The Fightins » beelove R.I.P. Harry Kalas Sat, 16 Jul 2011 21:37:55 +0000 en hourly 1 The time to call up Domonic Brown is RIGHT NOW. Fri, 11 Jun 2010 18:49:44 +0000 beelove

Dear Ruben,

By and large I am happy with the decisions you have made. Trading Cliff Lee, as you’ve said, seemed like the only way the acquisition of Harry Leroy Halladay III was possible. A perfect game is all the proof the detractors need, to say nothing of the consistency we expected and he’s delivered. Placido Polanco was a shrewd move, and he’s certainly proven the Chone Figgins camp wrong. Jose Contreras for $1.5M? Brilliant.

But look at this team right now. The monthlong funk is marching into the Interleague portion of the season which the Phillies always dread. Things seem really tense, Charlie seems uncharacteristically troubled, and the team is mired in second place with only the occasional sign of life. Something has to give, and that something is probably Greg Dobbs. But the point is this:

Domonic Brown deserves to be on the Philadelphia Phillies right now. I don’t want to hear a thing about his service time and team management’s contractual policies. In the face of this slump, that is nonsense. Call up Domonic Brown, and now.

Look around the National League — it is a rookie feeding frenzy. Right here in our own National League East, Jason Heyward has become a contributing insta-star in Atlanta. In the past week alone in New York, Ike Davis hit a walk-off homerun, and Jonathon Niese pitched a complete game, one hit shutout. The Marlins? Maybe you caught that 6’5″ fella in rightfield the last few days, the guy who had three hits in his MLB debut, right here in South Philly. What’s that other team in the division? The Expos? I believe I heard something about an impressive rookie in Washington.

Jason Heyward will not be of legal drinking age until August 9th, yet he has become a star in his hometown. If memory serves, he greeted his first chance against his division rival Phillies with a two-out, ninth inning homerun to tie the game.

Ike Davis is 23 years old. I thought the Mets were foolish to not re-sign Carlos Delgado, but after Tuesday, it’s going to be hard to ignore this guy. Jonathan Niese is also 23, and he’s already solidified himself in a five-man rotation in Queens.

Mike Stanton is 20 years old. He had more homeruns (21) than his age already this season when the Marlins called him up this week.

Stephen Strasburg? He’ll be 22 on July 20th. He’s going to be making plenty of visits to Citizens Bank Park — starting in August. And he’s also important enough that the Phillies’ scheduled national broadcast on Sunday against the Red Sox has been bumped; TBS deems Strasburg’s start in the otherwise highly sought after Nationals-Indians ticket takes favor over a matchup featuring two of the last three World Series champions.

And for what it’s worth, Mike Leake is 5-0 with a 2.68 ERA in Cincinnati. He’s 22. If it wasn’t for Ubaldo Jimenez, Cardinals rookie Jaime Garcia would be leading the National League with his 1.47 ERA. He’s 23.

There is a youth movement assailing baseball’s gentry. With the team struggling so mightily, especially from lefthanders off the bench (Dobbs? Schneider? ugh), there is no reason whatsoever the Phillies should not get in on the action.

Domonic Brown will be 23 in September. Raul Ibañez is 38 and has $23M left on his contract. There have been more than a few recent reminders that Jayson Werth is a free agent to be. They could both use a couple days off — and maybe a little fire under their asses. Chase Utley and Ryan Howard were stuck behind Placido Polanco and Jim Thome, and I think we can agree they’ve proven themselves worthy of replacing their predecessors. But they also each got a late start.

Why not let Domonic Brown do his thing now? He was the one blue chip you would not part with. He’s already older than Heyward, Stanton and Strasburg. Let him prove you right.

This team needs an injection, something to rally and get excited around. The fans are getting restless, too. And you know as well as I do that Reading is not where Domonic Brown belongs. Nor Allentown.

Every single other team in the division has a star rookie in the making. Why can’t us? The season is practically already sold out — give the fans something else to look forward to, a little positive boost in this streak of ugliness. Think of the jersey and t-shirt sales. Think of the left handed bat off the bench not named Dobbs and Schneider. Think of the run production. And the excitement. And the buzz.

Come on, Rube. The time is now. Call up Domonic Brown.

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There Goes The Son Fri, 04 Jun 2010 00:23:20 +0000 beelove PLEASE NOTE: This post has very little to do with the Phillies, but as it’s an off day, and we all have our memories of this dude who just retired, I thought I’d share some thoughts from the Pacific Northwest.

June 2nd, 2010. Ken Griffey Jr has finally reached the sunset he’s been riding into for the last ten years. And wouldn’t you know it? After a career in which there was always something grabbing just a little more headline than him, his retirement from the game in which he was so loved was second-tier news, after umpire Jim Joyce blew (and later apologized for) a call that cost Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga his perfect game. Poor Junior.

The last time he passed through Citizens Bank Park, in June 2008 with the Cincinnati Reds, he was sitting on 599 homers. In the four game series against the Phillies, he had one hit, a double, in six at bats. No big milestone for Junior in South Philly — he got #600 the next series out in Florida.

Despite the fact it’s been over a decade since he was at the top of his game — he was at the top of the game — it’s hard to not be just a little nostalgic. Griffey is only 40 — his former teammate Jamie Moyer is seven years his senior and still takes the mound every five days for the Phillies — but his retirement has been long coming. Many fans, not least the popular blog, were surprised the Mariners brought him back for the 2010 season. His return to Seattle last year was triumphant insofar as it brought fans back to the stadium the Mariners built for him, as the team struggled out of the basement they occupied the year before. He only hit .214, but he did collect 19 homeruns. When his teammates carried him off the field after the final game of the 2009 season, it seemed like the end of an era.

That era dragged into this year as Jack Zduriencik assembled what on paper looked like a drastically improved Mariners team. Big score Chone Figgins? He’s batting .218 with 47 strikeouts in 188 at-bats. Cliff Lee has been as good as expected — he’s 3-2 with a 2.91 ERA and 0.95 WHIP — but he’s only pitched in seven games after an injury, and no one expects him to be with the M’s by the trade deadline, let alone next year. Milton Bradley? Well, he’s definitely Milton Bradley. Ken Griffey Jr, meanwhile, watched his playing time diminish as, after 105 plate appearances, he’d amassed a .184 average with 0 homeruns and 7 RBIs. In the game against the Rays in which Bradley went bonkers after being pulled following a bases loaded strikeout, Griffey followed Bradley’s with his own strikeout, this one ending the inning. And of course there was the alleged clubhouse sleeping incident, which Griffey and manager Don Wakamatsu denied happened.

But with over 100 games left in the season, Mariners fans — baseball fans — can overlook a sour ending to a brilliant, if unfulfilled, career. There is no asterisk to be held next to Griffey’s name or his stats. His name has never been associated with any of the steroid nonsense, while his longtime teammate A-Rod and longtime pal Barry Bonds are the poster children of it. And his body’s conditioning is sort of a testament to that. He never cared enough to bulk up, and that he didn’t keep himself in top shape left him prone to the injuries that plagued the second half of his career.

You have to feel bad for The Kid. In 2000, he passed up big time free agent money to play for his hometown Cincinnati Reds, and in nine seasons there, he only came occasionally close to the bar he’d set for himself in the 90s. All his injuries cost him a bona fide run at Hank Aaron’s mark, and the Reds never came close to making the playoffs. After an unceremonious trade from the Reds, Griffey piggybacked into the White Sox’ 2008 postseason, where they were disposed of by the Rays on their way to the World Series.

He never got to play in any World Series, but for one magical postseason run, he saved baseball in Seattle and painted the portrait that he’ll always be remembered by. After the lockout cut the 1994 season — and his first run at 61 HR — short, fans were slow to warm back up to baseball. Griffey made one of his more spectacular highlight catches in May 1995, but in doing so broke his wrist and shortened his season. He came back in late summer to nail a walk-off HR off of Yankees closer John Wetteland, then finished the Yankees off in Game 5 of the ALDS when he slid across home with the defining moment in Mariners history, the result of Edgar Martinez’ game winning hit — The Double or The Slide, depending on who you’re a bigger fan of.

Needless to say, in spite of the so-called greatest designated hitter of all-time’s clutch hit, more Seattle fans remember The Slide. Junior was a wee more popular than Edgar, and than any other Seattle Mariner ever, and one could say, than anyone who’s ever played baseball. He’s the all time leading All Star vote getter, including 1996′s game at The Vet, where he got over 500,000 more votes than the next player.

His popularity was no accident, either. A thoroughbred right out the gate — he was the #1 overall draft pick in 1987 — Junior had a head start on what to expect thanks to his dad Ken Griffey Sr, a three time all star who made his mark with the Big Red Machine. At the end of his career, he joined his son in Seattle to become the first father-son team to play at the same time, the first to play on the same team, and the first to hit back-to-back homeruns (in 1991, against the California Angels).

630 homeruns. 1,836 RBI. 13 All Star games, 3 Homerun Derby championships (including the one that bounced off the warehouse at Camden Yards, still the only ball ever hit off that building). 10 Gold Gloves. 4 homerun crowns. 1 MVP. Junior’s numbers are by themselves enough to book his ticket to Cooperstown, but it’s his personality that he’ll ride there. On top of his power, speed and acrobatics, he always just seemed to be having fun. He loved baseball, and the fans loved him.

“Nice scrapbook, beelove. Did you make that when you were 13?” “Ummmm. Yes.”

The Nintendo games (he had four). The “Next Generation” poster with his dad. The appearances on The Simpsons and the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (and Harry and the Hendersons). The Nike Air Griffey Max. The chocolate bar. The rap song with Seattle’s Kid Sensation (who was down with Sir Mix-A-Lot’s posse on Broadway). The covers of Sports Illustrated, Sporting News, Beckett Baseball Card Monthly. The Upper Deck rookie card.

Like a lot of people my age, to me Ken Griffey Jr was the bridge between the innocence of childhood and unpleasantries of the real world after it. Hard to believe it’s been 21 years since this exciting 19 year old burst into the Majors. Hard to believe it’s been 21 years since I was a 12 year old throwing heat for our Little League Fucking Champions team in Tyrone, PA. I might have worked on developing a curve or a slider as I moved into junior high levels of baseball — if I hadn’t become so infatuated with playing centerfield thanks to some masher kid playing up in the corner of the country.

Thanks for the memories, Junior.

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Sighted! Michael Taylor Fri, 09 Apr 2010 14:55:38 +0000 beelove
“You’re pretty good Taylor, but you’re no Halladay!” “Aw, man.”

Greetings from the Pacific Northwest, Fightins Fans. Me, I’ve been fine, thanks for asking. The Portland spring’s been in bloom since mid-February and the beer is outstanding, but I must concede it’s been a little tough to watch the Phillies kick off the 2010 Halladay Campaign on, knowing my season tickets are being used by someone else.

Portland’s days as a baseball town are dwindling, sadly. Though the AAA Beavers (ha ha, BEAVERS) have been here since 1903, and though they’ve been playing in downtown’s PGE Park (née Civic Stadium, where the Phillies’ AAA affiliate played from 1983-86) since 1924, they’re being evicted for Major League Soccer’s expansion Timbers next year. And people seem to be really excited by this. It’s a shame, too, because for a brief time, the Expos and Marlins each considered moving here.

Anyway. It’s no Citizens Bank Park, but it’s not a bad place to spend a few Thirsty Thursday evenings ($3.75 local beers, $2.50 Miller products), including last night’s opener against the Sacramento River Cats. I’m surprised the A’s didn’t start Michael Taylor in Oakland, considering their outfield depth includes Rajai Davis, Ryan Sweeney, Travis Buck and an injured Coco Crisp. But they didn’t, and one of the two big chips the Phillies sent the Blue Jays for Roy Halladay opened his Athletics career last night with a 2-for-4, including a triple that missed being a homerun in center by about four feet.

Taylor’s tenure with the Phillies ended with a franchise Minor League Player of the Year plaque (which he received with Kyle Drabek and his Pitcher of the Year in September the night Cliff Lee CG SHO’d the Nats). He earned the club distinction that Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and Pat Burrell have all earned in the past 12 years after a .320/20/84 combo between Reading and Lehigh Valley, with 21 steals for good measure.

I imagine most of us wish the man good fortune in Al Davis’ hideous Coliseum, where I’ll bet most fans don’t recognize that the elephant on their uniforms is a reference back to Connie Mack’s Philadelphia A’s. (John McGraw, manager of the hated New York Giants, said that manager Mack and owner Ben Shibe had a “white elephant on their hands” when the A’s began play in Philadelphia, thinking that the American League would never succeed.) I was kinda sorry to see Taylor go, and said as much, and he replied, “it’s all good, just part of the business.”

Nice fella, that Michael Taylor. According to Baseball America, he’s the A’s #2 prospect behind only Chris Carter, who finished the night 0-for-3 with two strikeouts. The River Cats creamed the Beavers 6-2, by the way.

