Thursday, October 5, 2017

First Phillies Moves of the Offseason

While nine teams were gearing up for the postseason (sorry Twins), the Phillies were busy making their first roster moves of the offseason.  Phillies Room favorite Ty Kelly was outrighted off the 40-man roster and opted for free agency.  Joining him on the outright and opt for free agency list were pitchers Henderson Alvarez and Kevin Siegrist.  The moves drop the number of players on the 40-man roster down to 37, with seven players still on the 60-day disabled list.

Kelly had a knack for coming up with clutch hits throughout the season, and in 69 games he hit .193 (17 for 88) with a pair of home runs.  His playing time dwindled with the arrival of several top prospects, and the last game Kelly started was way back on July 16th.  He earned two Phillies cards for his efforts - one in the team-issued update set and the Topps Now card featured here showcasing his game-winning hit from July 29th.  Kelly is a favorite in our household as he never denied an autograph request from our son Doug throughout the season.

Siegrist had seven relief appearances with the Phillies following the team picking him up on a waiver claim on September 2nd.  Alvarez started three games for the Phillies in his first big league action since 2015.  He went 0-1 with a 4.30 in those three starts.  Both Siegrist and Alvarez join the long and distinguished list of former Phillies Missing Links, as neither of them will likely ever appear on an official Phillies baseball card.

Moving On - 2017-2018 Offseason

  • Henderson Alvarez - rhp (10/4/17) - Outrighted off 40-man roster and elected free agency.
  • Ty Kelly - 2b-of (10/4/17) - Outrighted off 40-man roster and elected free agency.
  • Kevin Siegrist - lhp (10/4/17) - Outrighted off 40-man roster and elected free agency.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Pitchers & Catchers Report to Clearwater in 134 Days

2017 Phillies Team
Issue Update #5
Phillies 11Mets 0
Game 162 - Sunday Afternoon, October 1st in Philadelphia
Record - 66-96, 5th place, 31 games behind the Nationals

One Sentence Summary:  In Pete Mackanin's final game as manager, the offense exploded and four Phillies pitchers shut down the Mets in an 11-0 win.

What It Means:  Pitchers and catchers report to Clearwater in about 4 1/2 months.  The Phillies will pick third in the 2018 amateur player draft in June.

What Happened:  Mackanin received a standing ovation prior to the game when he took out the starting line-up to the umpires at home plate.

The Phils scored six in the fourth inning, capped by Maikel Franco's three-run home run (24).  Nick Williams hit an inside-the-park home run (12) in the eighth, scoring the final three runs of the game.  Freddy Galvis pinch-hit in the sixth, making him the first Phillies player since Ryan Howard in 2008 to appear in all 162 games.

Nick Pivetta (8-10), Victor Arano, Hoby Milner and Yacksel Rios held the Mets to two hits.

Featured Card:  Williams capped the long season with a mad dash around the basepaths in the eighth, and he'll be part of the new and improved Phillies line-up in 2018.

Memory Lane - Game 162
Hard to believe, but this is my ninth season of posting daily (or semi-daily) on the Phillies and their trials and tribulations.  I'll be back in 2018 and thank you to everyone who visited, commented and shared your stories of Phillies fandom throughout the season.  I'm looking forward to publishing some postseason game summary posts next year!

October 4, 2009 - Catcher Paul Hoover singled in the winning run in the 10th in a 7-6 win over the Marlins.
October 3, 2010 - The Phillies lost 8-7 to the Braves in their final tune-up before facing the Reds in the N.L.D.S.
September 28, 2011 - The Phillies closed out the 2011 regular season with a 13-inning victory against the Braves, setting a franchise record with their 102nd regular season win.
October 3, 2012 - The Phillies closed out their 2012 season with a lethargic 5-1 loss to the N.L. East Champion Nationals.
September 29, 2013 - Zach Miner got the ball for the Phillies and lasted 2 1/3 innings in a 12-5 loss to the Braves.
September 28, 2014 - Cole Hamels pitched another fine game and suffered through another outing with minimal run support.
October 4, 2015 - Phillies avoid 100 losses and Ichiro makes his pitching debut in a 7-2 victory.
October 2, 2016 - Phillies bid an emotional farewell to franchise icon Ryan Howard.
October 1, 2017 - Phils clobber Mets in Pete Mackanin's final game as manager.

Want to revisit every game of the 2017 season?  My handy game summary index can be found here.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

2017 Topps Allen & Ginter #29 Maikel Franco

Mets 7Phillies 4 (11)
Game 161 - Saturday Night, September 30th in Philadelphia
Record - 65-96, 5th place, 32 games behind the Nationals

One Sentence Summary:  Asdrubal Cabrera hit a three-run home run off Adam Morgan in the 11th, sending the Mets to a chilly 7-4 victory.

What It Means:  The two teams, both apparently with lame duck managers, will limp to the finish line with Sunday's season finale.

What Happened:  Rhys Hoskins tied the game at four in the seventh with an RBI single and came within inches of winning it with a walk-off home run in the 10th.  The wind blowing in stalled what should have been a home run and left fielder Brandon Nimmo caught the ball right in front of the wall.  Maikel Franco hit his second home run (23) in as many days.  Cabrera continues to crush the Phillies, going 4 for 6 in this game with four RBIs.  Morgan had been nearly unhittable in recent outings before Cabrera's game-winning home run.

Featured Card:  It's been a disappointing season for Franco, and with the infield logjam (Franco, Freddy Galvis, J.P. Crawford, Cesar Hernandez, Scott Kingery) some decisions will need to be made about the once promising prospect's future.

Field Report:  Barring a last minute decision to head to this afternoon's season finale matinee, this was my final game of the 2017 season.  As has become our pattern, Doug and I arrived early and Doug stationed himself at the corner of the Phillies dugout.

He received autographs from coaches Rick Kranitz, Mickey Morandini and Juan Samuel, with Sammy signing both his mini bat and a 1985 Topps card.  Samuel actually recognizes my son at this point and asked him if would be back for Sunday's game.  Henderson Alvarez was surprisingly signing before his start and he added his signature to one of Doug's baseballs.  Andres Blanco also stopped over and signed for Doug and a few dedicated fans.

After the game started, we made our way over to Bull's BBQ to get one last autograph (and picture) from Greg Luzinski.  It was cold, but we made all the way to the end of the game, watching the final pitches of the 11th inning from behind the left field foul pole.  There may have been less than a thousand fans remaining at that point and most of them seemed to be Mets fans.

I attended 18 games this season and finished with a personal record of 9-9.  I'll be working hard over the offseason to improve upon that record in 2018.

Mackanin Dismissed, Coaches in Limbo, Phils Win Again

Phillies 6Mets 2
Game 160 - Friday Night, September 29th in Philadelphia
Record - 65-95, 5th place, 32 games behind the Nationals

One Sentence Summary:  Ben Lively finished up his season with a strong start as the Phillies rode three home runs to this 6-2 win over the Mets.

What It Means:  With this win, the Phillies are 36-37 since the All-Star break, having started the season at 29-58 prior to the break.

What Happened:  Lively scattered six hits over six innings of work while allowing only two runs.  Maikel Franco hit a two-run home run (22) in the second, and Jorge Alfaro (5) and Cesar Hernandez (9) added solo shots in the sixth.

Featured Card:  I, along with most Phillies fans and seemingly the entire Phillies team and coaching staff, was shocked on Friday afternoon when the announcement was made that manager Pete Mackanin would not be returning in 2018.  Mackanin was given a contract extension in May and he was seemingly in place (along with his coaching staff) for the long haul to see the rebuild through to fruition.  General Manager Matt Klentak had other plans.  Mackanin will move into a front office role and the coaching staff will be free to pursue other opportunities following Sunday's season finale.

In an awkward and not entirely revealing press conference, Klentak said he had decided that now was the right time to make this change.  This in spite of the team playing great together in the second half after dumping players Klentak had added and replacing them with players Klentak had not had a hand in acquiring or drafting.  I'm skeptical of the Phillies' GM to say the least.

Mackanin was unexpectedly thrust into the position when Ryne Sandberg decided he wanted no part of a rebuilding process.  He did an admirable job and to see him unceremoniously dumped when the team was seemingly coming together is jarring.  I like the guy and I like his coaching staff, especially Larry Bowa, Juan Samuel and Mickey Morandini.  To see those guys cast aside in favor of a "new and improved" manager and coaching staff is discouraging.

Of course I'll change my opinion on Klentak if his next moves ultimately lead to another parade.

2016 Chachi Photo Day #8
2016 Chachi Special Edition #14
2017 Chachi Phillies Phestival #2
2017 Chachi Photo Night #31
Pete Mackanin Complete Chachi Checklist
2009 Chachi #28 (with Milt Thompson and Davey Lopes)
2010 Chachi #27 (with Charlie Manuel, Rich Dubee, Mick Billmeyer and Sam Perlozzo)
2011 Chachi #27 (with Rich Dubee and Greg Gross)
2012 Chachi #27 (with Rich Dubee and Greg Gross)
2014 Chachi #31
2015 Chachi #31
2015 Chachi #46 - Interim manager
2015 Chachi #68 HL - Named manager through 2016
2016 Chachi #26
2016 Chachi Photo Day #8
2016 Chachi Special Edition #14
2017 Chachi #26
2017 Chachi Phillies Phestival #2
2017 Chachi Photo Night #31

Friday, September 29, 2017

Series Preview - Mets at Phillies: September 29th to October 1st

Friday and Saturday 7:05, Sunday 3:05
Citizens Bank Park - Philadelphia, PA

Mets 69-90, 4th Place in the N.L. East, 27 games behind the Nationals
Phillies 64-95, 5th Place in the N.L. East, 32 games behind the Nationals

Mets Probables:  Matt Harvey (5-6, 6.60), Seth Lugo (7-5, 4.72), TBD
Phillies Probables:  Ben Lively (3-7, 4.35), Henderson Alvarez (0-1, 3.60), Nick Pivetta (7-10, 6.26)

At the Ballpark:  It's Fan Appreciation Day on Sunday with all fans receiving a 2018 Schedule Fathead (with Rhys Hoskins featured prominently) and all kids receiving a Phillies "Phun" Spinner.  The Phun Spinner looks an awful lot like a Fidget Spinner.

Mets Leaders
Average:  Asdrubal Cabrera - .273
Runs:  Jose Reyes - 73
Home Runs:  Jay Bruce* - 29
RBIs:  Jay Bruce* - 75
Stolen Bases:  Jose Reyes - 24

Wins:  Jacob deGrom - 15
ERA:  Jacob deGrom - 3.53
Strikeouts:  Jacob deGrom - 239
Saves:  Addison Reed^ - 19

*Now with the Indians
^Now with the Red Sox

Phillies Leaders
Average:  Cesar Hernandez - .291
Runs:  Cesar Hernandez - 82
Home Runs:  Tommy Joseph - 22
RBIs:  Maikel Franco - 70
Stolen Bases:  Cesar Hernandez - 15

Wins:  Aaron Nola - 12
ERA:  Aaron Nola - 3.54
Strikeouts:  Aaron Nola - 184
Saves:  Hector Neris - 26

1982 Topps Traded #28T
2005 Topps All-Time
Fan Favorites #115
2005 Topps Retired Signature
Autographs #TA-BD
1982 Topps Appreciation:  And that's it for these 2017 series preview posts!  I'll have one last overall 1982 Topps-related post coming soon to tally all the Phillies and ex-Phillies appearing in the 1982 Topps set.  To cap my look back at this set, I wanted to feature my favorite card from the set (technically from the Traded set) - the Bob Dernier stand-alone rookie card.  I was beyond excited to originally add this card to my collection, in spite of the blurry, washed out picture of Bobby D.

Presented here is the original Dernier card from the 1982 Topps Traded set, an inferior re-do from the 2005 Topps All-Time Fan Favorites set (wrong colors, wrong font and he never played third base) and a card from the 2005 Topps Retired Signature set that gives us a slightly better look at the original photo.

Final Listing of 2016-2017 Phillies Player Moves

2017 Chachi Fan Favorites #17
2017 Chachi Fan Favorites #18
2017 Chachi Fan Favorites #19
After the final game of the 2017 regular season for the Phillies, the list below will be reset and I'll start the process once again of tracking the offseason comings and goings.  Here's one last look at those players who joined and departed the organization between the final pitch of the 2016 season and the final pitch of the 2017 season.

