Philadelphia Phillies: Ranking Their Scariest Potential Postseason Opponents

August 11, 2011 by  
Filed under Fan News

With postseason schedules having been released yesterday, the stretch run of the MLB season is amongst us. Sitting atop the standings are the Philadelphia Phillies, who are four-and-a-half games ahead of the Boston Red Sox for the best record in the majors and eight and a half games over the Atlanta Braves for the best in the National League.

At this point in the season, it is safe to say that with a 13.5 game lead over the San Francisco Giants, who are five games behind the Braves for the wild card, a playoff birth is a all but a lock. It would take a monumental collapse, a la the 2007 New York Mets (except worse), to end up watching from the couch in October.

The same can’t be said for the rest of the NL and most of the American League, who will continue to fight it out for playoff births down the road.

In the Central, the Milwaukee Brewers seem to have taken control of the division, but with an experienced St. Louis Cardinals team sitting just five games back and almost two months of baseball to be played, anything could happen.

Over out west, the Arizona Diamondbacks took over sole possession of first place last night, sending the Giants into second place a half-game back.

The Braves appear to be in control of the wild card, but a few missteps and they could very well see themselves miss the postseason altogether.

Of these five teams all vying playoff position, who would pose the biggest threat to the Phillies? Only time will tell for sure. For now, let’s look ahead and break it down.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Phillies and Giants Brawl Shows Maturity of One Team, Immaturity of the Other

August 6, 2011 by  
Filed under Fan News

Biased as I may be, I came away from last night’s game between the Philadelphia Phillies and San Francisco Giants with even more respect for my hometown team of red and less for the defending world champions.

During the sixth inning of an 8-2 game and the score in the Phillies’ favor, Giants pitcher Ramon Ramirez decided to throw at the backside of batter Shane Victorino after Jimmy Rollins had stolen second base. What then transpired on the field could have easily been avoided; not just once, but twice. You can see the video here.

Where San Francisco went wrong was throwing at him in the first place. If it’s true that Ramirez did indeed decide to plunk Victorino in response to Rollins’ stealing of second base in an 8-2 game, you have to wonder just how confident they are in their own offense.

The “unwritten” rules of baseball suggest that in a blowout late in a game, the team with the lead should hold back from advancing runners on a steal. The same goes for other sports. The point is to play like gentlemen and to avoid humiliating the other team. But if the Giants saw an 8-2 game in the sixth inning a blowout, how confident are they in being able to battle back and score runs?

It’s no mystery to any audience that their offense is downright anemic, but you would at least think they would remain confident in their own abilities. A six-run deficit with four innings left is nowhere near insurmountable. The Giants could have plausibly come back to steal one away.

Once the festivities got underway, it became apparent that they had given up on winning. The Giants were simply out looking for a fight.

After Victorino was hit square in the small of his back, he dropped his bat and took a few steps toward the mound before stopping to glare are his combatant. Ramirez proceeded to go the other 50 feet, while his catcher Eli Whiteside jumped up and down like a prized champion boxer ready for a heavyweight bout.

From there, benches emptied as the situation only escalated.

Whiteside found the closest man in red to him, which turned out to be Placido Polanco who had come over from first base, and proceeded to latch onto his legs in an attempt to take him to the ground. He was unsuccessful as about eight other Phillies were there to hold Polanco up.

As the brawl went on, things seemed to die back down until Shane Victorino managed to escape the grasp of his hitting coach Greg Gross and floored his way back into the skirmish to body slam whoever he could get his grasp on. That man turned out to be one of the Giants’ coaches. Not the best move by Victorino.

It took the rest of Philly’s army to pry the Flyin’ Hawaiian off of his prey, as well as an Aubrey Huff headlock, but once the two were separated tempers died down. As the two teams moved back to their respective dugouts, the umpires decided to eject Whiteside, Ramirez and Victorino from the game and rightfully so.

Aside from Victorino, the rest of his teammates showed tremendous restraint and maturity throughout the entire situation. Shane is a high temper player with known Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) who won’t back down until the job is finished. Intentionally hitting him in a totally uncalled for situation brought out his worst side.

To his credit, he showed restraint by simply taking a few steps to stare down Ramirez. Most players would have charged the mound immediately. He claims he had no intention of doing so, and frankly, I believe him.

The brawl could have been avoided at that point if Ramirez stayed on his mound and Whiteside hadn’t gone looking for a partner to dance with.

Even after the Giants’ catcher started the fight with his attempted tackle on Polanco, all of the Phillies’ efforts besides Victorino’s were focused on getting him out of there and ending the scrum. From what can be seen on video, not another Philadelphia player took to throwing punches or instigating. The same couldn’t be said for some Giants players, who seemed too eager to start this in the first place.

Maybe it was frustration over their recent offensive woes, or the fact that they had lost six of seven going into the night, but more Giants players seemed inclined to scuffle than Phillies.