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beelove’s 2009 Year In Review Wed, 11 Nov 2009 18:47:13 +0000 beelove

With a week to let the sting of the World Series wear off — I still have a hard time accepting the World Series MVP being a goddamn designated hitter, even if that Shemp-looking dude killed us — I’d like to present to ye Fightins fans my third annual Phillies Year In Photos. If you’re into such a thing, the 2007 NL East Team To Beat is HERE, and the 2008 WFCs are HERE. This year, the 2009 National League Champs are a The Fightins Dot Com exclusive.

The reason for this is . . . well, my site, Philly Skyline Dot Com (no relation), has been put on the shelf; in less than a month, I’m trading in my Phillies season tickets for the green hills of Portland, Oregon. (Don’t worry, I’m not going to start rooting for the Padres’ AAA Beavers.) I’ll still tune into Franzke and LA on the MLB At Bat phone app and religiously read The Fightins and Beerleaguer and The 700 Level, but I’m going to really miss going to games and getting annoyed with Tom McCarthy’s nonstop chatter on TV and just generally getting wrapped up in Phillies baseball.

The 2009 season was almost the magical ending to my nine-year run of riding the Broad Street Subway to the last stop, from the early days of dollar dogs with the Wolf Pack and Padilla’s Flotilla, to the dominance of Cliff Lee that wasn’t quite enough. Que sera sera. The 2008 season and parade are one of my life’s all time great memories — we’ll always have that — and this year was pretty great too, even if it ended two games too soon, and with A-Rod getting a ring.

Coming off the city’s first sports championship in 25 years, Phillies fans were mad hyped for the season to start, straight out of the gate in spring training. Chan Ho Park and JA Happ battled for the fifth spot before they both settled in comfortably; John Mayberry Jr made a name for himself before ultimately fizzling out. The On-Deck Series featured a rematch with the Rays and Pat Burrell Recognition Night — we recognize you, Pat! — where he stole a freaking base off of Chad Durbin and took Cole Hamels yard the next night.

The regular season started on ESPN’s Sunday Night primetime game, with ridiculous hoopla and player introductions and gold trimmed unis. It could have been an omen if the Phillies weren’t so resilient and their new guy Raul Ibañez didn’t carry them on his back for the early part of the season.

Matt Stairs crushed another late-inning moon shot in Denver, providing Harry the K’s last homerun call. Harry’s death the next day in Washington shocked and saddened us all, and the Phils were quick to wear his memory on their heart for the rest of the season. We all wondered the following weekend how he would have called Raul’s walk-off homerun against the Padres (where McCarthy bumbled through it).

Yet another interleague interlude rolled around, and yet again the Phillies shit the bed. Remember that 13 inning travesty against the Red Sox? Greg Dobbs’ shot clearly went over the foul pole, which should have ended that game right then and there in the 9th with a W. Swept at home by the Blue Jays (without even facing Halladay). Swept at home by the Orioles (without even facing Eaton). At least the series in The Bronx was a success; had it not been for Brad Lidge’s 9th inning homerun offering in the second game to A-Rod, the Phils would have swept. Although I’m somewhat grateful he did; if the third game of that series had not been the rubber match — the Sunday marquee matinee, Hamels vs Sabathia — I might not have bitten the StubHub bullet and gone up there to enjoy the padded leather seats of the $1.5B Steinbrennerian Monument.

Jimmy Rollins’ June swoon was so awful, he earned himself a spot on the bench for four straight games. But he heated up in July with a slump-bustin’ 3-for-4 in the franchise record (for margin of victory) 22-1 trouncing of the Reds. Jayson Werth wrapped that game up with a grand slam, one of 36 dingers in the dude’s breakout season. The following series brought the pitiful Pirates to town, who hammered Hamels early, only to give the game back with 5 runs off of Matt Capps, including Stairs’ rally starter, a three run bomb by Ryan Howard, and Paul Bako’s walk-off single. (This game was also the only known instance of The Fightins, The 700 Level, Walkoff Walk, Philadelphia Will Do and Philly Skyline all in the same place at the same time.) That was right around the time the Phils said goodbye to the previous Bako, Chris Coste. Vaya con Dios, Costie.

After the Phils-heavy All Star Game, the team settled in and readied itself for the postseason by adding Pedro Martinez and Cliff Lee, with Ruben Amaro calling the shots and holding onto Michael Taylor, Kyle Drabek and Domonic Brown. Those three prospects each had killer seasons, solidifying their Major League futures, be it with the Phillies or as a prized bargaining chip.

