Monday, May 31, 2010

Phillies at Braves: May 31st through June 2nd

Monday 1:05, Tuesday 7:10, Wednesday 1:05

Records: Phillies 28-21, 1st Place in NL East (½ game ahead of the Braves); Braves 28-22, 2nd Place in NL East (½ game behind the Phillies)

2005 Chachi #25 Billy Wagner

I wish I could say I was looking forward to this series, but I'm not. I'm worried. I'm a life-long Phillies fan, so this feeling of pending dread comes natural to me. The Phils enter play this afternoon having scored 7 runs in their past 7 games. The 5 game lead in the NL East they enjoyed on May 17th has dwindled down to just a half game over the Braves. They look lifeless. The swagger is gone. Something's got to give.

And our old friend, #13, is 4-0 with a 1.89 ERA and 6 saves in 8 chances. I've got a bad feeling about this.

Phillies Probables: Joe Blanton, Cole Hamels, Kyle Kendrick
Braves Probables: Tommy Hanson, Tim Hudson, Derek Lowe

Sunday, May 30, 2010

2006 Chachi #41 Rick White

Marlins 1, Phillies 0
Game 49 - Sunday Afternoon, May 30th in Miami

If not for the lingering euphoria from Roy Halladay's perfect game on Saturday night, the woeful state of the Phillies' offense would have me seriously grumpy right now. As the Phils prepare to leave Miami and head for Atlanta, it sure doesn't seem as if they won the series, but they managed to take 2 of 3 from the equally offensively-challenged Marlins.

For the 4th time in six games, the Phils were shut out. Anibal Sanchez added his name this afternoon to the growing list of recent starting pitchers the Phillies couldn't touch. Jamie Moyer was the hard luck loser, allowing just a 6th inning run and surrendering 4 hits. The Phils managed just 4 hits - 2 of them from Shane Victorino - and they left 8 runners on base.

This has got to end right? The Phillies are too good a team to be this miserable at the plate.

#00: The Phils won after I decided to go with a baseball card of #0, Al Oliver, in a recent post. So I'll play the #00 card tonight with Rick White. White was picked from the scrap heap by the Phils in June 2006 after being waived by the Reds. He appeared in 38 games with a 4.34 ERA, but he was not invited back for the 2007 season. I know I'm safe using the picture featured on this 2006 Chachi card, as I'm the one who took it. This shot is from the Phillies on-field Photo Day event in July 2006.

Scrapbook Sunday: May 23, 1991

1992 Score #426 Tommy Greene

For some strange reason, I have shutouts and no-hitters on my mind this week.

There wasn't a lot to cheer for if you were a Phillies fan back in 1990 and 1991, but at least the Phillies could lay claim to two of baseball's no-hitters during those years. A year after Terry Mulholland threw his no-hitter against the Giants, Tommy Greene accomplished the same feat against the Expos. A whopping 8,833 in attendance at Olympic Stadium on May 23rd witnessed history. Greene pitched the 8th no-hitter in Phillies history, which was followed by Kevin Millwood's gem in 2003 and Roy Halladay's perfect game last night.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

2010 Chachi #37 Roy Halladay HL

Phillies 1, Marlins 0
Game 48 - Saturday Night, May 29th in Miami

PERFECT!! Pitcher Roy Halladay threw the 20th perfect game in Major League Baseball history tonight, shutting down all 27 Marlins' batters he faced in order. Doc needed 115 pitches, 11 strikeouts and a few fine defensive plays from Wilson Valdez and Juan Castro in order to achieve history. In his postgame interview, he was quick to give credit to catcher Carlos Ruiz, who he said called every pitch of the game from about the 4th inning on. He also credited pitcher Jamie Moyer who had helped him during a recent bullpen session following his shaky start against the Red Sox last Sunday.

Things could have gotten interesting had the Phillies not scored their lone run in the 3rd inning. With one out, Valdez singled. He then came around to score when Marlins' center fielder Cameron Maybin completely misjudged a Chase Utley fly ball for a 3-base error. The one run would be all Halladay needed.

In the 9th, the Marlins went with three pinch-hitters to try to get something going. Mike Lamb flew out to deep center, causing a momentary panic attack. Former Phillie Wes Helms was called out on strikes for the second out. With a 1-2 count, Ronny Paulino grounded sharply to third. Castro tracked the ball down, spun and threw to Ryan Howard for the final out. Halladay's smile reached ear to ear as his teammates mobbed him on the field.

And now for full disclosure: I didn't start watching the game until the 6th inning. Our son Doug had been extremely well-behaved all day, and I promised him we'd finish watching Return of the Jedi tonight. So as Halladay was shutting down the first 18 batters of the game, I was deep into the Battle of Endor. It wasn't until after Luke burned the expired Darth Vader on a fiery pyre when Jenna (who had been watching the game on another TV) informed me, "You should probably turn on the Phillies game now." A small part of me is bummed I didn't get to watch the entire game, but a bigger part of me is glad I didn't have to be nervous from the 3rd inning on, after Halladay had retired the first 9. And besides, it was fun watching Doug's expression when he realized the good guys had won at the end of the movie, just like his Dad had told him they would.