Moving On - 2016-2017 Offseason
  • Cedric Hunter - of (10/3/16) - Elected free agency and signed as a minor league free agent with the Cincinnati Reds, 4/4/17.
  • James Russell - lhp (10/3/16) - Elected free agency and signed as a minor league free agent with the Cleveland Indians, 2/13/17.
  • Emmanuel Burriss - inf (10/7/16) - Outrighted off 40-man roster, elected free agency and signed as a minor league free agent with the Washington Nationals, 12/13/16.
  • Frank Herrmann - rhp (10/7/16) - Outrighted off 40-man roster, elected free agency and signed with the Rakuten Golden Eagles (Japan).
  • Jimmy Paredes - of (10/7/16) - Outrighted off 40-man roster, elected free agency and signed with the Chiba Lotte Marines (Japan), 1/15/17.
  • Patrick Schuster - lhp (10/7/16) - Outrighted off 40-man roster, elected free agency and signed as a minor league free agent with the Los Angeles Dodgers, 11/5/16.
  • Ryan Howard - 1b (11/3/16) - Team option declined, elected free agency and signed as a minor league free agent with the Atlanta Braves, 4/6/17.
  • Charlie Morton - rhp (11/3/16) - Team option declined, elected free agency and signed with the Houston Astros, 11/16/16.
  • Peter Bourjos - of (11/3/16) - Elected free agency and signed as a minor league free agent with the Chicago White Sox, 1/27/17.
  • A.J. Ellis - c (11/3/16) - Elected free agency and signed with the Miami Marlins, 12/12/16.
  • David Hernandez - rhp (11/3/16) - Elected free agency and signed as a minor league free agent with the San Francisco Giants, 2/14/17.
  • Darin Ruf - 1b-of and Darnell Sweeney - inf-of (11/11/16) - Traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Howie Kendrick.
  • Elvis Araujo - rhp (11/18/16) - Claimed off waivers by the Miami Marlins.
  • David Buchanan - rhp (11/23/16) - Released and signed with the Yakult Swallows (Japan), 12/20/16.
  • Cody Asche - of (12/2/16) - Designated for assignment, non-tendered and signed as a minor league free agent with the Chicago White Sox, 1/6/17.
  • Phil Klein - rhp (12/14/16) - Released and signed with the Yokohama BayStars (Japan), 12/20/16.
  • Severino Gonzalez - rhp (1/19/17) - Designated for assignment and traded to the Miami Marlins for a player to be named later or cash considerations, 1/24/17.
  • Alec Asher - rhp (3/28/17) - Traded to the Baltimore Orioles for a player to be named later or cash considerations.
New Additions - 2016-2017 Offseason
  • Pat Neshek - rhp (11/4/16) - Acquired from the Houston Astros for a player to be named later or cash considerations.
  • Howie Kendrick - lf (11/11/16) - Acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers for Darin Ruf and Darnell Sweeney.
  • Joaquin Benoit - rhp (12/6/16) - Signed as a free agent formerly with the Toronto Blue Jays.
  • Pedro Florimon - inf (12/12/16) - Signed as a minor league free agent formerly with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
  • Daniel Nava - of (12/12/16) - Signed as a minor league free agent formerly with the Kansas City Royals.
  • Clay Buchholz - rhp (12/20/16) - Acquired from the Boston Red Sox for Josh Tobias.
  • Pedro Beato - rhp (12/21/16) - Signed as a minor league free agent formerly with the Baltimore Orioles organization.
  • Michael Saunders - of (1/19/17) - Signed as a free agent formerly with the Toronto Blue Jays.
Departed During the 2017 Season
  • Tyler Goeddel - of (4/5/17) - Claimed off waivers by the Cincinnati Reds.
  • Dalier Hinojosa - rhp (5/16/17) - Released.
  • Mario Hollands - lhp (5/23/17) - Released.
  • Taylor Featherston - inf (6/9/17) - Traded to the Tampa Bay Rays for cash.
  • Joely Rodriguez - lhp (6/13/17) - Traded to the Texas Rangers for a player to be named later or cash.
  • Jeanmar Gomez - rhp (6/20/17) - Designated for assignment, released on 6/25/17 and signed a minor league contract with the Milwaukee Brewers' organization, 7/15/17.
  • Michael Saunders - of (6/20/17) - Designated for assignment, released on 6/25/17 and signed a minor league contract with the Toronto Blue Jays' organization, 6/28/17.
  • Pat Neshek - rhp (7/26/17) - Traded to the Colorado Rockies for Jose Gomez, Alejandro Requena and J.D. Hammer.
  • Howie Kendrick - lf-2b (7/28/17) - Traded with cash to the Washington Nationals for McKenzie Mills and future considerations.
  • Jeremy Hellickson - rhp (7/28/17) - Traded with cash to the Baltimore Orioles for Hyun Soo Kim, Garrett Cleavinger and future considerations.
  • Joaquin Benoit - rhp (7/31/17) - Traded with cash to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Seth McGarry.
  • Casey Fien - rhp (9/1/17) - Released.
  • Juan Nicasio - rhp (9/6/17) - Traded to the St. Louis Cardinals for Eliezer Alvarez.
Arrived During the 2017 Season
  • Ty Kelly - inf (4/22/17) - Acquired from the Toronto Blue Jays for cash.
  • Casey Fien - rhp (5/9/17) - Purchased from the Seattle Mariners.
  • Hyun Soo Kim - of (7/28/17) - Acquired with Garrett Cleavinger and future considerations from the Baltimore Orioles for Jeremy Hellickson and cash.
  • Henderson Alvarez - rhp (8/25/17) - Signed as a free agent formerly with the Long Island Ducks (Independent).
  • Juan Nicasio - rhp (8/31/17) - Claimed off waivers from the Pittsburgh Pirates.
  • Kevin Siegrist - lhp (9/2/17) - Claimed off waivers from the St. Louis Cardinals.
  • Zac Curtis - lhp (9/11/17) - Claimed off waivers from the Seattle Mariners.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Doug "Interviews" Gregg Murphy; Ben Successfully Nabs Water Ice

Phillies 7Nationals 5
Game 159 - Wednesday Night, September 27th in Philadelphia
Record - 64-95, 5th place, 31 1/2 games behind the Nationals

One Sentence Summary:  The Phillies used two separate three-run innings to overcome the Nationals in this 7-5 victory.

What It Means:  The Phils took the series from the division-winning Nationals, and they'll close out the season with a final weekend series against the Mets at home.

