Wednesday, September 30, 2009

2009 Chachi #58 Phillies Clinch East HL

Phillies 10, Astros 3

The Philadelphia Phillies are the 2009 National League East Champions!

Moments before Ryan Howard fielded Lance Berkman's grounder and stepped on first to end the game, the Marlins defeated the Braves to clinch the pennant for the Phils. The Citizens Bank Park out of town scoreboard remained frozen, electing to hold off on the "F" by the Marlins-Braves game until after the team mobbed Ryan by first base. The Phillies celebrated on the field, champagne was sprayed in the clubhouse and a recording of the late, great Harry Kalas singing his signature song, "High Hopes" played throughout the ballpark. Hard to believe.

For the third year in a row, the Phillies are heading into the Postseason. The franchise secured three pennants in a row back in 1976, 1977 and 1978, a few years before I was cognizant of baseball and the Phils. One of these days, I'll tell Doug the story of the night the Phillies won the 2009 NL East pennant while he slept soundly upstairs.

The Game: Kyle Kendrick pitched three scoreless innings of relief for the win, following the departure of Pedro Martinez after four innings of work. The two through eight spots in the line-up each had at least one run batted in, with Raul Ibañez leading the way with three RBI. In a somewhat symbolic gesture, Charlie Manuel made a pitching change with two outs in the bottom of ninth, bringing in Brad Lidge to get the final out of the game.

2010 Chachi Prototype #CU Chase Utley

2010: A Chachi Odyssey, Part 7
In which past 1980s Topps sets are rejected outright

We've eliminated three sets from the '70s, so it's time to take a few sets from the '80s off the table. I'm looking at you, 1986 Topps. This just isn't an eye-pleasing set, in my humble opinion. What appears to be a take on the famous 1975 Topps design, but in black and white, just fell flat. It was a cool set when it came out, but the design hasn't withstood the test of time.

The same can be said for the 1984 Topps set. I loved the 1983 Topps design (foreshadowing), but I was a little disappointed the first time I opened a wax pack of 1984 Topps. (Undoubtedly brought home from one of my Dad's Wawa trips.) The 1984 design just seemed like a reboot of the classy 1983 design, but with squares.

The 1989 Topps set never even had a chance. For those of you keeping score at home, here's where we stand:

Topps sets already used - 1975, 1976, 1977, 1980, 1981
Topps sets eliminated from contention - 1973, 1978, 1979, 1984, 1986, 1989
Topps sets under consideration - 1970, 1971, 1972, 1974, 1982, 1983, 1985, 1987, 1988

Next, the 2010 Chachi Set Planning Committee will begin to whittle down the "under consideration" list . . .

2009 Chachi Prototype #ST So Taguchi

2010: A Chachi Odyssey, Part 6
In which past 1970s Topps sets are rejected outright

The 2010 Chachi Set Planning Committee felt the best place to start when choosing the Topps set to represent the upcoming 2010 Chachi release was to eliminate the designs we felt certain we wouldn't be using. (Doug felt the best place to start was with a quick run around the house with his Mater and Lightning McQueen cars, but we quickly realized this was getting us nowhere.)

The 1973 Topps set is a great set burdened with a boring design. Ditto the 1978 Topps set, although I originally toyed with the idea of using the 1978 design as the basis for the 2009 Chachi set. I had used the 1976 and 1977 designs over the past few years and I didn't want to jinx the team by breaking the chain. Saner minds prevailed and I realized the design I chose for the 2009 Chachi set would not change the course or the fate of the 2009 Phillies.
The 1979 Topps set is a also a great set as a whole, but I've always been a little bored with its design. Thus we eliminated the 1973, 1978 and 1979 Topps sets from contention for the 2010 Chachi set.

2005 Chachi #63 Checklist 1-63

2010: A Chachi Odyssey, Part 5

I topped off the entire inaugural set with the only respectable way to end any good baseball card set - with a checklist. Sets followed in 2006, 2007 and the magical year of 2008. We moved out of The Crick in 2006, we welcomed Doug to our little family, The Phillies Room got a new (and better) home and the Phillies Wall continues to be updated year-round. Earlier this year, I took the plunge into the blogosphere and decided to share my creations with folks who would appreciate the home-made baseball cards a little more than the casual observer.

Which brings us to today. After my moving soliloquy, the 2010 Chachi Set Planning Committee is now ready to commit and forge ahead with picking a past Topps design to host the 2010 Chachi set. The following designs have been previously used and as such are out of contention for the 2010 set: 1975 Topps, 1976 Topps, 1977 Topps, 1980 Topps and 1981 Topps. Over the next few posts, we'll share the 2010 Chachi set rejects as well as the finalists for the 2010 set. A poll may appear, consideration will be given to comments received and the final design will be chosen at some point before the end of the 2009 Postseason.

That's right. I make my own baseball cards.

2005 Chachi #33 Ugueth Urbina

2010: A Chachi Odyssey, Part 4

Thus the set was christened the 2005 Chachi set. In mid-June 2005, we had company over and they were given the obligatory tour of The Phillies Room (The Crick's first floor). As their attention turned to the Phillies Wall, one guest innocently queried, "How is it you already have a Ugueth Urbina Phillies baseball card? He was just acquired a few days ago."

I smiled casually as I responded, "Oh that? I make my own baseball cards." That's right casual observer of the Wall, I make my own baseball cards. Others wait for new players to appear on new teams through the usual baseball card channels. I wait for no one. I make my own baseball cards. I expected praise. I expected complete and total fawning over my mad graphic design skills. Instead, I received a skeptical look and a "Hmm, yeah . . . Hey is that a Jim Thome bobble head?"

Undeterred, the set continued to grow. Highlight cards were created to capture memorable moments from the season, team leader cards featured the year's best in terms of offense and pitching and I topped off the entire inaugural set with the only respectable way to end any good baseball card set . . . To be continued.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

2008 Topps Update & Highlights #U250 Pedro Feliz

Phillies 7, Astros 4

And exhale . . .

A 4th inning Pedro Feliz grand slam allowed tonight's capacity crowd at Citizens Bank Park to wave their rally towels in the air, and wave them like they just didn't care. We stood and waved ours too. An RBI double by Jimmy Rollins in the 3rd and a 2-run home run from Jayson Werth in the 5th inning (his 35th) added to the night's offense. The win dropped the magic number to clinch the NL East down to 2.