What a perfect (pun intended) start to Memorial Day Weekend 2010!

2010 Finest #45 Raul Ibañez

Phillies 3, Marlins 2
Game 47 - Friday Night, May 28th in Miami

Finally. After 30 scoreless innings, Raul Ibañez' triple in the top of the 4th inning scored Ryan Howard. Howard touched the plate and I promptly shut my eyes and fell completely asleep. It had been an exhausting week for the Phils (and me) and the scoring of this monumental run was all I needed to see in order to slumber peacefully.

Thankfully, the team was able to add two more runs, defeating the Marlins, 3-2. In the 5th, Chase Utley singled, stole second and came home on a Howard base hit. And in the 7th, following a double steal by Shane Victorino and Wilson Valdez, Victorino scored on an Utley ground-out.

Kyle Kendrick pitched 6 strong innings for the win. The back-end of the bullpen (Chad Durbin, Danys Baez and Jose Contreras) held the Marlins scoreless over the final 3 frames of the game.

1985 Fleer #262 Al Oliver

Mets 3, Phillies 0
Game 46 - Thursday Night, May 27th in New York

I decided to refrain from posting any additional game summaries until the Phillies scored a run again. Thankfully, the scoreless streak ended last night.

I'll be brief. The Phillies did not score any runs for the third game in a row, being completely shut out in their 3-game series with the Mets. Cole Hamels pitched well, scattering 9 hits and allowing 2 earned runs in his 6+ innings of work. Shane Victorino went 3 for 4 in the game.

The last time the Phillies were shut out three games in a row was May 20th, 23rd and 24th, 1983, against the Padres (5-0) and the Dodgers (2-0, 3-0). The last time the Phils were completely shut out in a series was way back in August 1974 against the Houston Astros.

#0: Representing this inauspicious game is none other than #0 himself, Al Oliver. As Jim from Downington pointed out in the comments section of a previous post, Oliver was acquired by the Phils in August 1984 to hopefully provide a little spark from the first base position. He played in 28 games, hitting .312 with no home runs and 14 RBIs. Following the '84 season, Oliver was traded to the Dodgers for relief pitcher Pat Zachry. The Phils were determined to give more playing time to prospect Rick Schu at third base, so future Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt would be shifted to first for the '85 season.

Two players have worn #00 for the Phillies - pitcher Omar Olivares in 1995 and pitcher Rick White in 2006.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Phillies at Marlins: May 28th through May 30th

Friday & Saturday 7:10, Sunday 1:10

Records: Phillies 26-20, 1st Place in NL East (1½ games ahead of the Braves); Marlins 24-24, Tied for 4th Place in NL East (3 games behind the Phillies)

1998 Topps #218 Darren Daulton

Teal Dutch: Darren Daulton escaped from the last place Phillies in July 1997, joining a team that would go on to win a World Series. The last 52 games of Daulton's 1,161-game career found him manning first base and occasionally pinch hitting for the 5-year-old Florida Marlins. He hit a respectable .262 with 3 home runs and 21 RBIs as a Marlin. After earning a World Series ring, Daulton announced his retirement from baseball.

In 2007, he published his autobiography, If They Only Knew. Amazon's description of the book provides the following summary: "If They Only Knew is about the interesting world of the metaphysical and the author's beliefs and personal experiences with it. Daulton delves into issues of ascension such as dimensions and levels of consciousness, the Mayan Calendar and December 21, 2012, creating one's own reality and a lot more. The book's message is clear- Open your mind to new ideas and know that there is more to our life than only what we can see, feel and touch!" But will this help the Phillies score any runs?

Phillies Probables: Kyle Kendrick, Roy Halladay, Jamie Moyer
Marlins Probables: Chris Volstad, Josh Johnson, Anibal Sanchez

Please disregard the series graphic in the upper right hand corner. The Phillies are playing in Miami, and not in a sideways universe series in April in Philadelphia. Or are they?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

2010 Topps National Chicle - Phillies Short-Prints

2010 Topps National Chicle #297 Ryne Sandberg

I'm on the record as being a fan of the new 2010 Topps National Chicle baseball card set, and I recently added the Phillie-related short-print cards from the set to my collection. I don't know what the collation of the packs is, but the short-printed cards are ceded into fewer packs and they're more difficult to find. The first short-print features short-timer Ryne Sandberg in a modern Phillies batting practice jersey and helmet. It's a decent card, but not one of my favorites. (The base non-short-print Ryne Sandberg card from the set is much better, in my humble opinion.)

The next two short-print cards are a little more interesting - one is a definite home run and the other just kind of bugs me.

2010 Topps National Chicle #280 Jimmie Foxx

The home run is the Jimmie Foxx baseball card featuring him wearing a current Phillies uniform. Foxx spent the majority of his career with the Philadelphia Athletics and Boston Red Sox, although he wrapped up his time in the big leagues with a few seasons with the Chicago Cubs and the Phillies. This is a great looking baseball card, and it definitely helps that Foxx actually played 89 games for the 1945 Phillies at the end of his Hall of Fame career. I don't know of any other Phillies cards out there featuring Double X, so this is a welcome addition to my collection. (Bonus points to anyone who leaves a comment as to why Jimmie Foxx could have been featured in a Blue Jays uniform, and this depiction would have been acceptable.)

