MLB Spring Training 2013: Philadelphia Phillies’ Packing Needs for Clearwater

February 11, 2013 by  
Filed under Fan News

Last week, with great fanfare, the Philadelphia Phillies announced that the team’s equipment truck had departed for Clearwater, Fla.  It should be there and unpacked shortly for pitchers and catchers, who report to Bright House Field this week to begin spring training for the 2013 season.

The truck included the usual stuff baseball players require: cases of bubble gum and sun flower seeds, along with 350 pairs of shorts, 450 pairs of socks, 600 pairs of pants, 600 hats, 200 fleeces, 1,200 bats, 2,000 T-shirts, 2,400 baseballs, 10,000 12 oz. cups and 150 pairs of batting gloves.

It also contained some unusual items.  According to the Phillies website, the team also sent south “one wedding dress, four bridesmaids’ dresses, one groom’s suit, one groomsman’s suit…and one cake topper.” 

Don’t worry—the Phillie Phanatic is not eloping.  His heart remains with the Phillies.  The wedding gear belongs to Phillies director of baseball communications Greg Casterioto, who is getting married in Clearwater

There is one truck that better make good time.  A missing bat is one thing.  A missing wedding dress is a whole other thing, indeed!  Hope for the best.  Hope too that the Phillies put a few other unusual items on the truck this year.  These include:


1. A Mitt

For the first time in a while, Michael Young, the third baseman that the Phillies acquired from the Texas Rangers in the offseason, is going to need to use one of these things consistently.  Young started only 64 games at third base the last two seasons at Texas. 

The Phillies need Young to take the field a whole lot more than that.  In case the team forgot the lesson it learned in acquiring aging first baseman Jim Thome last year, there is no such thing as a designated hitter in the National League.


2. Milk

It does a body good, right?  It certainly does not run the risk of getting one suspended from the game.  In the past year, the Phillies have lost two players to suspensions for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs.  Freddy Galvis, the team’s exciting young prospect at second base, received a 50-game suspension last June. 

That preceded the punishment meted out to Phillies veteran catcher Carlos Ruiz, a 25-game suspension that begins with Opening Day.  Numbers can be replaced.  Character cannot.


3. Seat Cushions

The infielders for the Phillies are not getting any younger.  Ryan Howard is 33, Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins are 34 and the “new kid,” Michael Young, is 36.  And oh, by the way, Utley, Howard and Young are all vying to be candidates for comeback player of the year.  A career .301 hitter, Young hit only .277 last year for the Rangers while managing to hit eight home runs. 

Meanwhile, due to injuries, neither Utley nor Howard played meaningful baseball for the Phillies last year until July.  Rollins played all of last summer, but his batting average fell by 13 points in the season’s second half, from .256 to .243.            

If the Phillies want to get more “whiz” than “wheeze” from this infield, its members will require regularly scheduled rest.


4. Arm Rests 

Same for the pitching staff, particularly the big three.  Roy Halladay turns 36 in May while Cliff Lee celebrates his 35th   birthday this August.  Cole Hamels is only 29, but he constitutes a considerable investment for the franchise as the recipient last July of a contract extension for six years and $144 million. 

Manager Charlie Manuel must resist the pressure, especially early in the season, to let his three aces go deep into ballgames in search of wins.  The window to win with this set of arms is closing quickly.  Manuel must figure out a way to win early and save his aces to play later.


5. Base Hits

These are tough to pack and store for when you need them.  Still, for the Phillies to contend once more, the team needs to hit.  It really is that simple.  In baseball, hits often lead to runs.  These enable starting pitchers to exit earlier, aging infielders to rest more regularly and, most importantly, teams to win more consistently. 

Last year, the Phillies averaged only 4.22 runs per game, 19th in the majors, with as many losses as wins.  In 2008, the Phillies averaged 4.90 runs per game and won the World Series.  Maybe baseball is not that simple.  But what if it is?  Forget the bubble gum.  This year, pack some hits.


