It is the Spring of my Discontent

To paraphrase Steinbeck (and badly at that), it is the spring of my discontent. I love baseball, I do, but I’m so frustrated with it, so discontent.

There’s so many reasons…almost too many to count, but I’ll try.

1. The injury bug bit early, often and viciously. Roman Quinn, Jiwan James, Cole Hamels, Ethan Martin, Cameron Rupp, Kelly Dugan, Tommy Joseph, Mitch Walding, Adam Morgan, Hugo Arrocha, Josh Warner, Steven Inch, Nic Hanson, Chase Numata, Cory Bass, Darin Ruf, Rivar Angulo, Delvy Francisco, Mike Adams, Chris Bootcheck, Yoel Mecias, Anthony Phillips, Colin Klevin, Hoby Milner, Ryan Demmin, Aaron Altherr, Larry Greene, Zach Green, Brandon Short, Drew Anderson, Freddy Galvis, Andres Blanco and Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez. These are the guys I can think of right off the top of my head! While some of them have returned or are scheduled to return, there are still others that have no timeframe for return.

2. It’s barely a month into the season and Tyson Gillies was suspended for three games for destroying a bat rack in the clubhouse. To me this is a symptom of a larger problem, both with Gillies and the entire system. Gillies is developing a reputation as a guy with anger management issues. Another example happened just two weeks ago here in Florida. Kevin Walter was unhappy with the way things were going during a game in Tampa. He left the field, stormed into the locker room behind the dugout and from where I was sitting I could hear him swearing and a loud thump as if something was either thrown or a table tipped over. Just after that another Thresher player came out of the locker room with a worried look on his face. He stopped another player from going into the locker room saying “You DON’T want to go in there!”

It also is a symptom of how players (and fans) are frustrated with the lack of production and success in the organization. (Read on to number 3 for an example.)

3. The lack of wins. The records speak for themselves:

Phillies 13-12
Iron Pigs 11-13
Fightins 11-10
Threshers 5-19
Lakewood 7-16

Of the five teams currently playing in the organization, only TWO are above .500 and both of those teams are only ONE GAME over.

4. Misusing players. I have a prime example of this and it’s the one that had me totally stymied. Last season, there was only ONE Gold Glove winner in the entire Phillies system, Carlos Alonso. Carlos played 2nd for the Threshers and only made TWO errors all YEAR. ALL YEAR. He was promoted to Reading (and rightly so) and where did they have this Gold Glove winning second baseman play? Third and THE OUTFIELD! Really?!? REALLY?!? I’d have loved to sit in on the coaches meeting where they thought up that gem.

5. Bad umpiring. Last night was the end-all, be-all of bad calls. If you read my Twitter feed last night, you could tell how I was seething. The Threshers had been losing (again) and had battled back and had the winning run was at the plate. Pete Lavin had homered earlier in the game to spark the comeback and had come close to a second homer after that. Lavin came to the plate and Bright House Field was buzzing with anticipation. One foul, two fouls, three fouls, four fouls, it was easy to see that Lavin was pushing hard to be the hero. On the final call he checked his swing and from where Ross and I were sitting (and I later confirmed with another season ticket holder with another point of view) we did NOT see him break his wrists and the bat head did not cross the plate. The home plate ump called him out and didn’t even call the base ump to confirm! The game was over! Lavin was livid. If you know Pete, you know he rarely says anything to an ump, he’s fairly laid back. Last night, Lavin walked after the ump to discuss the call. The ump just walked away.

At that point, Nelson Prada got involved. When he started he seemed more in disbelief that the home plate ump didn’t even check with the base ump. I was just turning to leave when I heard Prada go ballistic! (While I am “censoring” this he used the full words) “That’s F*ing BS! That’s a F*ing BS call!”

I have to say, I was right there with Prada. While I’ve been known to occasionally heckle an ump and sitting behind home is great for that, I do not swear. There’s kids and it’s just not “proper”. Last night was the closest I’ve ever come to losing my cool and joining Prada with F-bombing the ump. My blood boiled! To end a game on a bogus call and not even check with the base ump when the winning run was at the plate was just bogus. I was so frustrated and angry. It took me a good hour after the game to cool off. I don’t think I’ve ever been that angry at a game.