2010 Topps National Chicle #304 Ryan Howard

The card that bugs me is the Ryan Howard short-print card featuring him wearing a Philadelphia Athletics' uniform. Anyone aware of the Philadelphia A's history knows this franchise relocated to Kansas City in 1955 and arrived in its current destination, Oakland, in 1968. The family trees of the Philadelphia A's and the Philadelphia Phillies never came close to intersecting. Topps thought it would be clever to feature modern players wearing uniforms of teams that used to play in the same city. For this reason, we have this Ryan Howard card, a card featuring Ichiro in a Seattle Pilots' uniform and a card featuring Senators' great Walter Johnson in a Washington Nationals uniform, among others. Those players and those franchises have absolutely nothing in common.

This bugs me. It's cute, but it's wrong and I hope collectors new to the hobby or unfamiliar with the history of the game realize these cards are nothing but inaccurate representations.

(But the Jimmie Foxx baseball card sure is cool.)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

2004 MLB Showdown Strategy #S21 Think Again

Mets 5, Phillies 0
Game 45 - Wednesday Night, May 26th in New York

When the Phillies went through offensive droughts during the Larry Bowa era, the fiery manager would wear his emotions on his sleeve. And you had a feeling that after a game like this one, the latest in a painfully dull string of losses, Bowa would have entered the clubhouse, overturned the post-game buffet table and started screaming at Marlon Anderson and Travis Lee and Scott Rolen.

But this is the Charlie Manuel era. The team has won three divisions titles in a row and a World Championship. Manuel looks frustrated in the dugout, but his quiet confidence and unflappable optimism have kept the team afloat during similar stretches like this in the past. It's only a matter of time before they collectively bust out of this "mix-up," as Manuel calls it, and put a Major League whoopin' on the poor pitcher who happens to be on the mound the night they figure it all out. Here's hoping they bust out tomorrow night and Mike Pelfrey's ERA goes up a couple of runs.

And I strongly dislike Rod Barajas.

Depressing Tweet of the Night: From Todd Zolecki, "The Phillies have not scored a run in a combined 28 innings against the last 4 starting pitchers they've faced." He went on to point out the Phillies are now scoreless in 35 of their last 36 innings.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

1987 Fleer Exciting Stars #42 Kent Tekulve

Mets 8, Phillies 0
Game 44 - Tuesday Night, May 25th in New York

And so it comes to this. The first Kent Tekulve card of the 2010 season. Last season, I called on the former relief pitcher whenever things looked bleak and the Phils needed a shot in the arm, a pick-me-up, an exciting dose of Teke. As a Phillies fan, I should be used to the streakiness of this team, the sudden dry spells that have plagued them for the past several seasons. But it's still frustrating. The Phillies have not been fun to watch for 3 games in a row, and their offense has been M.I.A. for almost a week.

A journeyman knuckle-baller named R.A. Dickey was the culprit tonight, shutting out the Phillies through 6 innings. The Mets scored single runs in 5 different innings, and plated a trio in the 8th just to rub salt in the wound. Jason Bay and Jeff Francoeur knocked in 2 runs a piece. The Phils offense? Absent again, leaving 13 men on base and going 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position.

The slate's wiped clean tomorrow.

All-Stars: Ending with a bit of positive news, in the early stages of the All-Star voting, 5 Phillies lead their respective positions - Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Placido Polanco, Jayson Werth and Shane Victorino. Ryan Howard and Carlos Ruiz are in second place at their positions.

Phillies at Mets: May 25th through May 27th

Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday 7:10

Phillies 26-17, 1st Place in the NL East (3½ games ahead of the Braves); Mets 22-23, 5th Place in the NL East (5 games behind the Phillies)

Beat the Mets: It's that simple.

2008 Chachi #59 Victory Leaders

In the first series in the post-LOST world, the Phillies need to enter the numbers and push the button. Whatever happened in the Red Sox series, happened.

Phillies Probables: Jamie Moyer, Joe Blanton, Cole Hamels
Mets Probables: R.A. Dickey, Hisanori Takahashi, Mike Pelfrey

Monday, May 24, 2010

How to Make a Baseball Card

1981 Topps #290 Bob Boone

I recently received an e-mail from blog reader Jeff, who asked the very good question, "How do you create a custom card template" using a vintage Topps baseball card design? He's thinking about entering this racket himself, so I thought I'd share a few secrets. Actually, they're not really secrets and I'm not a graphic designer in real life, I just play one on this blog.

I use very, very basic graphic design software - MicroSoft Picture It!, which is close to being about 10 years old and is probably just a few short months away from becoming completely unusable and obsolete. At some point in the near future, my custom card making gig may require a short hiatus while I try to learn a new software package. Using my software, here's how a custom baseball card comes to life:

Step 1: Scan a baseball card from the year for which you want to create a custom card. Jeff's e-mail referred specifically to the 1981 Topps design, so that's what I'll use in my example here.

