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the photos and watermarked them so that hopefully, they won’t be stolen and I’ve been able to replace any dead and outdated links.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.

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The Good, The Bad and the Ugly–Phillies Style

I just don’t know what happened to this season. I don’t. While I never expected the amazing-ness of recreating the 2008 season, I certainly expected that we’d do better than we did.

May be I’ve become spoiled. I mean, had this happened in the late 90s it would have been the norm, what was expected, but since the miracle of the 2008 season, all the seasons that we’ve been in the hunt, a threat to contend with, this season came as a smack to the face.

What or whom is to blame? The injuries? Trades? Lack of production/effort? Bad management?

Does it matter?

There is so much blame to go around. Rabid Ruben Amarro, Jr., Uncle Chuckles…the injury bug…I could go on. So much of the 2012 season with the Phillies was so ugly that I don’t think I can ever look at the season without putting a metaphorical bag over its head.

We all know what made the season Ugly (and I do mean to use the capital U, it was THAT ugly) and over the next four months every pundit will claim to know the cause of this years’ debacle. So why should I rehash it?

The Bad? Hmm. There were some things that I would say were bad, but did not merit being called ugly. Not many because I feel like 2012 was such a craptastic season that almost all the negatives were so strongly negative that really there wasn’t much bad for me, it all turned Ugly. Top it with the cherry that was Ryan Howard breaking his big toe. Does a year any more Ugly than that?

Bad, trading players to other teams…and then they  made contributions for their new teams. Shane Vicotrino, Joe Blanton, Hunter Pence, Scott Posednik and Rich Thompson were traded away.

I liked Posednik and Thompson. I’d watched the two of them last year in Lehigh Valley. I got to talk to Pods in Spring Training and he seemed like a nice guy. Thompson had been with the IronPigs from the beginning and to see him traded away was like a kick in the teeth, especially when they traded away Pence and Victorino just a month later. Thompson at least got traded to his hometown team, but he might have been good to keep here, he’s a decent fielder and considering his salary was considerably lower, it would have given us some more space under the cap to try to find someone for third base.

Bad was Freddy Galvis coming out to a hot and roaring start…giving hope that may be the season could at least be decent…only to have him sidelined by not only a back injury but a fifty game suspension for PEDs.

Bad was also how the front office kept inflating the attendance numbers to try to keep the “sold out” streak at CBP going. I mean any fool with eyes could see the large areas of empty seats. You can’t tell me that THAT many people purchased tickets then didn’t go. I’m sorry. Talk about “massaging” data!

The good. Hmm…when it comes to the big boys, frankly there’s not a lot for me. I look at Darin “Babe” Ruf…that makes me happy. I look at Tyler Cloyd…that’s another bright and shining star. What do these guys have in common? They’re young and offer promise…may be that’s what the big Phils need…HOPE…not another older player signed for a year or two to fill in a gap. Hope can go a long way in inspiring a team to do better.

For me…the things I’ll remember about the 2012 season all had to do with the minor league levels. Granted, I had a lot of contact with the players at this level…but that’s what will shine for me. This year, frankly, I want to forget the majority of the Big Phillies year and focus on the guys who give me hope that may be once management decides to give the younger guys a chance to play that may be, we can become great again.

I look at Jesse Biddle, Austin Wright, Adam Morgan, Tyler Knigge Cody Asche, Tyson Gillies, Darin Ruf, Tyler Cloyd, Jake Deikman and think…that we might just have something there…we have a massive amount of talent and potential that THEY are our future..THEY are the ones to help pull this team up.

This is what keeps me going, the hope that may be these guys that I’ve watched this summer and in some cases, several summers, that these guys can get us to the big game…whether Rabid Ruben and Uncle Chuckles give them the chance before any of them are old enough to qualify for social security remains to be seen.

 

As I read over what I had written, I realize I sound bitter. As a fan who live and dies with her teams, this year has been so hard to take. So much potential seemed to have been squandered. Personally, I lay a lot of the blame with management who seems stuck on bringing in and then keeping in older guys who just don’t seem to be getting it done on a regular basis…which would be understandable, IF there weren’t some kids in the farm system that might just have the potential to get the job done, as well as the veterans are but would also give hope to the future. That’s what makes me bitter.

I’ve said it before and I’l say it again, I’d rather lose because we have younger players learning to play at the Major League level than losing because the players we have are at the end of a great career and can’t manage to keep playing everyday at that same Major League Level.

Now…that I have that rant off my chest…I’ll start blogging about the Fall Instructional League…and my lists of “BEST OF” for this year….so keep reading…I’ll be back soon

 

 

Opening Game of the Grapefruit League Is Bitter and Sweet

It was a sell out game with the Yankees to start the Grapefruit League schedule. It was hitters’ day with high winds out towards left.

While the Yankees managed to get out to an early 1-0, Hunter Pence came to the plate with a man on base and did what he’s done every day in spring training, he hit it out of the park. This gave the Phils a 2-1 lead.

Cole Hamels looked good in the 2nd and after that, Charlie Manuel began to take the regulars out of the game. Hamels said after the game that he had felt good which is very important considering he had a bone fragment/chip the size of a tic tac removed from his elbow in the off season.

The Phils quickly fell behind and went on to lose 8-5.

Now some fans are discouraged that they lost the opener, but I’m not. Why?
In my opinion, you have to look at these “pre-season” games differently than you would a regular season game. Why, you ask? For me the key is to look at the score when the regulars came out, they were winning 2-1. After that, there were a lot of substitutions. Hamels was done for the day. While the replacements are all very talented, they haven’t played together as a team as much which changes the dynamics of the game.

To me, after the top of the 3rd, you need to look at the remainder of game as a series of personal achievements. I look to the key events of the bottom of the 9th when Kevin Frandsen hit a homer. It was almost as pretty as the one hit earlier in the week.

Then, with a man on, Tyson Gillies was up. He smacked that ball and it, too, was gone. Tyson’s been hot all week and he looks to be ready to make the leap onto the stage of the Big Show. He also had chased down some balls in the outfield during the game. He lived up to the nickname given to him by Hunter Pence, “The Mongoose”.

Pence had called Tyson that because he said the Tyson was fast and seemed to be running everywhere.

After last year’s injury-plagued season, it’s great to see that not only has Tyson recovered but flourished.

So am I disappointed that they didn’t win? Sort of…I mean I’m a fan so I always want to see them win; BUT, as I stated above, these early games are really more about personal achievement, and seeing how new players might be able to fit into the regular rotation, so I’m not disappointed in the least.

Baseball is back…and that makes life good.

The Hunt for Hunter Pence

I’ll admit it, I’m an autograph hound. I love the “hunt” to try to collect all the autographs I need for my team.  It’s taken me years of standing in line, getting pushed backwards down the stairs by an 80 year old lady, and sunburn. Was it worth it? Yes.

I have quite a few balls…(sadly 2/3 are in storage right now until we move into the new house). I have the majority of the “bigs”, Howard, Utley, Hamels, Halladay, Blanton, Lee, Worley, Brown, SCHMIDT, SANDBERG, Victorino, Dallas Green and Ruben Amaro, among others. I’m very picky and they’re all stored in UV protectant boxes all labelled the same.

This year I have the goal of getting the “final three” that I need: Pence, Rollins and Ruiz.

I came within 2 people last year of getting Rollins. Ruiz, well he really doesn’t sign unless he knows you, so I really don’t think I’ll have much of a chance. So I’m focused on Pence and Rollins.  Rollins just recently got into town and hasn’t shown up at the field so I’m waiting for the official start to training.

Hunter Pence? The boy is as slippery as an eel (I mean that in a humorous way).

In this day an age, it’s extremely difficult to get that ONE you need. It’s always right place, right time. Gone are the day’s of “Fan Fest” where for a small fee where the money went to charity you could get to meet and and get the autographs of several players. I got Francisco, Kendrick and Schneider that way.

So when I heard Hunter was taking BP at Brighthouse, I was there.

There is a certain camaraderie with most of the autograph hounds. 90% of them are polite and will help you if they can. What I’m not sure that the players realize, we talk. If a player is mean, lies to kids or is generally just stuck up, it gets around. People will know. Likewise, if they are good guys, that gets around too.

The first day I tried for Hunter’s autograph, he came by near the end of BP. He was walking toward us, he picked up his equipment and started for the gate. Every was calling his name. He replied that he had to finish his running for the day (most players jog after practice to cool down). He promised to try to come back if he could.

The cynical man behind me mumbled. “Put off again. This is never going to work.” The gentleman beside me said, “Hey man, don’t say that. Back in Philly, Hunter said he had to do something and promised he’d come back. What ever it was, took about 45 minutes and everyone gave up and went home. So when he came back , no one had waited for him. If Hunter says he’ll come back, he will.”

So I waited. Unfortunately, before he came back they closed the field and we were shooed out by security.

The next day, Hunter finished for the day and started signing. I was standing in the same place all day. Right before Hunter got to me, this 70-something lady pushed next to me. What could I do? I was taught to respect my elders. In the end, Hunter quit signing….AT THE OLD LADY! I was so frustrated!

So yesterday, I got there when the gates opened…rushed down to my favorite spot and worked myself into a spot where I actually knew the people either side of me. They’re good people. The family to my left I’ve talked with for 2 years. We were in the center of the first row so no old lady was going to shove me out!

At the end of practice, here comes Hunter. He obviously recognized me as I’d been in about the same spot for 3 days…

He made a bee-line to me. I finally got his autograph!

Hunter Pence Autographed Ball
Hunter Pence Signing

He really was the sweetest guy. He signed quite a bit then stepped back and said, “How about signing for some more kids?” That’s what he did. He picked as many kids as he could out of the crowd and made sure he took care of them.

Now THAT’S a nice guy.

I liked the guy before, but now I really like him. He’s friendly, kind and most importantly, a real class act.

I just wish I would have “borrowed” Ross’ “Good Game, Let’s Go Eat” shirt to get signed that day. *snaps* Shucks!

Spring Training Day 3

Pitchers and catchers camp was crowded again so Ross and I went over to Brighthouse to watch BP.

Hunter Pence hit approximately 11 balls out of the park. He really lit it up. He signed autographs today after practice, but stopped signing with the kid next to me. *Curses! Foiled AGAIN!*

I did get to snap this picture:

So not a total loss!

I did get to get a Juan Pierre card that the nice guy from MONTANA who stood by me, gave me. So that was cool.

I also got to talk to one of the nicest players, Tyson Gillies. I finally got his autograph on its own ball, so today was a good day.

I also saw Chase Utley and Jim Thome

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Also interesting, I was interviewed by the Philly Daily News/Inquirer photographer who was taking fan questions to the paper’s sports writers for their weekly show! He said if used it will likely air on Thursday…so keep your eyes peeled. I’ll post a link if I can.

So overall, it was a really great day! What else could I ask for? Got a few autographs, talked to some nice players got some good pictures (I’ll post the camera pictures when I get home)…it was sunny, 70 degrees…

LIFE IS GOOD