Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Game number two of 162

Last night (April 7) I was down at Citizens Bank Park for the second Philadelphia Phillies game of the season.

It was a cold one.

Temperature gauges read 35 degrees, but in all reality it was really five to 10 below once you factor a 20 mph breeze and 35 mph wind gusts.

Now I saw a crowd of roughly 41,000 to 43,000 (10,000 to 20,000 by the seventh inning) last night froze their you-know-whats off to watch some baseball. It was a marquee match-up. The young flamethrower versus the ageless veteran.

It could not get much better than that.

If you were a Braves fan, that is.

The Braves' bats came alive early; actually on the very first pitch of the ball game. Kelly Johnson launched a Jamie Moyer slow pitch into section 106 out in right field.

After giving up another run in the first, Moyer seemed to settle down—until the fifth when Chipper Jones launched a Moyer pitch for a home run. You can try to judge how a pitched did by his stats, but you have to see how he did physically on the mound.

Did he keep his emotions in check?

Did he sulk after giving up a home run?

Did he bounce back and get the next guy out?

Did he maintain composure?

The Fightin' Phils bats seem to have come alive last night, despite not scoring any runs. There big three left-handed hitters combined for five for 12 with four singles and a double.

The Phillies were hitting the ball well, I guess it was a combination of the wind knocking a lot of the balls down, or they were just hitting them at people.

The bullpen once again proved to be a strong point, has the bullpen shut down the Braves potent offensive attack for four innings, and the rest of the game.

Last night, new reliever/ spot fifth starter, Chan Ho Park got his first taste of Philadelphia, coming in to pitch in the sixth inning. Park pitched a perfect sixth, and was followed by Jack Taschner, who tossed two scoreless innings.

Clay Condrey followed Taschner in the ninth inning. Condrey pitched a perfect ninth inning. It looked like Condrey had gained a little weight from last season, but nevertheless the big Texan struck out two in the ninth.

Am I worried about the Phillies losing the first two games of the season? Hell no. Everyone knows the first two weeks of the season, players are just trying to get back in the swing of things. I am not worried at all.

No. What worries me is the lack of true fans. This may be a small rant, but what gives fans the right to boo their own team? I don't care how much you paid for your ticket(s), you boo the play—not the player.

Brett Myers did not deserve to get booed. Yes, granted he gave up three home runs, but he struck out seven or eight and settled down after those home runs.

I guess those fans who are booing within 17 minutes of the first pitch of the 2009 regular season were the ones that used to boo Pat Burrell in left field.

Also, what worries me is the fans who are leaving in the fifth, sixth, or seventh innings to beat traffic home or to go get drunk at McFadden's, rather than sit outside in the cold and support their team.

Next I go down to catch a Phillies game, I'm starting a new chant. Okay, well it was stolen from the "Bleacher Creatures" up at Yankee Stadium. But I never saw or heard about any copyright or trademark on it! So intellectual property is null and void here.

Yes it is the famed "Roll Call", only with Philadelphia Phillies players.

I am not worried about the Phillies at all.

Next game: vs. Atlanta, today, 4/8/2009

Monday, April 6, 2009

Recap of Opening Night for the Phillies

The Philadelphia Phillies quest to repeat as world champions started off rough last night (4/5/2009). I will recap what each team did: on the mound, in the box, next games, records, and standings.

Atlanta Braves 4 Philadelphia Phillies 1. WP: Derek Lowe (1-0, 0.00 ERA)LP: Brett Myers (0-1, 6.00 ERA)

Atlanta Braves

On the Mound: Derek Lowe proved why he is one of the most dominate and crafty veteran pitchers out there. Lowe pitched a masterful game, pitching eight solid innings of two hit ball. In those eight innings of two hit ball, Lowe struck out four while walking none and giving up no earned or unearned runs.

In the ninth, Atlanta turned to left-handed flamethrowing closer, Mike Gonzalez. Gonzalez gave up a lead-off double to the bearded wonder, Eric Bruntlett. After securing the first out, Gonzalez gave up a single to Jayson Werth which scored Bruntlett.

Next came Chase Utley who walked. Ryan Howard looked at a 93 mph fastball right down the pipe for strike three after looking foolish swinging at two sliders out of the zone. Finally, new leftfielder Raul Ibanez struck out swinging on high hard heat to end the game, stranding runners on first and second.

Philadelphia Phillies

On the Mound: Brett Myers proved once again Opening Day games just are not "cup of tea". After getting two easy outs in the first inning, Myers gave up a double to Chipper Jones. The came Brian McCann. McCann smacked a high, hanging change-up to the second deck of Citizens Bank Park for a two-run home run.

Myers' troubles were just beginning. In the second, a revamped Jeff Francoeur crushed a fastball to left field for a solo home run. After retiring Casey Kotchman to secure the first out of the inning, Myers gave up another home run. This time to rookie centerfielder Jordan Schafer.

Notable: Schafer became the 99th rookie in the history of the MLB to homer in his first regular season major league at bat.

Myers threw three home run balls within five batters. Positives: Myers hit 95 on the radar gun. Negatives: the home runs, the decrease in velocity, the usage of said heat, etc.

The Phillies bullpen proved why it is a strong point. In his Phillies debut, lefty Jack Taschner pitched a scoreless seventh inning, striking out one. Chad Durbin and Scott Eyre combined for a scoreless eighth inning, each striking out one. Closer Brad Lidge in a non-save situation threw a scoreless ninth inning, striking out one.

The Phillies bullpen combined for roughly a third of a perfect game, with three perfect innings thrown.

Atlanta Braves

In the Box: Three Braves had home runs. McCann, Francoeur, and Schafer respectively. Chipper went 2 for 4 with two hits and two strikeouts. Schafer was the stand out of the night. Schafer in his major league debut from AA, went 2 for 3 with a home run, single strikeout and walk.

As a team: 8 for 35, 3 HR, 4 RBI, 10 SO, BB, 9 LOB, .229 BA

Philadelphia Phillies

In the box: Ugh, words can even describe the disdain that I have right now for the Phillies hitters. Swinging at first pitches, taking wild hacks at bad pitches, not making Lowe work hard at all. Jimmy Rollins, Werth, Carlos Ruiz, and Bruntlett collecting hits. The big left-handed three of Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and Raul Ibanez went a combined 0 for 11 with 3 K and 1 BB.

As a team: 4 for 31, RBI, BB, 6 K, 8 LOB, .129 BA

Regular season records: Atlanta: 1-0, Philadelphia 0-1

National League East Standings (through 4/5/2009)

1. Atlanta, 1-0, --

2. New York, 0-0, 0.5 GB

3. Florida, 0-0, 0.5 GB

4. Washington, 0-0, 0.5

5. Philadelphia, 0-1, 1.0 GB

Next Game: Atlanta (1-0) vs. Philadelphia (0-1): Jair Jurrjens (0-0) vs. Jamie Moyer (0-0)

My Commentary: I wonder why Myers' threw a 3-2 change-up to McCann in the first inning. Worse yet: it hung up there, looking like a high school baseball hitter could crush the thing. It's a 3-2 count, you know he's going to be swinging, don't help the guy out by throwing something 83 mph up there.

A high-and-inside fastball or a curveball would of worked just as well in that situation. The problem that I had with Myers' outing was that he did not establish the fastball well enough. When he his fastball was not called a strike he went back to his assortment of crap pitches; outside of that curveball.

Also the sharp decrease in velocity, has me thinking. Myers' fastball in the first inning was clocked at 94-95 mph. By the third inning he could barely hit 90 on the radar gun. You would think that losing that extra weight he would gain back velocity.

I guess not.

I'm not just focusing on Myers' outing on the mound, oh heck no. Them bats have some explaining to do. I don't know whether it was nervousness, pre-game celebrations/ ceremonies, or what but how could a powerhouse lineup like that be silenced by a pitcher who they beat in the postseason last season.

Rollins 1 for 4

Werth 1 for 4

Utley 0 for 3

Howard 0 for 4

Ibanez 0 for 4

Victorino 0 for 4

Top six batters a combined 2 for 23, 4 K, BB, 1 RBI

It seems that the guys you would think would not produce, produced something measurable.

Ruiz 1-3

Bruntlett 1-1 albeit off the bench in a pinch-hitting role.

The bats better come alive on Tuesday night no matter what the weather is. Snow showers, cold, windy, the bats better be ready to hit and make Jair Jurrjens work. Make Jurrjens work hard, possibly work up a swear, unlike what Lowe did Sunday night.

I guess not signing Lowe four years ago bit them in the (insert strong expletive) butt. So not signing Lowe this past off-season will come back to haunt them as well.

Stay turned for Tuesday night's wrap up.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

5th starter and April Fools

Well we know who our fifth starter is...

Wait a minute, this just in! I have just received reports that states the Phillies are naming Adam Eaton fifth starter. Yes, the same one whom they released a month ago. He is on loan from Baltimore

April fools everyone. Sorry, just had to do it.

The race for fifth starter has ended. The real winner of the race is crafty veteran righty, Chan Ho Park. He beat out lefty J.A. Happ for the starters job.

In other news: the Eagles have just traded Donovan McNabb for Broncos QB Jay Cutler, the news stemming from certain rumors saying that McNabb wanted more offensive weapons.

Nah, I'm just bullshitting you again. April Fools.

No word from the Eagles yet.

See you all this Sunday baby. Opening Night Baby! Braves-Phillies, 8:05 PM @Citizen's Bank Park. Derek Lowe vs. Brett Myers in the return to MLB Baseball and the returning World Champion Philadelphia Phillies.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Temple Baseball

This will be my second college sports article and my first within the "College Baseball" community. I have no idea what to expect, so here goes.

The Temple University baseball program does not get the recognition it should, along with the rest of the A-10 baseball teams. They are overshadowed by the bigger baseball programs of the southern and western schools. But, I am not here to rant about it.

No. I am here to talk shop about Temple baseball. Temple started off 2-2 in their first four games. With wins coming against Central Michigan University and Florida Gulf Coast and losses against Wichita State and High Point.

Temple's next game would not be until March 6th. Prior to March 6th, Temple had a sting of four games cancelled starting with a February 28th match-up against High Point, including match-ups against George Mason (3/3), two more against High Point (2/28, 3/1), and their home opener, March 4th versus Maryland Eastern Shore.

Temple University record: 2-2

Temple would then go on a seven game slide. Highlights of that seven game slide include: a weekend sweep by Liberty (3/6,3/7,3/8). The series against Liberty was highlighted by Liberty's 11-1 blowout and sweep of a weekend doubleheader.

Temple University record: 2-6

Temple returned home and did not really find much luck either against Rutgers on March 10th: Temple's home opener. Temple lost to Rutgers in a 11-8, extra innings affair. The week also losses against Manhattan (3/13), Niagara (3/14). But the week did include Temple's first win since February 22nd's win at Florida Gulf Coast. On Sunday March 15th, Temple beat Cleveland State 5-1.

Temple University record: 3-9

The week of March 16th started off for Temple with a 10-5 win at Lehigh on March 17th. Temple would then drop their next game at home against Big Five rival Penn by a score of 11-6. Temple would then release their pent up frustrations against conference foe Duquesne. Highlighted by the weekend sweep of conference foe Duquesne and a Sunday 17-5 blowout by Temple.

Temple University record (overall): 7-10

A-10 Record: 3-0

Big Five record: 0-1

This would be Temple's first winning streak of the season. The steak would last into the next week with a 8-7 win against Monmouth on March 24th. But of course all good things always come to an end. Temple the next day lost to in-state foe Penn State 7-4.

Temple University record (overall): 8-11

A-10 Record: 3-0

Temple continues it's home stand against conference foe and fellow Big Five rival, La Salle. Temple is currently finished a weekend series against La Salle, with Temple winning the doubleheader on Friday March 27th, by scores of 11-9 (first game) and 5-2 (second game), and a 10-3 rout today (3/28).

Today's game vs. La Salle University: Temple 10 La Salle 3. WP: Ryan Thomas, 3-1 (Temple) (6.2 IP, 7H 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 3 SO) LP: TJ Chism 0-2 (La Salle) (3 IP, 4 H, 2 ER 3 R, 3 BB, 4 SO) SV (3): Matt Blackburn (Temple) (2.1 IP, 1 H).

Temple has finished the weekend series against La Salle. The Owls are off to their best Atlantic 10 start since 1984. The last time Temple got off to this kind of start in conference play, current Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Jamie Moyer, was pitching for conference and Big Five rival Saint Joseph's University.

Temple currently is first in the A-10 Conference and leads conference foe Dayton by half a game.

Temple University record (overall): 11-11

A-10 Record: 6-0

Big Five Record: 3-1

Upcoming/ remaining regular season games for the Temple University Owls baseball team:

3/31 at Villanova**

4/3, 4/4, 4/5 at UMass*

4/7 Liberty Bell Classic

4/8 at Rider

4/10 at St. Joseph's***

4/11 doubleheader at St. Joseph's***

4/14 at Delaware

4/17, 4/18, 4/19 vs. Charlotte*

4/21 vs. Villanova**

4/24, 4/25, 4/26 vs. Xavier*

4/28 at Villanova**

4/29 vs. Lafayette

5/1, 5/2, 5/3 at Richmond*

5/4 at St. John's

5/6 at Delaware

5/8, 5/9, 5/10 vs. Saint Louis*

5/14, 5/15, 5/16 at Fordham*

* denotes A-10 conference game

** denotes Big Five game

*** denotes Big Five AND A-10 conference game

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Mac Attack: Spring Training edition

As the waning weeks of spring training come to a close, we are reminded of the openings in the starting rotation, and bullpen. A lot of players' major league lives are on the line. A bad outing here, a bad game there, and the next thing you know is that your down in triple-A trying to figure out what exactly went wrong.

Whose jobs are on the line? The Phillies need a fifth starter, two relievers, a back-up catcher, and fill some openings on the bench. I will try to profile and answer, in a sense, the Philadelphia Phillies most burning questions.


While the Phillies' first four spots are locked up, the fifth spot is up-for-grabs. Like children playing that game: "jackpot", where they throw a football up in the air and call out random points; the Phillies fifth starting rotation spot is like a game of "jackpot", in that who catches the job, gets the "jackpot".

It's a role you can't ignore.

And you can turn your back... but it won't go away
And you don't look scared... but you should be afraid
You can shut your mouth... but you still have a say
And you just don't care... for tomorrow, today
- Billy Talent, Turn Your Back

Up for the fifth rotation spot are: Kyle Kendrick, J.A. Happ, Chan Ho Park, and Carlos Carrasco.

Kyle Kendrick: As much as I wanted to see him pitch himself into the fifth starting rotation spot, he kind of, uh, pitched himself out of the job and pitched himself right into triple-A. I was, no. I am still a Kyle Kendrick fan. 21 wins in two seasons since coming up from double-A, that's impressive. According to guys on both MLB Network and Baseball Tonight, it takes roughly two to three seasons to figure out the "book" on the pitcher.

2009 Spring Training stats: 1-3, 4 Games, 4 Games Started, 9.20 ERA, 14.2 IP, 8 K, 5 BB, 15 R, 16 ER.

Optioned to triple-A Lehigh Valley on 3/23/09.

J.A. Happ: I was a big fan of both Happ and Kendrick when they came up. I almost figured Happ to eventually be the "Ageless Wonder" Jamie Moyer's replacement. Happ has been impressive this spring training.

2009 Spring Training stats: 0-0, 6 Games, 3 Games Started, 3.15 ERA, 20.0 IP, 14 K, 6 BB, 8 R, 7 ER.

My opinion on J.A. Happ's chances of making the rotation: I believe that Happ is now the front-runner for the fifth starting rotation spot. But, we will wait and see.

Chan Ho Park: After coming over from Los Angeles, Park is looking for a starting job. Although Park is familiar with both the rotation and bullpen, I believe that the Phillies would rather have Park in the bullpen. Park even skipped the World Baseball Classic, just to compete for the fifth starting rotation spot.

2009 Spring Training stats: 1-0, 3 Games, 2 Games Started, 1.54 ERA, 11.2 IP, 11 K, 0 BB, 2 R, 2 ER.

My opinion: Chan Ho Park makes the 25 man roster through the bullpen. But, as always, we will wait and see.

Carlos Carrasco: The Phillies top pitching prospect fared better than Kendrick. But not much better. Carrasco hasn't quite lived up to the "top pitching prospect" title. But I believe that will come with age.

2009 Spring Training stats: 2-1, 5 Games, 3 Games Started, 5.52 ERA, 14.2 IP, 10 K, 5 BB, 13 R, 9 ER

My Opinion: Like Kendrick, I believe he will be assigned to triple-A later this week. Carrasco will be back in September unless Park, Happ, and Kendrick (when and if they returns) crap out.

The Phillies bullpen last season was nothing more than just plain dominant. The Phillies will have some open spots to fill, not just on the bench, but in the bullpen as well. There will be a spot open that was "vacated" by J.C. Romero, once he starts his 50-game suspension.

Pitchers up for a spot in the bullpen:

Chan Ho Park

Robert Mosebach

Mike Koplove

Gary Majewski

Not a left-hander in the bunch, huh? Anyway, there are ten "locks" in the pitching section for Philadelphia. Those ten are: Brad Lidge, Jamie Moyer, Cole Hamels, Joe Blanton, Brett Myers, Ryan Madson, Chad Durbin, Scott Eyre, and Clay Condrey. Plus you can pencil J.C. Romero in when he returns from his 50-game suspension.

So that's eleven pitchers total that are locks.

My opinion on who gets the bullpen jobs: If J.A. Happ earns the fifth starting rotation spot, when Chan Ho Park will be in the bullpen. Joining him will be either Majewski or Mosebach. Most likely Robert Mosebach because Majewski and Koplove signed minor league deals, while Mosebach is a Rule 5 Draft pick.

The Bench(warmers): Infield Edition

As for bench players, you can do two things: one is pencil utility and bearded wonder, Eric Bruntlett in as an automatic lock. The second thing is pencil Greg "The Natural" Dobbs in as another automatic lock.

So the infielders that are locks are: Chase Utley, Pedro Feliz, Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Greg Dobbs, and Eric Bruntlett.

The Phillies need another right-handed bat coming of that bench, badly. The wild cards here are Marcus Giles, Pablo Ozuna, Miguel Cairo, and top prospect Jason Donald.

Jason Donald was reassigned to triple-A Lehigh Valley 3/24/2009

My opinion: If the Phillies need another infielder on the bench, Giles would be my pick.

The Bench(warmers): Catcher Edition

You can automatically pencil Carlos "Chooch" Ruiz in as the starting, everyday catcher. So who is the backup catcher? Good Question.

The Phillies had three players competing for the backup catcher role as of, March 24th 2009. Those three were: Ronny Paulino, Chris Coste, and Lou Marson.

As of March 24th 2009, the Phillies reassigned catcher Lou Marson to triple-A Lehigh Valley.

That leaves two players remaining: Ronny Paulino and Chris Coste.

My opinion: I believe the Phillies will stick with Chris Coste. The Phillies know Coste well and while none of the candidates for backup are hitting well this Spring Training, but like I said; the Phillies know what Coste brings to the table.

The Bench(warmers): Outfielder Edition

The Phillies have three "locks" in the outfield: Raul Ibanez, Shane Victorino, and Jayson Werth. The uncertain of a job future are: Matt Stairs, Geoff Jenkins, and John Mayberry Jr. While there are rumors* are abound over Jenkins and Stairs, the Phillies are not, I think, going to able to trade or release both Jenkins and Stairs.

As of this typing Mayberry has not been sent down to triple-A Lehigh Valley.

So who gets the last two bench spots? Another good question.

My opinion: The Phillies wind up keeping one of them on the bench, at least Jenkins and keep either Cairo or Giles on the bench as well. As for Stairs, the Canadian, slugger, will either be traded or released to make room for somebody. But, I will let time tell the story: there are less than two weeks from Opening Day, I should say Opening Night in the Phillies case.

That is it for the Spring Training Roster moves edition of the Mac Attack. Stay tuned for the Opening Day edition of the Mac Attack. So until then, keep on truckin' people; keep on reading and writing them articles. Peace.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Temple University Sports Update

I think now is a good time to give everyone an update on the Temple University sports scene for the week of March 9th through the 15th, and my first college sports article for BR. First off congrats to the Temple Men's Basketball team. They have clinched a spot in the 2009 NCAA Tournament with a win over the Duquesne Dukes in the A-10 Championship Final.

Temple (22-11, 11-5 A-10) has won there second A-10 title in as many years.The Owls have won back to back A-10 title, ending Duquesne's first NCAA tournament bid since 1977.

Other Temple Basketball facts: Temple is 5-0 against Duquesne in A-10 Tournament action.

In Dionte Christmas news: Dionte Christmas led Temple with 29 points, becoming the fourth Owl in history to score 2,000 career points, just one day after becoming the first Temple player to score 600 points in three straight seasons.

Prior to the Men's A-10 Tournament, Temple had finished fourth in the A-10.

Other Temple University Basketball news: the Women's Basketball team lost to Charlotte in the Women's A-10 Tournament Semifinals.

It is that time of year, the smell of fresh cut grass, the fresh and new aluminum bats, and the the sound of the sizzle of a 95-MPH fastball: it's college baseball time. The boys of summer (and the books) return to the field. Temple's Baseball has got off to a rather slow start.

Temple is in a bit of a slump. This past week, Temple lost to Rutgers: 11-8 in 12, Manhattan: 9-2, and Niagara: 5-3. Their current record is 2-9. They look to rebound this week.

Temple Softball: Temple softball is also in a bit of a slump. They look to rebound this week. Their current record is 2-8.

And that's it for the Temple University sports update.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Ten Phillies You Never Knew About: Part Four

Number One: There's a catch, I could not decide on a clear cut number one "unknown" Philadelphia Phillie. So I will leave it up to you, the readers. Which one should be number one? I'll provide you the stats for each ballplayer listed below, en which you can make your decision.

Del Ennis, Outfielder, 1946-1956

About Del Ennis: A natural outfielder from birth. Played the majority of his career in Philadelphia as a Phillie or back in those days, as a Philadelphia "Blue Jay". Born in Philadelphia in 1925, started his career in Philadelphia in 1946. At one point held the Phillies all-time Home Run record with 288 Home Runs, which was later surpassed by the great, Michael Jack Schmidt.

Career numbers with Philadelphia: 1603 Games, 6327 AB, 1809 Hits, .286 BA, 259 HR, 1160 RBI, Three time All-Star.

Career (Overall: 14 seasons): 1903 Games, 7254 AB, 2063 Hits, .284 BA, 288 HR, 1284 RBI,

Billy Hamilton, Outfielder, 1890-1895

About Billy Hamilton: William Robert Hamilton known as "Sliding Billy", invented the modern day stolen base. Played during the "Dead Ball Era" of baseball. Born in 1886, in Newark, New Jersey. Hamilton started his career as an amateur with the Kansas City Cowboys of the now defunct American Association.

Career numbers with Philadelphia (6 seasons): 729 Games, 2993 AB, 1079 Hits, .361 BA, 23 HR, 367 RBI, 508 SB

Career (Overall: 14 seasons): 1591 Games, 6268 AB, 2158 Hits, .344 BA, 40 HR, 736 RBI, 902 SB. Hit over .400 once (.404 in 1894), Hall of Famer (1961)

Ed Delahanty, Second Baseman, 1888-1889, 1891-1901

About Ed Delahanty: Edward James Delahanty known as "Big Ed" started his career with the Phillies in 1888. Played during the "Dead Ball Era" of baseball. Born in 1867, one year after the United States Civil War (or in the South, "The War of Northern Aggression) had ended. Had four other brothers, all of which played baseball.

Career with Philadelphia (13 seasons): 1555 Games, 6359 AB, 2213 Hits, .348 BA, 87 HR, 1286 RBI, 411 SB. Hit over .400 three times with the Phillies (.407 in 1894, .404 in 1895, .410 in 1899). Hit over .370 six times.

Career (Overall 16 seasons): 1835 Games, 7505 AB, 2596 Hits, .346 BA, 101 HR, 1464 RBI, 455 SB. Hall of Famer (1945).

And there you have it. You are now richer in the knowledge of the Philadelphia Phillies history of baseball and their ballplayers.

Of course what do I know? I am just a knuckle headed 19 year old kid.

Thanks for reading.