Step 2: I open the scanned image in my software and I begin the process of wiping it clean. I use a tool called "cut-out" which removes all the extra stuff and just leaves me with a blank template. Before I remove any text, I find a comparable text and copy over the existing text. This way, once I wipe the original card clean, the new text remains in the background, at approximately the same font, size and color of the original text.

2006 Chachi #8 Mike Lieberthal

Step 3: Once I have my clean template, it's easy to drop in a picture of a current Phillies player and update the text to match.

The baseball cards I make are not for sale - they're strictly for recreational use and enjoyment. (So please leave me alone, Topps.) For additional fine examples of other custom baseball cards using existing historic templates, please visit the excellent Goose Joak and White Sox Cards blogs.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

1980 Burger King Phillies #5 Manny Trillo

Red Sox 8, Phillies 3
Game 43 - Sunday Afternoon, May 23rd in Philadelphia

It's hard to win ballgames when you don't score any runs, let sure inning-ending double play balls go through your legs and allow the other team to score 7 times in the first 6 innings. Yikes. Hopefully the Phils fare better against the Red Sox when they visit Boston in mid-June. I could continue this post by discussing just how poorly the Phils played, almost getting shut out for the second game in a row, but I won't.

1980 Topps Empire Strikes Back #80 Lobot

The Saga Continues: 30 years ago this weekend, The Empire Strikes Back opened in theaters. As I've revealed previously, my son Doug is somewhat obsessed with all things Star Wars, having recently inherited his father's collection of old toys. He's watched the first movie a few dozen times now, so I thought last night would be as good a time as any to introduce him to the next movie, the "scary" movie. We had talked about it, and I made him aware the "mean guys" win this time. Undaunted, we charged onward, and with a few of the more intense scenes skipped over, Doug is now enamored with Dagobah and Cloud City and Lobot and Boba Fett.

The Phils were on their way to their first World Championship in 1980. Back on May 21, 1980, the Phils pulled out a dramatic win against the Reds at Veterans Stadium. Down 8-7 heading into the bottom of the 9th, the Phils scored twice off reliever Tom Hume for the victory. Lonnie Smith scored the winning run when Reds' right fielder Dave Collins misplayed a Manny Trillo fly ball. The E9 gave the '80 Phils their 17th win of the season, pulling them within 3½ games of the first place Pirates.

Better things were on the horizon for both the '80 Phils and the Rebel Alliance. Hopefully the '10 Phillies can get back on track, and they won't need the help of Ewoks to do so.

Scrapbook Sunday: May 16-24, 1984

1984 Topps #PR4 Tim Corcoran

Several things jumped out at me from this page:

- The Phillies had a 10-game winning streak in May 1984. I looked it up (thank you, Phillies Media Guide) and the team won 9 of those games on the road. That's happened just 3 times in the franchise's history - 1887, 1969 and 1984.

- I wonder how long the boxscore caption writer waited to use the "Corcoran Uncorks" bit. Corcoran bounced all over the field for the Phillies in 1984. He started 34 games at first, 12 games in right and 4 games in left. For the most part, he was the first left-handed bat off the bench for the Phils, appearing in 102 games and hitting an impressive .341. He topped his game total by 1 in 1985, appearing in 103 games, but his average dipped down to .214. Corcoran appeared in 6 games with the '86 Mets and toiled in Maine with the Phillies' AAA club in '87 and '88 before calling it a career.

Corcoran never had an '84 Topps card, so I "borrowed" his picture from his '85 Fleer card and gave it a better home.

- 26 years later, I still wasn't sure what the word "skein" meant in the caption of the boxscore from May 23rd. So I looked it up. I'm still not sure what they were going for here. "Skein" can refer to a loosely coiled length of yarn or a flock of geese. I suppose they were referring metaphorically to the fragile state of the team during the win streak? Thus, the yarn comparison? The only thing that would have made it better would be if it said, "Phillies Skein Uncorked at 10."

Saturday, May 22, 2010

1991 Score #706 Terry Mulholland

Red Sox 5, Phillies 0
Game 42 - Saturday Night, May 22nd in Philadelphia

At least the Phillies weren't no-hit. Daisuke Matsuzaka flirted with history, no-hitting the Phillies through 7.2 innings, and the Red Sox won the game, 5-0.

There were a few hard hit balls in the 7th and 8th innings that should have ended the no-hitter earlier, if not for some fine defense. Jayson Werth's screamer up the middle in the bottom of the 7th was actually behind Matsuzaka when he somehow stuck out his glove and snared the ball. In the 8th, third baseman Adrian Beltre dove at a full extension to his left to catch a Carlos Ruiz line drive, doubling up Raul Ibañez at first in the process. But Juan Castro's soft pop up to shallow left, with 2 outs in the 8th, just eluded the outstretched glove of shortstop Marco Scutaro, landing for the Phils' first hit of the night.

Phillies starter Kyle Kendrick threw a lot of pitches through the first 4 innings, but he was 1 out away from getting out of the 5th inning with the Red Sox ahead, 1-0. A few minutes and 3 hits later, the Red Sox led the game 5-0 and Kendrick was heading for the showers.

No-Hitters: Jenna reminded me of a poster we both had back in the day showing Dick Perez renderings of the 4 Phillies pitchers to have thrown no-hitters between 1964 and 1991 - Jim Bunning (6/21/64 - a perfect game), Rick Wise (6/23/71), Terry Mulholland (8/15/90) and Tommy Greene (5/23/91). Nothing against Matsuzaka, and I hope he gets his no-hitter one day, but I'm glad he didn't join the no-hit club tonight.

2010 Chachi #24 Danys Baez

Danys Baez was signed during the offseason to bolster the back-end of the Phillies bullpen for the next two years. He's struggled at times so far this season, and his ERA continues to hover around 5. With injuries to Brad Lidge and Ryan Madson, the Phils need Baez to find his groove and pitch consistently. He's #24 in the 2010 Chachi set.

Phillies debut: April 5, 2010
Major League debut: May 13, 2001
How acquired: Signed as a free agent formerly with the Orioles, January 5, 2010
Others wearing #55 in the 2000s: Chris Brock 2000, Clay Condrey 2005-2009
Pictured: Warming up in Spring Training, February 20, 2010

Friday, May 21, 2010

Big D Custom Cards - Cole Hamels

It's a Cole Hamels double header tonight!

There's a great contest going on over at Big D's Custom Cards. I've entered, and you should too.

And if my name is chosen at random as one of the 5 winners, I'll happily add another Bob Dernier custom baseball card to the amazing Goose Joak original I won last year. Good luck to you!

2010 Topps Turkey Red #TR11 Cole Hamels

Phillies 5, Red Sox 1
Game 41 - Friday Night, May 21st in Philadelphia

Cole Hamels shut down the Red Sox through 7 innings, and the big bats of Howard and Werth paced the Phils in their win tonight, 5-1. They're now 11 games over .500 - the high-water mark so far for 2010. Hamels seems to have turned things around, as he's now 3-0 with a 2.36 ERA in May.

Down 1-0, the Phils started their scoring with 2 runs in the 4th. Ryan Howard hit his 8th home run of the season to start the inning. Jayson Werth followed with a double (his 21st, tops in the NL) and Shane Victorino brought him home with a single. Werth added a 2-run home run - a second decker bomb - in the 5th.

Hamels' sole blemish came 3 batters into the game when he allowed a solo home run to Sox catcher Victor Martinez. He settled in after that, at one point retiring 9 in a row. Hamels exited with an impressive line of 7 innings, 3 hits, 1 run and 8 strikeouts. The bullpen made things interesting in the 9th, but the team held on to give Hamels his 5th win of 2010.

Big Papi: J.C. Romero should be grateful the wind wasn't blowing out in the 9th inning. If it had been, pinch-hitter David Ortiz' long-fly ball to deep center, with the bases loaded, would have tied up the game. Fortunately, Victorino tracked the ball down in deep center and I didn't have to complete erase the majority of this post and start from scratch in a foul mood.

Not Good: Jimmy Rollins left the game in the 6th when he re-aggravated his right calf strain running out a single. To quote Han Solo, I have a bad feeling about this.

Red Sox at Phillies: May 21st through May 23rd

Friday 7:05, Saturday 7:10, Sunday 1:35

Records: Red Sox 22-20, 4th Place in AL East (8½ games behind the Rays); Phillies 25-15, 1st Place in NL East (4 games ahead of the Marlins)

Former Red Sox with the Phillies: Radio broadcaster Larry Andersen (see below) pitched with the Red Sox in 1990, anchoring the bullpen and helping the team reach the 1990 ALCS. Jamie Moyer made a brief appearance in Boston, pitching the first half of 1996 with the team before they dealt him to the Mariners in June for outfielder Darren Bragg. Reliever J.C. Romero appeared in 23 games with the 2007 Red Sox before being released in June of that year. He latched on with the Phils, and helped the team win the NL East.

1991 Topps #761 Larry Andersen

Worst Trade in History?: Other than the Ryne Sandberg deal? Perhaps its Jeff Bagwell to the Astros on August 30, 1990 for Larry Andersen. Every time the team plays in Houston, one of L.A.'s broadcast partners inevitably brings up the trade as one of the TV camermen deftly pans in on Bagwell's retired number hanging at Minute Maid Park. But looking at Andersen's stats in September 1990, it appears as if he definitely helped the Sox on their way to the AL East title. In 15 games with the Red Sox that month, Andersen appeared in 15 games and compiled an ERA of 1.23. The Red Sox lost to the mighty A's in the ALCS, so their attempt to win a World Championship had to wait a few more years. Bagwell never won a ring with the Astros, but his career numbers garner him serious consideration for the Hall of Fame. I'd be curious to hear the thoughts of someone from Red Sox Nation regarding this trade.

And a Quick Editorial on Interleague Play: It's time has come and gone, and now it's time for it to stop. Bring back the balanced schedule.

Red Sox Probables: John Lackey, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Tim Wakefield
Phillies Probables: Cole Hamels, Kyle Kendrick, Roy Halladay

Thursday, May 20, 2010

2010 Topps National Chicle #12 Raul Ibañez

Phillies 5, Cubs 4
Game 40 - Thursday Afternoon, May 20th in Philadelphia

Busy at work, what with work and whatnot, I didn't get a chance to watch today's game. I wasn't even able to listen to the game via MLB's Gameday Audio. Woe is me.

What I did get to do was intermittently watch along with ESPN's GameCast. It's much more fun actually watching or listening to a live ballgame, but GameCast serves its purpose during afternoon games when I can't break away from the grind. But I wish they'd update some of the pictures they use to show who is up at bat. They had Ross Gload in a Royals' hat, and Gload hasn't played with the Royals since 2008 for gosh sakes. But I digress.

The balls and strikes and colorful graphics on GameCast told me Joe Blanton was pitching well, lasting into the 7th inning and giving up only 3 runs. I did a silent cheer in my office when Jimmy Rollins hit a 3-run home run in the 6th inning, followed shortly by a quiet boo when Antonio Bastardo surrendered a solo home run to Kosuke Fukudome in the 8th - the only batter he would face. The 2-out RBI single by Raul Ibañez in the bottom of the 8th merited a brief celebratory fist pump as the little yellow dot representing Chase Utley came around to score the go-ahead run. Finally, I breathed a sigh of relief when Jose Contreras (apparently still in a Rockies hat according to GameCast) recorded the final three outs for his 2nd save.

The Phillies won, and I was a productive employee the whole time. Well, most of the time.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

1983 Topps #587 Ivan DeJesus

Cubs 4, Phillies 1
Game 39 - Wednesday Night, May 19th in Philadephia

It was a dreary day outside, a deflating day at work and another flat performance by the Phillies offense at the ballpark tonight. I'll try not to dwell too much on today or the Phillies second loss in as many days. It's best to just get a good night's sleep and keep moving forward.

You know it's a slow game when the only thing that really stuck in my mind from the game was the Cubs' first base coach. At some point during the telecast, the camera zoomed in on a Cubs' runner at first as the familiar-looking Cubs' first base coach leaned in to give him some sort of instruction. "Hey, that's Ivan DeJesus," I casually mentioned to Jenna. Slow game indeed.

Jamie Moyer continued his personal renaissance, allowing just 2 runs and striking out 7 in his 7 innings of work. Unfortunately, the Phils just couldn't get anything going against Cubs' starter Tom Gorzelanny. Their lone run came on an RBI-groundout from Ryan Howard in the 8th inning. The Phils have scored a total of 2 runs in their last 2 games and they hope to split the quick 2-game series with the Cubs tomorrow afternoon.

Tomorrow's going to be a better day.

Cubs at Phillies: May 19th through May 20th

Wednesday 7:05, Thursday 1:05

Records: Cubs 18-22, 3rd Place in NL Central (5½ games behind the Reds); Phillies 24-14, 1st Place in NL East (4 games ahead of the Marlins)

Former Cubs with the Phillies: Ross Gload made his Major League debut with the Cubs back in 2000, appearing in 18 games and hitting just .194. First base coach Davey Lopes played in parts of 3 seasons with the Cubs from 1984 until 1986. He was a teammate of current TV broadcaster Gary Matthews, who patrolled the Wrigley Field outfield between 1984 and 1987. (Sarge also served as the Cubs' hitting coach from 2003 until 2006.) While Davey and Sarge were winding down their careers, rookie Jamie Moyer was just getting started. He pitched in 85 games with the Cubs to start his career between 1986 and 1988. The man who was calling the shots for the Cubs in the early '80s was Dallas Green - the team's general manager and later their club president from 1982 until 1987.

1988 O-Pee-Chee #183 Bob Dernier

Bobby D.: I was a set collector first and I eventually evolved into a team collector. I've never been much of a player collector, except for when it comes to my favorite all-time baseball player - Bob Dernier. There are still some oddball baseball cards of his I'm trying to track down, so please check out my wantlist and let me know if you'd like to work out a trade to bring these baseball cards to a good home.

Cubs Probables: Tom Gorzelanny, Ryan Dempster
Phillies Probables: Jamie Moyer, Joe Blanton

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

2002 Topps 206 #437 Robin Roberts

Pirates 2, Phillies 1
Game 38 - Tuesday Night, May 18th in Philadelphia

On a chilly night in Philly, Roy Halladay's standard, well-pitched complete game wasn't enough to defeat the Pirates, as the Phillies' offense decided to take the night off. The team looked a little flat as they managed just 6 hits off Zach Duke and three Pirates' relievers. (Half of those hits came from Ryan Howard.) Shaky defense didn't help either, as the team committed three errors. Ben Francisco, getting a rare start in left field, went 0 for 3 and left a total of 6 men on base.

Halladay threw 132 pitches on the night, notching his 53rd career complete game and his 4th already with the Phillies. As impressive as those numbers are, he's still 252 career complete games off the pace set by Robin Roberts' 305.

Monday, May 17, 2010

2010 Topps National Chicle #31 Jayson Werth

Phillies 12, Pirates 2
Game 37 - Monday Night, May 17th in Philadelphia

The bats came alive on the night Jimmy Rollins returned to the line-up, and the Phillies demolished the Pirates, 12-2. Pitching in a steady rain, Kyle Kendrick threw 8 solid innings, allowing just 2 runs on 5 hits. Rollins doubled and scored a run in his return following a 29-game absence. (To make room for Rollins on the roster, shortstop Wilson Valdez was designated for assignment.)

Two swings accounted for 7 of the Phillies' runs - Jayson Werth's 3-run home run in the 3rd inning and Ryan Howard's grand slam (off old friend Jack Taschner) in the 8th inning. Werth and Howard finished the night with 4 and 6 RBIs between the two of them. The hot hitting Shane Victorino added 2 hits and scored 3 times.

The Phils are now 11 games over .500 and they could be 5 games ahead of their nearest competition - the Nationals and the Marlins - depending on the outcome of those teams' games tonight. Go Phils!

Pirates at Phillies: May 17th through May 18th

Monday & Tuesday 7:05

Records: Pirates 16-21, 3rd Place in NL Central (5 games behind the Reds); Phillies 23-13, 1st Place in NL East (4 games ahead of the Marlins and Nationals)

Former Pirates with the Phillies: Why does it seem as if these things always start off with Nelson Figueroa? Figueroa pitched in parts of two seasons with the Pirates in 2003 and 2004. Bench coach Pete Mackanin served in that same role with the Pirates from 2003 until 2005. He was named the team's interim manager on September 6, 2005, replacing the fired Lloyd McClendon. Mackanin guided the team to a 12-14 record to finish the 2005 season, and he was not asked back in 2006. (Jim Tracy took over as Pirates' manager in 2006.)

1981 Topps #695 Kent Tekulve

Do you have a player on an opposing team who is one of your absolute favorite players? Are you a die-hard fan of Team A, but you just love rooting for a guy on Team B? Such was the case with my fandom of one Kenton Charles Tekulve back in the early '80s. The guy's baseball cards just looked so cool, and I loved seeing highlights of him pitching on This Week in Baseball. I made it a point to collect his cards when I was growing up, although I'd keep his cards far from my Phillies binder. His 5 x 7 Topps Super card from 1981 hung on my bulletin board, sharing space with Mike Schmidt, Tug McGraw and Bob Boone. So imagine how thrilled I was when the Phillies actually acquired Teke in a trade with the Pirates back in April 1985. Teke pitched with the Phils from 1985 until the team released him following the 1988 season. After his playing days, Teke came back briefly as a color commentator on the Phillies' cable broadcasts.

Pirates Probables: Charlie Morton, Zach Duke
Phillies Probables: Kyle Kendrick, Roy Halladay

Sunday, May 16, 2010

2010 Topps National Chicle #92 Cole Hamels

Phillies 4, Brewers 2
Game 36 - Sunday Night, May 16th in Milwaukee

Am I the only one slightly annoyed whenever my team is chosen to play in the Sunday night ESPN game? I like Sunday afternoon baseball. I like listening to the game on the radio as I mow the lawn or lounging in front the TV possibly missing the middle innings as I drift off to sleep. I'm getting old, aren't I?

In any event, the Phillies completed their 3-game sweep of the Brewers, behind the pitching of Cole Hamels, 4-2. Hamels was a strike away from completing six scoreless innings before allowing back-to-back solo home runs to Casey McGehee and Corey Hart. It wasn't pretty, but Cole somehow pitched his way out of a bases loaded jam in the 1st and cobbled together outs until getting pulled in the 7th.

Placido Polanco
and Hamels contributed RBI doubles in the first two innings to give the Phils an early 2-0 lead. Jayson Werth, who had doubled to reach, was then doubled home by Wilson Valdez in the 3rd for a 3-0 lead. Finally, Shane Victorino scored the Phils' 4th run of the night on an 8th inning wild pitch. Valdez also contributed some fine defensive work at short in the 8th and 9th innings.

Closer du jour J.C. Romero shut down the Brewers in the 9th for his 1st save, securing Hamels' 4th win of the season.

1982 Topps Phillies - Ultimate Edition

1982 Topps #PR1 Porfi Altamirano & #PR10 Dave Roberts

Pre-blog, a few years ago, I started putting together my "ultimate" Phillies team sets for each year between 1980 and 1989. The sets consisted of the base Topps cards for each player appearing with the Phillies in a given year, plus cards that never were for the folks who played with the Phils but didn't make it into either the Topps base or traded sets. I've previously featured cards from this series for Ryne Sandberg, Julio Franco and Larry Andersen, just to name a few.

One of the relatively newer blogs I've enjoyed following is the Ultimate Baseball Card Set blog, which I've previously touted. Kevin's recent post on the ultimate 1982 Phillies team set led me to dig out these 1982 Topps cards that never were. By my earlier count, and as confirmed by Kevin, there were 12 players to play with the 1982 Phillies and not appear within the Topps base or traded sets that year - including Stan Bahnsen and Dave Roberts, who both appear with other teams within the base set.