What Happened:  The offense had three big hits in this game - Jorge Alfaro's two-run double in the second, Aaron Altherr's two-run triple in the fifth and then Odubel Herrera's double to bring home Altherr.  Yacksel Rios picked up his first Major League win in relief after starting pitcher Mark Leiter, Jr. failed to complete five innings.  Hector Neris recorded his 26th save.

Doug's autograph haul. Morandini signed the sweet spot of one of Doug's baseballs.
Field Report/Featured Cards:  The whole family attended this game, as we found ourselves with a rare week night off.  Doug positioned himself at his now-usual spot at the corner of the Phillies dugout, and scored autographs (all repeats) from coaches Larry Bowa, Mickey Morandini and Juan Samuel along with players Ty Kelly and Neris.  Kudos to all those guys for never failing to sign this season for Doug whenever he's asked for an autograph.

Doug also got to "interview" Phillies TV broadcaster Gregg Murphy before the game.  Doug asked Murphy for a picture and Murphy obliged only after asking Doug to hold his microphone.  For that, and for being a genuinely good guy, Murphy earns a Chachi Fan Favorites card along with frequent autograph signer Neris.

As for our youngest son Ben, he hasn't caught the autograph bug like Doug, but he was still very happy with his nachos, crab fries and water ice.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

2017 Topps Archives #133 Jake Thompson

Phillies 4Nationals 1
Game 158 - Tuesday Night, September 26th in Philadelphia
Record - 63-95, 5th place, 32 1/2 games behind the Nationals

One Sentence Summary:  Jake Thompson and the bullpen contained the Nationals in this 4-1 win.

What It Means:  The win means the 1961 Phillies will remain the last Phillies team to have lost 100 games in a season.

What Happened:  Thompson allowed a run over five innings of work.  Edubray Ramos, Adam Morgan, Luis Garcia and Hector Neris shut down the Nationals over the final four innings with Neris notching his 25th save.  Cameron Rupp's two-run double in the third broke a 1-1 tie and Rhys Hoskins added an insurance run with a sacrifice fly in the seventh.

Featured Card:  Despite making only eight starts with the big club, Thompson's status as a top prospect earned him a card in virtually every Topps release this season.  Here's his card from the 2017 Topps Archives release, which borrowed the design of the 2017 Chachi set.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

2017 Topps Opening Day #32 Aaron Nola

Nationals 3Phillies 1
Game 157 - Monday Night, September 25th in Philadelphia
Record - 62-95, 5th place, 33 1/2 games behind the Nationals

One Sentence Summary:  Aaron Nola pitched well but a second inning home run allowed to Michael A. Taylor was the difference in this 3-1 loss to the Nationals.

What It Means:  This most likely was Nola's final start of the 2017 season, and he finished with a 12-11 record.  In 27 starts Nola struck out 184 over 168 innings. He averaged 9.86 strikeouts per 9 innings pitched, which is the third-best mark in Phillies history behind Curt Schilling (11.29 in 1997 and 10.05 in 1998).

What Happened:  Nola struck out nine in this game with his only blemish the two-run home run allowed to Taylor.  Odubel Herrera hit a solo home run (14) in the fourth inning.  Rhys Hoskins is 5 for 37 (.135) with no home runs over the last 11 games.

Featured Card:  It was usually a joy watching Nola pitch this season, and I'm excited for what's ahead for him in 2018.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Series Preview - Nationals at Phillies: September 25th to September 27th

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday 7:05
Citizens Bank Park - Philadelphia, PA

Nationals 94-61, 1st Place in the N.L. East, 21 games ahead of the Marlins
Phillies 62-94, 5th Place in the N.L. East, 32 1/2 games behind the Nationals

Nationals Probables:  A.J. Cole (2-5, 4.43), Gio Gonzalez (15-7, 2.68), Tanner Roark (13-10, 4.41)
Phillies Probables:  Aaron Nola (12-10, 3.56), Jake Thompson (2-2, 4.14), Mark Leiter, Jr. (3-6, 4.69)

At the Ballpark:  The Phillies have theme nights scheduled for each of these games against the Nationals.  Tonight is their second annual Beatles night, tomorrow is a celebration of the 30th anniversary of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and Wednesday night is the annual Oktoberfest.

