Philadelphia Phillies: Harry Kalas May Be “Outta Here” but His Legacy Is Forever

April 13, 2011 by  
Filed under Fan News

**This is an article I wrote after Harry Kalas passed away on April 13, 2009.**

Things certainly will not be the same in the Phillies’ press box this 2009 season; despite the following-up of a most memorable championship campaign. Philadelphia, a city which has been gifted with the greatest of voices the world has seen, now have lost quite possibly the best of them all: Harry Kalas.

Truly an icon in the booth, yet a much, much, MUCH bigger person, Kalas’ “golden” voice will truly be missed by a city that’s notorious for falling in love with its broadcasters—but Harry was different.

Harold Norbert Kalas wasn’t just the voice of the Philadelphia Phillies, he was this organization. He bled Phillies red through and through in good times and in bad as we can clearly see beings that the team has celebrated two World Series titles in their 126-year history. This is the loss of a family member; he was one of us all the way through.

But, Harry was by no means just the voice, he was someone the people loved, and he loved us back and understood us better than any player ever could that’s donned those red pinstripes. Harry wasn’t one of them—he wasn’t an adopted son—he was one of us. He’s our voice of the summer and one with us and will remain so forever, truly the best ever in my heart. All we can now say is “Thank you, Harry!” You are an inspiration to all of us Philly fans, as we often see with the imitation of his signature call of, “It’s Outta Here!!” 

He’s left his mark on the city of Philadelphia and its residents forever, engraving a piece of himself into our hearts. Harry Kalas is the first thing people from everywhere think of when they hear Philadelphia Phillies. He’s the reason people sat in those blue seats at the Vet back in the day through the “dog days.” 

Kalas was as much of an icon in this organization as the signature “P” that sits above the bill of the red cap. He wasn’t supposed to go out this way, for that matter, was he really ever supposed to go out? To a kid, or any Philadelphian, he was untouchable. Absolutely bulletproof. Kalas was a man’s man. 

No matter how bad the team was, Harry was always our one constant. He was always there for the ride along with us. It wasn’t just “the voice,” but the character of the person in which it came from. The professionalism and the class in which he always conducted himself in, whether he was calling a world champion or a cellar dweller, Harry was always there, like clockwork, each and every summer for the past 39 seasons.  

Kalas will be truly missed, but will now be reunited with long-time broadcast partner, Richie “Whitey” Ashburn. An endless supply of Celebre’s Pizza and a big box of stogies will be needed for these two. “The Master of Ceremonies'” love for this city, the team and the game will never be duplicated and will always be remembered, very much so like his memorable calls from the press box. We love you, Harry!! “Harry Kalas, you are the Man!!” 

You did it all Harry! From Michael Jack to Steve to Tug to Garry to Curt to Mitch to Scott to Bobby to Jim to Billy to Ryan to Chase to Cole to Brad. We Thank You Harry!!! 

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

NL East: 10 Questions for the Philadelphia Phillies in 2011

March 12, 2011 by  
Filed under Fan News

The Philadelphia Phillies have proved to be the class of the National League in recent years.  Their successes have included two World Series appearances (one title) and four straight NL East crowns.  

As of late, they’ve done everything possible to keep the proverbial “window” open for as long as possible.  With winning comes more money—money that the Phillies have spent more and more freely.

Last winter, the Phillies rid themselves of Cliff Lee to acquire Roy Halladay.  Turn one calendar year and both Halladay and Lee are members of the same rotation.  Not to mention Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels are also members of the rotation known as “R2C2.”  

The only potential negative to these outcomes is the money that’s tied into these big-name pitchers for the next handful of seasons.  In addition, the Phillies have virtually given up every prospect not named Domonic Brown over the past few seasons.

Currently, the Phillies have all of the ingredients needed to make another run at the title except for one glaring issue: health.  The Phillies’ health could be a major problem this season if Chase Utley is indeed on the shelf for an extended period of time.  Otherwise, they have the most coveted asset in the league in their lethal rotation.  That’s something that every team in the majors wishes that they could build.  

Ruben Amaro Jr.’s free spending has kept the Phillies relevant and will continue to as Philadelphians enjoy the most fruitful time in team history.  The Phillies are near the top of the mountain that is the MLB and don’t appear to be going anywhere anytime soon.  The window of opportunity remains wide open.  

However, so many questions surround this team as age becomes an issue.  Here are 10 questions for the Phillies heading into 2011.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Philadelphia Phillies: More Than Just “Paper Champions?”

January 26, 2011 by  
Filed under Fan News

The Philadelphia Phillies have re-raised the bar for their own expectations in the coming 2011 season.  As if expectations hadn’t already been sky high over the past few years, 2011 may be the most hyped season in team history.  

With the signing of yet another ace in Cliff Lee, it’s safe to say that the Phillies are the “paper champs.”   But where does this get them ultimately you ask?  Nowhere.  There’s still 162 games to play and a lot is able to happen during that six-month window.  Then of course, you can include the playoffs, which the Phillies are a shoo in for at this point. 

Roy Halladay was OUTSIDE! running on Monday in shorts and a tee-shirt in NINE degree weather at Citizens Bank Park.  Does that make you believe in how much this team wants this?  

They have a plethora of talent on offense too which people tend to forget.  It’s rather been their “Fab Four” pitching rotation that’s gotten a bulk of the credit and deservedly so.  But don’t discount this offense.  When they turn it on, they can hit with anyone in the league.  Consider 2010 a collective slump and floundering for the offense.  Now a bounce-back 2011, as a whole offensively, could be instrumental to the team’s success.  

Ladies and gentlemen, the 2011 Philadelphia Phillies.  

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Philadelphia Phillies: Jimmy Rollins Needs To Be the Cataylst Again in 2011

January 19, 2011 by  
Filed under Fan News

Philadelphia fans waited all year for it in 2010, but it never came.  Despite an offense that collectively slumped, they managed to maintain the league’s overall best record with 97 wins.  The “it” that I’m referring to is production from shortstop Jimmy Rollins. 

It’s clear that where Rollins goes, so too does the offense.  In 2010, Rollins struggled with injuries and hit just .243.  This was critical and had a lasting effect on the offense as they had a “down” year.  This just further proves the point that Rollins is the catalyst of this offense. 

The story will again be the same in 2011. This offense will live and die by Rollins’ production.  In hitting out of the lead-off spot, Rollins must be the sparkplug if the Phillies are to succeed.  

Certainly their pitching could be historic, but they can’t rely on pitching alone.  The offense now needs to have a bounce-back year collectively.  That’s right!  As a group, the Phillies’ offense didn’t deliver from one through eight.  This 2011 season will be very telling for the futures of many on this team as the expectations are the highest in team history. 

Manager Charlie Manuel knows his players better than any manager in baseball.  That being said, he also knows that his lineup can hit much better than they did in 2010.  Manuel and GM Ruben Amaro Jr. are calling on Rollins to produce big numbers this year or his tenure as a Phillie may end. 

When called on to perform, Rollins always seems to live up to the task.  His 2007 MVP season, which mind you is far in the rear-view mirror, is proof of that.  The undersized Rollins was “the man” in Philadelphia and had himself a huge season.  Rollins did all the things his coaches had always guided him to do and he finally “got it.” 

You see, in the beginning Rollins was portrayed as having an “attitude.”  While many within the organization disliked this, there was no denying his talent level.  To Rollins though, this wasn’t attitude but rather “swag.”

His transformation into a consistent lead-off hitter took quite a while but eventually paid off in full.  By 2007, at just 28 years old, Rollins had taken his game to the next level.

The Phillies would go on to win the 2008 World Series but Rollins was lost among talented sluggers like Chase Utley and Ryan Howard.  Rollins has often been forgotten over the past few seasons since. 

Obviously 2007 was a banner year for J-Roll; one that he won’t be able to duplicate.  He set many career highs and upped the standards of the model two-way shortstop.  Additionally, Rollins led the league with 20 triples, 716 at-bats, 139 runs scored and played in all 162 games, plus the playoffs.  For that season at least, he was the toast of shortstops and the MLB in general. 

This is a contract year for Rollins, thus another call for the multi-faceted shortstop to shine.  He’s still appreciated as an elite defensive shortstop but needs to regain his swing and “swag.”  Now seen as a part of the veteran core, Rollins must prove to everyone that he’s worthy of a new contract. 

Whether it’s his traditional lead-off spot or not, Rollins must find ways to produce.  To be quite frank, no matter where he hits in the lineup, he always seems to be the catalyst.  Rollins needs to be there to give this offense that extra oomph.  With his leading the way, the group can return to form and make 2011 a year to remember.

Jimmy Rollins has the ability to wow each of us on any given day.  Whether it’d be with his bat, arm or legs, he can definitely do just that.  So go ahead Jimmy.  Wow us again!

With the Phillies’ recent pitching rotation, people tend to forget just how good this offense can be.  Rollins needs to be a large part of that in 2011.  If he is, the Phillies might be riding on the back of those flatbed trucks into a sea of joy down South Broad St. come October. 

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

2010: A Banner Year In Philadelphia Sports

December 31, 2010 by  
Filed under Fan News

In many ways, 2010 was the best year in Philadelphia sports since 1980.  Thirty years ago, all four Philadelphia teams were in their sports’ finals (Phillies were the only ones to win.)  

Through the years, Philadelphia has had some amazing times despite having a 25-year championship drought.  The drought that lasted from 1983-2008 still saw some entertaining times, yet so many heartbreaks as well.  

Though no championships were won in 2010, there were many moments and players that will never be forgotten.  A new wave of Philadelphia sports looks to be underway.  Names like Mike Richards, Roy Halladay, Michael Vick and Evan Turner are now synonymous with this era.

Philadelphia is a blue-collar town that’s often misunderstood.  These are tough people that just want an honest, 100% effort every single night.  If they get anything less…well, you know, they do that one thing that they know best.  “BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”

The futures of the Phillies, Eagles, Flyers and 76ers are very bright right now.  Could one of these teams deliver a championship in 2011?  Could several do so?  Only time will tell. But for now a look back at 2010 is necessary.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Philadelphia Phillies: The “Dog Days” Are Over in Philadelphia

December 22, 2010 by  
Filed under Fan News

Consider this piece more of a memoir than anything else.  My childhood with the Phillies was always adventurous but often ugly.  The Phillies were constantly a losing team and never broke the bank to go out and sign any big-name free agents.  At the time, we knew they weren’t the New York Yankees, nor were we asking them to be.  We just wanted to know that they had a desire to someday win.

This all changed in 2003 when they signed Jim Thome and closed out the Vet.  Then, in the following off-season, they added Billy Wagner to fill the void of closer and open Citizens Bank Park.  This told the fans that the Phillies wanted to win and apparently now had the funds to do so.  

A lot has changed since those “dog days.”  Philadelphia is now the place to play and you can somewhat thank Thome for helping put Philly on the map.  During the Phillies’ period of misery while at the Vet, you’d be lucky to see 20,000 people down at the ballpark.  My father and I would venture out to the 700 level of rightfield with our $7.00 General Admission tickets.  Those days were enjoyable but also bitter and painful.  Someday though, we knew that the Phillies would turn it around. 

Well, today that period of misery is long gone.  The Phillies are now a marquee team in baseball and have made the playoffs four years running.  They sell out just about every game as tickets are nearly impossible to come by.

They now have (on paper) one of the best rotations of all time.  Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels will be a formidable foursome for the Fightin’ Phils in 2011.  

Through their minor league system, they were able to develop loads of young talent.  This is a pool that includes Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Hamels, Jimmy Rollins and Dominic Brown among others.

Those sad days weren’t that long ago, but are now in the rear-view mirror.  Misery has been turned into all positives for the Phillies.  They bumped the Yankees off of a “Cliff” and are now looking to return to the World Series in 2011.  Ruben Amaro Jr. deserves a bulk of the praise for such moves as this may be the deepest Phils team ever.

For 14 years, Philadelphia suffered without a playoff appearance.  Now, they’re aiming for a fifth straight playoff appearance and third World Series berth.  What a turnaround for a team that was in the basement for so long.  

In four seasons, they’ve doubled the payroll of this team.  During that time, look at the success that they’ve enjoyed.  

They can actually compete financially with the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees.  That’s something I never thought we could say.     

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

MLB Rumors: Philadelphia Phillies Trades Come Full-Circle

December 20, 2010 by  
Filed under Fan News

The Philadelphia Phillies‘ Ruben Amaro Jr. is some sort of genius.  Somehow, he was able to acquire three of the game’s best pitchers within one calendar year.  These moves suddenly make his team the game’s most viable threat and already early favorites.  With a rotation that boasts Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels, the Phillies are sitting “perfectly.”

Last December, the Phillies’ gutsy GM got rid of Cliff Lee and sent him to the Seattle Mariners.  In getting unproven talent in return, many questioned this deal.  On that same day though, the Phillies would acquire the game’s top pitcher in “Doc” Halladay.  With the righty-lefty combo of Halladay and Hamels, the Phillies couldn’t have wanted anything more right?

As the season progressed, “Doc” proved to have the perfect remedy for the rest of the National League.  On May 29, 2010, Halladay was perfect against the Florida Marlins and was undoubtedly the game’s best pitcher.  

Shortly thereafter, a deal for Roy Oswalt came to fruition and the deadline deal gave the Phillies a dose of “H20.”  Oswalt’s arrival made Hamels the third wheel.  Hamels wouldn’t mind, though, and responded with a strong season of his own. 

But his statistics don’t truly tell the story of just how good Hamels was.  His 12-11 record was due in part to by poor run support.  Otherwise, he easily could’ve won 18 games or so.

The Phillies stole the division from the Atlanta Braves backed by “H20” and hastily made their way into the playoffs.  After convincingly running through the Cincinnati Reds, the Phillies would soon be stopped by the San Francisco Giants.  They tried everything in their power but were beaten by a hungrier San Fran squad that eventually won the World Series.

After a disappointing end to the season, the Phillies were quiet in the beginning of the offseason.  This worried some fans at first, but they couldn’t be naive enough to think that Amaro couldn’t have had something up his sleeve.  

The big story of the free-agency period at that time was Jayson Werth.  The Phillies quickly needed to make a decision on Werth’s future.  They did so by not responding and letting him walk to the Washington Nationals earlier this month.  To Amaro’s credit, this was a wise move and allowed the Phillies to keep a large sum of money in their wallets. 

“Quiet” isn’t necessarily a bad thing when you’re talking about RAJ.  He let Werth walk and thus freed up a ton of money, but still there was no set direction on where he was going with it.  Then, rumors of Cliff Lee came into the mix and within a matter of hours, Lee was again a Phillie.   

Lee’s wife Kristen was said to be a lot of the reason.  She didn’t want to stay in Texas, nor did she want to go to New York.  The Lees enjoyed Philadelphia, the city that was taken away from them last winter.  In a sudden change of events, the Phillies gave Lee and their fans the best Christmas gift of all.  Their re-signing of the pitcher showed that Lee’s loyalty and heart won over money.  

Although $24 million is a load of money, he turned down a nice chunk of money from New York.  That’s not only admirable on his end, but also unheard of.  Lee, now No. 33, may give the Phillies the best rotation ever.  Though this is high praise, it may be true.  The sky is the limit as the possibilities are endless for the Phillies.

Fast-forward an entire year and so much has changed.  The Phillies now not only have Lee, but also Halladay, Oswalt and Hamels.  Lee’s unselfishness is amazing.  He knows that this is his best chance to win a World Series. 

Now if the offense is able to get their act together, the Phillies could be lethal.  Many are already pre-planning a parade down South Broad St. for early November 2011.  The games still need to be played though, but as for now, the Phillies are looking like the team to beat.

Don’t break their hearts this time, RAJ.  

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

MLB Winter Meetings: 5 Things Ruben Amaro Jr. Must Do for Philadelphia Phillies

December 6, 2010 by  
Filed under Fan News

With the Jayson Werth Sweepstakes closed, the Philadelphia Phillies now set their sights on other matters this winter.  The Winter Meetings just commenced today and Ruben Amaro Jr. has been relatively quiet since the Phillies’ stunning playoff exit in late October.

What the Phillies will be looking to do from here on out is anyone’s guess.  RAJ hasn’t made any noise so far this offseason—expect that to change soon.  The Phillies ought to be looking to fill a few voids this winter in order to reclaim their stake in the NL.  

The Phillies will look towards a replacement for Jayson Werth first and foremost.  Although it appears to be Domonic Brown, only time will tell.  Brown has just left Winter Ball after compiling a .069 average over nine games.

Something still tells me that RAJ won’t “stand pat” for too much longer.  Never count him out of the running—that’s one thing that Philadelphia has learned over the past few years.

Here are five things that Amaro Jr. should do for the Phillies this offseason.   

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Heartbreak City: The 25 Greatest Letdowns In Philadelphia Sports History

November 30, 2010 by  
Filed under Fan News

Philadelphia fans are many things to many people. Clearly, it takes one to know one.  To themselves, they are the most passionate and loyal fans in the world.  To outsiders, they are just despicable.  To the national media, they still threw snowballs at Santa Clause 40 years ago.  One thing though that all can agree on is their passion and love of their sports teams.

Athletes who played in this city immediately acknowledge the dual nature of the Philadelphia fan.  You know the old adage, that stereotype that we’re recognized by:  “When you’re winning, there’s no better place to play.  When you’re losing, they’re going to let you hear it.”  This much is very true, we obviously want and deserve a winner, but always admire and appreciate effort and hustle.  Take it from someone who knows this as well as anyone.

In Philadelphia, you will be remembered forever if you work your ass off and leave it all on the field.  Yet, if you don’t show the effort, they will turn on you in a flash.

Whether it’s the top star or the newest rookie, they’ve all felt the wrath.  The simultaneous “BOOOOO” that descends from the top seats and works its way down.  At some point or another, most Philadelphia athletes have deservedly heard this.  Sorry to say, for some, this is the last thing they hear during their time in Philadelphia.  That patented “BOOOO” has broken athletes in this city and will continue to do so.  We don’t mean it though, I promise.  

Throughout the history of sports in the City of Brotherly Love, fans have suffered through their share of heartbreaks.  In fact, to those who know, myself included, the number is far too many.  

Here are the 25 most demoralizing heartbreaks in Philadelphia sports history.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

MLB Rumors: 5 Reasons Why We Were Wrong About Jayson Werth

November 29, 2010 by  
Filed under Fan News

Tired of hearing about Jayson Werth?  Well, I’m not tired of writing about him just yet!  In a stunning report out of Philadelphia’s 97.5 The Fanatic, Jayson Werth may be on his way back to Philadelphia for another run.  Multiple reports supported this notion, in fact.  

Not so fast yet my dear Philly phaithful.  This isn’t certain, but remains likely.  The Phillies “reportedly” offered Werth a three-year, $55 million deal.  This is a significant increase from their original offer and apparently works for Werth and super-agent Scott Boras, who may not have seen the right things thus far in free agency. 

Werth crawling back to the Phillies tells me quite a few things:

1.) Maybe he’s not as money-hungry as we thought (the guy will still be making about $18 million a year, give me a break.)  

2.) Ruben Amaro Jr. is one crafty bastard (I told you guys all along that RAJ is a genius).

Here are a few reasons why we were wrong about Jayson Werth and we’re…sorry.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

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