All statistics in this article are from

Read more Philadelphia Phillies news on

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

2013 Phillies: Let’s Party Like Its 1993!

December 31, 2012 by  
Filed under Fan News

Happy New Year Phillies fans!  Sure, it’s been a long winter.  Don’t wait on that groundhog, though, to end your hibernation.  Pitchers and catchers report soon. 

The time is right for high hopes.  A few New Year’s resolutions might not hurt either.  For these, the Phillies should look to the past.  Their team’s past. 

Twenty years ago the Phillies went from worst to first.  A team of loveable misfits made an improbable run that nearly rocked Veterans Stadium off of its foundation. 

Everybody knows the 1993 season did not end well.  Joe Carter saw to that.  Until then it was a helluva ride that offers the current crop of Phillies a number of potential resolutions.  Here are a few:


Abide the Dude 

Lenny Dykstra spent much of the summer of 1993 roaming Veteran Stadium’s cavernous centerfield.  Otherwise, he could be found on base.  As the team’s leadoff hitter, Dykstra hit .305 with an on-base percentage of .420.  He drew 129 walks and scored 143 runs.  This did little to diminish his power.  Dykstra managed to hit 19 home runs as well. 


Dykstra’s on-base percentage was not even the highest on the team for the Phillies in 1993. 

First baseman John Kruk, the baseball player, not the athlete, reached base at a clip of .430.  Think about that.  The leadoff hitter for the Phillies in 2012, shortstop Jimmy Rollins, had an on-base percentage of .316.  He hit four more home runs than Dykstra did in 1993 but scored 41 fewer runs.  In baseball, runs matter.  Abide the Dude.


Take a walk on the wild side 

The 1993 Phillies were gruff, grizzled and gnarly.  Even better, they knew a ball from a strike. 

Dykstra’s patience at the plate was shared by his teammates.  Phillies catcher Darren Daulton walked 117 times in 1993.  Kruk managed 111 free passes while third baseman Dave Hollins added another 85.

As a team, the Phillies led the National League in walks in 1993 with a staggering total of 665.  Maybe it is just a coincidence, but they also led the league in runs scored with 877.  This all stands in stark contrast to the most recent edition of the Phillies.  Last year, the Phillies finished 13th in the 16-team National League with 454 walks.  Leadoff hitter Jimmy Rollins set the pace by securing 62 free passes. 

The Phillies scored 684 runs last season, eighth in the league.  Repeat:  In baseball, runs matter.



Kruk it up. 

The 1993 Phillies were a loose bunch.  It was as evident as the crack on the Liberty Bell.  They came early and stayed late.  The stories are numerous and well known.  As John Kruk recently told Philadelphia magazine, “I’ve never seen guys that could be playing grab-ass two minutes before the game and then as soon as the National Anthem is done be ready to kick some ass.”  

For anyone around town in 1993, Kruk’s statement hardly constitutes a revelation.  Fat, drunk and endearing pretty much sums it up. 

What about the current crop?  Its members are certainly endearing, but much of that derives from the championship run in 2008.  That might be the last time the principals on this team even appeared loose.  Just ask those who witnessed Chase Utley’s proclamation of the Phillies as “World &%#ing Champions” at the post parade celebration at Citizen’s Bank Ballpark.

Such “atty-tude” goes over well in Philly.  It is often useful at the plate as well.  Such calm self assuredness enables hitters to heed the advice of hall of famer Wee Willie Keeler and “hit ‘em where they ain’t.”  The 1993 Phillies understood this.  That year, even the power-hitting outfielder Pete Incaviglia hit .274, a career best for a full season.    


Yet somehow the infinitely more talented current Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard, albeit while coming off of an injury, hit only .219 last season.  He struck out 99 times in 292 plate appearances.  Howard struggled to pull the ball into right field against pitching and defensive alignments that all but assured he could not. 

Hit it where they ain’t Ryan.  Kruk it up.  Abide the Dude and, by all means, take a walk on the wild side.  Resolve to have some fun out there.  It all just might prove contagious.  It sure did twenty years ago and Phillies fans are ready to party like its 1993 all over again.  Just don’t tell Joe Carter.