Nationals Leaders
Average:  Daniel Murphy - .315
Runs:  Bryce Harper - 92
Home Runs:  Ryan Zimmerman - 34
RBIs:  Ryan Zimmerman - 103
Stolen Bases:  Trea Turner - 42

Wins:  Max Scherzer - 16
ERA:  Max Scherzer - 2.55
Strikeouts:  Max Scherzer - 263
Saves:  Sean Doolittle - 20

Phillies Leaders
Average:  Cesar Hernandez - .296
Runs:  Cesar Hernandez - 82
Home Runs:  Tommy Joseph - 22
RBIs:  Maikel Franco - 70
Stolen Bases:  Cesar Hernandez - 14

Wins:  Aaron Nola - 12
ERA:  Aaron Nola - 3.56
Strikeouts:  Aaron Nola - 175
Saves:  Hector Neris - 24

3 More Allen & Ginter Cards Needed! (Valley Forge Report)

1933 Goudey #115
1934-36 Diamond Stars #15
1936 S and S Game
1940 Play Ball #216

My son Doug and I had a free Sunday afternoon, so we decided to head to Valley Forge for the September "Philly Show".  Doug's fall baseball schedule meant we couldn't get to the show on Saturday to meet Roy Halladay, and we only had a few hours on Sunday, but once again we both thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.  We met up this time with Doug's friends Jacob and Josh and their Dad Chris, Doug's baseball coach.

The three younger collectors had a blast exploring the show floor and adding to their collections. Doug needs just three more cards to complete his 2017 Topps Allen & Ginter set (see below) thanks to All-Star Sports Cards (@Allstarsports09).  He spent the rest of his allowance money tracking down cool Phillies cards and adding to his growing Mike Trout collection.  We were there as the dealers were packing up, and one dealer unloaded three binders of complete Topps sets on the three boys. Doug came away with a 1988 Topps set and he hasn't stopped smiling about it yet.  It's the oldest complete set in his collection, and he'll be forever grateful to the dealer who gave it to him for free! (I believe Jacob and Josh came away with 1990 and 1992 Topps sets, respectively.)

As for me, I chipped away at my 1971 Topps set, adding the Robero Clemente and Don Baylor/Dusty Baker rookie card to my collection.  I also picked up a number of semi-stars and high numbers, getting the number of cards I need to complete the set down to 59.

1957 Topps #158
1970 Topps #403
1971 Topps #511
1975 Topps #399
I also made a small dent in my 1950s, 1960s and 1970s Phillies team set needs, creeping closer to my goal of owning a complete run of Topps Phillies cards.  Finally, I added a quartet of Phillies cards from the 1930s and 1940s, meaning I probably need to break down and change my 1930s Phillies have list post to an actual want list post.

We didn't get there in time to meet any of the autograph signers, but I overheard that Rhys Hoskins is expected to be one of the signers at the next Valley Forge show in December. We'll be there!

* * *

Here are the three 2017 Topps Allen & Ginter cards Doug needs to complete his set.  Please let me know if you can help out!

165 - Jayson Stark
301 - Trey Mancini
336 - Kenley Jansen

Memory Lane
Valley Forge 1 - September 2010 - Thinking of my Dad
Valley Forge 2 - October 2012 - Doug's first baseball card show
Valley Forge 3 - September 2014 - Meeting Darren Daulton
Valley Forge 4 - September 2016 - Phillies acquisitions and 4 Phillies Legends
Valley Forge 5 - December 2016 - Meeting Don Money
Valley Forge 6 - September 2017

Sunday, September 24, 2017

2017 Phillies Team Issue Update #43 Nick Pivetta

Phillies 2Braves 0
Game 156 - Sunday Afternoon, September 24th in Atlanta
Record - 62-94, 5th place, 32 1/2 games behind the Nationals

One Sentence Summary:  Nick Pivetta and three relievers combined for an eight-hit shutout win over the Braves.

What It Means:  The Phillies have six more games remaining, and they'll need to win just one of them to avoid a 100-loss season.

What Happened:  Pivetta pitched six innings, scattering five hits.  Edubray Ramos, Adam Morgan and Hector Neris followed him to complete the shutout.  The Phillies got their runs on a Maikel Franco solo home run (21) in the fifth and an Aaron Altherr double in the eighth.

Featured Card:  This is Pivetta's team-issued card from the abbreviated update set currently for sale at the ballpark.

2017 Phillies Team Issue #57 Luis Garcia

Braves 4Phillies 2
Game 155 - Saturday Night, September 23rd in Atlanta
Record - 61-94, 5th place, 32 1/2 games behind the Nationals

One Sentence Summary:  The bullpen wasted a strong start from Henderson Alvarez as the Braves came back late to win this game, 4-2.

What It Means:  Following this loss, the Tigers, Giants and Phillies all had 94 losses and the White Sox are close behind with 92 losses.  One of these four teams will have the first overall draft pick in the June 2018 amateur player draft, and it seems as if the Phillies can't do any "worse" than having the 4th overall pick.

What Happened:  Alvarez departed after five innings with the Phillies holding a slim 2-0 lead. Kevin Siegrist allowed a solo home run to Rio Ruiz in the fourth and Luis Garcia coughed up the lead with a three-run eighth inning.

Featured Card:  Garcia is one of the team's longest tenured players at this point, having made his Phillies debut in 2013.  He's been maddeningly inconsistent again this year, and if he returns in 2018 I would hope it's in a middle relief role, as opposed to a late inning role.