While there was plenty to make us cringe — JC Romero’s eyebrows bullshit suspension, Brad Lidge’s post-perfection meltdown, Cole Hamels’ endless, emasculating ads (Comcast, ESPN The Magazine, MLB Merchandise — “who are you?” — D’Ambrosio Chevrolet, Peanut Chews, Two Liberty Place), there were far more moments that will find themselves on the ’09 highlight reel. Werth’s steal of home against the Dodgers . . . Eric Bruntlett’s game-ending unassisted triple play against the Mets . . . Pedro’s outdueling of Tim Lincecum . . . Happ’s complete game shutouts of the Blue Jays and Rockies . . . Jamie Moyer’s 250th win and his bullpen demotion . . . Werth’s 13th inning walk-off HR against the Cubs after Chan Ho’s bullpen mastery . . . Tyler Walker’s sweatiness . . . Sergio Escalona’s and Antonio Bastardo’s ups and downs between South Philly and Allentown/Reading . . . Utley’s Corner at CitiField . . . the little girl who threw her daddy’s foul ball over the railing . . . RyHo’s continued Ruth-like power numbers . . . the best fans in baseball.

The postseason highlight reel was no slouch, either. “Fuck yeah, Jimmy.” Cliff Lee. “Get me to the plate, boys.” Lidge 2, Tulowitzki 0. Later, Rockies.

Pedro-Padilla. 11-0, game 3. Cliff Lee. Stairs-Broxton, the rematch. Jimmy’s unbelievable walk-off double and Franzke’s inspired radio call of it. Ryan Howard, meet Lou Gehrig. Werth and Feliz, yard. Later, Dodgers.

And though the World Series ended better for the other pinstripes, it was still a good one for baseball, clearly the two best teams in the game, the first to go 6 games in six years. Cliff Lee’s hohum catch and behind the back play, Chase Utley’s Reggie-matching homeruns, Chooch’s Señor Octubre performance . . . but also A-Rod’s camera-homerun, Johnny Damon’s double-steal, Matsui’s 6 RBIs . . . can’t win em all, I suppose.

All told, though, 2009 was a fantastic season for the Phillies, one that will without question whet the appetites for a 2010 run. Who will play third — Figgins? Feliz? Who will boost Lee in the rotation — Halladay? Lackey? Who will come off the bench — DeRosa? Stairs? Taylor? We shall see.

That’s all what’s next. Once more for 2009, though, here are exactly 100 photos for you. They’re all saved at 300 dpi for 4×6 printing, so if that’s something you’re interested in, just click on the photo in question to open the Flickr page and help yourself.

Thanks for the memories Phillies, and you too Fightins. I’ll see you next year from the west coast.

For B Love’s previous Phillies Year in Photos, see the 2007 NL East champs HERE and the 2008 WFCs HERE.

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Rainy Day Baseball Tue, 27 Oct 2009 15:50:04 +0000 beelove Hey Fightins Fans (and you, DMac), how’s it hangin’? After taking in Game 5 down at the ballpark on Wednesday, we had a few days to soak up the fall weather and wait for the Yankees to finish off the Angels. When it became apparent Saturday’s game in The Bronx was a washout, me and my buddy All Proper Mark, five year season ticket partners in the front row of Section 236, decided to make an alternate baseball day of it in the Delaware Valley.

After breakfast at Steve’s Prince of Steaks (I’ve been in Philly for nine years and they are indubitably, unequivocally, absolutely the best cheesesteak in town) and a quick stop at Starbucks in Trevose to swap World Series tickets with some Craigslist weirdo from the burbs, we stopped in beautiful downtown Hatboro for a visit at the Philadelphia Athletics Historical Society & Museum, or the A’s Museum if you don’t feel like saying all those words.

This was the first time either of us had visited the A’s Museum, “the most successful historical society of its kind“. I was a little disappointed they didn’t have the white, striped, pill-box hats for sale from the 1910-13 A’s, the first dynasty in Major League Baseball, but they did have plenty of the blue “A” hats. Still, the museum was free, and there was enough Connie Mack paraphernalia and memorabilia to justify smacking anyone who’d ask “who’s this Mr Baseball” outside the leftfield gate at Citizens Bank Park.

