

 

I whine, “Honey, that’s harsh.”

 

“The truth hurts,” he replies.

 

To solve my problem (or rather his), my better half bought a mattress heater.  Even though that has enticed me on occasion to strip from my layers…well, you don’t need all the details.  I’m certain the thought of us snug as bugs in a rug won’t do anything to enhance the Phils’ slugging percentage, so I’ll move on.  My point is, it was cold.

 

It was a slow night too.  I don’t know about you, but I’m still hung-over from that Monday night thriller.  The most excitement I felt in game three was in the fourth.  I thought for sure the Howard-Werth-Ibanez bases-loaded situation would conjure insecurity in their starter, but it turns out he was shaken, not stirred. 

But I was definitely nervous when Brett Myers struggled, and our bullpen didn’t stir.  Again, I reached for the antacids.  Fortunately, Brett soon figured out that walks waste pitches.  I know Brett lost twenty-five pounds in the off-season but I think the problem is his package shrunk.  He’s got to get his mojo back. 

 

The game was so slow even two bases-loaded situations didn’t interest my son.  In the crowd, he reported spying two guys with funny moustaches, one man from That '70s Show, someone wearing sunglasses at night who he deduced must be blind, a teenage boy who pulled up his shirt to flash the camera, a girl eating boogers, and Santa.

 

“Santa?” I confirm.

 

“Yup.”

 

“Ask him for a grand slam.”

 

“Mom,” he says, rolling his eyes, “it’s not Christmas.”

 

He was right.  Olsen closed out the inning.

 

My favorite thing about being a Phillies fan is hearing people tell me why we’ll lose when we’re winning:

 

You can’t win without pitching.

You can’t win on home runs alone.

You can’t leave so many guys on base.

And you can’t win ‘em all when you’re coming from behind.

 

Can I get, “Duh?”  Any sensible person knows we can’t win by doing all of them, but we sure end up winning a bunch one way or another. 

 

You’d think the Nats couldn’t win either if you select the right stats: they have the lowest bullpen ERA in the league, a staggering total of 21 errors, and struggled with plays at first last night, but they managed a W anyway.  Sometimes the best dish comes from the simplest recipe and they had it – just hit ‘em where they ain’t. 

 

So, enough of that.  Let’s look at the highlights—from a babe’s take:

 

Chase, “we’re gonna change his name to ‘Manly’,” dove back to the bag and after infield hits with the vigor of a little-leaguer.  I hope he didn’t harm his sweet little hips. 

Jayson “Werth-y of my admiration” slid after an outfield fly and into second just to turn me on—and it worked.  Ryan ran the bases like he was Jimmy Rollins and Jimmy fielded just like the new Ryan Howard, but when J Ro struck out, the frustration on his face said he just needed a hug.  I can take care of that.

 

I’m sorry, was I thinking out loud?

 

Allow me to continue.  Raul proved why 500 more Phils jerseys were sold with ‘Ibanez’ stitched above the number 29, but alas, Matt “the Greek God of pinch hitters” Stairs walked to the plate with his thunder-bat and was denied. If I could just hold his hand I know everything would be okay. 

Shane’s lucky he’s fast because if I ever catch up with him… And I missed the first inning.  Did I see a pickle in there somewhere?  You can press me between two Phillies any day.

 

Now I’m warmed up.  Fan me off and feed me grapes. 

 

Rest up.  Friday we host the Mets.  You’ll need your energy.

 

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

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