I must admit I’m still sort of angry, angry and discontent enough that if Ethan Stewart and Colin Kelvin (returning from the DL) were not pitching today and tomorrow, I wouldn’t go.

If you want to see me try to decide if I’ll go tonight, watch this video, it’s pretty accurate as to how I’m feeling…

Starting Thursday, the Threshers are on the road, so I’ll get a break then, but man, I’ll be dragging myself in tonight. It’ll almost be like trying to drag myself into work on a “Monday morning”.

Let’s hope that Stewart and Kleven use this misfortune as a jumping off point so that we do not end the first month of the season with only 5 wins. If they do, we would be on pace to go 25-115 (assuming they’d continue with winning 5 games a month).

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Final Workout Group Posting

Here it is…

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Timing is Everything

One of the things I love best is photography. It’s a real passion of mine. Last spring, I finally broke down and invested in a “real” camera, one with interchangeable lenses, wifi and so many bells and whistles that I can’t name half of them. It was the best thing I could have done.

One of the very first times I used it, I was watching extended spring training and I was struggling a little and this kind man sitting next to me asked if my camera was new. I said yes and he proceeded to ask me for my camera. He took his camera off his monopod (an adjustable stick that bears the weight of the camera and helps you hold it steady) and put my camera on it. He told me to try it out. Then he showed me a few things with the camera as well as suggesting some accessories I should buy to get started.

I was so impressed that this man would spend time showing me the ropes. He said he was there to watch his son. We chatted a while then I headed over to another field to take some more pictures.

Later, I mentioned this to Ross and how much I thought of such a kind gesture. “The guy sitting next to you taught you to use your camera? Do you know who that was?” I said, “one of the dads.”

Ross laughed, “That is Dennis Dugan, Kelly Dugan’s dad! He directs movies in Hollywood!”

I didn’t believe him, but after checking IMDB, Ross was right.

I had just gotten a lesson in photography from the director of “Happy Gilmore” and “Big Daddy”. He really was so sweet to help someone as clueless as I was.

I got to see him today and made a point to show him the picture I took of Kelly earlier in the season. It really meant a lot to me when he complimented me on it.

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I also took a few other pictures that I am kinda proud of, as I think I’ve finally started to get the hang of action photography. One thing I can tell you, it’s easier when you know the pitcher. If you’ve taken hundreds of pictures of them, you can learn when to hit the shutter to get that one shot. 20,000 digital pictures later and I now have some like this:

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Phillies Minor League Workgroup List-Updated as of 3/10/2014

This morning the updated workgroup listing for the Phillies minor league camp was released:

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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!

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

For me, it was a pretty darn good day, for the Fighting Phils, not so much.

Let’s take this in reverse order:

The Ugly:
Seeing Kelly Dugan get plunked with the ball during his first plate appearance. It looked like it smarted and with the cold, I’m sure it stung.

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The Bad:
Ethan Martin was taken out of the game with “shoulder soreness” before even getting an out. He didn’t look like he was feeling good about his shoulder.

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Finally, The Good:

I’ve been collecting autographs for years and I’ve never managed to assemble an entire starting line-up. This is the closest I’ve come, I only need 3 more. Today, I got Ben Revere.

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What was really cool was that when I tweeted him to thank him, he favorited my tweet!

Then, after the game, Baseball Ross, B and I went to dinner and when we returned home there was a “broken” FREDDY GALVIS bat! A neighbor of mine was able to get it and he brought it to me, knowing I’d love it. It’s awesome and my very first bat. Next week, we are going to get a case for it. I’ve never gotten to see a big league bat up close, let alone own one! It’s pretty cool and I’m lucky to have such a thoughtful neighbor.

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So tomorrow is the game at Bright House against the Detroit Tigers. It’s B’s last game before returning to Pennsylvania and snow on Sunday. Tomorrow is “physicals day” for minor league players and Saturday is the first workouts.

I’m excited to see the “kids” and will be spending the majority of my time at the Carpenter Complex so if you’re there look for me.

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.