J.A. Happ pitched into the 6th inning tonight, allowing just three earned runs, on his way to recording his 12th win of the year. Ryan Madson recorded a 2-inning save (27 pitches, 22 strikes) for his 10th save of the year.

Get Well Soon, Jamie: Jamie Moyer left the game after the 7th inning after falling to the ground with a left groin strain.

This Just In:
The Marlins held on to defeat the Braves tonight in Atlanta by a score of 5-4. Ladies and gentlemen, the magic number is now 1.

2005 Chachi #11 Jose Offerman

2010: A Chachi Odyssey, Part 3

The most vexing new member of the Phillies, who most likely would never be featured on a Phillies baseball card . . . new utility infielder/pinch-hitter Jose Offerman. The Wall now had too many holes, so drastic measures were needed. Then and there, I decided to make my own baseball card set. I would make it stronger and faster than the other insufficient baseball card sets. I would scoff at the 2005 baseball card sets as they were released without their Clay Condrey, Matt Kata or Eude Brito cards. My Phillies team set would feature them all, and best of all, I would create my new set using my favorite baseball card design of all-time - that of the 1975 Topps set.

Using basic graphic design software, a scanner, a little twine and spare coat hangers, the set slowly came together. Holes were filled on the Wall. The empty sleeve reserved for situational reliever Aaron Fultz now hosted an actual Aaron Fultz baseball card. No more would I look away disgustingly at empty spots dotting the 25-man roster. All I needed was a name for my set, my creation. (At this point in my narrative, I realized 2010 Chachi Set Planning Committee member Doug had wandered off and he was attacking his 1988 Score Juan Samuel card with Buzz Lightyear. I pressed on undaunted. Back to the Spring of 2005 . . . )

Somewhere outside The Crick, a motorcycle backfired (again). Our puppy Chachi proceeded to completely go bonkers-bananas and bark bark bark unrestrained at the offending motorcycle. The name of my set came to me then . . . To be continued.

2005 Chachi #1 Jimmy Rollins

2010: A Chachi Odyssey, Part 2

It was a dark and stormy night in the Spring of 2005. We were still living in what we affectionately refer to now as The Crick. Our small town house was rattled nightly by the sound of our ill-reputed neighbors rolling what sounded like bowling balls down their stairs. In between sounds of backfiring motorcycles and rolling bowling balls, I struggled with a problem.

Since the early '80s, I had maintained a Phillies Wall. Either on a bulletin board in my 12th Street bedroom, on the back of a closet door or now in the first incarnation of The Phillies Room - otherwise known as the first floor of The Crick. The Phillies Wall faithfully and accurately reported the current Phillies roster seven days a week, twelve months a year using baseball cards of the current roster. If a roster move was made, the Wall was updated with the appropriate player's baseball card. The Wall never failed. The Wall was a constant. Even during the Dark Times of the early '00s, the Wall was updated.

Back to The Crick and the crux of my problem: I had little to no funds for acquiring new Phillies baseball cards at the time. I was hard pressed to update the Wall with recent cards of Placido Polanco, Kenny Lofton and the most vexing new member of the Phillies, who most likely would never be featured on a Phillies baseball card . . . To be continued.

2005 Chachi #00 Chachi Passaro

2010: A Chachi Odyssey, Part 1

With a precious few games remaining on the 2009 regular season schedule, and the Phillies clinging to their precarious lead in the NL East, the 2010 Chachi Set Planning Committee recently held its first meeting. The goal of the meeting was to decide which past Topps set should be used as the basis for the upcoming 2010 Chachi release. At its outset, the meeting did not go well.

Doug was insistent on using either the 1990 Donruss (with the original orange borders) or the 1988 Score design (with either purple or green borders) for the set. Jenna wondered aloud what a 2010 set comprised of just Greg Dobbs or Rheal Cormier would look like. Chachi preferred a set of just him in various states of sniffing, scratching or resting. I did the only thing I could to regain control of the meeting by reminding everyone present of the original purpose and meaning of the Chachi set. As I spoke, the committee members stared at me in rapt attention and with reverence as I recounted the definitive Chachi set origin story.

It was a dark and stormy night in the Spring of 2005 . . . To be continued.

Monday, September 28, 2009

1996 Best Reading Phillies #27 Larry Andersen

Astros 8, Phillies 2

Yorman Bazardo? Yorman. Bazardo. Yorman Bazardo.

Yorman Bazardo.

Cranky L.A., Cranky Jim: During tonight's ballgame (?) broadcaster Larry Andersen suggested the following line-up for tomorrow night's game - Andy Tracy at first, Eric Bruntlett at second, Miguel Cairo at shortstop, Greg Dobbs at third, Paul Hoover catching, John Mayberry in left, Ben Francisco in center and Matt Stairs in right. If nothing else, maybe it would jolt the regular eight back from their vacations. For the first time since the All-Star Break, the Phillies lead in the NL East is at just 4 games. The Braves are hot, the Phils are not and the magic number remains at 3.

And one more thing: Yorman Bazardo?

Astros at Phillies: September 28th through October 1st

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday 7:05

Records: Astros 72-83, 5th Place in NL Central (17½ games behind the Cardinals); Phillies 90-65, 1st Place in NL East (5 games ahead of the Braves)
Played with the Astros and the Phillies: Per Baseball Reference.com, 87 players have played for both the Astros (formerly the Colt 45's) and the Phillies, including - Bobby Abreu, Larry Andersen, Rocky Childress, Gene Freese, Kiko Garcia, Greg Gross, Larry Milbourne, Joe Morgan, Yorkis Perez, Robin Roberts, Curt Schilling, Dickie Thon, Mitch Williams and Glenn Wilson
Magic Number: 3
Let's Go Marlins!: The Braves open a 3-game series with the Florida Marlins before finishing out the season with four against the Washington Nationals. Any combination of three Phillies wins or three Braves losses guarantees the NL East pennant for the Phils.
Astros Probables: Yorman Bazardo, Wilton Lopez, Brian Moehler, Felipe Paulino

Sunday, September 27, 2009

2009 Topps Allen & Ginter #183 Pedro Feliz

Phillies 6, Brewers 5

Things to do during a nail-biting Phillies game in late September:

- Try to read a magazine
- Update a few wantlists
- Watch The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland with Doug on his portable DVD player (his little TV)
- Take a walk with the family

I tried each of the four things listed above, none of which helped to alleviate the anxiety caused by a struggling Phillies bullpen and a lead of less than 15 runs. In the end, the Phillies (and the bullpen) held on to their precarious lead and Ryan Madson recorded a 4-out save for the victory. The magic number to clinch the NL East is now down to 3.