All statistics in this article are from


Read more Philadelphia Phillies news on

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

C’mon Phillies Fans, Let’s Do the Twist!

September 17, 2012 by  
Filed under Fan News

No visit to South Philly is complete without a soundtrack and the songs chosen by the Phillies give fans a pretty good one to listen to.

Fans know they are at Citizen’s Bank Park and Cliff Lee is set to pitch the moment they hear Ted Nugent’s “Stranglehold” blaring from the speakers.

As it should be, Phillies fans exit the stadium victorious to a decidedly different tune: “High Hopes,” as sung by the late, great Phillies announcer Harry Kalas. The familiar refrain never fails to produce a crowd sing-a-long or the occasional tear.

No matter how this season turns out, it demands a playlist of its own. From the Phillies’ unexpected drop from contention to the team’s equally surprising climb back in, the drama is worthy of an appropriate soundtrack.

Track one: “Train Kept a Rollin’,” by Aerosmith

This one’s for Phillies catcher Carlos “Chooch Train” Ruiz. He steamed through the season’s first four months, leading National League catchers in nearly every category. Ruiz carried the team until a foot injury derailed him—fortunately he is now getting back on track.

Track two: “Leaving on a Jet Plane,” John Denver

Sometimes addition does result from subtraction. Still, the departures of Jim Thome, Joe Blanton, Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino suggested otherwise. Blanton and Victorino helped secure a parade down Broad Street in 2008 and Thome and Pence helped put the “Fightin’” in Phillies, so they all remain missed.

Track three: “Tempted by the Fruit of Another,” Squeeze

In August, a contingent of Phillies fans became fickle. Empty seats appeared, as did jerseys of other teams. Citizens Bank Bark suddenly looked like Veterans Stadium in the late 1990s. Phillies from that era even materialized on the field to induct former catcher Mike Lieberthal into the Phillies Hall of Fame.

Track four: “The Boys are Back in Town,” Thin Lizzy

One by one the players came back. First came the “Big Piece,” Ryan Howard. He doubled in his first at bat. Next came Chase Utley who, to the familiar refrain of Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir,” stepped into the batter’s box. He promptly hit one over the wall in left center. If fans listened, they could hear Harry Kalas humming.

Track five: “New Kid in Town,” The Eagles

Domonic Brown is, once more, the future that once was. The Phillies’ heralded prospect, often injured and unimpressive while called up each of the last two years, is at last showing some promise. Brown’s batting average remains anemic, but the young outfielder is solid on defense and is beginning to show some pop at the plate.

Track six: “We Can Be Heroes,” David Bowie

Kevin Frandsen is unlikely to supplant Michael Jack Schmidt at third base anytime soon in anyone’s mind. It is equally hard to foresee the future of recent additions, such as Nate Schierholtz and Erik Kratz. Lately, though, all have contributed to the Phillies resurgence. For now, that is enough.

Track seven: “Run Like Hell,” Pink Floyd

All Juan Pierre does is get on base. Then, he steals second. In fact, rare is the night he goes hitless. He does whatever the team asks and always provides a spark in the process. Pierre is hitting nearly 20 points above his career average this season and remains a terror on the basepaths.

Track eight: “Eye of the Tiger,” Survivor

There had to be a Rocky theme somewhere—this is a Philly list after all. Besides, manager Charlie Manuel still has it—the eye of the tiger, that is. Despite everything this season, the Phillies skipper has remained committed to winning, each and every day. Manuel insists that players play like they mean it. Just ask Jimmy Rollins.

Track nine: “The Twist,” Chubby Checker

Speaking of Philly institutions, c’mon Phillies fans, let’s twist again, like we did last summer! There is a big homestand on the immediate horizon with the Braves and Nats coming to town. Whatever happens, it is mid-September and meaningful baseball still awaits. This year, that is worth celebrating and, who knows, this may only be the beginning. 

Bonus track: “Just One Victory,” Todd Rundgren

Phillies 4, Braves 1, let the postseason begin!

Read more Philadelphia Phillies news on

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Carlos “Chooch Train” Ruiz Keeps on Rolling

May 15, 2012 by  
Filed under Fan News

It’s election time again, and for Carlos Ruiz this year, the Philadelphia Phillies fans know what that means. 

The MLB All-Star Game.

Vote early.  Vote often.

The annual Midsummer Classic is scheduled to take place on July 10 at Kaufman Stadium, home of the Kansas City Royals.

As tradition dictates, baseball fans choose the starting lineups.  The process is democratic but not perfect.  The most qualified players don’t always take the field.

Popularity plays a role.  Fans vote according to their hearts, not their heads. 

Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr., for example, was voted a starter in 2000 while hitting .239 during that season’s first half.    

Further complicating things, MLB rules stipulate that each franchise is represented with at least one player from their roster. 

Admittedly, this has worked in favor of the Phillies: Mike Lieberthal (2000), Jimmy Rollins (2001) and Randy Wolf (2003) were lone Phillies All-Stars.

It has also worked the other way, though. 

Ryan Howard belted 28 home runs and drove in 84 runs before the All-Star break in 2008; it was not enough to get Howard in the game, and he stayed home. 

This year, at the first All-Star Game played in Kansas City since 1973, Phillies catcher Carlos “Chooch” Ruiz must be there.

Certainly, a case could have been made before and Phillies fans know this. 

They know all about Ruiz’s ability to successfully manage the most highly profiled pitching staff in the big leagues.

They know, too, all about Ruiz’s propensity for hitting in the clutch. 

This year, Phillies fans and the rest of baseball have learned something new.  “Chooch” has emerged as the best catcher in baseball.

And there is no time like the present. 


The last-place Phillies, battling injuries and complacency, have struggled in every phase, except when “Chooch” is either at the plate or behind it.

Check the numbers: Ruiz leads all MLB catchers in hitting .337 and slugging .577 and is tied for second with six home runs and 23 RBI.

Defensively, Chooch’s fielding percentage is a perfect 1.000.  He leads all MLB catchers with four double plays and is ranked third in runners caught stealing with 11.

The “Chooch Train” has left the station, and it has been carrying the Phillies all season.

Now it is up to Phillies fans. 

Vote early.  Vote often.  

Clear the tracks.  The “Chooch Train” is right on time.  Next stop: Kansas City.

All aboard!

Read more Philadelphia Phillies news on

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Washington’s Natitude No Match for Cole Hamels’ “Attytude”

May 7, 2012 by  
Filed under Fan News

This weekend Gnats fans reclaimed their nest.

That’s their story, and they’re sticking to it. Team management hung banners, fans carried signs, it all looked impressive on ESPN. 

So too did the thousands of Phillies fans that managed to sneak in, despite the ban imposed to prevent their entry.

But why quibble? 

Gnats fans are giddy. They took back their park.

From who? Phillies fans are pretty content with their own. They travel south to follow their team and to occupy otherwise vacant seats.

Gnats fans can have their park. It will be interesting to see if they keep it. 

The Phillies don’t return to Washington until the end of July. Wonder what Gnats fans will be doing between now and then? 

For Phillies fans, more unsettling than a made for television Occupy the Park movement is what occurred on the field. 

The Phillies dropped two of three. They managed to score only four runs in the twenty innings they played over the course of Friday night and Saturday afternoon.

Forget small ball. This was dull ball. And it was hardly new. The Phillies have looked flat for weeks.

There are reasons for this; Roy Halladay has been human. Injured reserve is at capacity. The regulars are pressing.

Manager Charlie Manuel shook up the lineup, again, on Friday. Seeking to shake things up further, Manuel then got himself tossed by arguing over a Bryce Harper check swing in the first inning.

No matter. Phillies right fielder Hunter Pence told on Saturday that it felt like the Gnats, not the Phillies, “have a chip on their shoulder.”

Enter Colbert Michael Hamels. The Phillies left-hander took the ball on Sunday night. Seven pitches in, Hamels nailed Gnats phenom, Bryce Harper, in the small of his back.

