Philadelphia Phillies: Where There’s A Will There’s A Way

August 31, 2010 by Micah Pollens-Dempsey  
Filed under Fan News

Baseball is like a placebo effect.  When the fans believe in the players and think they can win, the players believe in themselves and think they can win.  And that is how they win.

And we have to face it.  Many fans have given up on the Phillies.  It's just the truth.  But there are reasons why we shouldn't give up on them.  And I'm going to tell you about them.

First of all, if the season ended today, the Phillies would make it to the playoffs.  No, they wouldn't win the division, but they would still win the Wild Card, and that's good enough for any team.  I mean, just think about it.  Teams like the Pirates would be overjoyed if they won the Wild Card.  But for some reason, some people think "not the Phillies, they're too good for the Wild Card." 

Well I have something to say to those people.  No, they are NOT.  To get the Wild Card would be great.

And the other argument against getting the Wild Card is that they would probably be the worst playoff team, and they wouldn't get home field, blah blah blah.  I mean, no offense to the people who think that, but seriously. 

The Wild Card team can win a World Series.  It's happened before. 

In 2004, when the Red Sox played in one of the most remembered World Series, when they broke the famous curse of the Bambino after years and years of defeat, did they win their division?  No.  They were the American League Wild Card team.

Second of all, these are the Phillies.  They have been down before, and they have won.  Although they don't have to win the division, there's a good chance they will.  On September 3, 2008, they were behind the New York Mets by three games, just how they are now behind the Braves, and they ended up winning the division and the World Series.

The year before that, they tied the record for the largest comeback in September.  And the key to all of that: the players and the fans did not give up hope. 

In 2007, when the Phillies were down by seven games with seventeen games to go, they did not give up hope.  In 2008, the Phillies did not give up hope.  Earlier in 2010, the Phillies did not give up hope.  So why should they now, when they are closer to a playoff berth than in any of those situations?

For the last reason, I am going to state a concept that I have repeated throughout this article.  The Phillies are already there.  There are so many teams that actually have to make a big comeback to make the playoffs.  The Phillies are not one of those teams.  They are better off than the Mets, than the Marlins, than the Cubs, then the Astros, than lots of other teams, even than the Giants. 

They are first in the Wild Card.  They don't need a comeback.  All they need is to keep their lead, and they can make a fourth consecutive playoff berth. So what if they don't win the division.  The Wild Card is enough for me.  And it would be enough for most any team.  So why should the Phillies be different?

They can do this.  They've done it before, and they can do it again.  Where there's a will, there's a way.

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Kuroda Kills Phils, But Do You Know Your Hideki’s from Your Hiroki’s?

August 31, 2010 by Matt Goldberg  
Filed under Fan News

Sports Irreverence From The Other Tip of the Goldberg

 

Hiroki Kuroda (pictured) came very close to no-hitting the Phillies last night, besting Roy Halladay in a 3-0 Dodgers win. He pitched 7.2 innings of one-hit ball, losing his bid in the eighth on a clean single by Shane Victorino.

All this has me wondering whether you are having any trouble distinguishing your Hideki's from your Hiroki's? (To say nothing of your Hideo's and your Karaoke's.)

Don't worry: It's a common problem, and I'm here to help. I don't want you to make the same mistake I once did.

Yes, I once dated a Japanese woman who was a huge baseball fan.  She was angry at me and yelled that I "could not even tell my Hideki's from my Hiroki's." This was, I learned, the equivalent of not knowing whether to scratch my watch or wind my butt.

Stung by this affront to my masculinity--and my baseball savvy--I tore up an origami sculpture of hers that she had been working on for months.

Mieko (alias for protection) dumped me, and I haven't been able to even look at a bowl of sushi ever since.

Which brings us here, my friends. 

I have prepared a little quiz to see how well you know your Hiroki's, Hideki's and Hideo's--all of whom have pitched in the major leagues.  This will be good for your baseball soul, and may even improve your relationships.

Let this quick, fun quiz begin!

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Philadelphia Phillies Locked and Loaded: World Series Bound Again

August 30, 2010 by Vincent Heck  
Filed under Fan News

They say around 90 percent of the things we get anxious about, are things we never have to experience. The majority of what's left of that 10 percent, doesn't kill us.

So why are we so jumpy Philly?

The reason we panic, as Phillies fans, may have to do with a lot of things. Our nerves may be jumpy from previous trauma involved with our other teams.

Take the Philadelphia Eagles, for instance. Almost every year for the past decade, really, they've been an elite team. At times, they looked like a well oiled machine. Other times, well...not so much.

More times than we could bare, it was a crucial game, against a team that we're favored to win against. Then came the colossal breakdown.

McNabb couldn't hit the broad side of the barn, linemen couldn't hold the defence, everybody dropping the football, Andy Reid won't run the ball, and when he did, the exchange from quarterback to running-back is faulty, ending in a turnover.

It's making your skin crawl isn't it?

Then, like abused dogs who receive new owners, it seems we carry that same trauma across the street to our Phillies.

What we need to remember, Philadelphia, is that our Phillies are proven and tested.

We've had a team that has moved forward for nine consecutive seasons.

In 2001, the Phillies had a winning season for the first time in eight years.

The next year, 2002, the Phils had a losing year. After 2003, however, the Phillies followed a winning trend that has, since, never regressed.

After the 2004 season, the Phillies took on Charlie Manuel as the new manager in  the beautiful new venue of Citizen's Bank Park.

Each 162 game season after another, the Phillies continued to fight.

Remember in 2007, after J-Roll opened his mouth and declared us the team to beat and the Phils opened the season 4-11? I, for one, thought they would have a terrible year. Then they battled their way through the season and had a great second half of September, clinching their playoff spot in the last game of the season.

Then in anticipation of the following season, the Phil's opened up with a 1-0 loss to the lowly Nats. Followed by a June which involved a 5-11 stretch, that we panicked about also.

How about 2009? When Brad Lidge couldn't close the cap of a ketchup bottle, to save his life. Everybody doubted the Phillies with that struggling bullpen.

Well guess what folks—we're here again. Another season, another struggle, and more doubts.

The Phillies, this year, have been relatively consistent for the most part. They've had some injuries leading to hitting slumps, they've had some ups and downs as is to be expected in a season of 162 games.

Only difference now is different competition—totally different.

It's highly possible, there will be no Dodgers, no Manny, no Cardinals, no Cubs, Rockies, or Brewers.

The Braves look very solid, and they will prove to be tough, but remember the Cubs of '08 who were favored in the National League? They got swept off the planet.

Same with the St. Louis Cardinals of '09—nowhere to be found.

Not saying the Phillies can't be beat, I'm saying—calm down.

The Phillies have experience under their belt, they have confidence in their heart, but they are by no means any strangers to losing.

In 2007, they were "honored" with the privilege of being the first organization to 10,000 losses. And while that wasn't anything the current team could do anything about, just the mental aspect of losing the game, and having to answer the asinine, unproductive questions, that came with it. Not only did they lose, now they had a big number thrown on top of that.

That season ended by them being bludgeoned by the Colorado Rockies, as if they didn't belong at all.

2009, the World Champion Philadelphia Phillies fought adversity, and got everyone's attention with the Cliff Lee gem in game one of the World Series, only to eventually lose the series 4-2. 

This year, equipped with the amount of knowledge it takes to win and lose, we have a completely matured championship team.

It reminds me of a man in his fifties. He's just not so jumpy about life anymore. You can't shock him so much, you can't rattle him too violently, he stay's reasonably cool. He's seen the bad, he has failed at times, he has worried, and he has prevailed. In the end, he's still here.

These are our Phillies. If you're wondering why I'm so confident, look at who's in the running for the playoffs now.

Atlanta, San Diego, Cincinnati, and San Francisco. They're all excellent teams, worthy opponents, and they certainly do all have a chance of knocking off the Phillies, but look at the experience. None of them have nearly as successful a decade as the Philadelphia Phillies have had.

Wake up Philadelphia, it's ok to be realistic, but realize, realistically you have the, seasoned, powerhouse team now.

 

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Cliff Lee and Six Myths About the 2010 Philadelphia Phillies

August 30, 2010 by Asher B. Chancey  
Filed under Fan News

Man, Ruben Amaro blew it.

He had Cliff Lee in his possession, and threw him away for nothing so that he could acquire Roy Halladay.

And now? The Philadelphia Phillies are screwed. Sure, they picked up Roy Oswalt, but he's not Cliff Lee, and they had to give up J.A. Happ to get him.

Amaro could have had the best pitching staff in baseball, and he threw it all away.

He sucks.

Except...

It isn't true. It is a myth. It is a Phillies' myth, one that Phillies fans have latched onto, and one which they need to let go of.

Here is a look at six such myths.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

2011 Philadelphia Phillies Preview

August 30, 2010 by James Rohricht  
Filed under Fan News

Yes, I know it is way too early for a 2011 MLB season preview.

The Phillies are making a colossal playoff push and are looking to become the first National League team since the St. Louis Cardinals of the early 1940s to reach the World Series three consecutive years.

With this in mind, I still couldn't wait. So, here, sports fans, is your extremely premature Philadelphia Phillies preview for the 2011 season. 

The Starting Rotation

1. Roy Halladay - The ace. The foremost no-brainer in this Phillies rotation. Halladay is a viable candidate for the 2010 Cy Young Award, sporting a solid 16-9 record and a cozy 2.22 ERA through August 29. Luckily for the Phils, Halladay is inked through the 2013 season.

Bad news, however, as the Phils' faithful will have to watch pitching phenom Kyle Drabek grow into a star for the Torono Blue Jays and stand by as the New York Yankees try to sign Cliff Lee for a ridiculous contract this offseason. But hey, we got our ace, and that's a positive.  

2. Roy Oswalt - This season's key trade deadline pickup, the other Roy has been pretty darn good in the red pinstripes, throwing out a 3-1 record with a dominant 2.18 earned run average and a stable 0.97 WHIP.

3. Cole Hamels - Same old story for the golden lefty. Extremely poor run support and bad luck have sparked criticism and doubt over Hamels' performance. However, Hamels has possibly been the Phillies' most consistent starter over this season. Although his record is 8-10, he has a 3.31 ERA and has allowed two runs or less in four of his last five starts. This is one player that is drastically underrated and is a key reason for the success of the Broad Street Bombers.

4. Joe Blanton - Possibly the one error in Ruben Amaro's tenure as GM has been the contract extension for Blanton. Don't get me wrong, Blanton was an essential pickup for the magical run of 2008. However, $10.5 million per year is a lot for an end of the rotation guy, even if he has been mediocre recently.

5. Kyle Kendrick - Oh, how I wish to have typed Jaime Moyer's name into this rotation. Sorry, it just doesn't work. Kendrick is up for arbitration come 2011 and will almost definitely get it, meaning that Moyer's tenure in Philly has come to a close. We'll miss you, bud.

That's enough Moyer love. Kendrick has been the ideal fifth starter this year, flashing signs of his potential while staying somewhat consistent over the 2010 season. He should flourish next year in low-pressure situations as an above average number five starter.

Starting Lineup

First Base - Ryan Howard

The Big Piece. Howard is the key component to this potent offense. He provides power, stability, and swagger. And, lately, Howard has shown his angry side, going afternoon a third base umpire this past week. Next year should be classic Howard with colossal homers, clunky triples, and an innumerable amount of backward and frontward K's.

The scariest thought about Howard's future, is the fact that his contact is up after next season. Time to start the negotiations Amaro.

Second Base - Chase Utley

Utley, you are the man! Utley has been the picture of consistency and cool while manning second base for the Phillies. Signed through the 2013 season, Utley figures to keep producing for several years to come and provide stellar defense.

Shortstop - Jimmy Rollins

J-Roll has been the spark plug for many seasons for the Fightins, and that streak shouldn't stop anytime soon. Rolling is hitting just .248 this season, but he has fought through several injuries, playing in just 69 games. Rollins is inked through just the 2011 campaign, so hopefully this winter will see the extension of him so that it doesn't distract from his comeback campaign of 2011.

Third Base - Placido Polanco

Unsung heroes. Every team has it's fair share. Philadelphia's 2010 unsung hero is Polanco. He is the only Philadelpha starter who is batting over .300. In addition, third base has been the place where screaming grounders go to die at Citizens Bank Park.

Honestly, it will be an absolute travesty if Polanco does not win a Gold Glove Award for his work in 2010. Signed through 2013, Polanco should earn his spot in the hearts of Philly fans over the next few years.