Aside from the initial fire starters, a Giants player can be seen on video hopping around, just as Whiteside did looking for a target of his own. That target turned out to be Phillies first base coach Sam Perlozzo, who is 60 years old. Luckily, Perlozzo had been shielded by what looks to be pitcher Kyle Kendrick, so no shots were taken. When the player realized who he’d taken a peck at, he backed off and continued his search for someone else.

On top of that, Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval can be seen throwing elbows and a few kicks in the middle of the group. At one point, Sandoval punches Victorino on the ground before running back to a different part of the scuffle

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel was also involved, but not as an instigator. He was stepped on, as well as had the back of his pants tugged on.

Towards the end, after Victorino bum rushed back into the center of things with a tackle, Giants reliever Guillermo Mota pulled the helmet off of his head. What effect that had, I’m not totally sure. That one’s just more humorous than anything.

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t to say that all Philadelphia players are innocent. Victorino charging back into the group and tackling an unsuspecting victim, as well as trying to move an umpire out of his way, will warrant suspension. Rollins was also seen shoving San Francisco bench coach Ron Wotus and exchanging a few words. There’s probably much more that we can’t see from the angles on television.

Both teams are always guilty in any situation like this. But in these circumstances, what happened could have easily been avoided, and it was San Francisco who decided to get things going.

If Ramirez sole intent was to hit Victorino and send a message, he would not have made most of the trip down to confront him. Whiteside’s antics didn’t help in calming things down, either. The Giants had given up on baseball and were looking to start a fight. They picked the right player to do so with Victorino.

Aside from Victorino, Philadelphia showed great restraint. On the other hand, San Francisco showed an eagerness to not only deliver a message, but get physical with it. The hit was intentional and uncalled for, as was what transpired.

The Giants took offense to Rollins stealing second base in the middle of a crucial game between two National League foes that was in no way out of reach. They gave up trying to play baseball and instead made a mockery of the game.

Simply sending a message and hitting Victorino would have been acceptable had it not been for Ramirez and Whiteside immediately going after Phillies players once he had been plunked. The intent was clearly there to start something more than just a war of words.

For Philadelphia, they came away not only looking like the better team but the more mature one, too. San Francisco instigated something that didn’t need to happen and escalated things from there. Victorino and the Phillies did what any player and team would do by standing up for themselves. As Manuel later put it, “Vic almost has to go unless he wants his teammates to call him chicken.”

The two teams square off again today at 4 PM ET in the third game of a four-game set. Cole Hamels will toe the rubber for the Phillies, with Matt Cain taking the mound for the Giants.

Hopefully, yesterday’s antics don’t bowl over into today’s game and baseball order can be restored. But one thing’s for sure: you won’t want to miss it.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Roy Oswalt: Four Reasons a Healthy Return Could Mean a Phillies’ World Series

August 4, 2011 by  
Filed under Fan News

In a year of almost incomprehensible dominance from the Philadelphia Phillies‘ starting rotation, each and every starter to toe the rubber has managed to perform at or near ace-like levels.

We’re all aware of the performances of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels. But rookie sensation  Vance Worley has been equally, if not more dominant, than the rest. Through 71.1 innings pitched, The Vanimal sports a 2.33 ERA with seven wins to just one loss. His 60 strikeouts and 1.10 WHIP is nothing to scoff at, either.

When Roy Oswalt went down in June with a back injury, in stepped Kyle Kendrick. Granted, ace-like level may be a tad less applicable to his performance so far, but a 3.19 ERA is plenty good for a fifth starter. His strikeout and win totals haven’t been at the same level of the rest of the rotation, but filling in for Oswalt one could make the argument that he almost out-pitched him.

It is because of Worley and Kendrick’s surprising performances that Oswalt has become the just the sixth best starter on the staff so far.The last time he was that low on the totem pole was, well, never. At least definitely not in professional baseball.

So how is it possible that the sixth best starter of any rotation can be a catalyst to a team’s World Series hopes? Let’s break it down.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

After Hunter Pence and Nnamdi Asomugha Moves, Philadelphia Fans Are Flying High

July 30, 2011 by  
Filed under Fan News

Ah, the city of Philadelphia—home of the best cheese steaks you’ll ever taste, the grumpiest fans you’ll ever meet and the some of the worst teams you’ll ever watch. It is also popularly known for its 10,000 losses, zero Super Bowl rings and 36-year Stanley Cup drought.

The streets are dirty, the people are blue collar and it’s not always sunny like a certain television show may lead you to believe.

There is no getting rid of those 10,000 losses, our ring fingers are still missing that Super Bowl bling and the Chicago Blackhawks ruined the most recent shot the Orange and Black had at raising Lord Stanley’s jug, but there’s no denying there’s almost never been a better time to be a Philadelphia sports fan.

What we’re experiencing in the nation’s Cradle of Liberty is something special. It’s been three decades since the Philly faithful have seen a commitment to winning quite like this.

While the rings haven’t been parading down Broad Street like they have a few hundred miles north in Boston, the Philadelphia front offices have continually been hard at work fielding their best possible teams over the past few seasons.

For three trade deadlines in a row, the Phillies have reeled in the big fish on the market, mostly without overpaying. On top of that, they have managed to assemble one of the greatest rotations baseball has ever seen with Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Roy Oswalt and rookie sensation Vance Worley. General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. and company continue to show their willingness to construct a winning baseball team.

Since 2007, they have strung together four straight National League East titles (in position for their fifth) and the biggest prize of all, a World Series. These certainly aren’t your father’s Phillies who, before their recent string of relevance, had only won six division titles in team history. If they can continue on the track they’re on with a fifth consecutive title in a row seeming likely, it would only take one more division crown to double their pre-2007 total.

Miles away in Lehigh, the Eagles have been busier than ever assembling a team that seems set for a Super Bowl run. The Birds have made a bevy of brilliant moves ever since the end of the NFL lockout, including signing top free-agent prize Nnamdi Asomugha, but this is quickly becoming the norm for an organization once viewed as a stomping ground for failure.

General manager Howie Roseman, along with team president Joe Banner and owner Jeffrey Lurie, hasn’t exactly been able to hold up a positive reputation around the city. It’s rather difficult to find a decision that, looking back, shouldn’t have been made.

We don’t like to admit it, but the Eagles brass actually knows what they’re doing—more so than most NFL teams out there. Their smug and arrogant nature doesn’t bode well in a city of hard-nosed people, but year after the year they continue to make smart football decisions that have allowed the team to experience one of the winningest decades of football in its history.

Back on Broad Street, the Flyers have been a magnet for controversy ever since their not-so-smooth departure from this year’s playoffs. General manager Paul Holmgren and owner Ed Snider set off on a mission to drastically change the team’s culture within the locker room by trading troubled captain Mike Richards and top scorer Jeff Carter, as well as nearly half of the team’s nightly roster last season.

Just a year removed from a Stanley Cup appearance, some have questioned the need for a complete makeover like what has taken place. But whether you disagree with the decisions that have been made is beside the point.

The Flyers did not turn half of their team over in an attempt to simply dump salary or just to go into win-now mode. From the moves that have been made they have set themselves up to be winners, not just now, but for years to come. That Holmgren and Snider were able to recognize the problems that existed as two players they both developed strong friendships with and then let them go in an effort to better their team, says something.

It may take a few years to see drastic results on the ice, but the Flyers are better suited now for a playoff run, and, ultimately, a run at Lord Stanley’s Cup, than they previously were.

The 76ers aren’t quite there yet, but with a new owner and a promising youthful team, there is hope to be had.

This moment of reflection comes on the heels of just another day in what is now Philadelphia sports.

The Eagles began the night by announcing their signing of Asomugha, which was later followed by the finalization of a trade that put the highly coveted Houston Astros outfielder Hunter Pence in a Phillies uniform. Oh, and the Phils went on to win 10-3 in another dazzling start from Doc Halladay.

This has become the norm around the area. This has become the world of Philadelphia sports.

From the earth shattering signing of Cliff Lee this past offseason to the recent addition of Asomugha, we here in Philadelphia have grown to expect these kinds of moves. Suddenly a city known for its blue collar toughness has acquired a flare for the dramatic.

Ruben Amaro Jr., Howie Roseman and Paul Holmgren have created a winning atmosphere that players and fans alike can’t get enough of. Athletes wish to play here now more than ever. Philadelphia, even without the plethora of rings (yet), has become a winner.

Cherish these next few years, Philly fans. For the first time in a long while, we very well could see multiple parades down Broad Street within one calender year.

We have been gifted with three devoted front offices that put results first and business second. Each have proven they are dedicated to doing whatever it may takes to better their respective teams and, while it’s only panned out for one team thus far, there is reason to believe.

Think back to the late 1990’s when the Eagles were the laughingstock of the NFL, the Phillies hadn’t been relevant since their World Series defeat at the hands of the Toronto Blue Jays in 1993 and the Flyers had been swept out of the Stanley Cup Finals by the Detroit Red Wings in 1997, extending their Cup drought to 22 years. My, how the tables have turned.

The Phillies, the losingest team in baseball history, are suddenly dominating their division and are poised to make a run at their third World Series appearance in four years. The Super Bowl-less Eagles have managed to scrap together a decade as football’s third-winningest team and look better equipped than ever to claim that elusive ring. Oh, and the Flyers continue to be one of the NHL’s marquee franchises.

Soak it up. Take it in. Stop and smell the roses. However you want to put it, just appreciate what we have.

This is a special time in Philadelphia. If all those years of failure and heartbreak taught us anything, it should be that nothing comes easy and success rarely lasts. It is easily possible that in 10 years, Philadelphia sports could fall back into its previous woes.

In the event that happens, at least we’ll have these memories. And boy, are they good ones.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies