Friday, April 30, 2010

1985 Topps 3D #1 Mike Schmidt

Mets 9, Phillies 1
Game 22 - Friday Night, April 30th in Philadelphia

Painful. Not enjoyable. Downright frustrating. Just not good. And I could go on. The Phils dropped the opening game in their 3-game series with the Mets, making the Mets and their starter Jon Niese look like the '27 Yankees and Cy Young, respectively. I jotted down notes throughout the game of what was going wrong:

Deep counts from Kyle Kendrick on just about every batter . . . The first 7 hits from the Mets, through 7 innings, were all extra base hits . . . Phils managed 6 singles and a walk against Niese and the Mets bullpen . . . Shane Victorino didn't run out a dropped 3rd strike in the 5th . . . Jayson Werth's single in the 7th broke a streak of 14 in a row retired, and he became the first Phillies baserunner since the 2nd inning . . . Brad Lidge, making his 2010 debut, allowed a home run to Rod Barajas on the third pitch he threw.

So what's a Phillies fan to do? Thankfully, we have several options:

1. Remind ourselves it's only April, at least for a few more hours. It's a marathon and not a sprint, and all the other normal clichés.
2. Take solace in the fact that Joe Blanton and hopefully Jimmy Rollins will be back from the disabled list soon. The line-up misses Jimmy Rollins at the top of the order.
3. Rely on Roy Halladay to turn things around tomorrow.
4. Enjoy an oddball Mike Schmidt baseball card - in stunning three dimensions! (I couldn't bring myself to post a Rod Barajas baseball card. Too depressing.)

And One More Thing: Former closer Ryan Madson was placed on the DL this afternoon with a broken toe. After blowing a save on Wednesday afternoon in San Francisco, he kicked over a metal folding chair, breaking his toe. I feel more sympathy for the folding metal chair than I do for Madson.

Mets at Phillies: April 30th through May 2nd

Friday 7:05, Saturday 3:10, Sunday 8:05

Records: Mets 13-9, 1st Place in NL East (½ game ahead of the Phillies); Phillies 12-9, 2nd Place in NL East (½ game behind the Mets)

Former Mets with the Phillies: There is a disturbing presence of too many ex-Mets within the Phillies' ranks. Nelson Figueroa (2008-2009, Brian Schneider (2008-2009) and Wilson Valdez (2009) have all spent time recently donning the enemy's colors. Third base coach Sam Perlozzo held that same job with the Mets from 1987 until 1989. Dallas Green, Senior Advisor to the General Manager, pitched with the Mets in 1966, and managed the Mets from 1993 until his dismissal in 1996.

1985 Donruss Highlights #16 Von Hayes

Power Surge: On June 11, 1985, the Phils pounded out 26 runs on 27 runs against the Mets. Wouldn't it be great to see that kind of offense again? Maybe this weekend? Von Hayes became the first player in Major League history to hit two home runs in the 1st inning. Rick Schu had 4 hits, Juan Samuel had 5 hits, Bo Diaz had 3 doubles, and that's just scratching the surface of the offensive explosion. (Our newborn Ben has had a few offensive explosions of his own over the past few days, but that's another story.) I'll have more from this historic game in a Sunday afternoon post.

Mets Probables:
Jon Niese, Mike Pelfrey, Johan Santana
Phillies Probables: Kyle Kendrick, Roy Halladay, Jamie Moyer

Thursday, April 29, 2010

2010 Chachi #14 Ben Francisco

I skipped ahead in the 2010 Chachi set this afternoon due to the heroics of Wilson Valdez in yesterday's matinee with the Giants. We're back on track tonight with Ben Francisco, #14 in the series.

Phillies debut: July 30, 2009
Major League debut: May 1, 2007
How acquired: Acquired from the Cleveland Indians with Cliff Lee for Carlos Carrasco, Jason Donald, Jason Knapp and Lou Marson, July 29, 2009
Others wearing #10 in the 2000s: Travis Lee 2000, Larry Bowa (manager) 2001-2004, Joe Thurston 2007, Geoff Jenkins 2008, Ben Francisco 2009
2009 Postseason: Ben went hitless in 11 Postseason at-bats. He started in left field in World Series Games 1 and 6.
Pictured: It's not easy finding a good picture of Ben Francisco. He is an elusive man. I had to settle for this shot of Ben receiving post-game high fives following the Phillies World Series Game 1 victory, October 28, 2009.

2010 Chachi #31 Wilson Valdez

Phillies 7, Giants 6 (11 Innings)
Game 21 - Wednesday Afternoon, April 28th in San Francisco

I'm still home enjoying paternity leave, so I was fortunate enough to watch this nail-biter of a game. Throughout the game, the baseball card to be featured in my game summary post, which you're now reading, changed frequently.

Through the first 4 innings - Cole Hamels: Hamels pitched well to start the game, shutting down the Giants until the 5th inning. He had been spotted a 1-0 lead thanks to Ryan Howard's 3rd career home run off Giants' starter Tim Lincecum.

Through the first 8 innings - TBD: I was undecided about which baseball card to feature at this point, given the Giants 4-1 lead and their pending sweep of the Phils. I think I was leaning towards a Kent Tekulve card, just to brighten my mood.

Bottom of the 9th - Jayson Werth: Wow! Werth's bases-clearing double to right was thisclose to being a foul ball, but it hit the chalk and the Phils somehow managed to tie the game. Giants' closer Brian Wilson had not allowed a run up to this point in the 2010 season. (A hearty thank you to Giants' manager Bruch Bochy for removing Lincecum from the game in the 9th.)

Bottom of the 10th - Kent Tekulve: Now I definitely needed a Tek baseball card to brighten my mood. The Phils had pushed across a run in the top of the 10th, but Ryan Madson blew his 2nd save of the year when he allowed the Giants to tie it back up in the bottom of the inning.

Top of the 11th - Wilson Valdez: Can you believe it? Valdez' double somehow eluded left fielder Eugenio Velez' outstretched glove and Raul Ibañez came home to score. The Phils also scored an insurance run, which they'd need, when Velez dropped a Shane Victorino fly ball one batter later.

Nelson Figueroa surrendered a run in the bottom of the 11th before recording his first career save. The Phils will enjoy an off day at home today before starting a 3-game set with the Mets tomorrow night.

For his efforts, Valdez' 2010 Chachi card, #31 in this year's set, is featured today.

Phillies debut: April 15, 2010
Major League debut: September 7, 2004
How acquired: Signed as a minor league free agent formerly with the New York Mets, November 20, 2009
Others wearing #21 in the 2000s: Kent Bottenfield 2000, Greg Gross (coach) 2001-2003, Eric Milton 2004, Jon Lieber 2005-2007, Adam Eaton 2008, Steven Register 2009
Pictured: Valdez drives in the winning run on April 28, 2009 with a double against the Giants.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

2003 Fleer Rookies & Greats #51 Kevin Millwood

Giants 6, Phillies 2
Game 20 - Late Tuesday Night, April 27th in San Francisco

From the Phillies perspective, the only memorable event from last night's game was the amazing 6-4-3 double play turned to end the bottom of the 3rd. Shortstop Juan Castro dove, caught and made a glove-hand flip of the ball to Chase Utley all in one motion. Utley bare-handed the ball, slid his foot across second and threw a bullet to first. Ryan Howard dug the ball out of the dirt, and it was all down hill from there for the Phils.

The other parts of the game weren't so good: Howard was embarrassed on the basepaths in the 2nd when he failed to slide on a sure double and was tagged out standing . . . Starter Jamie Moyer surrendered 4 runs on 10 hits, including 2nd inning home runs to Aubrey Huff and Matt Downs . . . Giants starter Todd Wellemeyer held the team to just 3 hits and 2 runs through 7 innings.

The loss dropped the Phillies out of top spot in the NL East for the first time since May 29, 2009, and it elevated the New York Mets to first pl . . . firs . . . sorry, I just barfed a little. Chase Utley and Placido Polanco are a combined 4 for 41 on the current road trip. They've lost 7 of their last 10 games and the schedule shows their next 9 games will come against the Mets, the Cardinals and the Braves. Something's got to give, right?

7 Years Ago: As is my habit following a Phillies loss, I don't include a baseball card of a current Phillie in the game summary post. For lack of a better baseball card to post, I'm going with a card for Kevin Millwood, who 7 years ago yesterday threw the Phillies' last no-hitter. My Dad and I were there, and it still ranks as one of the greatest games I've ever seen.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

2010 Chachi #13 Greg Dobbs

Greg Dobbs, #13 in the 2010 Chachi set and still one of Jenna's favorite players, has seen limited playing time so far this season. Here's hoping he regains his 2008 pinch-hitting form soon.

Phillies debut: April 2, 2007
Major League debut: September 8, 2004
How acquired: Claimed off waivers from the Seattle Mariners, January 16, 2007
Others wearing #19 in the 2000s: Brian R. Hunter 2000, Johnny Estrada 2001, Dan Plesac 2002-2003, Gary Varsho (coach) 2005-2006, Jeff Conine 2006, Greg Dobbs 2007-2009
2009 Postseason: Dobbs did not appear in the World Series and went hitless in 4 pinch-hitting appearances in the NLDS and NLCS.
Pictured: Dobbs hits a home run in San Diego, June 2, 2009

2010 Topps #132 Cliff Lee

Giants 5, Phillies 1
Game 19 - Late Monday Night, April 26th in San Francisco

Already fighting off sleep, I wanted to stay up late last night to watch Roy Halladay pitch against the Giants. Unfortunately, Doc allowed more runs in his 7 innings of work than he had allowed in his first 4 starts combined. A tight strike zone and 2 quick runs from the Giants in the 1st inning set the tone for the game, and the Phillies weren't able to overcome the early deficit.

With a line-up featuring reserves Ben Francisco and Wilson Valdez, the team twice left runners in scoring position with less than 2 outs in the early innings. They were finally able to push across a run on Chase Utley's RBI ground-out in 5th, but the offensive slow down resumed after that. Shane Victorino showed signs of turning things around, collecting 3 hits on the night.

Halladay's rough night meant he wouldn't match Cliff Lee's 5-0 start from last season. Lee collected win number 5 in August of last year, before finally proving he was human and losing in his 6th start. Lee recently made a successful rehab start for the Mariners' AAA team, and he's set to make his 2010 debut on Friday night after being sidelined with an abdominal strain since Spring Training.

Monday, April 26, 2010

2009 Topps Update & Highlights Propaganda #PP26 Ryan Howard

Ryan Howard's 5-year, $125 million deal, announced this afternoon, is the largest contract in club history. There's a club option for a 6th year, which could take him through 2017, and it all but guarantees Howard will be wearing a Phillies hat when (and if) his ticket to Cooperstown is punched.

In reading the news of Ryan Howard's contract extension from MLB Trade Rumors, the last sentence of the report struck me as odd: "The Phillies clearly like to lock up their guys." The author of the piece seems to attach a tone of recklessness to the Phillies' practice of signing their core to long-term deals. And what's wrong with that? Maybe $125 million over 5 years is too much for one player, especially one who will be 36 (and possibly 37) when the deal ends. But as a pure fanatic of a Phillies' fan, I can't help but be excited about this deal. As a Phillies fan, it means I'm guaranteed to be able to root for Howard, Chase Utley and Roy Halladay through at least the 2013 season. And I've also learned to trust general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr.'s brain trust which includes Pat Gillick and Dallas Green. The decision to extend Howard wasn't made hastily, and the recent track record of the team's front office speaks for itself.

The risks of course are the pure economics of the deal, which could preclude the team from signing other desirable free agents. It's looking more and more likely that 2010 will be Jayson Werth's farewell tour as a Phillie. And the Big Risk is that Howard's production dwindles over the next several years to Burrellian levels. But my initial reaction to the contract is still my overall reaction - I like it.

Beat writer David Murphy offers this fascinating little tidbit on the contract: "Howard's $20 million salary in 2012 is $6 million more than the entire Phillies payroll for the 1990 season." He'll join pitcher Roy Halladay in 2012 and 2013 as the team's $20 million men. Sil Campusano could not be reached for comment for this post.

Phillies at Giants: April 26th through April 28th

Monday & Tuesday 10:15, Wednesday 3:45

Records: Phillies 11-7, 1st Place in NL East (1½ games ahead of the Marlins, Nationals and Mets); Giants 10-8, 2nd Place in NL West (1 game behind the Padres)

Former Giants with the Phillies: The only current member of the Phillies' organization with a connection to the Giants is current TV broadcaster Gary Matthews, who played with the Giants from 1972 until 1976.

1987 Topps Wax Box Cards #B Steve Carlton

Lefty's Departure: After 13 months of exclusively posting Phillies baseball cards, this is the first time I've ever posted a non-Phillies baseball card. I honestly feel a little queasy about all this, but at least I'm going with an all-time great to break the Phillies-only streak. I'll ease into this process, so there might not be another non-Phillies card for a few more weeks. Baby steps.

On June 24, 1986, future Hall of Famer Steve Carlton was released to make room in the pitching rotation for up and comer Bruce Ruffin. A little over a week later, he signed with the San Francisco Giants, and he made his Giants' debut on July 6th against his original team, the Cardinals. Lefty lasted only 3.1 innings in his first outing, and other than a 7 inning outing on July 26th, his Giants career was less than lackluster. He'd pitch in only 6 games for the Giants, picking up his 4,000th career strikeout on August 5th and then getting subsequently released on August 7th.

Phillies Probables: Roy Halladay, Jamie Moyer, Cole Hamels
Giants Probables: Jonathan Sanchez, Todd Wellemeyer, Tim Lincecum

Sunday, April 25, 2010

2000 E-X #39 Curt Schilling

Diamondbacks 8, Phillies 6
Game 18 - Sunday Afternoon, April 25th in Phoenix

The reserves played well enough in the Sunday matinee in Phoenix, but the Phillies' suspect bullpen was again guilty of coughing up a late lead. The Phils dropped the series finale to the Diamondbacks, 8-6, failing to capture the series win. The game featured a starting line-up of back-ups Ross Gload in right, Greg Dobbs at third and Wilson Valdez at short. Those three combined to go 5 for 14 with 3 RBIs. Dobbs' first home run of the year gave the Phils an early 2-0 lead in the 1st.

Starting pitcher Kyle Kendrick was cruising along until the 5th, when the bottom fell out and the Diamondbacks pushed across 5 runs on 5 hits, including 2 home runs - one a 3-run shot by the newest member to the Phillie-killer club, Mark Reynolds. Kendrick's pitching performance through the 4th inning was a continuation of his fine outing from Tuesday night, when we were otherwise occupied.

The Phils managed to take the lead in the 6th on a 2-out, 2-run single from Carlos Ruiz. However, relievers Danys Baez (6.43 ERA) and David Herndon (7.04 ERA) coughed up three more runs to the Diamondbacks in the 7th and 8th innings. Mark Reynolds' tie-breaking RBI-double in the 8th inning sealed the Phils' fate for the afternoon, and the team will attempt to regroup in San Francisco starting (late) tomorrow night.

Alaskan Curse: Former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin was in attendance at this afternoon's game in Phoenix. There have been 11 players in Major League history born in the the 49th state, including former Diamondback and Phillie Curt Schilling. Strangely enough, Palin, Schilling and this afternoon's bullpen performance all bring about the exact same feeling in the pit of my stomach.

Scrapbook Sunday: April 21, 1984

1984 Fleer #27 John Denny

Having been born in October, there isn't much opportunity for me to look back through the years and study the boxscores of games the Phillies played on my birthday. For my son Ben, now 4 days old, he'll be able to one day spend hours (if he so desires) browsing through the games the Phillies played on his birthday - April 21st.

For example, back in 1984, 26 years before he was born, the Phillies were busy scoring 12 runs in a winning effort against the Mets. John Denny pitched a complete game for the win, striking out 7 in the process. The big offensive blow was Glenn Wilson's 3-run home run in the 5th. With the win, manager Paul Owens' club was 8-5 on the season and just a half game back from the first place Mets. (The Phillies would finish the '84 season with a .500 record, in 4th place.)

Unlike today, when home sell-outs are the norm, Veterans Stadium was a little more than a third full for this game. Also unlike today, all the boxscores featured on this page show the time of game at less than 3 hours.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

2009 Topps Unique Red #32 Jayson Werth

Phillies 3, Diamondbacks 2
Game 17 - Saturday Night, April 24th in Phoenix

The dearth of Phillies offense continued in the desert tonight, as the first four hitters in their line-up combined to go 0 for 16. Fortunately for the Phillies, #5 in the order, Jayson Werth, came through with two home runs to lead the team over the Diamondbacks, 3-2. His 9th inning home run broke a 2-all tie, and Ryan Madson closed out the game for his 4th save of the season.

Werth's 2nd inning solo home run broke a streak of 45 consecutive innings without a Phillies' home run - the longest streak since a dry spell in July 2006. Raul Ibañez' 7th inning solo home run, his first of the year, tied the game up.

Nelson Figueroa pitched well in his spot start, lasting 5 innings and giving up 2 runs on 5 hits. Juan Castro, who has filled in nicely at short in Jimmy Rollins' absence, left the game in the 7th with a hamstring issue. Chad Durbin, who has quietly been pitching lights-out, threw two innings of scoreless relief.

Uni Watch: I'll go on the record as saying I am not a fan of the Diamondbacks' black alternate jersey tops, worn tonight. It also bothers me they can't spell out their name on their primary home jersey, opting to go with the abbreviated "D-Backs."

2008 Multi-Ad Lehigh Valley IronPigs #2 Kris Benson

Diamondbacks 7, Phillies 4
Game 16 - Late Friday Night, April 23rd in Phoenix

Cole Hamels was cruising along until the 4th inning, the recipient of a 2-0 Phillies lead thanks in part to a bizarre play in which Jayson Werth circled the bases following an error by Diamondbacks' center fielder Chris Young. (Diamondbacks manager A.J. Hinch was ejected as a result of the play.) For a stretch of 8 batters starting with an out in the bottom of the 4th, Hamels surrendered 6 runs on 4 home runs. Hamels seems to give up runs in bursts, which lends credence to the argument he quickly looses his cool after the first domino falls and he struggles for the next several batters to regain his composure.

At this point in the game, sleep deprived and frustrated with Cole Hamels, I called it a night. I dreamt of a Phillies come from behind victory, but it was not to be. The team tacked on a few runs in the later innings, but Hamels' rough stretch in the 4th was enough to give the Diamondbacks the win.

Free J.C./Hurt J.A.: Reliever J.C. Romero made his 2010 debut, pitching to two batters in the bottom of the 7th. Unfortunately, Romero's first outing resulted in a home run to Kelly Johnson followed by a walk, followed by his exit from the game. For the time being, his 2010 ERA is infinity. Romero took the roster spot of J.A. Happ, who was placed on the disabled list with a strained muscle in his left arm. Former Diamondback (when they were still purple) Nelson Figueroa makes a spot start tonight in Happ's stead.

Almost an Ex-Phillie: Winning Diamondbacks pitcher Kris Benson spent most of 2008 rehabbing in the Phillies minor league system, after missing all of 2007 due to rotator cuff surgery. Signed at the beginning of Spring Training 2008, Benson went 1-6 with a 5.78 ERA between Class A Clearwater and AAA Lehigh Valley before earning his release in August. In 2009, he pitched with the Texas Rangers, seeing his first Major League action since 2006.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Phillies at Diamondbacks: April 23rd through April 25th

Friday 9:40, Saturday 8:10, Sunday 4:10

Records: Phillies 10-5, 1st Place in NL East (1 ½ games ahead of the Marlins); Diamondbacks 6-9, 5th Place in NL West (3 games behind the Padres)

Former Diamondbacks with the Phillies: Reliever Chad Durbin (2004) and spot starter Nelson Figueroa (2000) both spent time with the Diamondbacks.

2003 Topps Record Breakers #RB-CS Curt Schilling

Ten Years Gone: Ten years ago this July, general manager Ed Wade pulled the trigger on the deal sending team ace Curt Schilling to the Diamondbacks for Travis Lee, Omar Daal, Vicente Padilla and Nelson Figueroa. Only Figueroa and Padilla (with the Dodgers) are still active. If, and it's a big if, Schilling ends up in the Hall of Fame, does he go in with a Phillies, Diamondbacks or Red Sox hat?

Phillies Probables: Cole Hamels, Nelson Figueroa, Kyle Kendrick
Diamondbacks Probables: Kris Benson, Ian Kennedy, Rodrigo Lopez

2010 Chachi #18 Jamie Moyer

Phillies 8, Braves 3
Game 15 - Thursday Night, April 22nd in Atlanta

Jamie Moyer and the Phillies took the rubber-match in the team's 3-game set with the Braves, winning decisively on Thursday night, 8-3. Moyer was spotted an early 5-run lead after 3 innings. The entire Phillies line-up contributed to the win, with Juan Castro (yes, Juan Castro) leading the way with 3 hits, 2 runs scored and an RBI. The turning point in the game came when Braves' second baseman Martin Prado botched a sure double play ball in the 3rd, allowing 2 runs to score.

After the game, Braves third baseman Chipper Jones commented on the Phillies' stellar defense (via Todd Zolecki's Twitter feed): "(Juan) Castro is playing shortstop like Ozzie Smith and (Shane) Victorino is playing center field like Andruw Jones."

With the win, Jamie Moyer notched his 260th career victory. It's impossible to not be impressed by the back of his Chachi card, #18 in this year's set.

Phillies debut: August 22, 2006
Major League debut: June 16, 1986
How acquired: Acquired from the Seattle Mariners, along with cash, for Andrew Baldwin and Andrew Barb, August 19, 2006
Others wearing #50 in the 2000s: Ed Vosberg 2000-2001, Doug Nickle 2002, Mike Timlin 2002, Josh Hancock 2003-2004, Robinson Tejada 2005, Adam Bernero 2006, Jamie Moyer 2006-2009
2009 Postseason: Jamie suffered a left groin strain on September 29, 2009, and he was left off the team's Postseason roster.
Pictured: Jamie pitches against the Washington Nationals, May 31, 2009

Thursday, April 22, 2010

2010 Topps Heritage #286 Roy Halladay

Phillies 2, Braves 0
Game 14 – Wednesday Night, April 21st in Atlanta

I’m sure Jenna wasn’t thrilled with the additional 29 minutes of labor, but in retrospect, I’m happy Ben was born on a day the Phillies didn’t lose a game in heartbreaking fashion. At 12:29 in the morning, our second son was born, and the world welcomed its newest Phillies fan.

I’ve used the word “masterful” too many times already to describe Roy Halladay’s pitching prowess, but I’m really not sure there’s a more appropriate word. Doc threw a complete game shutout against the Braves, precluding the need for the shaky bullpen to make another appearance.

The defense dazzled as Shane Victorino made a leaping catch in the 2nd to steal a Troy Glaus home run and Juan Castro, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard all made impressive plays in the infield. Jayson Werth had 2 hits and drove in one of the two Phillie runs.

So happy birthday, Ben! From your loving parents, your big brother and Roy Halladay.

1996 Phillies Team Issue #5 Mike Benjamin

Slowly getting back into the swing of things. It's hard to focus on baseball what with all the overwhelming joy of our new son and all.

Braves 4, Phillies 3
Game 13 – Tuesday Night, April 20th in Atlanta

Jenna went into labor just as this Phillies game was getting underway in Atlanta. We listened to the first inning or so in the car ride on the way to the hospital, but I was too focused on breaking new land-speed records and not hitting pedestrians on the sidewalks to pay much attention to Kyle Kendrick’s pitching performance.

Later, I caught a snippet of the 8th inning play-by-play as I was moving my car from the ER parking lot to the main visitors’ parking lot. Radio broadcaster Larry Andersen was thrilled with Kendrick’s game, noting he was using his fastball early to establish a pitcher’s count and then keeping the hitters off-balance with his off-speed stuff.

Shortly before Ben was born, Jenna requested we turn on the TV in our room – more as a diversion than anything else. The volume on the TV was low, but we caught the highlights of the Flyers’ play-off victory and the lowlights of the Phils’ stunning defeat. With 2 outs in the bottom of the 9th, interim closer Ryan Madson allowed back to back home runs. Jose Contreras allowed a solo, walk-off home run in the 10th. (I still don’t know who actually hit the home runs for the Braves.)

Any other night, I would have been thrown into a funk and become extremely grumpy because of the Phillies’ loss. However, none of that really seemed to matter as I was very close to meeting my second son for the first time.

It's All About the Benjamins: The Phils have had two players with the surname of Benjamin in their history - Stan Benjamin, the team's starting right fielder in 1941 and Mike Benjamin, a middle infielder who played in 35 games with the 1996 squad.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

1981 Topps #404 Tug McGraw WS

No disrespect to Tug McGraw and the pure, unadulterated joy he felt back on October 6, 1980, after striking out Willie Wilson, but nothing can possibly compare to how I feel right now. Earlier this morning, we welcomed our second son, Ben, to our happy little family. I'm pleased to report Ben is already a Phillies fan, despite what transpired in Atlanta last night while he was busy being born.

Happy birthday Ben!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Phillies at Braves: April 20th through April 22nd

Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday 7:10

Records: Phillies 8-4, 1st Place in NL East (½ game ahead of the Marlins); Braves 7-5, 3rd Place in NL East (1 game behind the Phillies)

Former Braves with the Phillies: Reliever Danys Baez pitched briefly with the Braves in 2006. Hitting coach Milt Thompson began his career with the Braves (1984-1985) before being traded to the Phillies with Steve Bedrosian for Pete Smith and Ozzie Virgil in December 1985. TV broadcaster Gary "Sarge" Matthews played for the Braves from 1977 until 1980. Finally, assistant general manager Charlie Kerfeld wrapped up his career with Atlanta in 1990.

1981 Topps Traded #800 Gary Matthews

Phillies Probables: Kyle Kendrick, Roy Halladay, Jamie Moyer
Braves Probables: Tommy Hanson, Tim Hudson, Derek Lowe

Monday, April 19, 2010

2010 Chachi #11 Ross Gload

He may not have a lumberjack's beard, but Ross Gload is doing his best to try and fill Eric Bruntlett's roster spot this year. Last year's league leading pinch hitter is off to a slow 1 for 7 start in 2010. The Gload-Meister is card #11 in this year's Chachi set. (That's not his actual nickname.)

Phillies debut:
April 7, 2010
Major League debut: August 31, 2000
How acquired: Signed as a free agent formerly with the Florida Marlins, December 16, 2009
Others wearing #3 in the 2000s: Chuck Cottier (coach) 2000, Todd Pratt 2001-2005, Abraham Nunez 2006-2007, Jerry Martin (coach) 2008, Lou Marson 2008-2009
Pictured: Spring Training action, March 25, 2010

2010 Chachi #10 Brian Schneider

I'm going to go ahead and not be concerned by the presence of three members of the 2009 Mets squad currently on the Phillies roster. Along with back-up catcher Brian Schneider, #10 in the 2010 Chachi set, the current roster also includes long-man Nelson Figueroa and infielder Wilson Valdez. All three played with the Mets last year, so hopefully none of that bad mojo rubs off on the Phils.

Phillies debut: April 8, 2010
Major League debut: May 26, 2000
How acquired: Signed as a free agent formerly with the New York Mets, December 1, 2009
Other wearing #23 in the 2000s: Kevin Jordan 2000-2001, Placido Polanco 2002, Travis Chapman 2003, Shawn Wooten 2004, Marc Bombard (coach) 2005, Ryan Franklin 2006, Joe Thurston 2006, Adam Eaton 2007, Paul Bako 2009
2009 Postseason: Oops, sorry. No Postseason for the 2009 Mets. That's too bad.
Pictured: Spring Training, February 23, 2010 - Probably the most boring picture thus far in the 2010 Chachi set.

Brian was the source of much angst for Phillies fans back on the 4th of July, 2002.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

1986 Sportflics Decade Greats #55 Mike Schmidt

Marlins 2, Phillies 0
Game 12 - Sunday Afternoon, April 18th in Philadelphia

This game summary post will be as brief as the Phillies offense this afternoon. The team managed 4 hits off Marlins' starter Nate Robertson and two Marlins' relievers. Cole Hamels turned in a fine pitching performance, lasting into the 9th inning and striking out 8. His only misstep came in the form of a Dan Uggla line drive home run to start the 2nd inning.

The Phils will regroup tomorrow with an off day and then open a 3-game series in Atlanta on Tuesday night.

Not So Magic Motion: The reasons I chose this specific baseball card for this post are threefold -
1. I wanted to visually represent the Phillies' disappearing offense with lenticular spectacle.
2. I couldn't come up with a better idea for a baseball card to represent this particularly dull loss.
3. I've never scanned a Sportflics card, and I was curious to see how it would turn out.

Scrapbook Sunday: April 19, 1992

1992 Ultra #547 Julio Peguero

It's been fun putting together these Scrapbook Sunday posts. I've enjoyed flipping through my old scrapbooks and reconnecting with the Phillies of my youth. It's also provided me with a bit of perspective as to just how much I need to appreciate the Phillies of today. I kept scrapbooks for the 1984, 1985, 1986, 1990 (partial), 1991 and 1992 (partial) seasons. These were some awful, awful Phillies teams, yet I stuck with them, hanging on every win, loss, transaction, injury and hopeless post-game quote.

Case in point is this page from my 1992 Phillies Scrapbook. Through the first 12 games of the 1992 season, the team is already mired in last place. (My scanner opted to cut proof of this out of the actual scan.) The picture shows relievers Cliff Brantly and Andy Ashby hanging their heads in shame and embarrassment. And here are some of the choice quotes from the page:

"We just don't play good." - Mariano Duncan
"It's not the losing that bothers me so much. It's the way we've been losing." - Darren Daulton
"This is as bad as we can play and I'm sick and bleeping tired of watching it." - General Manager Lee Thomas
"Sometimes you hit the bottom. And this is about as bottom as it can get." - Manager Jim Fregosi

I tend to shy away from getting too philosophical on a blog primarily about baseball cards, but isn't this one of life's biggest lessons? In order to fully appreciate the good times, you need to have lived through and learned from the bad times. We're living in the good times now and it's made all the more enjoyable due to the horsepoop we had to put up with to get here.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

2010 Topps Opening Day Mascots #M17 Phillie Phanatic

Marlins 5, Phillies 1
Game 11 - Saturday Night, April 17th in Philadelphia

Let's get the unpleasantness out of the way first. On a cold night in South Philly, Jamie Moyer allowed 5 first inning runs, including a 3-run home run to the Marlins' Ronny Paulino. Marlins' starting pitcher Ricky Nolasco dominated the Phillies line-up, not allowing a hit until the 4th inning and not allowing a run until Jayson Werth's solo home run with 2 outs in the 9th.

And now for the pleasant stuff. For the first time ever, Doug and I attended a game as a duo - our first father-son baseball game. Doug received a Ryan Howard NLCS MVP Baseball and Collectible Tin, which was the game day giveaway to kids 14-years-old and younger. We walked around Ashburn Alley together, deciding on slices of pizza for dinner. We watched the pre-game festivities from our seats while enjoying a soft pretzel, and Doug was thrilled when the Phillie Phanatic made his first appearance on the field on his 4-wheeler.

We cheered as Chase Utley received his 2009 Silver Slugger, and as Placido Polanco, Shane Victorino and Jimmy Rollins received their 2009 Gold Gloves. We stood for the National Anthem together. We watched Jamie Moyer implode, and I taught Doug not to boo. Finally, before retreating to the warmth of my car, we visited one of the many souvenir kiosks spread throughout the ballpark. Doug decided on a pair of Phillies wristbands, which he couldn't wait to show to his Mom.

The Phils dropped a game tonight, but Doug and I attended our first of many father-son games and he now has the wristbands to prove it.

2010 Finest #112 Roy Halladay

Phillies 8, Marlins 6
Game 10 - Friday Night, April 16th in Philadelphia

Playing in a steady drizzle, which at times turned into a steady downpour, Roy Halladay and the Phillies defeated the Marlins last night. The final score is deceptive, as the game really wasn't close at all until the Marlins pushed across 4 runs in the top of the 9th against reliever David Herndon. Ryan Madson had to step in to record the last 2 outs and record his 3rd save of the season. (In Herndon's defense, only one of the balls hit by the Marlins was hit hard, 3 of the 5 hits he allowed were infield hits.)

Halladay was awesome in his home debut. In his 8 innings of work, throwing exactly 100 pitches, Doc allowed 8 hits while striking out 4. It's interesting to note he now has the exact same line as Cliff Lee through both pitchers' first 3 games with the team: 3-0 with a 1.13 ERA.

Juan Castro (yes, Juan Castro) led the offensive charge, with 2 hits and 3 RBIs. Chase Utley, Jayson Werth and Ryan Howard all added a couple of hits a piece. Utley hit a solo home run in the 7th - homering in his 4th consecutive game.

32 Laps: Years from now, I'll remember this game not for the game itself, but for where Jenna and I were heading as the game wound down. More on that (hopefully) in a few short days.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Marlins at Phillies: April 16th through April 18th

Friday & Saturday 7:05, Sunday 1:35

Records: Marlins 6-4, 2nd Place in NL East (1½ games behind the Phillies); Phillies 7-2, 1st Place in NL East (1½ games ahead of the Marlins)

Former Marlins with Phillies: Back-up 1st baseman and outfielder Ross Gload played in 125 games last year with the Marlins. Current pitching coach Rich Dubee held that same position with the Marlins from 1998 until 2001, under then Marlins managers Jim Leyland and John Boles.

2006 Upper Deck #1152 Jeff Conine

Mr. Marlin: One-time Phillie (and one of Jenna's favorites) Jeff Conine is currently serving as a Special Assistant to the Marlins' President. There's no word as to whether or not Conine is making the trip to Philadelphia for the series or not.

Marlins Probables: Anibal Sanchez, Ricky Nolasco, Nate Robertson
Phillies Probables: Roy Halladay, Jamie Moyer, Cole Hamels

Thursday, April 15, 2010

1993 Upper Deck #522 Pete Incaviglia

Nationals 7, Phillies 5
Game 9 - Thursday Afternoon, April 15th in Philadelphia

The Phillies were on their way to a 3-game sweep of the Nationals, but 6 unanswered runs surrendered by the bullpen ended the team's win streak at 5. Danys Baez and Ryan Madson were the main culprits, allowing 5 runs on 4 hits and 3 walks in the 8th and 9th innings.

J.A. Happ
battled through his 5+ innings of work this afternoon, earning a no decision. Interim shortstop Juan Castro went 3 for 4, knocking in a pair with a single in the 6th. Chase Utley and Shane Victorino added solo home runs for the Phils in the losing effort.

Ring Ceremony: Not to knock this afternoon's ring ceremony, but there was clearly more excitement surrounding the ring ceremony this time last year. Last year of course, the Phillies were receiving their World Champions rings and this year they had to settle for the silver medal of rings for being the 2009 National League Champs. Of the departed members of the 2009 team, only relief pitcher Tyler Walker made it to the ceremony - mostly because he was seated in the visiting Washington Nationals' dugout.

Whatever It Takes, Dude: By failing to win this afternoon, the Phillies did not match the 8-1 record set by their 1993 counterparts to start the '93 campaign. On April 14, 1993, the Phils defeated the Reds by a score of 9-2, led by the offense of Pete Incaviglia (2 for 4, 3 RBIs) and the pitching of Ben Rivera (6 innings pitched, 7 strikeouts) to start the season 8-1. The 1993 Phillies would go on to win the National League pennant.