That’s the kind of “attytude” that marketing campaigns just can’t manufacture. It is the kind that comes from the heart. Just ask somebody at the corner of 9th and Catherine. Trust me, you’ll understand.

In the short run, the drilling cost Hamels. To his credit, Harper shook it off, made it to third and then timed a Hamels pickoff move perfectly to steal home.

It was the only run Hamels surrendered all night. The Phillies went on to score nine, resulting in a 9-3 Phillies victory that prevented a sweep.

Coincidence? It was if you believe Hamels. After the game, he admitted to hitting Harper intentionally. He said it had nothing to do with recapturing his own team’s swagger. 

It was done simply out of respect for the old school way of welcoming the young Gnats star into the big leagues.

Maybe that’s true. 

What is certain is that Hamels’ admission has earned him a five game suspension.

What is also certain is that talk goes only so far. 

Colbert Michael Hamels walks the walk of a fierce competitor, and of a champion. 

That is more contagious than even the slickest of marketing campaigns.   

But that will be apparent during the “Take Back Our Ballpark, Again” campaign that likely will kick off in late July.   

But don’t take my word for it.  Talk is cheap. 

Read more Philadelphia Phillies news on

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Philadelphia Phillies Spring Training: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

March 19, 2012 by  
Filed under Fan News

There are two kinds of baseball teams in the Majors, my friend.  There are the Phillies and then there are all of the rest.  The Phillies have enough drama for them all. 

A week in Clearwater made clear that this spring’s training camp is comparable to the best spaghetti westerns.  Go ahead and cue the soundtrack. 

The Good: 

Newly re-signed Jimmy Rollins has a fist full of dollars.  He leads the charge. 

In three games last week, against the Pirates, Twins and Braves, Rollins had three hits.  One cleared the fence.  Another drove home a baserunner.  

Rollins also scored two runs and stole a base.  He even tried to bunt for a hit. 

Vance Worley is not hanging them high.  He is mowing them down.    

In four innings against the Pirates, Worley did not allow a baserunner.  He struck out eight.  The sheriff is back in town.  He is the kid with the funky glasses. 

Then there is the new boss.  He is the same as the old boss.  Jim Thome comes off the bench now, but he still carries a big stick.  

Against the Braves, Thome came to the plate four times as a designated hitter.  He twice connected, once to the opposite field to drive in a run. 

The grizzled old veteran is a force opposing pitchers will have to reckon with. 

The Phillies young gun is Freddy Galvis.  He roams the range like few other middle infielders.  Against the Twins, he went deep in the hole to retrieve a grounder. 

Galvis snared it.  Then he rifled it to first with an arm that makes shotguns look obsolete. 

Carlos “Chooch” Ruiz, just keeps on rolling.  In three games he had four hits, including a double that drove in a run.  He also showed off his own howitzer, nailing the Twins speedy centerfielder Denard Span at second base. 

The Bad: 

Chase Utley’s knees.  The Phillies second baseman has not played in a game since Game 5 of the 2011 National League Division Series (NLDS). 

Utley has not taken fielding practice since late February.  He is scheduled to see a specialist.

Ryan Howard’s ankle.  Howard remains hobbled.  He too last played in the 2011 NLDS, tearing his Achilles tendon in the final at bat of the series. 

Howard developed an infection in the area of his injury last month and is wearing a protective boot.

Utley and Howard will begin the 2012 season as partners on the disabled list.

The Ugly:

Ty Wigginton at first base has only slightly greater range than the Rocky statue located near the Philadelphia Art Museum. 

Batted balls to Wigginton’s right and his left get by in equal measure.

“Chooch” tagging up on a short fly ball to left center.  It happened against the Braves.  It should never happen again.

Roy “Doc” Halladay giving up five runs, all earned, against the Twins, in under three innings. 

It all goes to show that the good guys don’t always win.  Sometimes they lose.  Sometimes they get hurt.  But they always manage to overcome the bad and the ugly.

The Phillies will do just that.