Left Field - Raul Ibanez

At the 2010 All-Star break, analysts all over the Philadelphia sports scene were calling for Ibanez's head, declaring him done. Ibanez has absolutely proved them wrong. He has gone on a tear these past few weeks, raising his home batting average to .280 over this last homestand. 

Sure, you would guess that Ibanez's production will decrease rapidly in the coming season. However, I will not quit on my man and I think that he will recharge this offseason and build on his second half success.

Center Field - Shane Victorino

The Flyin' Hawaiian has been suprisingly below what we expected coming into this summer, batting just .251 with 15 dingers through August 29. We can only hope that Victorino comes back next season and produces like we know he can. He will only be 30 going into next season, so you have to think that he can have a solid rebound campaign in 2011.

Right Field - Domonic Brown

With each game that goes by, it seems more and more probable that the Phils and Jayson Werth are doomed to part this winter. It shouldn't be a huge problem, however, as Downtown Domonic Brown seems poised and ready to jump in and take over. Hitting just .224 this year, there seems to be vast room for improvement, which is a good sign for a player with so much natural talent. Move over Werth, this kid will be ready come 2011.

Catcher - Carlos Ruiz

Choooooooooch! Ruiz falls into that Polanco, unsung hero mold for the Phils. Ruiz has been Philadelphia's most clutch hitter in 2010. Chooch is signed through 2013, but I suspect that catching duties may fall into a platoon between Chooch and Brian Schneider or another player in the coming seasons, as Ruiz is bound to break down one of these days. 

The Pen

A scary concept: Brad Lidge is signed for another two seasons and will most likely fall right back into the closer's role in 2011. I know, it's frightening. However, there is hope and a promising future for the bullpen. J.C. Romero and Ryan Madson will each reprise their roles as consistent setup men next summer, as both are inked through 2011. Meanwhile, closer in waiting Drew Carpenter will hope to make a name for himself as a middle reliever. Things at the back end of the bullpen may seem bleak now, but there is plenty of reason for hope. 

My Predictions

Honestly, I think it should be another very solid year for the Philadelphia in 2011. The rotation and batting lineup both look incredibly impressive. Plus, with the Mets, Marlins, and Nats looking pretty mediocre going into the offseason, it will most likely be another two-team race between the Phils and Braves. With that said, Atlanta is clearly the young, up-and-coming squad of the NL East, and it should be a great, season-long bout.

 

 

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King Cole Hamels Snaps Winless Streak, Shuts Out San Diego Padres

August 29, 2010 by Matt Goldberg  
Filed under Fan News

Now, Cole Hamels can be considered the best 8-10 pitcher on the planet. 

After completing a masterful six-hit, no walk shutout on the road against his hometown Padres, the lanky lefty snapped his improbable eight-game winless streak to lead the Phillies to a 5-0 win.

Let the record show that the Phillies rode all of four hits—although two were homers by Mike Sweeney and Jayson Werth—to sweep the Padres, and keep pace with the Braves who staged a dramatic comeback against the Marlins.

Game accounts may also reflect that the Padres’ defense—and I use that term lightly—committed four errors in a performance that would have been booed in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

(In case you were wondering, Japan edged the youngsters from Waipahu Hawaii, 4-0 to take the Little League World Series.)

But, today’s game was all about Hamels, who notched his first win since July 11th. An examination of the box scores for those eight games shows that Hollywood could have, and should have, won five or six of those games.

If only…

One has to wonder if anyone else was singing the following baseball nursery rhyme to console young Cole during his personal ordeal:

Hollywood Cole was a tortured young soul
And a tortured young soul was he
He called for the ball, and he gave it his all
But the Phillies played crappily.
 

Ditties aside, during those infamous eight starts, Hamels went from 7-7 to 7-10, with five no-decisions, yet the Phils did win four of those games.

A look inside the numbers will reveal that:

  • Hamels pitched well enough to lower his season ERA from 3.78 to 3.47.
  • After today’s masterpiece, his ERA is a tidy 3.31.
  • In six of the eight starts, Cole pitched at least seven innings, and he yielded two or fewer runs five times.
  • The flashiest gem of the bunch was the July 22nd game in St. Louis, when Hollywood gave up no runs—on one hit—in eight innings. For good measure, he struck out seven and walked only one. The Phils decided to score their only two runs after Hamels left, winning 2-0.

For the eight games as a whole—and these are numbers worthy of an eight-game winning streak— Hamels pitched a total of 54 innings (almost seven innings per start).

  • The lefty gave up a total of 44 hits, leading to 17 earned runs, for a tiny ERA of 2.83.
  • Oh yeah, he struck out 63 batters and walked 11.
  • Any baseball fan will tell you that his k/bb ratio of 5.72 was ridiculously good.

 

Baseball has a way of evening things out over time, and Phillies fans must feel good about the future of their 2008 World Series hero, who has now overcome a forgotten 2009 campaign and this bizarro streak from Hades.

If the baseball gods were punishing Cole for his lack of maturity in the playoffs last year, one would hope that they will stop testing him.

Job had an easy life compared to the last seven weeks for Hamels (I know that Job’s salary was a little less, but work with me here).

And if the Phillies bats ever wake up and the big three of Halladay, Oswalt, and Hamels continue to resemble Maddux, Smoltz, and Glavine in their prime, can anyone blame Phillies Nation for dreaming about a third straight World Series appearance?

I can hear it now.

Cole and Doc and Roy Oswalt—no shock
Are as happy as they can be
The Fall Classic is back, and the Phils are on track
Thanks in large part to their Big Three.

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Stephen Strasburg Goes Down Again

August 29, 2010 by Adam Bernacchio  
Filed under Fan News

Update: The results of Strasburg’s MRI were not good. Strasburg was diagnosed with a tear in his ulner collateral ligament in his right elbow. Strasburg will most likely need Tommy John surgery and miss the 2011 season.

A couple of thoughts about this:

1. The Nationals are in no way, shape, or form to blame for this. They did everything they possibly could to protect Strasburg. Once again, this injury proves that pitching injuries have very little to do with pitch counts or innings pitched, but more to do with mechanics.

There is a reason why guys like Nolan Ryan, Greg Maddux, or Tom Glavine never got hurt.

2. Strasburg’s career isn’t over by any stretch of the imagination. Tommy John surgery is so common these days and the results of the procedure have been so successful, that a lot of the time a pitcher will come back from the surgery better than ever.

The pitcher Strasburg can relate to in his case should be Josh Johnson. Johnson had Tommy John surgery at the age of 23 and is now better than ever and a legit Cy Young candidate.

Strasburg will go see Dr. Louis Yokum for a second opinion this week.

Original Post

I sat down to watch the Washington Nationals – Philadelphia Phillies game early Saturday night and once again, I was impressed with what I saw out of phenom Stephen Strasburg for the first 4.1 innings.

Strasburg was rolling through the Phillies’ lineup, allowing just two hits and one run while striking out six. His fastball was touching the high-90′s and he was mixing in his curve and later his change to really dominate the Philly lineup.

Then the fifth inning happened.

One a 1-1 pitch to fellow rookie Domonic Brown, Strasburg threw a ball that tailed low and away to Brown, but Strasburg appeared to be hurt on the pitch. He kept flexing his arm and immediately the trainer came out to see what the issue was.

Strasburg left the game with what later was diagnosed as a strained tendon in his right forearm. Strasburg underwent an MRI on Sunday, but the results of that test are still not known.

I don’t know what the MRI will show, but if a trained tendon in his forearm is all that happened, then the Nationals are darn lucky. With Strasburg’s reaction, I thought he had blown out is elbow.

Regardless of what the MRI shows, Strasburg’s 2010 season should be over. The Nationals are going nowhere the rest of the season and there is no point in pushing Strasburg.

The Nationals have too much invested in Strasburg and they can’t be that desperate for a gate that they would threaten his career by sending him back out there.

For those who want to already want to compare him to Mark Prior — pump the breaks. Prior suffered injuries and had surgeries that prematurely ended his career. I am not going to come even close to putting Strasburg in the Prior category just yet.

As soon as the results of Strasburg’s MRI are announced, I will have an update on this post.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

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Shane Victorino, Pitching Lead Philadelphia Phillies Past the Padres

August 29, 2010 by bob cunningham  
Filed under Fan News

Charlie Manuel considered benching Shane Victorino before Saturday night's game against the San Diego Padres because of his recent struggles against right-handed batters.

But Manuel, loyal to a fault, decided to keep Victorino in the lineup and give him one more chance to get out of his funk.

Victorino backed up Manuel's decision by going two for four with two RBIs, a run scored, and an impressive throw from center field that quickly had Nick Hundley questioning his decision to round third and try for a run.

The Flyin' Hawaiian was having none of it and got Hundley by a mile. Brian Schneider applied the tag and that was that.

Victorino's performance, along with a fantastic outing by all four of the pitchers the Phils used Saturday night, gave the Phillies their second consecutive win over the NL West-leading Padres.

That's right. The team that couldn't squeeze out a single win against the Houston Astros has now won two games back-to-back against the Padres, arguably the best team in the NL this season.

But, that's the Phillies for you.

Joe Blanton scattered six hits over six innings, walked one and struck out three.

Blanton has suddenly found his groove and has looked great in back-to-back starts, and this time, with some backup from Victorino, he was able to turn it into a win and even himself out at 6-6 for the year.

Jose Contreras, Ryan Madson, and Brad Lidge each pitched one perfect inning to end the game.

They allowed no hits, no runs, and each struck out one guy. Lidge, coming off an embarrassing balk that resulted in his fifth blown save of the season, got his 18th save of the year by retiring the side in order.

Lidge, another guy Manuel has been 100 percent loyal to, also seems to be justifying the faith Manuel has in him. He just has to cut down on the silly mistakes that really get him into a pinch.

Cole Hamels takes the mound Sunday afternoon for the Phils, so without even seeing the game I can safely surmise that the Padres will win 2-1 after Hamels takes a no-hitter into the sixth and has it blown up by a solo home run.

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Welcome Back J-Roll: Phillies’ Postseason Hopes Hinge on Jimmy Rollins

August 28, 2010 by Ken Rider  
Filed under Fan News

After watching the Phillies' embarrassing Bad News Bears impersonation earlier this week—resulting in a four-game sweep at the hands of the 58-70 Houston Astros—fans and analysts alike were quick to dispense advice on how to save the season going forward.

It turns out the best plan of attack moving forward might be to look at recent history, specifically 2007.

Ah yes, 2007. Forever known as the season the Phillies finally broke down the postseason barrier, thanks in large part to their cocky shortstop and his ability to put the team on his back for long stretches of time.

And last night, for the first time this season, Jimmy Rollins did it again.

With three hits, several sparkling throws from short, and perhaps the greatest slide I have ever seen to score the winning run in the Phillies' 3-2, 12-inning win, Rollins did a reasonable job reenacting his 2007 MVP season.

More importantly, however, Rollins had his 2007 swagger back, something the team has been sorely missing of late.

Once the loosest clubhouse in the league, the team is suddenly tighter than Donovan McNabb in the Super Bowl during close games, and without any real explanation. I'm not sure that either Jayson Werth or Shane Victorino have smiled in about a month, but they both look like Richard Simmons compared to Ryan Howard, who seems more interested in ending his at-bats quickly than getting on base.

This is where Rollins and his swagger comes into play. Looking like someone wired on Red Bull, J-Roll spent 12 innings pacing the dugout, yelling encouragement from the top step, talking strategy with Charlie, and trying everything short of a cattle prod to pull Howard out of his funk.

One game of the rah-rah routine doesn't necessarily mean much, but when it happens every night, as it did in 2007, the rest of the team can't help but follow along. The good news is Rollins knows this. Last night was the most animated I've seen him all season, and I expect more of the same this afternoon.

With his batting average hovering in the .250 range, Rollins is no longer the MVP caliber player he was in 2007. Much to his credit though, the swagger remains. And at this point in the season—one month to play, two games back in the division, and one game up in the Wild Card—that swagger could be the key in getting the Phillies back to the postseason.

So welcome back J-Roll, I hope you decide to stay a while.

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Philadelphia Phillies’ Feet Not Helping Them To NL Three-Peat

August 28, 2010 by Micah Pollens-Dempsey  
Filed under Fan News

Although it may seem strange, this year the Phillies feet have played a big role in their season.  Whether it be injuries, or balks, or just plain mess-ups, the Phillies have had some eventful things happen to them that involved feet.  Here is a list of some of them:

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