2000 Upper Deck Gold Reserve #241 Mike Jackson

Major League Baseball will again honor the legacy of Jackie Robinson today when all field personnel, including players and umpires, will wear Robinson's #42. It's a grand gesture to remember a man who changed the game for the better when he made his debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947.

It will also be amusing to listen to the Phillies game on the radio this afternoon. Inevitably, Scott Franzke will ask his broadcast partner Larry Andersen who is playing a certain position, or who is on deck. Without hesitation, Andersen will deadpan, "I'm not sure, but it looks like #42."

Major League Baseball uniformly retired Robinson's #42 in 1997 during the 50th anniversary season of his debut. Anyone wearing the number upon its retirement was grandfathered in and that player would be permitted to wear #42 for the duration of his career. For that reason, the last active player to wear the number with the Phillies was relief pitcher Michael Jackson. Jackson signed with the Phillies in December 1999 as a free agent. He was injured at the tail end of Spring Training 2000 and never appeared in a game for the Phils during the 2000 season.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

2010 Topps Heritage #490 Shane Victorino AS

Phillies 14, Nationals 7
Game 8 - Wednesday Night, April 14th in Philadelphia

It was National League Champions t-shirt night at Citizens Bank Park, and I was fortunate enough to attend the game and collect my shirt. I also got to witness the unstoppable, awesome force that is the Phillies. I know they've only played the Nationals and the Astros, probably two of the worst teams in the league, but sweet Johnny Wockenfuss' beard, these guys look good.

The Good: Leading off due to Jimmy Rollins' injury, Shane Victorino had a career-high 5-RBI night, capped by a 2-run home run in the 5th, breaking a 7-all tie. Placido Polanco continued his torrid streak with 2 more hits and he's now hitting .486. Ryan Howard had another multi-hit game, knocking in his 12th and 13th runs of 2010. The bullpen allowed only one run in their 7 1/3 innings of work. Long-man Nelson Figueroa earned the win, pitching 3 1/3 innings of effective relief and collecting 2 hits in the process.

The Bad: Starting pitcher Kyle Kendrick didn't survive past the 2nd inning, allowing 6 runs on 6 hits. His ERA is now 17.47, and his Spring Training confidence seems to have completely disappeared. Juan Castro looked shaky during a few plays at short, which I'll chalk up to him just being rusty.

The Utley: Chase had two home runs and knocked in 4 runs. And that's very good.

2010 Chachi #12 Juan Castro

With Jimmy Rollins DL-bound due to a strained right calf, utility infielder Juan Castro suddenly finds himself the starting shortstop on the Phillies. I honestly had no idea how long Castro has been around until I created the back of his 2010 Chachi card, #12 in the set.

Phillies debut: April 12, 2010
Major League debut: September 2, 1995
How acquired: Signed as a free agent formerly with the Los Angeles Dodgers, December 17, 2009
Others wearing #7 in the 2000s: Terry Francona (manager) 2000, Richie Hebner (coach) 2001, John Mabry 2002, Jeremy Giambi 2002, Gary Varsho (coach) 2003-2004, Kenny Lofton 2005, Marc Bombard (coach) 2006, Steve Smith (coach) 2007, Pedro Feliz 2008-2009
2009 Postseason: Appeared in NLCS Game 2 against the Phillies, as a pinch-runner for the Dodgers' Jim Thome.
Pictured: Spring Training action, March 25, 2010

2010 Chachi #8 Carlos Ruiz

So far in the early stages of the 2010 season, Chooch has carried over the offense he displayed in the 2009 Postseason. He's #8 in the 2010 Chachi set.

Phillies debut: May 6, 2006
How acquired: Signed by the Phillies as an amateur free agent, December 4, 1998
Others wearing #51 in the 2000s: Kirk Bullinger 2000, Doug Nickle 2000-2001, Terry Adams 2002-2003 & 2005, Brian Powell 2004, Carlos Ruiz 2006-2009
2009 Postseason: Carlos led the Phillies with a .341 batting average, and he reached based safely in all 15 Postseason games.
Pictured: World Series Game 6, November 4, 2009 - Carlos triples off the Yankees' Andy Pettitte in the 3rd inning.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

2010 Chachi #7 Shane Victorino

The Flyin' Hawaiian is scuffling in the early going, so hopefully his 2010 Chachi card provides the push he needs to turn things around.

Phillies debut: September 3, 2005
Major League debut: April 2, 2003
How acquired: Selected by the Phillies in the Rule 5 draft from the Los Angeles Dodgers, December 13, 2004
Others wearing #8 in the 2000s: Desi Relaford 2000, Marlon Anderson 2001-2002, Nick Punto 2003, Greg Gross (coach) 2004, Alex Gonzalez 2006, Jose Hernandez 2006, Shane Victorino 2005 & 2007-2009
2009 Postseason: Shane hit .293 in 15 Postseason games, with 3 home runs and 9 RBIs.
Pictured: NLCS Game 4, October 19, 2009 - Shane triples in the 6th inning against the Dodgers' Randy Wolf.