Jimmy Rollins started the scoring early with a lead-off home run in the 1st inning. Ryan Howard added an RBI double in the 1st inning and Shane Victorino followed with a 2-run double in the 2nd inning. After a 2-run single from Pedro Feliz in the 5th inning, the Phils were done scoring for the day. As it turned out, the team would need all 6 runs for the victory, and Pedro's hit proved to be huge.

Following a less-than-stellar performance by starter Joe Blanton, relievers Sergio Escalona, Chad Durbin and Ryan Madson held the Brewers scoreless through the final 3+ innings of the game.

Road Warriors: The win was the Phillies' 48th road win of the year, tying a franchise mark for road victories set in 1976.
Happy 60th: Happy birthday to Michael Jack Schmidt, born today in Dayton, Ohio in 1949.

1996 Pinnacle #73 Ricky Bottalico

Saturday night - Brewers 7, Phillies 5

Ricky Bottalico is worried. The current Phillies Post Game Live analyst has gone from "concerned" to "officially worried" about the team's chances to advance to the Postseason. In his post game post-mortem last night, Ricky opined that a lot can happen over the remaining eight games of the season. The way the Phils are currently playing (sloppily), things aren't looking bright for the defending World Champions, especially coupled with how well the 2nd place Braves are currently playing.

The Brew Crew won in walk-off fashion last night on Ryan Braun's two-run home run off ninth inning pitcher du jour Tyler Walker. The Brewers were allowed to tie the game on a two-run error by Jimmy Rollins in the 6th inning. Emergency starter Kyle Kendrick (Pedro Martinez still has a pain in the neck) didn't last through the 5th inning.

Joe Blanton and the rest of team will hopefully try to emerge from their slumber this afternoon, just in time to attempt a series split. The magic number is still 4.

2008 Upper Deck World Series Champions #PP-42 Pat Burrell

Friday night - Brewers 8, Phillies 4

I'm often hesitant to post anything following a Phillies loss. More often than not when I re-read these posts, they come off as cranky and whiny, which I guess is just an accurate reflection of my mood at the time.

I watched most of Friday night's game, but I didn't hear much of it. On Friday night, in Doug's words, there was "a lot of work people here." I hosted my annual end of busy season get-together and the din of our guests drowned out most of the carnage from the game. Cliff Lee did not pitch well and Brad Lidge gave up yet another run in an inning of mop-up work. The only positives from the game were Ryan Howard's three RBI and back-up catcher Paul Hoover's two hits in his Phillies debut.

Flashback: The Phils were experiencing better times during their last visit to Milwaukee in October 2008. On October 5, 2008, Pat Burrell's two home runs led the team to its first NLCS berth since 1993. And for the record, the Chachi card commemorating this event is better than Upper Deck's. Just saying.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

2009 Topps Phillies #PHI5 Jimmy Rollins

Phillies 9, Brewers 4

I was almost starting to forget what it was like when the Phillies score a bunch of runs and make things look easy. Fortunately, the offense came alive tonight and the Phils defeated the Brewers, 9-4. The magic number to clinch the division is now 4. Jimmy Rollins paced the offense and his 3-run home run capped the team's 6-run 5th inning. Shane Victorino and Pedro Feliz both enjoyed 3-hit games in the winning effort.

J.A. Happ pitched into the 6th inning for his 11th win of the season. It was just Happ's third start in September and although he pitched well, his performance tonight won't be enough to bump Pedro Martinez from the Postseason rotation. And the bullpen struggles continued . . .

The defensive play of the game came courtesy of catcher Paul Bako, who masterfully blocked the plate and hung onto the ball after being run over by the Brewers' Corey Hart in the 6th.

Played with the Brewers and the Phillies: Per Baseball Reference.com, 71 players have played for both the Brewers (formerly the Seattle Pilots) and the Phillies, including - David Bell, Johnny Briggs, Wes Helms, Larry Hisle, Geoff Jenkins, Deron Johnson, Randy Lerch, Sixto Lezcano, Don Money, Dan Plesac, Bruce Ruffin and Dale Sveum. (This tidbit was unintentionally omitted from the series preview post from earlier today.)

Phillies at Brewers: September 24th through September 27th

Thursday & Friday 8:05, Saturday 7:05, Sunday 2:05

Records: Phillies 88-63, 1st Place in NL East (6½ games ahead of the Braves); Brewers 75-77, 3rd Place in NL Central (13½ games behind the Cardinals)
Champagne on Ice?: The Phils have a very real possibility of wrapping this thing up in Milwaukee. Any combination of Phillies wins and Braves losses totalling 5 get us there. The Braves open a series in Washington on Friday night, so I'll become a huge Nationals fan for the weekend.
Magic Number: 5. It bears repeating.
Brewers Probables: Jeff Suppan, Manny Parra, Braden Looper, Dave Bush

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

1998 Topps #60 Mark Leiter

Marlins 7, Phillies 6

Original Post (Made Obsolete): It got a little soggy, but Ryan Howard's 4-RBI night and Cole Hamels' pitching led the way to another Phillies victory tonight. With the win, the magic number to clinch the NL East drops to 4. Cole scattered eight hits and four runs over seven innings tonight for his 11th win. He also added two hits and knocked in what proved to be the game-winning run in the 6th inning.

Ryan Howard's 2-run double in the 3rd inning started the scoring for the Phils, and his 2-run home run in the 7th inning ended it. It was Ryan's 42nd homer of the year. Raul Ibañez added a 2-hit night, which included his 33th home run.

Updated Post (Reality): I can't believe I waited through a rain delay and stayed up late tonight to watch Brad Lidge blow his 11th save. He's one blown save shy of tying the franchise record of 12 blown saves set by Mark Leiter in 1998. Crap.

1987 Topps #PR10 Greg Legg

Greg Legg's baseball cards are littered throughout the Phillies minor league team issues of the '80s, '90s and '00s, yet he never received a proper Topps, Fleer or Donruss baseball card. Greg made his big league debut with the Phillies in April 1986, and he hit a lofty .450 (9 for 20) in 11 games. In 1987, he appeared in just 3 games with the Phils in June. In total, Greg played only 14 games with the big club, but he played in close to 1,200 games with the team's minor league affiliates from 1982 to 1994.

This is Greg's 1987 Topps card that never was (but is now), using a picture from the 1987 Tastykake Phillies set.

2009 Multi-Ad Lakewood BlueClaws #30 Greg Legg CO

Congratulations BlueClaws! On Saturday night, the Phillies Class A affiliate Lakewood BlueClaws won the South Atlantic League Championship. In a possible foreshadowing of another championship match-up, the BlueClaws defeated the Greenville Drive - the Class A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox.

Top prospect Anthony Gose hit .407 in the playoffs, and stole three bases in the clinching game. He led the entire league with 76 steals in the regular season.

A cool side note to the title is that it marks coach Greg Legg's first championship ring in his 27 years with the Phillies organization. Greg was drafted by the Phillies in 1982 and he played briefly with the big club in 1986 and 1987. Since retiring from active duty, he's coached and managed at all levels of the Phillies minor league system.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

2009 Topps Heritage #238 Ronny Paulino

Marlins 3, Phillies 0 (Game 2)

Phillies Pet Peeve: Where did the offense go? Why is it the Phillies usually follow a game in which they have an offensive outburst with a game in which their bats are no where to be found? The Phillies managed just two hits against the Marlins' Anibal Sanchez and Leo Nunez tonight (both hits came from Chase Utley), as they lost to the Fish, 3-0. Marlins pitchers recorded 23 total strikeouts on the day. Jamie Moyer pitched a decent game, but you usually can't win a game with just two hits. Marlins' catcher Ronny Paulino went 3 for 4 tonight in the winning effort.

2009 Topps Heritage Pet Peeves: Why is there a Ronny Paulino Phillies card in this set? Ronny spent Spring Training with the Phils, but at best he was slated to be the team's AAA back-up catcher, fourth in the catching depth chart behind Carlos Ruiz, Chris Coste and Lou Marson. The Phillies traded him to the Giants before camp broke for reliever Jack Taschner on March 27th. On the same day, a few hours later, the Giants spun him off to the Marlins. Here's a short list of Phillies that could have been included in the Topps Heritage set in Ronny's stead: Ruiz, Pedro Feliz, Greg Dobbs, Matt Stairs, Chan Ho Park or J.A. Happ. Thus concludes this edition of "Pet Peeves and Things I Don't Get."

2009 Topps Heritage #293 Joe Blanton

Phillies 9, Marlins 3 (Game 1)

In a game attended by what appeared to be a few hundred Phillies fans and maybe a few hundred people who wandered in off the streets, the Phils handily defeated the Marlins this afternoon, 9-3. Joe Blanton threw a superb game, pitching seven innings and striking out nine while allowing just two hits and two walks. He won his 11th game of the year.

Before the 5-run 8th inning put this game out of reach, the big offensive blow was a clutch 2-run single from Jayson Werth in the 5th inning. Ryan Howard enjoyed a 2-for-5 afternoon with 3 RBI and the rarely seen Miguel Cairo added two hits and his first RBI of the year in a spot start at third. The win dropped the magic number down to 5.

Remember This?: The last double header the Phillies played in Miami was on September 27, 1998, to close out the season. The Phils lost game 1 to the Marlins, despite Kevin Sefcik's 3-for-5 at the plate with 4 RBI. The Phils won game 2 behind starting pitcher Carlton Loewer.

Phillies at Marlins: September 22nd through September 23rd

Tuesday 4:10 (Double Header) & Wednesday 7:10

Records: Phillies 87-61, 1st Place in NL East (8 games ahead of the Braves and the Marlins); Marlins 80-70, 2nd Place in NL East (8 games behind the Phillies)
Are you ready for some baseball?: The double header is a result of the NFL scheduling a Monday Night Football game in Miami last night, even though the Marlins-Phillies game was there first. It's the Dolphins' stadium, so they call the shots.
Magic Number: 6
Home Field Advantage: The Phillies, Cardinals and Dodgers head into the final two weeks of the regular season battling for the best record in the National League. The team with the best record will be awarded home field advantage throughout the NL Playoffs and will face the Wild Card in the first round. Unless the Dodgers finish with the best record, either the Phils or the Cardinals will face the Rockies (the likely Wild Card) in the NLDS. (The team with the best record can not face the Wild Card in the first round of the Playoffs if both those teams are from the same division.) In summary, the Phils could be facing the Rockies, Dodgers or Cardinals in the NLDS. We just don't know yet.
Phillies Probables: Joe Blanton, Jamie Moyer, Cole Hamels
Marlins Probables: Josh Johnson, Anibal Sanchez, Rick VandenHurk

Sunday, September 20, 2009

1980 Burger King Phillies #1 Dallas Green

Saturday night - Braves 6, Phillies 4
Sunday afternoon/evening - Phillies 4, Braves 2

I've spent the last few days of my post-work deadline sabbatical fighting a cold, and the cold ultimately won. However, we did manage to attend an incredible wedding in Dallas, PA, and we now know which hotel in the Dallas vicinity to completely avoid the next time we're in that neck of the woods. (And who knew there was a Dallas in Pennsylvania?) Despite my cold and the fact we were out of town, the Phillies carried on with their series against the Braves.

On Saturday night, the Phils mirrored my energy output for the day by sleepwalking through the first eight innings. The offense was completely shut down by Braves starting pitcher Javier Vazquez, but they rallied late for the sake of appearances and scored four off Braves closer Rafael Soriano in the 9th inning. Two of the late runs were courtesy of Ryan Howard's 41st home run and another run scored on pinch-hitter Greg Dobbs' RBI-single. Phillies starter Pedro Martinez left after just three innings with a pain in the neck.

The Phillies took the game (and the series) this afternoon after waiting out a 2-hour rain delay in the 5th inning. Doubles from Ben Francisco and Raul Ibañez started the scoring in the 4th inning. The Phillies bullpen shut the door on the Braves following the departure of starter Cliff Lee due to the lengthy rain delay. Brad Lidge gave up his obligatory 9th inning run, but managed to save his 31st game of the year.

The team heads into the off-day tomorrow with a magic number to clinch the division of 6. By this time next weekend, I hope to have added a "Phillies Clinch Division for 3rd Year in a Row" highlight card to the 2009 Chachi set. Hard to believe, Harry.

Friday, September 18, 2009

2008 Topps Chrome Dick Perez Refractor #WMDPC3 Ryan Howard

Phillies 9, Braves 4

Behind the power of Ryan Howard and the long relief of Kyle Kendrick, the Phils defeated the Braves tonight by a final score of 9-4. Ryan accounted for the Phils' first three runs, hitting a 2-run home run in the 4th (his 39th) and a solo home run in the 6th (his 40th). Kendrick pitched four innings of scoreless relief to earn the win after starter J.A. Happ was forced from the game for precautionary reasons. (J.A. grimaced coming off the mound in the 3rd inning, which was enough for Charlie Manuel to yank him from the game.)

Jayson Werth added a clutch 2-run single in the 8th inning to provide a little cushion for the back end of the bullpen. Jimmy Rollins (3-run home run) and Ben Francisco (solo shot) padded the cushion even more with back-to-back home runs in the top of the 9th inning.

With the win, coupled with the Braves' defeat, the magic number to clinch the NL East is now in single digits at 8.

Paging Paul Hoover: Carlos Ruiz left the game in the 6th inning with what the team is describing as a sprained left wrist. Look for the Phils to add another catcher to the active roster tomorrow if Chooch's injury is serious.

Trade with Beardy:
This Ryan Howard card is courtesy of a recent trade with Beardy of the aptly-named Beardy's Baseball Blog. Beardy also sent along a 2007 Bowman's Best Ryan Howard card and a 2005 Donruss Diamond Kings Studio Portraits Jim Thome card, numbered to just 40 copies. Thanks Beardy!

Phillies at Braves: September 18th through September 20th

Friday 7:30, Saturday 7:00, Sunday 1:30

Records: Phillies 85-60, 1st Place in the NL East (7½ games ahead of the Braves); Braves 78-68, 2nd Place in NL East (7½ games behind the Phillies)
Magic Number: 10. The Braves are now ahead of the Marlins by a half game in the standings and the Marlins are one game back in the loss column. If the Phils sweep the Braves this weekend, and if the Marlins lose their weekend series with the Reds, it's conceivable the Phillies could clinch in Milwaukee next weekend. The goal should be to win every game, go for home field advantage in the Playoffs and make the final series of the season against the Marlins (October 2-4) completely meaningless. We have tickets on October 3rd, and I'd like nothing more than to see Paul Hoover, Miguel Cairo and Andy Tracy in the Phillies' starting line-up that day.
Phillies Probables: J.A. Happ, Pedro Martinez, Cliff Lee
Braves Probables: Tim Hudson, Javier Vazquez, Tommy Hanson

Thursday, September 17, 2009

2009 O-Pee-Chee Retro #RM-28 Cole Hamels

Phillies 4, Nationals 2

Perfect through five innings, Cole Hamels won his 10th game of the year as the magic number to clinch the East dropped to 10. Cole's change-up was on tonight and he worked in a healthy mix of fastballs and an occasional curve ball to compliment it. Cole also contributed a bases-loaded RBI-single in the 6th inning. The Phillies starting pitchers have now allowed just three earned runs over the past five games. Brad Lidge pitched a (mostly) uneventful 9th inning for his 30th save of the season.

White rally towels made their 2009 debut at Citizens Bank Park tonight. Watching all 44,000+ fans in attendance wave the towels during key moments of games is a sight to behold.

Finally, for the first time since October 3, 1993, the Phillies are 25 games over .500. Can you believe it?

Chan Ho's Hammy & Shane's Tummy: As expected, Chan Ho Park's hamstring injury is going to sideline the reliever for two to three weeks. Tyler Walker will be expected to step up and serve as a 6th and 7th inning set-up guy in Chan Ho's stead. Shane Victorino had to leave the game tonight in the 7th inning with what was described as a gastro-intestinal malady.

Topps All-Time Fan Favorites - 1980 Topps Phillies

2003 Topps All-Time Fan Favorites #60 Mike Schmidt
2004 Topps All-Time Fan Favorites #76 Bake McBride

Dean Family - This post is for you. The 2003-2005 Topps All-Time Fan Favorite sets featured two Phillies cards borrowing the 1980 Topps design: Mike Schmidt and Bake McBride.

In my previous post on these sets, I failed to mention what I really enjoy about these cards - the card backs. The backs are true to the original design, but they feature complete career statistics for the featured player during his tenure with the team displayed. So the back of Mike Schmidt's card features his entire career statistics, and Bob Dernier's card features his complete Phillies stats from his two tours of duty with the team. This was a nice touch by Topps.

A few other notes:
- There are 22 Phillies cards spread throughout the three years' of sets. Mike Schmidt appears in each of the three sets. John Kruk and Lenny Dysktra both appear in two of the sets.
- Personal favorite Kent Tekulve does not appear as a Phillie, but he's in the 2003 set featured as a Pirate on the 1984 Topps design.
- I am puzzled as to why I don't own these complete sets.

2005 Topps All-Time Fan Favorites #115 Bob Dernier

The 1980 Topps blog recently posted a few cards from the Topps All-Time Fan Favorites sets. The cards posted borrowed their design from the 1980 Topps set (hence their inclusion on the Dean Family's blog). Topps released three of these sets from 2003 through 2005 and I've collected the Phillies cards from them. The sets consist of all-time "fan favorites" (hence the name of the set) featured on the familiar Topps' designs of the past four decades. What is unfamiliar are the pictures selected for each fan favorite. While the intent was to match a picture and a Topps design from the same year or era, the picture selection committee had a few misses.

The Bob Dernier card pictured here features a 1982 Topps design, but a 1988-1989 vintage picture of Bobby D. This always bugged me a little. But what always bugged me a little more isn't the picture selection, it's the "3rd Base" position indicator on the bottom left of the card. Only the most die-hard of Bob Dernier fans would know he was originally drafted as a third baseman, a position he last played at Class A Peninsula in 1979. Why feature a Gold Glove outfielder as a third baseman? Surely this was done by Topps just to perplex me.

Feel free to compare and contrast with Bob Dernier's actual 1982 Topps card, featured in that year's Traded series.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

2009 Topps #557 Jayson Werth

Phillies 6, Nationals 1

The magic number dropped to 11 tonight, following the 6-1 win over the Nationals. Jayson Werth's grand slam in the 7th inning was the big blast in the game, and it was the record 10th grand slam of the year for the team.

Joe Blanton wriggled in and out of trouble throughout his six innings of work, allowing five hits and four walks while striking out seven. Had reliever Tyler Walker not allowed a ninth inning run to the Nationals, it would have been the Phils' third straight shutout and the first time the franchise had accomplished that feat since August 1969.

The Nationals are not a good team. They've made several base running blunders over the past few nights and they definitely play like a team 45 games under .500. The Phils go for the three-game sweep tomorrow night behind starting pitcher Cole Hamels.

Stealing Home: As part of a delayed double steal, Chase Utley stole home tonight in the 1st inning. Jayson Werth had stolen home earlier in the year and the last time two Phillies stole home in the same year was 1997, when Kevin Stocker and Scott Rolen both pulled it off.

1978 Phillies Spring Training & 1978 Topps #PR1 Todd Cruz

My Mom continues to scan and discover old family photographs taken by my Pop-Pop throughout the '50s, '60s and '70s. She recently came across slides from a Spring of 1978 trip taken by my Nana, Pop-Pop, Uncle Dell and Aunt Becky to Clearwater, Florida - the Phillies' Spring Training home. My Mom asked if I could identify any of the players in a picture snapped by my Pop-Pop. (That's my Uncle Dell's hat brim and right arm, snapping a similar picture at the same time.) Based on my research, here's what I've found:

- I can clearly make out players wearing #41 and #16, and what appear to be coaches wearing #23 and #59. (I wonder why the players are wearing their baby blue away uniforms?)

- Pitcher Jim Lonborg wore #41 for the Phils from 1973 until 1979, and that's definitely not Lonborg in the picture. Therefore, I'm guessing these are minor league players.

- Both Jim Morrison and Todd Cruz wore #16 for the Phillies in 1978. I suppose the player pictured here could be Todd Cruz, but I still believe this is a minor league work-out featuring a few pitchers and catchers. Cruz was primarily a middle infielder.
- I was fairly certain coach #59 was Bobby Tiefenauer . . . until I looked it up and found Tiefenauer had worn #5 during his tenure as a Phillies' coach.

In summary, I have no idea who these people are. I know they are Phillies, and most likely minor leaguers. I also know my Pop-Pop appeared to have had a wonderful time on this trip.

Even though it's probably not Todd Cruz: Todd Cruz played in three games for the '78 Phils before going on to find relative success as a role player in the American League with the Royals, Angels, White Sox, Mariners and Orioles from 1979 until 1984. As an Oriole, he started all five 1983 World Series games against the Phillies as the O's third baseman. He's got a World Series ring, but he's never been featured on a baseball card as a Phillie until now. I used the 1978 Topps design and Todd's picture from the 1979 Phillies Yearbook for the card.

1979 Topps #317 Jose Cardenal

I'm off from work today, so I decided to do what most hard working Americans would choose to do on a day off: blog about Jose Cardenal's afro while a member of the Philadelphia Phillies in 1978 and 1979.

Jose Cardenal's 1979 Topps card is the first (and only) to feature him in an actual Phillies' uniform and not a (poorly) airbrushed looks-kind-of-like-a-Phillies-hat. Unfortunately, it appears as if Jose took the shears to the afro at some point between 1978 and 1979. Alas, 1978 was to be the high hat mark for Jose in terms of pure afro grandeur. We'll have to rely on another blogger or the Dean Family's 1980 Topps blog in order to track the 'fro progress in 1980. Jose appears as a Met in the 1980 Topps set on card #512.

Number 1: If you asked the question, "Who is the last Phillie to wear the number 1?," most people would respond, Richie Ashburn. But most people would be wrong. Jose Cardenal wore #1 for the Phillies in 1978 and until he was sold to the Mets on August 2, 1979. Richie had his #1 retired on August 24, 1979, and no Phillie player has worn it since. And now you know.

1978 Topps #210 Jose Cardenal

I’ve mentioned previously this is one of my busiest times of year at work. The first two weeks of September have been a blur, with no real time to sit and reflect, to stop and smell the roses or to blog. It’s been get up, get showered, go to work, work, go to sleep, repeat since a few weeks before Labor Day. But my deadlines have now passed, and life (the important part) can resume.

I’ve eaten a lot of lunches and dinners at my desk in my office over the past several weeks. Fortunately, I’ve been able to fire up my Google Reader and check in on the many wonderful baseball card blogs floating around out there during the 30 minutes or so of my solitary sandwich time. The blog roll on the left sidebar of this humble blog kept me entertained for many a meal.

Which naturally brings us to . . . Jose Cardenal’s afro. Besides potentially being an amazing name for a garage band, I read about the evolution of Jose Cardenal’s afro on the Wrigley Wax blog. Where else am I going to get this kind of insight as to the growth and under-hat positioning of Jose Cardenal’s afro as pictured on his 1970’s Topps baseball cards? It's this kind of post that made me look forward each day to catching up with the numerous and immensely entertaining baseball card blogs I follow.

Starting today, I’m taking a few days off from work to decompress and to generally just sit and smile. The first thing I wanted to do was to start where Wrigley Wax left off and track down Jose Cardenal’s 1978 Topps card, which I had vaguely recalled featured a ginormous afro. I was right. Here’s to deadlines met, well deserved rest days, baseball card blogs and Jose Cardenal’s afro.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

2009 Phillies Team Issue Update #34 Cliff Lee

Phillies 5, Nationals 0

Not to be outdone by the Sunday night performance of Pedro Martinez, Cliff Lee threw a gem tonight. His third complete game and his first shutout as a Phillie gave the team the win over the last place Nationals by a score of 5-0. His final pitch was clocked at 92mph - evidence he still had plenty of gas left in the tank even after throwing 124 pitches. The magic number to clinch the division drops to 12 with the victory.

The Phils never looked back after their 4-run second inning, which included a bases-clearing, 3-run double from catcher Carlos Ruiz. In his post-game interview, Cliff Lee was quick to point out what a great game Chooch had called from the behind the plate. Jayson Werth contributed a 3-hit night and scored on Chooch's double.

Dobbs Alert: The Lakewood BlueClaws took a commanding two games to none lead in the best-of-five South Atlantic League Championship Series tonight, beating the Greenville Drive, 3-0. Greg Dobbs served as the lead-off hitter and third baseman for the BlueClaws, going 0 for 2 in the game.

Nationals at Phillies: September 15th through September 17th

Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday 7:05

Records: Nationals 50-93, Last Place in NL East (32½ games behind the Phillies); Phillies 82-60, 1st Place in NL East (7 games ahead of the Marlins)
Magic Number: 13
Why such a short post?: Work deadlines and professional obligations demand it. Whaddya gonna do?
Nationals Probables: Garrett Mock, Livan Hernandez, J.D. Martin
Phillies Probables: Cliff Lee, Joe Blanton, Cole Hamels

Monday, September 14, 2009

2009 Multi-Ad Lakewood BlueClaws #9 Travis d'Arnaud

The big club is off today, but the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws begin play in the South Atlantic League Championship Series tonight. They'll face off in the best-of-five series against the Greenville Drive, the Red Sox' Class A affiliate. Phils' reliever Clay Condrey, currently on a rehab assignment, gets the start in the opener for the BlueClaws.