Read more Philadelphia Phillies news on

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Philadelphia Phillies: Pairs of Pitchers and Catchers

February 20, 2012 by  
Filed under Fan News

Good things come in twos. Philly knows this. Its pairings are magical. Soft pretzels and mustard.  Pepper and egg. Hall and Oates. Tasty and Kake. 

One match matters most: pitchers and catchers. The words alone warm the hearts of Phillies fans everywhere. They ward off the wind chill, especially this year.    

It has been a long winter. Much business remains. The promise of a parade went unfulfilled last autumn. One hundred-two regular season wins dissolved into the night. 

Poof, they were gone. Maybe that squirrel took them. No matter, only the St. Louis Cardinals, a wild-card team, remained. They played on. The Phillies went home. The ache lingered long.    

But that was then. Pitchers and catchers is now. The mitts are popping. Hopes are renewed, and among Phillies fans, they remain high. This is for good reason. A bunch of them, actually, and they come in pairs.

Start with the best battery in baseball. That is, of course, Roy “Doc” Halladay and Carlos “Chooch” Ruiz. They are a pair worth watching have a catch. Just ask opposing batters; they get caught looking all of the time. 

“Doc” and “Chooch” make making history look routine. First, they combined for a perfect game. Then, they paired for a no-hitter—in the postseason, no less. 

“Doc” was a pretty fair pitcher before coming to Philly. Since he hooked up with “Chooch,” though, his ERA has never been lower. It came in at 2.35 last year, down from 2.44 the year before. 

If Halladay and Ruiz become any more in sync, the Phillies will need to start selling “Doc ‘n Chooch” jerseys (no doubt the “Gnats” will try to ban them).  

Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels follow Halladay in the rotation. They constitute a wicked pair of lefties.  Combined, they started 63 games last year and won 31 of them.      

Hamels won 11 of his 14 games prior to the all-star break last season. Lee was nearly unhittable after the break, going 8-2 with an ERA of 1.79.

While Hamels tailed off last year, going 3-5 after the break with a 3.54 ERA, he still managed to give the Phillies more innings (84) in the second half than anyone else in the rotation not named Halladay (90.1) or Lee (95.1).

He also dialed down the drama. Hamels avoided melting down as he once did when things went wrong. He recovered to throw six shutout innings in his only postseason appearance against the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLDS.

Such newfound resiliency is surely attributable to Lee’s influence. After all, Lee followed up his demotion to the minors (2007) by winning the AL Cy Young award (2008) with the Cleveland Indians.   

The pair that rounds out the Phillies rotation consists of Vance Worley and Joe Blanton. 

Worley emerged from nowhere last year to win 11 games. He only lost three. On a staff stacked with winners, Worley’s winning percentage (.785) stands out. 

Worley’s partner is no Cy Young. He is an average Joe—all substance, no flash. Blanton’s everyman demeanor works well to complement Worley’s mohawk hairstyle and fashionable eyewear. It also provides the young pitcher with a model of consistency.               

Last year the Phillies famously dealt four aces. This year, the team will be dealing in pairs. That extends into the bullpen. 

There a freshly arrived duo will wait to close things out. During the offseason, the Phillies acquired closer Jon Papelbon, a free agent from the Red Sox

As part of the deal, they also received Papelbon’s alter ego “Cinco Ocho.” The addition cost the Phillies nothing extra. They did not even have to throw in a draft pick.    

Papelbon and his fastball firing alias have combined to save 200 games faster than any other single pitcher in history. Who said two closers aren’t as good as one?

It is unclear whether Papelbon and “Cinco Ocho” warm up one another or if they require a catcher.  Whatever the case, the latest pair to join the Phillies is vital to the team’s success.

Pitchers and catchers, indeed. Who could have guessed the prospect of having a catch could be so entertaining?

Read more Philadelphia Phillies news on

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Washington Nationals Launch Preemptive Strike Against Philadelphia Phillies Fans

February 4, 2012 by  
Filed under Fan News

Hey Phillies fans.  Have you heard the news?  The Washington Nationals are taking back their park.  From you, that is.  Like dogs and winning baseball, Phillies fans are no longer welcome at Nationals Park.