2016 Grandstand Clearwater Threshers #23 Yacksel Rios

Braves 7Phillies 2
Game 154 - Friday Night, September 22nd in Atlanta
Record - 61-93, 5th place, 31 1/2 games behind the Nationals

One Sentence Summary:  The Phillies couldn't recover from Ben Lively's rough start as the Braves won, 7-2.

What It Means:  I've officially begun daydreaming and planning out the Phillies 25-man roster to start the 2018 season.

What Happened:  Lively allowed the first six batters to reach and it was 5-0 Braves after the first inning.  Lively stuck around for five innings, allowing six runs on eight hits.  Nick Williams had a two-hit night and a pair of RBIs.

Featured Card:  Yacksel Rios pitched the final two innings of this game, allowing Kurt Suzuki's second home run in the seventh.  Matt Gelb recently wrote an article about Rios' concern for his family and his neighbors in the hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico.

If you have a few minutes and a few dollars to spare, please consider helping out with a donation to the charity of your choice or the Hispanic Federation.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Series Preview - Phillies at Braves: September 22nd to September 24th

Friday 7:35, Saturday 7:10 and Sunday 1:35
SunTrust Park - Atlanta, GA

Phillies 61-92, 5th Place in the N.L. East, 31 1/2 games behind the Nationals
Braves 68-83, 3rd Place in the N.L. East, 23 1/2 games behind the Nationals

Phillies Probables:  Ben Lively (3-6, 3.94), Henderson Alvarez (0-1, 7.20), Nick Pivetta (6-10, 6.57)
Braves Probables:  Sean Newcomb (3-8, 4.32), Julio Teheran (11-12, 4.52), Luiz Gohara (1-2, 6.06)

At the Ballpark:  Tonight, the first 20,000 fans will receive a Bobby Cox replica statue and there are fireworks following the game.  Fitz and the Tantrums will play a postgame concert on Saturday night and Sunday is Alumni Sunday with Steve Avery, Charlie Liebrandt and former Phillies Paul Byrd signing pre-game autographs.

Phillies Leaders
Average:  Cesar Hernandez - .291
Runs:  Cesar Hernandez - 80
Home Runs:  Tommy Joseph - 22
RBIs:  Maikel Franco - 69
Stolen Bases:  Cesar Hernandez - 14

Wins:  Aaron Nola - 12
ERA:  Aaron Nola - 3.56
Strikeouts:  Aaron Nola - 175
Saves:  Hector Neris - 23

Braves Leaders
Average:  Freddie Freeman - .314
Runs:  Ender Inciarte - 90
Home Runs:  Freddie Freeman - 28
RBIs:  Freddie Freeman - 71
Stolen Bases:  Ender Inciarte - 22

Wins:  Julio Teheran - 11
ERA:  R.A. Dickey - 4.32
Strikeouts:  Mike Foltynewicz and Julio Teheran - 143
Saves:  Jim Johnson - 22

1982 Topps #100
1982 Topps #668
1982 Topps Appreciation:  Two of the best sluggers of the early 1980s received two of the most boring baseball cards in the 1982 Topps set.  Mike Schmidt and Dale Murphy would never be teammates as Schmidt retired in May 1989 and the Phillies didn't acquire Murphy from the Braves until August 1990.

2016 Topps Now #362 Chase Utley

Dodgers 5, Phillies 4
Game 153 - Thursday Afternoon, September 21st in Philadelphia
Record - 61-92, 5th place

One Sentence Summary:  The Dodgers came from behind to win the ballgame 5-4 and avoid the four-game sweep by the Phillies.

What It Means:  The Phils will head to Atlanta for one final road trip before coming home to wrap up the 2017 season.

What Happened:  Mark Leiter, Jr. was effective, allowing three runs (one earned) in his six innings of work.  Ricardo Pinto allowed a solo home run to Andre Ethier that tied the game and he was responsible for the winning run that eventually scored when Hoby Milner was on the mound.

Nick Williams hit a two-run home run (11) in the third and Rhys Hoskins doubled two runs home in the fifth.

Featured Card:  Could this have been Chase Utley's final appearance in Philadelphia?  It seems as if Utley wants to continue to play next season, but he's recently admitted that he doesn't have much time remaining as an active player.  This is his Topps Now card from last season commemorating his first return trip to Philadelphia.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

2017 Chachi In Action #10 Aaron Altherr

Phillies 7Dodgers 5
Game 152 - Wednesday Night, September 20th in Philadelphia
Record - 61-91, 5th place, 31 1/2 games behind the Nationals

One Sentence Summary:  Aaron Altherr was clutch with a game-tying two-run home run (19) in the seventh and a go-ahead two-run single in the eighth as the Phillies again stunned the reeling Dodgers, 7-5.