Lots of famous Philadelphia A’s are represented — Mack, Eddie Collins, Al Simmons, Lefty Grove, Eddie Plank, Chief Bender, Rube Waddell, Mickey Cochrane, and some guy named Jimmie Foxx. Now this guy, Double X, he was the second player in MLB history, after George Herman Ruth, to hit 500 homeruns. He was the starting first baseman on one of the greatest teams of all time, the 1929 A’s, he won two World Series with the A’s (1929-30), and he won back-to-back MVPs with the A’s in 1932-33, including a Triple Crown .356/48/163 year in 1933. He finished his legendary career as a backup infielder with the Phillies in 1945, racking up a respective .268/7/38 in 89 games — which included 9 games on the mound, where he went 1-0 with a 1.59 ERA. So could someone tell me why he entered the Hall Of Fame as a Boston Red Sock??? That’s blasphemous — he won two titles and two MVPs in Philadelphia, yet he had his bust poured with a ‘B’ hat. Pffft.

Leaving the A’s Museum, Mark and I headed south down 611 toward the Hillside Cemetery in Roslyn. After checking with the cemetery’s caretaker who’d never heard of him, Charles Albert “Chief” Bender’s grave presented itself way out past the elaborate Korean section and beyond a muddy forest with no graves.

In the annals of baseball history, the Chief’s name is known to many historians, but his name doesn’t roll off the tongue like, say, Jackie Robinson. While Jackie indisputably broke the black color barrier in a time of Jim Crow strife, American Indians had been playing alongside whites — and enduring similar prejudices as their baseball descendants of color — for decades.

Chief Bender was the first American Indian Hall of Famer, elected in 1953. As a member of the Philadelphia A’s, he won three World Series (1910, 1911, 1913), going 6-4 with a 2.44 ERA and 9 complete games. Over all, he won 212 games and had a career ERA of 2.46, and by some accounts, he was the first pitcher to throw the slider . . . yet he’s far from a household name, even here in Philadelphia, where he made his mark as Connie Mack’s ace — and where he spent the rest of his life after baseball. Tom Swift’s book, Chief Bender’s Burden, is an excellent read on a fascinating, and frustrating, life of the largely unknown legend who was born on an indian reservation in Minnesota and who mastered baseball, and life, in Pennsylvania. He lived his last years at 5431 N 12th Street in the Logan neighborhood and died at the Graduate Hospital on South Street in 1954.

After paying our respects to the Chief (a derisive nickname he didn’t ask for), we headed down Broad Street to find his old stomping grounds. Along the way, appropriately enough, we happened upon the Tribute to Jackie Robinson, the Mural Arts Program’s 1997 installation to Jackie at Broad & Somerset.

A block south of Jackie’s mural is one of the most historic crossroads in North Philadelphia. On the northeast corner is now a Dunkin Donuts, but on the northwest corner is a hulking fortress you can see from Temple and Center City, the old Botany 500 clothing factory. On the southeast corner is the once grandiose North Broad Street Station, built by the Reading Railroad (its line ultimately ran down to Reading Terminal in Center City, and now only two of Septa’s seven regional rail lines even bother stopping at the platform). That station used to entertain thousands of passengers who crossed the street to the fourth corner, the Phillies’ home for 51 years, the Baker Bowl.

Officially called National League Ball Park, the Baker Bowl hosted Phillies baseball from 1887 to 1938. That silly, frivolous hill at the Astros’ Enron Field Minute Maid Park, that Michael Bourn is gonna twist his ankles on some day? It had a logical predecessor at the Baker Bowl called The Hump. The Hump was a hill in dead center, closest to Broad & Lehigh, because of the submerged tunnel carrying the trains below. We know the Whiz Kids were swept by the Yankees in the 1950 World Series, but that was at Shibe Park. In 51 seasons, the Phils managed one National League pennant, in 1915, when the Red Sox took em in 5. Babe Ruth took his final at bats as a 40-year-old backup outfielder for the Boston Braves here in 1935.

Five blocks west of the Baker Bowl, on the other side of the railroad tracks, stood Philly’s first major contribution to the Major Leagues, Shibe Park. With baseball’s popularity outgrowing the 10,000 seat grandstands most teams played in, Connie Mack and A’s owner Ben Shibe built baseball’s first concrete and steel stadium, a model that would soon be followed for the likes of Fenway Park, Wrigley Field and Yankee Stadium. And like Wrigley Field, there were homes across 20th Street on whose roofs residents and their friends (and their customers) could watch Major League Baseball across the street — before the A’s built a 33′ “spite fence” since they couldn’t get in on the profit.

The A’s won the World Series three of the first five years the ballpark was open, and two more in ’29 & ’30. Twenty Hall Of Famers laced up for Mack’s White Elephants before they were removed from their home city to Kansas City in 1955, and finally to Oakland in 1968. The Phillies moved into Shibe Park in 1938, and stayed for 16 years after the A’s moved out. Shibe Park was renamed for Connie Mack in 1953; Connie Mack Stadium was demolished in 1976 as Philadelphia was hosting the Bicentennial and the Phillies were hosting the All-Star Game at The Vet.

The Baker Bowl and Shibe Park each hosted three Negro League World Series, and on MLB’s travel days, Mondays, the Philadelphia Stars would sometimes play double headers at Shibe Park because it could hold far more people than their home ballpark, Penmar Park, at 44th & Parkside in West Philadelphia. The Stars played in West Philly from 1933 to 1952 (after which the segregated Negro Leagues were thankfully no longer necessary). A mural and memorial park were dedicated in 2005.

A fitting final stop to an all-day baseball whirlwind is a fitting final stop for the Phillies’ Hall Of Fame voice, Harry Kalas’ gravesite at Laurel Hill Cemetery.

Two sets of Vet Stadium seats flank either side of Harry the K’s final resting place, still marked with a temporary headstone and red P. A representative at Laurel Hill says that an elaborate headstone for Harry is being crafted and it will be dedicated with a ceremony in time for the 2010 baseball season. In the meantime, fans can sign a guestbook for the Kalas family in Laurel Hill’s office, and leave mementos on the marker.

To bring us back to October 2009, here’s a photo of Uncle Cholly with his hands on what makes the Phillies tick.

(Photos by R Bradley Maule and Mark Adams.)

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On Carlos Carrasco and the JV Phillies Fri, 03 Jul 2009 18:15:04 +0000 beelove Son of a bitch. This “rough spell” is like an expanding tar pit and the Phillies are getting stuck in it one by one like sabertooth tigers. I laughed when I saw Chamo’s tag but jesus god that was two weeks ago and it’s still true: DEAR GOD THIS IS BRUTAL.

With the Phillies all of a sudden having one of the farm systems most stacked with future stars, there has been plenty of alternative to watching the Frightenin’ Phils an hour and a half’s drive away in Reading and Allentown. The R-Phils are 45-33, good for second in the Eastern League’s southern division. Their rotation is loaded with Joe Savery, Kyle Drabek and now Yohan Flande, and Michael Taylor is mashing it to the tune of .349/15/59, with 14 stolen bases for good measure.

Up in the Lehigh Valley, the IronPigs are 39-40, trying to push above .500 for the first time in the franchise’s short history. Jason Donald is looking to return from knee surgery and maybe light a fire under J-Roll’s ass. Lou Marson is biding his time as the everyday catcher until Ruben Amaro realizes that two backup catchers in their late 30s should not be on the roster of the defending champions. Drew Carpenter is playing off that one ugly pro start with a 7-1, 2.75. And this guy?

He’s settling in. Carlos Carrasco was the #1 Phillies prospect in 2007 and 2008 according to Baseball America, and this year he’s 2nd, behind only Dominic Brown (who is nursing a fractured pinky in Clearwater).

The 22 year old Venezuelan was, along with JA Happ and Chan Ho Park, one of the finalists for Phillies fifth starter coming out of spring training, and with Antonio Bastardo injured (and probably not going to stay in the rotation anyway), he was strongly considered for a promotion to start tonight’s game against the Mets. His IronPig teammate and former Oriole/Rockie/Padre Rodrigo Lopez got this promotion, though, so Carrasco pushes onward in AAA till he gets the call.

Last night he shut down the Syracuse Chiefs (Nats affiliate) for his fourth straight victory after a glaringly shaky start to his season. The only major mistake he made was hanging one over the plate to former Bucco Brad Eldred, who smoked one into the woods beyond Coca-Cola Park. Otherwise, Carrasco was solid, scattering five other hits and striking out four over six innings, despite getting drilled in the ankle with a line drive. His fastball had good movement and hovered around 93 all night. His run support was good with a five-run outburst in the fourth inning, Miguel Cairo missing a grand slam by about five feet.

As the post-game fireworks were exploding overhead, the feelgood evening came to a screeching halt when we turned on the radio for the drive home, just in time to hear Ryan Madson’s latest meltdown. Goddamn.

beelove (a/k/a R. Bradley Maule) is the proprietor of the fantastic Philadelphia photography/architecture site, He went to the Lehigh Valley IronPigs game. He reported. He took pictures.

Some photos from the evening — IronPigs 5, Chiefs 1 — after the jump.









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Kyle Drabek improves to 2-0 at Reading, beelove was there Wed, 10 Jun 2009 22:37:14 +0000 beelove

While Greg Dobbs was taking a third strike right down the pike against the most irritating, obnoxious, and even more irritatingly, best, closer in baseball, righty Jason Anderson celebrated his 30th birthday by nailing down a save of his own for the Reading Phillies. In doing so, he preserved the win for Kyle Drabek, his second in his two starts with the R-Phils.

In spite of Hurricane Schwartz’s warnings of red radar blobs over Reading, it was a beautiful night in Berks County for some AA baseball. Drabek wasn’t in tiptop form, but he wasn’t horrible, either. While he scattered seven hits and five walks over five innings, he worked out of several jams. His bullpen picked him up too, including one Mike Zagurski who was consistently in the mid-90s and, at least once, hit 96. A three-run first-inning cushion on a homerun by third baseman Neil Sellers didn’t hurt matters.

Michael Taylor DH’d in the 5-4 win over the Yankees’ AA Trenton Thunder, laying an 0-for-4, but he’s still sporting the Reading triple crown at .346/10/41. It seems like only a matter of time before he’s bumped up to Lehigh Valley where, presumably, the 6’6″ 250lb righthanded slugger would share the outfield with a 6’6″ 235lb righthanded slugger called Big John. And for what it’s worth, the 6’5″ 205lb lefthanded outfielder Dominic Brown has put up a .299/9/28 in 51 games at Single-A Clearwater.

Anyway, last night was a truly beautiful evening at First Energy Stadium, one for drinking the Stoudt’s APAs and Yuengling Lagers each brewed less than an hour away, one for catching a preview of a future Phil on the hill, and one for watching a pink and purple sunset over the third best Minor League Baseball stadium — best in AA — according to Baseball America.

beelove (a/k/a R. Bradley Maule) is the proprietor of the fantastic Philadelphia photography/architecture site,  He went to the Reading Phillies game.  He reported. He took pictures.

More pics from the game, after the jump.

In order: Kyle Drabek, Kyle Drabek, Neil Sellers, Michael Taylor, Michael Taylor, Mike Zagurski






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Adam Bomb — Eaton’s 24.5 million dollar delusion Fri, 13 Mar 2009 15:39:04 +0000 beelove This just in from the Adam Eaton watch: did you know? He helped the Phillies get to the playoffs!

“What went wrong?” Eaton asked. “A lot of things went wrong, but a lot of things that went right, too. I helped them get to the playoffs two years in a row, and obviously we won the World Series last year. That’s a big thrill of mine, but obviously I still want to compete in that World Series atmosphere. That’s what I aim to do.”

What the fuck World Series atmosphere is that? The one where you played 0 postseason innings because you weren’t on the active roster, after sucking in the minor leagues so bad that you bought your teammates a steak dinner to show off your $8M salary? Or the one where you weren’t even INVITED to the parade down Broad Street? And we remember how well you helped us in 2007 too, fuckface, when you were the only player on the entire team we booed at the rally at City Hall. (Well, the only one we booed worse than Rod Barajas.)

Let’s see just how well Eaton helped get us into the playoffs during the 2008 run, using team pitching stats from Baseball-Reference

The Phillies had the 4th best ERA in the National League at 3.89 with Eaton. Check out the before and after stats:

2008 WFC Phillies with Eaton:
IP: 1,449 2/3
ER: 627
ERA: 3.89, fourth best in NL, behind the Dodgers, Brewers and Cubs

2008 WFC Phillies without Eaton:
IP: 1,342 2/3
ER: 558
ERA: 3.74, second only behind the Dodgers’ 3.68

That may seem like more math than it’s worth, but this is Adam Eaton we’re talking about here, the guy we’re going to pay $8.5M to go suck for Baltimore, and the guy whose last effort as a Phillie was to sneak into that portrait of Ryan Howard … right before Big Brown elbowed him in the goatee and said get the fuck out of my photo shoot and off my team.

beelove (a/k/a R. Bradley Maule) is the proprietor of the fantastic Philadelphia photography/architecture site, He had something he had to get off his chest concerning Adam Eaton; I gladly gave him the space to do so.

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