Top prospect Travis d'Arnaud was the team's primary catcher this year, hitting .255 (.303 in the second half) with 13 home runs and 71 RBI. Entering the 2009 season, Travis was ranked by Baseball America as the Phils' 7th best prospect in their system.

One of these years, we're going to make the roadtrip to First Energy Park in Lakewood either in addition to or in lieu of our annual trip to Lehigh Valley to catch an IronPigs game.

Best of luck to the BlueClaws!

UPDATE - Apparently Clay Condrey wasn't starting tonight for the BlueClaws, but he did pitch an inning in relief.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

2009 Chachi Originals #2 Pedro Martinez

Phillies 1, Mets 0 (Game 2)

It was an absolute pleasure to watch Pedro Martinez pitch tonight. The future Hall of Famer pitched 8 shutout innings while throwing 130 pitches - the most pitches he's thrown in a game since May 1, 2001. He struck out seven while walking only two and allowing six hits. When Pedro was signed by the Phils back on July 15th, no one could have predicted his Phillies tenure would be this successful to this point. Pedro improved his record to 5-0 with a 2.87 ERA, and the team is now 7-0 in the games Pedro has started.

The Phils manufactured their lone run in the 1st inning when Jimmy Rollins scored on a Chase Utley single. Jimmy had walked to start the game and he advanced to second on a Shane Victorino single. In the 9th, manager Charlie Manuel spun the closer wheel and Ryan Madson's name came up. Fortunately, Madson was able to shut down the Mets for his 8th save of the season.

With the victory resulting from Pedro's masterpiece, the magic number to clinch the division drops to 14, and the Mets have been officially eliminated from the NL East. The Phils' lead is back to 6½ games over the Marlins. It was a very, very good day.

2009 Topps Heritage #185 Kyle Kendrick

Phillies 5, Mets 4 (Game 1)

And a nice, cleansing deep breath . . . Ahhhh. Not one to make things easy for himself (or this Phillies fan watching from home with the TV on mute), Brad Lidge closed out the game today as the Phils downed the Mets, 5-4. Lidge picked up his 29th save the day after Ryan Madson imploded against the Mets, but he first yielded two runs in the inning. An RBI-single in the 8th from pinch-hitter Andy Tracy proved to be a huge insurance run.

Kyle Kendrick was the story today. In his first big league start since September 2008, Kyle pitched into the 8th inning, before turning the game over to the bullpen. He did a fantastic job locating his change-up and as a result, his sinker was all the more effective. Stellar defense from the infield, especially Jimmy Rollins, aided Kyle in his first win of the season.

Ben Francisco and Shane Victorino each homered in the victory. With the win, and with the Marlins' loss this afternoon, the magic number to clinch the division is now 15.

2008 Chachi #29 Kyle Kendrick HL

Kyle Kendrick will be making an emergency start in Game 1 of today's double header with the Mets. (I guess it's not really an emergency if they've been planning this out for about a week.)

But I digress . . . Back on February 16, 2008, Kyle was the target of an elaborate practical joke as he was led to believe he had been traded to the Yomiuri Giants (of the Japanese Baseball League) for Kobayashi Iwamura. In on the joke were then assistant-GM Ruben Amaro, Jr., manager Charlie Manuel, Kendrick's own agent and the prank's architect, Brett Myers. Members of the media also participated, as they staged an impromptu news conference around a stunned Kendrick in front of his locker.

A relieved Kendrick was eventually told by Myers he'd been "Punk'd". Watching the video of the prank a year in a half later, you almost feel sorry for the guy.

Kendrick was an integral part of the Phils' Postseason push in 2007, but he struggled in 2008 and was left off the Postseason roster. He spent the majority of 2009 starting for AAA Lehigh Valley, where he had a decent season. Today's start may be the first of several auditions for Kyle as he tries to make his way into the team's 2010 starting rotation plans.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

1991 Studio #216 Steve Lake

Mets 10, Phillies 9

Dear fellow Phillies fans and blog readers,

In lieu of a recap/rant with regards to today's debacle of a baseball game against the Mets, please enjoy this baseball card featuring former back-up catcher Steve Lake and his exotic pet bird, Ruffles. We will return to our regularly scheduled programming tomorrow.

Hakuna matata.

Kind regards,
Jim
The Phillies Room

2009 Chachi #57 Andy Tracy

In the late '50s and throughout the '60s, Topps was notorious for using the same picture of a player from year to year in its baseball card sets. On certain rare occasions, the Chachi set is not immune to this practice. I haven't posted it yet, but Andy Tracy's 2008 Chachi card bears the same picture as this, his 2009 Chachi card. There are a lot of good pictures out there of Andy with the AAA Lehigh Valley IronPigs, but there are very few of him as a Phillie.

Phillies debut: August 24, 2008
Major League debut: April 25, 2000
Former teams: Montreal Expos 2000-2001, Colorado Rockies 2004
How acquired: Signed as a minor league free agent formerly with the New York Mets' organization, November 20, 2007
Pictured: This is Andy's picture from the 2008 NLDS special edition of Phillies Magazine.

Andy had a solid 2009 with the IronPigs, hitting .254 and leading the team with 26 home runs and 96 RBI. He'll serve as an occasional left-handed bat off the bench over the remaining weeks of the regular season.

Friday, September 11, 2009

2009 Topps Chrome #169 Cole Hamels

Phillies 4, Mets 2

Playing in a driving drizzle all night, the Phils beat the struggling Mets tonight by a score of 4-2. Cole Hamels was the biggest reason for the victory, as he pitched into the 7th inning while allowing only a run. He struck out six Mets and while allowing seven hits on the way to his 9th victory of the year.

The offense had runners on base in every inning but stranded a staggering 13 runners on base. However, a few timely hits and a sacrifice fly accounted for the team's four runs. Shane Victorino enjoyed a 3-hit game.

Acting set-up man Brett Myers pitched a 1-2-3 8th inning and acting closer Ryan Madson secured his 3rd save this week, his 7th save of the season. With the win, the magic number to clinch the division fell to 18. As I was writing this, the Nationals defeated the Marlins and the magic number dropped down to 17.

Sign #47 that I'm Getting Old: We had tickets for tonight's game, and we didn't use them. I had a long week at work and Jenna has been under the weather, so we decided to ditch. Watching the game from the comfort (and dryness) of our living room, we convinced ourselves we had made the right choice as we watched the poncho-clad crowd get soaked.

Mets at Phillies: September 11th through September 13th

Friday 7:05, Saturday 4:05, Sunday 1:05 & 8:05

Records: Mets 62-78, 4th Place in NL East (18 games behind the Phillies); Phillies 79-59, 1st Place in NL East (5 games ahead of the Marlins)
Double Dip: Sunday's day-night double header is a result of the rain-out on May 3rd.
Where we are, where we're going and what's what: The Phillies have 24 more games remaining on the 2009 regular season schedule and their magic number to clinch the division stands at 19. After four with the Mets, the Nationals come to town for three. The Phils then head out on the road for a 10-game stretch in Atlanta, Miami and Milwaukee. The streaking Marlins face the Nationals for three this weekend before a road trip to St. Louis and Cincinnati. The Mets are awful. Even with the Phillies using two emergency starters, anything less than three out of four this weekend would be disappointing.
Mets Probables: Nelson Figueroa, Mike Pelfrey, Tim Redding, John Maine

2002 Topps #359 United We Stand: Braves-Phillies


Thursday, September 10, 2009

2007 Chachi #18 Zack Segovia UER

Nationals 8, Phillies 7

Nose to the grindstone, I didn't see any of the first eight innings of tonight's game. I checked the score occasionally and my happiness at the quick 2-0 start by the Phils soon dissipated as the Nationals tacked on more and more runs. I checked throughout the evening, but the score just got more and more lopsided in favor of Washington.

Driving home, and listening now on the radio, I gathered from Larry Andersen that sloppy play, a lack of offense (again), and two errors by Jimmy Rollins had contributed to the 8-2 Nationals score.

Finally home, I settled in to watch the final inning. Nationals' reliever (and former Phillie) Zack Segovia started the bottom of the ninth, loaded the bases and allowed a grand slam to pinch-hitter Matt Stairs. Had the Phils pulled off the comeback, you'd be looking at a Matt Stairs baseball card right now instead of Zack's (or Zach's) Chachi card from a few years back. One of the "rules" of this blog is if the Phils lose, a current Phillie's baseball card isn't featured in the post. Unfortunately for Matt, and the Phillies, Ryan Howard weakly grounded into a game-ending double play to squelch the rally and drop the Phils' lead in the NL East to 5 games.

Zack or Zach?: I guess this card could be considered an uncorrected error card, hence the "UER" designation in the title. Back in 2007, depending on which source I checked, Mr. Segovia spelled his first name either with a k or an h. On the Phils' TV broadcast the day of his debut, the graphics throughout the game spelled his name with an h, so that's what I went with for his card. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

1980 TCMA Whiz Kids

1980 TCMA Whiz Kids #17 Del Ennis
1980 TCMA Whiz Kids #6 Dick Sisler

I recently acquired the 31-card 1980 TCMA Whiz Kids set - a set I've been searching for ever since I saw it for the first time in a Cooperstown gift shop back in the late '80s. Souvenir funds were tight, and I opted for a few more Hall of Fame plaque postcards rather than shell out the $10 for the set back then. It's been on my wantlist ever since, and the set recently appeared on eBay for a reasonable price. Quest completed.

All the greats from the 1950 NL Champs are in the set, including Richie Ashburn, Robin Roberts, Del Ennis, Dick Sisler, Curt Simmons and Jim Konstanty. The set features every player to don a Phillies uniform in 1950, with the exception of Steve Ridzik, Jack Brittin, Paul Stuffel, Johnny Blatnik and Milo Candini. Ridzik, Brittin, Stuffel and Blatnik each appeared in four games or less for the team, but I'm surprised at the omission of Candini, who appeared in 18 games as a relief pitcher.

The set also features the team's manager, Eddie Sawyer, and his coaches - Benny Bengough, Dusty Cooke and Cy Perkins.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

2009 Topps Phillies #PHI13 Ryan Madson

Phillies 6, Nationals 5

And that's how you close a ballgame. Ryan Madson earned his 6th save of the season tonight, as the Phils hung on to beat the Nationals, 6-5. The game ended on a picture-perfect line drive double play, giving the new closer (?) his second save in as many nights.

While not as dominant as he was in his first starts as a Phillie, Cliff Lee pitched a good game, lasting into the 8th inning and allowing four earned runs. He's now 6-2 with the Phillies.

The offense continues to come around. Jayson Werth and Raul Ibañez went a combined 4 for 9 with 3 RBI and 3 runs scored. A Pedro Feliz solo home run in the 8th inning provided a key insurance run. On 9/9/09, the magic number drops to 19.

Crowded Bench: The Phils recalled Sergio Escalona and purchased the contract of Andy Tracy prior to the game, bringing the active roster to 32 players. To make room on the 40-man roster, pitcher Rodrigo Lopez was released. Rodrigo was the odd man out when Pedro Martinez joined the starting rotation. In 7 games with the Phils, he went 3-1 with a 5.70 ERA. Andy Tracy will be card #57 in the 2009 Chachi set.

2006 Chachi #10 Sal Fasano

If I were to list my top five passions, it would go like this: family, baseball, Phillies, Beatles, Disney. Easy isn't it?

Today is a huge day for me and Beatles fans everywhere. The Beatles' entire back catalogue is being re-released in deluxe remastered format, available in cool looking mono and stereo box sets. The reviews of the new CDs make me extremely anxious to hear the songs in all their remastered glory. Today is also the release date for the new The Beatles: Rock Band video game, which is forcing me to ask Santa for a Wii for Christmas. (Santa - If you're reading this blog, I'd like a Wii and some late-'50s Phillies cards. Thanks.)

Why Sal Fasano?: I recently put on an old Sal’s Pals t-shirt (see picture), which led Doug to ask, “Is that your Beatles shirt?” My 2-year-old is familiar with the Beatles as a result of the recent introduction of Yellow Submarine into his DVD library. He made the honest mistake of thinking the image on the t-shirt was one of the Beatles. If you've seen Yellow Submarine before, you can appreciate it’s something a toddler would enjoy. His favorite songs are currently the title track and "All Together Now." My son seems to be musically inclined (the proud father says), and it brings me great joy to see the Beatles have entered into his world. In any event, Sal Fasano and the Beatles are now permanently linked in my mind.

Bonus Quiz: What's the Beatles connection to the time this post was published?