What It Means:  The Phils go for the improbable four-game sweep Thursday afternoon.

What Happened:  Tommy Joseph contributed an RBI-double in the second and a solo home run (22) in the seventh.  The recently dependable bullpen was shaky, but Hector Neris pitched a perfect ninth to record his 23rd save.  Odubel Herrera made an impressive leaping catch at the wall to end the game.

Featured Card:  The lack of Altherr baseball cards is incredible to me, so I'm taking matters into my own hands.  Altherr joins the Chachi In Action insert set with this card.

Field Report:  I was at this game for work reasons, but I'm still counting it in my official season tally. With a little more than a week remaining in the season, I've attended 16 games and my personal record is an even 8-8.  I'll need to get to at least one more game to tip the balance to the win column.

2017 Topps Now #517 Rhys Hoskins

Phillies 6Dodgers 2
Game 151 - Tuesday Night, September 19th in Philadelphia
Record - 60-91, 5th place, 31 1/2 games behind the Nationals

One Sentence Summary:  Rhys Hoskins had a clutch, three-run double in the seventh to give the Phillies the lead and ultimately a 6-2 win over the Dodgers.

What It Means:  The Phils are playing like they don't realize they're supposed to lose.  If they win three more games in their final 11 they'll avoid a 100-loss season which at one point seemed like their inevitable destiny.

What Happened:  Hoskins singled home the Phillies' first run in the sixth.  Odubel Herrera worked a bases loaded walk to tie the game at two before Hoskins cleared the bases to give the Phils a 5-2 lead. Aaron Altherr padded the lead with a solo home run (18) in the eighth.

Aaron Nola allowed two runs on five hits in his seven innings of work on the way to his 12th win. Herrera collected his 40th double of the season, the most since Jayson Werth had 46 in 2010.

Featured Card:  Get ready for Hoskins to appear in every Topps release and every conceivable insert set in 2018!  Here's another of his cards from the Topps Now release.

Finally, I thought this pre-game photo was really cool, featuring the past winners of the organization's annual Paul Owens Award, honoring the best position player and pitcher within the minor league system.  Current year winners Scott Kingery and Tom Eshelman are flanked by prior winners, including Chase Utley.

L to R - Mickey Morandini, Chase Utley, Rhys Hoskins, Freddy Galvis, Scott Kingery, Tom Eshelman, Luis Garcia,
Maikel Franco, J.P. Crawford, Andrew Knapp, Ricardo Pinto and Ben Lively

2017 Topps Phillies #PHI-17 Aaron Altherr

Phillies 4Dodgers 3
Game 150 - Monday Night, September 18th in Philadelphia
Record - 59-91, 5th place, 31 1/2 games behind the Nationals

One Sentence Summary:  Aaron Altherr hit the first career grand slam allowed by Clayton Kershaw and Nick Pivetta settled in after a rough first inning as the Phillies stunned the first place Dodgers in this 4-3 win.

What It Means:  The Phillies are doing whatever they can to prevent the Dodgers from clinching the division while in Philadelphia.  This loss was Kershaw's first at Citizens Bank Park since May 12, 2009.

What Happened:  Altherr's slam came in the sixth inning with the Phillies trailing 2-0.  Pivetta had allowed back-to-back home runs to start the game - an inside-the-park home run to Chris Taylor and a solo shot to Justin Turner.  He calmed down to pitch five scoreless innings after that.

Chase Utley returned to Philadelphia for the second time since his trade to the Dodgers and received a standing ovation before his at-bat in the second.

Featured Card:  I've lamented the excess Roman Quinn and Jorge Alfaro cards found within 2017 Topps products before, and I now I realize those extra cards were at the expense of cards for Altherr. Altherr's sole mainstream baseball card so far this year can be found in the Topps flagship set.  This is his card from the Phillies retail team set which mirrors his flagship card with the exception of the non-glossy Topps logo.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

2017 Chachi #63 Henderson Alvarez

Henderson Javier Alvarez
Starting Pitcher

Bats:  Right  Throws:  Right  Height:  6'0"  Weight:  205
Born:  April 18, 1990, Valencia, Valenzuela
Signed:  Signed by the Toronto Blue Jays as an amateur free agent, October 17, 2006.
Teams:  Toronto Blue Jays 2011-2012; Miami Marlins 2013-2015; Phillies 2017
Acquired:  Signed as a free agent formerly with the Long Island Ducks (Independent), August 25, 2017.

2012 Topps #562
0 Alvarez Baseball Cards in My Collection per The Phillies Room Checklist
First Card:  N/A
First Phillies Card:  N/A
First Phillies Team Issued Card:  N/A
Latest Card:  N/A

First Topps Flagship Base Card:  2012 Topps #562

Complete Chachi Checklist
2017 Chachi #63

Card statistics through 9/18/17.