Maybe you missed the news.  It is Super Bowl week.  You have likely spent the last few days trying to figure out who to boo the loudest at the party on Sunday, Tom Brady or Eli Manning.  Forget about it.  The “Gnats” deserve your attention.

They tried to avoid it.  They announced their new “Not Friendly to Phillies Fans” policy with great stealth.  It came on a Friday afternoon, the eve of Super Bowl weekend and a day when Philly sports fans were preoccupied with Wing Bowl, an annual Buffalo wing eating contest. 

Sneaky those “Gnats,” like a Cole Hamels changeup.  They are making single game tickets for the May 4-6 series against the Phillies available via an exclusive presale for season ticket holders and residents of Washington, Maryland and Virginia. 

Phillies fans looking to attend can take their cheesesteaks and go home.  “Gnats” chief operating officer Andy Feffer told, “Frankly, I’m tired of seeing the Phillies fans in our ballpark in Washington more than anything else.” 

Where’s the brotherly love?  Phillies fans are an amicable bunch.  They might belt out the occasional “Chooch” to recognize favorites such as Carlos Ruiz, but there is little to fear.  These are not your father’s Phillies fans.  They rarely even boo anymore. 

Just prior to embarking on their current streak of winning the National League East five years in a row, the Phillies became the first baseball team in history to lose 10,000 games.  That is a whole lot of heartbreak. 

It has now turned to joy.  An organization committed to winning will do that.  Even last year’s early postseason dismissal, as disappointing as it was, has failed to damper the optimism about spending summer nights in south Philly, or to follow the team on the road.

This was once, not long ago, unmentionable.  Maybe you took the transistor to the Jersey Shore, but that was as much to listen to Harry Kalas and Whitey Ashburn call the games as it was to keep up with the Phillies. 

It’s different now.  Phillies fans are proud of their team.  They are pleasantly surprised to find thousands of their kind, wearing Utley and Howard jerseys, bonding with one another on the road. 

Phillies fans are not hitting the road to hate on the fans of other teams.  They’re doing so because they just can’t get enough of their Phillies.  They are relishing the moment and they are sharing it with one another.  It simply doesn’t get any better. 

This all began with the winning, of course.  Still, loyalty to the Phillies runs deep.  Millions of Phillies fans endured bad baseball for years, whether at Shibe Park, Connie Mack Park or at Veteran’s Stadium.  Throughout, they sat next to plenty of other teams fans who cheered as the Phillies got pummeled.

Attempting to keep out Phillies fans can mean only one thing.  The “Gnats” are nuts.  This is not a surprise.  It’s been apparent for awhile.  They broke the bank, remember, to sign Jayson Werth.  Werth is a good player on a great team.  The “Gnats” are not that.

And maybe, that is the problem.  In announcing his “Take Back the Park” initiative, Feffer informed that, “For several years now, our fans, everybody have been screaming about the number of Phillies fans that invade our park when we have a series here at Nationals Park.”

Aiming ire at Phillies fans is misplaced.  It’s a smokescreen that obscures the real problem facing the “Gnats,” bad baseball.  Phillies fans who visit Nationals Park in droves are doing Nationals fans a favor. 

Their presence pressures the “Gnats” ownership to put a team on the field worthy of fan support.  If the Nationals are better this year, they should thank Phillies fans, not work to ban them. 

Especially for a team engaged in our national pastime, playing in our nation’s capital, keeping out Phillies fans is not only ungrateful, it is un-American.  Like betting against Rocky Balboa. 

Cheesesteak anyone?          

Read more Philadelphia Phillies news on

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Philadelphia Phillies: Can Current Lineup Win World Series?

January 16, 2012 by  
Filed under Fan News

Is South Philly a good place to get a cheesesteak?

The Philadelphia Phillies won 102 ballgames last year.  They remain the only team in the National League that matters, spending sprees in the nation’s capital and the Sunshine State be damned. 

