The Old and the New

I can’t believe that I have been writing my blog for FIVE years! It’s astounding the amount of changes that have happened in that amount of time.

I’ve quit my job and moved 1,000 miles to pursue my love of all things baseball and Disney. We’ve moved from a condo into a house we have built.

New website home

But the biggest visible change for you, is the total reconstruction of my website, BASEBALLBETSY.com. Last week after a lot of soul-searching I decided I had to totally blow up my original site that I had built on Apples’ iWeb platform. I liked iWeb. It was incredibly easy for a noob like me to set up and run and it didn’t cost monthly fees for maintenance. Sadly, last fall Apple discontinued the program and also made it so it would not be supported on their new operating system, therefore, I could no longer update my old laptop without causing me to be unable to do anything to my website.

I contacted my hosting provider and signed up for their template service. I like it, I think the new website format is much more visually stunning and at least I can make changes and updates. The only negative was my first 9 months of my blog was accidentally erased in the move. I had been told that I could “orphan” that one page and then just add the link to that page from the new site. That wasn’t true so I lost all nine months of my blog.

I was really upset, who wouldn’t be? I lost hours and hours of work and photographs (at least as they were tied to the posts). Then I remembered, I had a copy of the original blog saved in iWeb on the laptop. Thank goodness.

I am now in the process of rebuilding and adding these original posts here.

I decided to use this to my advantage. I have reprocessed the photos and watermarked them so that hopefully, they won’t be stolen and I’ve been able to replace any dead and outdated links.

I think the thing that sticks out to me the most is the trip down memory lane. Seeing how my views have changed, how my style of blogging has changed and how the equipment I used to take photographs has so greatly improved. When I began I had this little Kodak single lens point and shoot camera that really wasn’t good for the high speed and low light action of night baseball. Photos were grainy at best and unusable over half the time. Now, I’ve moved up to a Nikon D3200 with a 200mm lens and it makes a world if difference. Even my iPhone has better resolution that that old Kodak!

So in the coming days I hope to finish recreating the old posts (there’s about 30 left, ugh) and hope to get it finished before Spring Training. New season, new website and a complete blog. That’s the goal.

I also hope you enjoy sort of a “Best of” series a look back at former Phillies like Hunter Pence, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Tuffy Gosewisch.

New Aquisition John Richy Makes Clearwater Threshers Debut

John Richy, the newly acquired RHP from the Dodgers, made his debut with the Clearwater Threshers tonight.

Here are some pictures:  

    
 
  

Richy went 7 innings, 4 hits, no runs, 1 walk, 3 strike outs and a pick-off. A rather impressive debut for our new pitcher.

My only regret is that I won’t get to see more of him before the end of the season. Well, there’s only approximately 165 days until spring training….

A Tale of Two Balls

Sitting around the Carpenter Complex like I do, you see a lot of things. Some things are more memorable than others.

One of my favorite was sitting on a bench and talking with Roman Quinn. He was here at the end of the season last year with his wrist injury and is now rehabbing a new injury to his Achilles’ tendon.

You might think a guy with “swag” in his twitter handle might be a little pretentious, but let me tell you, that is not a word I thought of talking to Roman. He’s a sweet soft spoken guy who’s positivity is amazing considering his bad luck with injuries. He was quite impressive.

He was also kind enough to sign a ball for me.

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The other ball I collected this week has a more “colorful” history. Baseball Ross and I were watching one of the A+ (group 3) scrimmages and Hilton Richardson, a free agent signee who hadn’t played for 2 years, smacked a ball out over the right field fence at Ashburn Field. It bounced out on the macadam and disappeared.

Later when Ross and I were walking to the car I saw it…sunk in the drainage ditch next to the parking lot. It was barely visible above the green gunk but it was there and Ross, being the gentleman he is, carefully retrieved it for me.

It took three days of baking it in the hot car in the Florida sunshine to get it to dry out. It did however, retain the green hue of the algae. I caught up with the glasses wearing Hilton and got it autographed as well.

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I also found Richardson’s hit interesting as hit hit it about the same place that Chase Utley did last year when Chase was here in rehab. (Yes, I have that ball as well, though it stopped short of going in the water.)

Rainy Days Always get me Down

It was a stormy day, thunder storm warnings and tornado warnings. Needless to say, Ross and I decided to stay home.

It gave me a chance to organize the autographs I’ve collected this spring:

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I can’t even begin to decipher all the names but I can tell you that the following players are on there, somewhere: Bobby Abreu, Domonic brown, Phillipe Aumont, Justin DeFratus, Cody Asche, Tony Gwynn Jr, Ruben Amaro Jr, Darin Ruf, Wil Nieves, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Maikel Franco, Kevin Frandsen, Kenny Giles,
Kelly Dugan, Aaron Altherr, Marlon Byrd, Ben Revere…I think.

I also got quite a few balls signed:

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I was also fortunate enough to be given a bat, my FIRST bat! It was Freddy Galvis’!

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I think this was my best season for autographs!

Rain couldn’t dampen our fun

We were lucky when we got out tickets for the game, prime autograph seats.

My program is nearly full.

Talked to new catcher Wil Nieves, he’s a really great guy. He took time to talk to fans and signed a lot.

The best thing to happen was that as it began to sprinkle, Bobby Abreu and Domonic Brown were signing near us. Abreu signed and brown was right behind him. Just as he got to me it started to pour, those huge drops, I pulled the plastic cover back on my program and Brown signed it and pulled the plastic back up before turning and running for cover.

The game was fun as well even if we didn’t win.

Here’s a few shots I took.

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And the best mascot in baseball was there!

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Phillies Intra-Squad Game

It was a long day for me. After two hours of sleep (so forgive any errors contained in this post) I drove to Tampa International Airport to pick up a long time Phillies fan, my friend B. We’ve been friends since high school and she’s been planning this for a long time. She left Harrisburg at 2 AM to drive to Philly to grab her 6:30 AM flight. So her day was even longer than mine.

We went straight from the airport to the Carpenter Complex. She was excited because after being there only five minutes, she got her first autograph, Maikel Franco. (Talk about beginners luck!)

From there, we got in line for the FREE intra-squad game. We were lucky enough to snag front row seats in the area most likely for autographs. To continue her beginners luck, who did she get next? CHASE UTLEY and RYNE SANDBERG! Heck it took me several years to get Utley the first time.

All in all, it was a good day for me too. I snagged nine, on a program Ross brought me. I managed to get:

Chase Utley
Ryne Sandberg
Phillipe Aumont
Kelly Dugan
Cody Asche
Darrin Ruf
Ray Berris
Kenny Giles
Kevin Munson

Shown here with labels

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I will also apologize here that I did not pay enough attention to give you details of the game. Being with a long-time friend will sometimes distract you like that, especially when they are happy when they get their favorite player’s autograph!

I did take some pictures:
Jesse Biddle was the starting pitcher

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Ryan Howard rounds third after a long-hit homer

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Kenny Giles brought the heat and struck out two in his second inning

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And I’ll throw in this picture of Chase Utley because he’s B’s favorite

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It was a really fun day. Sometimes going with someone who’s so very excited, someone who’s crossing an item off their bucket list really makes you remember why you loved the game in the first place. Seeing a kid next to you nearly cry getting THAT special autograph they’ve always wanted and the only trying that makes them happier is that mom was going to take them to the gift store to get a case for it. Or the teenage boy who flew across a section to get a foul only to give it to an older lady who wasn’t fast enough.

Ahh, my love of baseball is renewed.

One of BEST days…

One of the best things about spring training is the “thrill of the chase”, and I’m not talking Chase Utley! The thrill of the chase is deciding what guy’s autographs you need, finding out what fields they’re on, and praying you time everything right so that you can grab their autograph.

It’s not always easy. I got Jonathan Papelbon the first day, I was in the right place at the right time, that one was easy. Then again, it took me seven years to get Jimmy Rollins autograph! The key is never giving up. You just got to keep trying. One day sometime you’ll likely time at all just so, and get that autograph.

Then there was this little boy, he had been trying for days to get Chase Utley’s autograph. It was the last day of his vacation and he was desperate. So when we were standing off to the side just the two of us, I told the little fella to say, “Mr. Utley, will you please sign my ball?” As the boy leaned over the fence, he called to Utley as I instructed, (and with me pointing frantically to the little guy) Chase stopped and signed. The kid was grinning from ear to ear! It made his trip!

That’s the way it was for me, too, may be the autograph Gods smiled on me for helping the little guy because I finally got Bobby Abreu. For five days I followed him around like a puppy dog not obviously of course, but kept tabs on where he was practicing, in the hopes of catching him in a signing mood. Today I got him between two of the fields between his practice sessions. I said, “Bobby would you sign my ball, pretty please with sugar on top?” So when he signed my ball, he signed it “To Sugar, Bobby Abreu”

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I thought that was pretty cool. No player has ever personalized anything to me before. It really kind of made my day. But my day only got better from there.

I’ve been recognized as Baseball Betsy before, but today was a first for me. This kind gentleman, whom I met before, actually asked for my autograph! It blew me away that he liked me so much that he would have me sign a ball. I never in my wildest dreams, when I started this blog, thought that anyone would want my autograph. So I signed the ball and took a picture of the two of us. It really made today a special day!

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Tomorrow’s practice is an abbreviated one as the Phillies have their annual golf outing.

Spring training day five – old and new

As I think about today, I realize there’s two things on my mind, the old and the new. The old? Players like Abreu and Rollins even Howard and Utley. I’m also thinking of the young.

I was able to get Chase Utley’s autograph today. And seeing him up close I realize that in my mind, I still see him as a 25-year-old, even though that’s not true. I see Abreu and for some reason he does seem like he’s been a player forever.

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It’s almost like what’s old is new. Baseball is a cycle. A player starts, he rises and comes down if you’re lucky you get to see him the whole way through. Like Abreu. He was my mother-in-law’s favorite player. Even when she was at the end of her life, she always wanted to see Abreu play. She’s been gone now, for several years and now her Bobby Abreu is back and it’s sort of bittersweet for me.

And I think of the new, not only like Cody Asche and Darren Ruf but also of some younger guys in the farm system.

Some of the players from the lower levels have started to trickle into camp. I’ve seen Carlos Alonzo, Steve Susdorf,Hoby Milner, Perci Garner and many others. And I’ve also seen some of last year’s Gulf Coast League Phillies trickle into camp.

One of those boys, Rivar Anguilo, made my day today. Sometimes, when you go to the rookie league games. There’s only three or four spectators. If you are one of the people who goes all the time the players get to know you and you get to know them. Last summer, I got to know quite a few of these younger players. Rivar was one of those guys. I made cookies for the boys last summer, I only did it two or three times, but I guess Rivar remembered. When he came into camp today and saw me standing there, his face lit up, it was a huge smile! He came right over and not only did he shake my hand strongly, he gave me a great big kiss on the cheek!

I think that made my weekend! Just to know that little bit of kindness meant so much to someone that six months later they are that happy to see you. People sometimes ask me why I like the lower levels of baseball and this is one reason why. Just a few minutes out of my week to make some cookies for some boys and it must have made an impression.

Just another reason to love baseball.

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It was a short day for me, but an interesting one

Sometimes the worst part about living in Clearwater during spring training is that sometimes real life gets in the way of your baseball life. Baseball Ross and I had to cut today short to return home to meet with a handyman to do some work around our house.

That doesn’t mean we didn’t get to see the beginning of today’s workouts. Today’s workouts, started much like all the other workouts, The team gathers around one of the mounds and one of the coaches lecture about what they are going to work on for the day.

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After that, the team spreads out over several fields to continue stretching and start the drills for their appropriate position.

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At one point, I saw Ryne Sandberg apparently lecturing Chase Utley while Chase was stretching.

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In what seems like some good news, Aaron Altherr was working out without wearing the brace on his right wrist. As I mentioned yesterday, Aaron told me that his wrist is coming along nicely and he hopes to be back on track soon.

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Though, I have to admit my favorite picture of the day, is this one I took of Jimmy Rollins. It was one of those rare moments where it seems like he was having a lot of fun!

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We hope to be back out on the fields tomorrow watching practice, however, there is some bad weather moving in and there is a chance that it may rain so outdoor practice may or may not happen. If it does, Baseball Ross and I will be there.

First Full Day of Spring Training

Note: I dedicate today’s blog to my friend David…who tells me I can’t slack on my blogging. 🙂

It’s the first day of the full team reporting to the major league spring training. The first thing was it was the first day to leave the jeans and sweatshirts behind! The weather has cleared and it is warm and beautiful!

After a talk with Ryne Sanberg,
the boys came out and stretched.

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First they started running bases. From this I saw that Utley is moving well, possibly better than he has for years. Bobby Abreu was running smoothly, though his speed was noticeably less than the rest.

Then, from where I was, I watched some drills that included both pitchers and position players.

It was much more active and intense than in the previous days. What I liked hearing was new pitcher Roberto Hernandez telling young Jesse Biddle that they throw he made was, “Amazing”.

Utley also fielded well and showed no signs of injury.

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I also managed to add two great autographs to my collection: Jonathan Papelbon and Mickey Morandini.

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Jonathan Papelbon really surprised me. In the past he rarely signed and frankly, I didn’t recognize him at first. He was so relaxed and might ineven say, happy today? It doesn’t seem to be his natural state. All the other times I’ve seen him he’s had a “look”, his mouth was tight and he looked angry at the world. Today, a man called to him and he signed for everyone there and laughed and joked with everyone as he signed.

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Morandini was also in a jovial mood, joking that, “what are you guys doing here, wouldn’t you rather be at the beach?”

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Another change from previous years is that before, they always wrapped up at noon…today, when I left at 1:15, they were still going strong.

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It was a good day…