Here are the 1982 Topps cards that never were for Porfi Altamirano and Dave Roberts. Both appeared in quite a few games with the '82 club (29 for Porfi, 28 for Roberts) so it's only fitting they finally receive their 1982 Topps baseball cards, as Phillies.

Scrapbook Sunday: May 15-18, 1985

1985 Topps #763 Kiko Garcia

25 years ago this week, the Kiko Garcia era for the Philadelphia Phillies came to an unceremonious end. Kiko had signed with the Phillies in March 1983, after spending the prior two years with the Astros. The 1983 season would be the most successful of his 10-year big league career, as he hit .288 for the NL Champs, appearing in just over half the team's games as a utility infielder. Joe Morgan, the regular second baseman for the Wheeze Kids, got plenty of days off throughout the season, and Kiko filled in nicely.

His playing time decreased in 1984 and in 1985 he appeared in just 4 games before being released by the Phillies on May 17th. He'd never make it back to the Majors, but Kiko was still bouncing around the independent leagues as late as the 1997 season, when he was 43 years old.

Walker, Mystery Phillie: My note on the bottom left indicates another mystery Phillie appearing in a box score. On May 10th, a "Walker" pitched a third of an inning for the Phils according to the box score I clipped from the Atlantic City Press. Unbeknownst to me until many, many years later, "Walker" was actually Phillies reliever Dave Rucker. The Atlantic City Press box score editor had failed me again.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

2010 Bowman #117 Shane Victorino

Phillies 10, Brewers 6
Game 35 - Saturday Afternoon, May 15th in Milwaukee

The Phils unloaded with 17 hits against the Brewers this afternoon, winning easily, 10-6. Shane Victorino was the offensive star, going 3 for 6 with 4 RBIs and falling a triple short of the cycle. His 2-run home run in the 6th gave the team a 4-1 lead at the time, and they tacked on 5 more runs in the 7th. Victorino wasn't alone in providing the offense - Placido Polanco had 4 hits, Chase Utley added 2 doubles and knocked in a pair, and Paul Hoover went 3 for 5 while scoring 3 times and driving in 2 runs.

Joe Blanton scattered 6 hits and 5 runs over his 7 innings of work, earning his first victory of '10. With Brad Lidge joining Ryan Madson on the DL today, Jose Contreras officially assumed the closer's role. He put out the mini-fire started by David Herndon in the 9th to earn his first big league save. The Phils go for the 3-game sweep of the Brewers tomorrow night on ESPN.

He Was Robbed: In the 2nd inning, Utley hit a ball to deep right which hit the wall first, right fielder Corey Hart's foot second and bounced over the wall third. The umpires ruled it a ground rule double. However, as the ball never hit the ground, it should have been ruled a home run.

Pat the Ex-Ray: Pat Burrell was designated for assignment by the Rays this afternoon, leaving his future in baseball in jeopardy. Pat's numbers have been absolutely horrendous since signing with the Rays before the 2009 season. There's no chance he ends up back with the Phils, but hopefully he'll latch on with an American League team in need of a DH.

Topps New Baseball Card Blogger Idea Staff - 1st Submission

Having been recently appointed by Night Owl to Topps' new Baseball Card Blogger Idea Staff (or BBCBIS), this is my first suggestion for a new project for the good people over at Topps. (I'm not sure how often we'll meet, or how we'll all get paid, but I'm looking forward to this new and exciting opportunity.)

There are currently 289 members of Baseball's Hall of Fame in Cooperstown and their ranks will add 3 more members this summer. Each of the members, in order of their induction, make up the first 292 cards in the new 2011 Topps Hall of Fame set, releasing in early 2011. Here's the kicker - each Hall of Famer is pictured on the Topps design from the year of their induction. For those members enshrined prior to 1951, Topps can chose to use an existing Bowman, National Chicle or other vintage design, or they can allow the esteemed artists serving on the BBCBIS to design Topps Cards That Never Were for those years.

The beauty of this set is there are no short-prints. Collectors will be able to buy packs, open packs, find cards they need for their sets and complete those sets. They'll also learn a little about the likes of Rabbit Maranville or King Kelly or Mule Suttles. To make the number of cards in the set a nice, round number, we'll allow Topps to fill out the set with educational baseball history cards, or maybe all-time record holder cards. I'm thinking a set with anywhere from 330 to 400 cards would be just about right. (And I repeat - no short prints.)

If Topps absolutely insists on it, we'll allow only 2 insert sets (at most) or we'll allow parallel cards of each of the base cards featuring the actual 2011 Topps base set design. But that's it. Abe Lincoln or James Knox Polk won't be showing up on any super short-printed 2011 Topps Hall of Fame baseball cards, that's for sure.

To kick things off, here's card #159 in the set - Hall of Famer Robin Roberts, inducted in 1976. I'll invite other members of the newly-formed BBCBIS to submit creations of their own.

And thanks again to Night Owl for the appointment!