Clubhouse chemistry cannot be forced.  It is cultivated.  The Phillies render this evident.  With a core group in place, the team’s winning percentage in the regular season has steadily improved, from .525 in 2006 to .630 in 2011.  Can this trend continue?

Can Chubby Checker do the Twist?

Jimmy Rollins is back.  The Phils’ spark plug remains in place.  Of course, he is not the ideal leadoff man.  Rollins walks too little and swings too much.  This is hardly news. 

During his MVP season in 2007, Rollins walked only 49 times.  He went down swinging 85 times.  Last year Rollins had nine more walks and 21 fewer strikeouts.  His on-base percentage (.338) dipped little from 2007 (.344) and improved from 2010 (.320). 

Most importantly, Rollins reached base in the postseason nearly half the time he batted (.476).  Will Rollins get many playoff at bats in 2012?

Do soft pretzels and mustard go well together?

Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee combined for 36 wins last season.  Cole Hamels contributed 14 more.  Each of the “Big Three” started over 30 games, topped 200 innings and posted earned run averages below 2.80. 

Hamels is a World Series MVP (2008).  Halladay threw a (near) perfect game against the Cincinnati Reds in the 2010 NLDS.  Lee has won seven of 11 postseason starts since 2009.  This says nothing about Vance Worley, who gave the Phillies 11 wins as a rookie.  Will the Phillies get the chance to deal their aces come October?

Is the Liberty Bell cracked?    

Enter Jonathan Papelbon.  Newly free from the Beantown circus, he now anchors the best bullpen in baseball.  Phillies relievers surrendered only 169 runs last year, fewest in the big leagues.  Replacing the departed Ryan Madson with Boston’s former closer can only constitute a change for the even better. 

Papelbon has been there and done that—very well, thank you.  As the resident closer for the drama-laden Red Sox, Papelbon saved 219 games.  His postseason earned run average stands at 1.00.  For the World Series, it is 0.00.  Can the Phillies offense give Papelbon and Company a sufficient cushion?

Could the late, great Phillies announcer Harry Kalas call one that was “ouTTA HERE?”

If J-Roll sparks the Fightins, the Flying Hawaiian, Shane Victorino, is the piston that drives them.  He led the team in batting average last year and hit more home runs than any Phillie not named Ryan Howard or Raul Ibanez.  Victorino’s average jumped 20 points last year.  A repeat performance is likely; 2012 is a contract year for Victorino. 

His teammates are hungry as well.  Healthy, Chase Utley and Placido Polanco will return to form.  Hunter Pence, acquired from the Houston Astros last summer, will spend the entire season this year in Philadelphia. 

All of this will alleviate some of the pressure felt by the “Big Piece,” Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard.  As will the addition of power-hitting future Hall of Famer Jim Thome as a pinch-hitter.  In many ways, Citizens Bank Park is the house that Howard built.  Thome laid the park’s foundation, though, before the Phillies traded him to make room for Howard. 

The sluggers are together again.  Citizens Bank is unlikely to contain them.   Can these Phillies deliver?

Is making scrapple pretty?

No, but neither are manager Charlie Manuel’s press conferences.  Manuel is comfortable in the dugout, not in front of a microphone.  That is how it should be. 

Manuel is the most underrated manager in baseball.  His Phillies have yet to win fewer than 85 games.  They are National League East winners for five years running.  They came within a game of winning 200 ballgames over the last two years.  This is in spite of Manuel’s need to juggle an everyday lineup riddled by injuries. 

Since 2005, the year Manuel became the team’s manager, no team in the National League has won more games (646).  Yet, Manuel has never finished higher than second in voting for National League Manager of the Year (2007 and 2008).  No matter. 

If Manuel had won it, he would have had to make a speech anyway.  That is not his style.  Manuel wins ballgames, not awards, and that is just how the Phillies like it. 

Are the Phillies good enough to win the World Series this year?  Yeah, they are.  When they do, it will be because Charlie sent them. 

Read more Philadelphia Phillies news on

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies