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

 

 

Pop goes the Pods

After the lackadaisical day the Phils had yesterday, I took my time getting to my seat. I stayed in the shade behind home plate and only wandered to my sun-drenched seat in Section 118 a few minutes before the national anthem.

The first half of the first was average, Cliff Lee was slipping into his mid-season form. The Pirates pitcher was sooooo slow. so very slow. He gave up a run….then another….then Lee   sat the Pirates down…then Mr. Slow…Thome managed to come home…

This pitcher was so slow that people were heckling him, “Come on! Hurry it up! We’re baking to death out here!” and “It’s 85! Get a move on!”. Indeed he was slow, it took over forty minutes for only TWO innings. He gave up two more before they sat him down after pitching 3 innings.

Cliff Lee held them scoreless through six and in the 7th, Kyle Kendrick came in. Things were about to heat up…literally, the scoreboard read a sweltering 87 degrees.

It also started getting ugly. Kendrick was getting ready to pitch when Yamico Navarro put him arm back and started waving at the umpire. I assume he was trying to call for a time out…but the ump didn’t call it. The pitch was a strike. On the next pitch Kendrick pegged him on the arm and a pinch runner came in for Navarro.

It got uglier as during the bottom of the 7th, the Pirate pitcher beaned Miguel Abreu in retaliation for Kendrick’s hit on Navarro. Abreu was unhurt.

Antonio Bastardo came in at the top of the 8th with a 4-0 lead. Bastardo gave up 3 runs. After that, Cholly gave him the hook and brought in Michael Stutes. Stutes gave up another run so the game was tied.

Nothing happened until the bottom of the 9th. The game was tied and there was no one warming up for the Phils in the bullpen. This was it. There were two outs when Scott Posednik came up to the dish. They say revenge is a dish best served cold…and the Pirate pitcher threw AT Pods…The ball went behind him. Pods retaliated by taking the next pitch….

AND SENDING IT OVER THE RIGHT FIELD FENCE! Game winning home run! Take that you scalawags!

Posednik was the hero of the day and may be this will knock the Phils out of their phunk, err, funk. At least we know that Kendrick and Posednik still have some spunk.

 

 

Spring Training, Day 9

Michael Martinez watches batting practice

It was the last day of the Major League spring training camp. They’re looking good and I feel like this is a season of promise. (except for the lack of Howard, but I think we have some good players to take his place)

Practice was just running through a last few drills and they were done by 12/12:30.

What was cool for me was I got Scott Posednik’s autograph. I saw him in Lehigh Valley’s play off games last fall.

Then I got to talk to Tuffy Gosewisch. I told him that I had been in Reading the night he hit his grand slam. That night was really great. Ross had his flip cam running when Tuffy came up to the plate. The jerk behind us said, “Tuffy Gosewisch? With a name like that, he’d better be good!” and that’s when Tuffy hit it hard over the wall to get the grand slam. Tuffy thought that was pretty funny. If you want to read that post and see the video you can click HERE

Then I ran into Larry Andersen. I had talked to him about three weeks ago about my blog and I joked with him yesterday as to whether he had seen it. He said that he had no internet connection so he hadn’t had a chance. We got to walk quite a ways with him and he also signed a ball for me.

While there really wasn’t much to see that was different from the day before, I did have a good day. But then ANY day in the sun watching baseball is a good day, at least in my book.

Step 2 to Bring Home the Bacon

Betsy and Ross at Coca Cola Park
Betsy and Ross at Coca Cola Park

It was our first game at Coca-Cola Park. Ross and I had tickets for the first game of the Pawtucket Red Sox and Lehigh Valley IronPigs, but due to the flooding from the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee (see my post: Deeper and Deeper) Ross and I did not feel safe traveling that far when our ability to cross the river was so precarious.

Even though Allentown is technically farther from us than Reading, it takes us about the same amount of time to get there as it does to Reading.

One thing I always take notice of is the atmosphere of a stadium as well as the vibe of the crowd. The day got off to a good start when a gentleman saw Ross and I taking pictures of each other and he came over and took this picture. It’s one of the few I have of the two of us at a game where we not all contorted from one of us trying to hold the camera out far enough to get us both in the shot.

Do you remember a few months ago when I was at a park where I grabbed a cheesesteak for dinner and I learned that important life lesson about never eating at the only concession stand without a line? It was a good sign that every single solitary stand at Coca-Cola Park was LONG! The first place we stopped was “Aw Schucks”, a stand selling roasted ears of corn on the cob.

Since getting braces, I haven’t had corn on the cob and at this time of the year it kills me. I love corn. Ross offered to get one and let me see if I could manage it.

Awshucks Corn at Coca Cola Park.
Awshucks Corn at Coca Cola Park.

To my surprise, I was able to eat it! I ran back and got an ear for myself. Ross’ ear was an ear “Aw Shucks” style, with butter, a “secret blend of southwestern spices” and parmesan cheese. I chose one brushed with butter and added salt and pepper. Both were wonderful! This corn may very well end up on my upcoming “best of” post after the conclusion of the season.

Next, we wandered out onto the outfield walkway:

The Scoreboard at Coca Cola Park
The Scoreboard at Coca Cola Park
Looking In From The Outfield Walkway at Coca Cola Park
Looking In From The Outfield Walkway at Coca Cola Park

We then had a “Box of Rivets” which are Pretzel Factory pretzel bites with red, white and blue salt. Very yummy and much better than the standard “Super Pretzels” normally sold at sporting events.

Rivet Pretzel
Rivet Pretzel

We continued around and as we came to left-center field, we looked up and there in the sky was a beautiful rainbow. It had to have stayed in the sky for almost half an hour. After a week of rain and flooding, it was a welcome sight! We also hoped that it was a harbinger of good things to come.

Rainbow Over Coca Cola Park
Rainbow Over Coca Cola Park

The stadium has a lot of interactive things to do, a mini golf putt-in game, bouncy things for the kids, speed pitch, a playground and my favorite…a cut out “Thingy” where you could stick your head through to take a picture…

Hey!
Hey!
Betsy with Ferrus and FeFe
Betsy with Ferrus and FeFe

As we continued around, we found the “Pigs to the Bigs” Wall:

Pigs to the Bigs Wall
Pigs to the Bigs Wall

Here, each star has the name of former IronPigs players who went on to play in the Majors, like Dominic Brown, Vance Worley and John Mayberry, Jr among others.

The first indicator of how important this game was, not only was Ruben Amarro, Jr. in attendance, but also Dave Montgomery and Steve Noworyta.

Ruben Amarro and Steve Noworyta.
Ruben Amarro and Steve Noworyta.

Pitcher Ryan Edell looked good but gave up a run early…once he settled in, he was rock solid. He doesn’t have a lot of speed, he uses his placement and control to get strike outs. He reminds me of a younger version of the Phillies’ Jamie Moyer.

Ryan Edell
Ryan Edell

He was simply amazing with how he shook off that early run and he just dominated the Sox from that point on.

Brandon Moss came up in the second and hit the ball solidly to left center to tie the game.

Brandon Moss
Brandon Moss

In the third, Moss hit another one that was inches from going over but it bounced back, Scott Podsednik scored and Kevin Frandsen was thrown out at the plate. The Pigs were ahead 2-1

The Pigs stayed in the lead until the eighth when Tagg Bozied missed a tag of the lead off better that eventually allowed the Sox to drive in a run to tie it up.

The game remained tied until the bottom of the tenth. When Moss returned to the plate with the bases loaded…and then…

The Crowd Goes Wild
The Crowd Goes Wild

Moss hit a single to drive in the winning run! The crowd went HOG WILD!

It was an amazing game! The atmosphere was electric. I can’t speak to what the feeling would be during a regular season game, but this, only the second post season in IronPigs history was amazing.

The people in this stadium were super friendly, the facility is one of the nicest I’ve ever been to, it’s almost a perfect blend of the amenities of Citizens’ Bank Park, with the intimacy and “home town” feeling that I love about Bright House Field.

It was an amazing win. I was blown away. Where else in the world do people chant “Oink” in unison?

The Pigs now go to Pawtucket for up to three games. They only need one more win to bring home the bacon.