Thursday, September 30, 2010

Scrapbook Sunday (Thursday Night Edition): October 5, 1991

Sunday came and went and I didn't have the time (until now) to post last week's Scrapbook Sunday.  It's been a crazy week.

1991 Ultra #269
Back in 1991, the only thing the Phillies were able to clinch was a guaranteed tie for third place in the NL East.  With this win over the Mets, the Phils were guaranteed "their highest finish since 1986."  Wow.  They finished the year with a 78-84 record, 20 games behind the division leading Pirates.

In 2010, the Phils have clinched their fourth consecutive division title and they stand poised as (most likely) the favorites in the National League to return to the World Series.  Which, upon their return, would be their third year in a row in the Fall Classic.

Following Terry Mulholland's performance almost 19 years ago, manager Jim Fregosi said of his '91 squad, "I'm proud as hell of this team to get third place."  How far they've come.

2010 Phillies Team Issue 2 #10 Ben Francisco

Phillies 7, Nationals 1
Game 159 - Wednesday Night, September 29th in Washington

I'm following the lead of Charlie Manuel and the Phillies and easing into the Postseason.  I'm not parking the car per se, I'm just letting up on the gas.  So with that philosophy in place, I didn't really watch (gasp!) much of the game last night.  It was a game that had all the excitement and intensity of a late-March Spring Training split-squad game against an American League opponent.

The Phils fielded a line-up of mostly bench players behind starting pitcher Joe Blanton.  With no pressure, Blanton pitched seven strong innings, allowing just three hits on one run.  The long ball powered the offense as Ben Francisco homered twice, while Mike Sweeney and John Mayberry, Jr. each added home runs of their own.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

1993 Score #224 Brad Brink

Nationals 2, Phillies 1
Game 158 - Tuesday Night, September 28th in Washington

For the first time since Spring Training, the Phillies played a meaningless baseball game last night, losing to the woeful Nationals, 2-1.  Having clinched the division and home field advantage throughout the NLDS and NLCS, these remaining 2010 regular season games will serve as nothing more than warm-ups for the Postseason.

Roy Oswalt was pulled after five innings and just 66 pitches after allowing a run on two hits.  The bullpen managed to shut down the Nationals until the 9th, when Jose Contreras served up a walk-off home run to Adam Dunn.  The Phils scored their run in the 4th on Raul Ibañez' solo home run - his 16th of the season.

Whatever It Takes, Dude:  The Phillies actually had several regulars in the line-up last night, which was a little surprising to me given how much (I think) the regulars need rest prior to starting the Postseason.  After having clinched the division back in 1993, manager Jim Fregosi trotted out this line-up for the so-called "hangover game" on September 29th:  Ruben Amaro, Jr. (cf), Mickey Morandini (2b), Tony Longmire (lf), Ricky Jordan (1b), Jim Eisenreich (rf), Todd Pratt (c), Kim Batiste (ss), Jeff Manto (3b), Kevin Foster (p).  They were trounced, 9-1, by the Pirates that day with the late Kevin Foster taking the brunt of the damage allowing eight runs in his four innings of work.  Brad Brink pitched the final four innings of the game, in true mop-up fashion.

Monday, September 27, 2010

2010 Chachi #52 Phillies Clinch East HL

The Philadelphia Phillies are the 2010 National League East Champions!

Phillies 8, Nationals 0
Game 157 - Monday Night, September 27th in Washington

As my two boys slept soundly, Roy Halladay made it look easy as he punched his ticket for his first taste of Postseason play.  For the fourth consecutive season, the Phillies are the National League East champions, defeating the Nationals and eliminating the Braves from contention for the pennant.  This one is particularly sweet, as there were definitely times throughout the season when it looked as if injuries and slumps would derail the season and leave the team without October baseball for the first time since 2006.

Halladay dazzled, needing just 97 pitches to 2-hit the Nationals while striking out six and walking none.  There was some doubt if Halladay would come out for the bottom of the 9th, as the top of the inning took a little more than 25 minutes.  But he jogged out of the dugout, caked in mud from diving out of the way from a ball at his head in the top of the inning, and put the Nationals away in quick order.  Nationals' second baseman Danny Espinosa swung and missed on a 0-2 changeup and the celebration was on!

Jayson Werth accounted for half of the Phillies' eight runs, hitting a solo home run in the 2nd (his 26th), driving in two more with a 2-out RBI-double in the 6th and beating out an infield hit in the 9th to drive home another.  Carlos Ruiz and Placido Polanco also enjoyed 3-hit games.  The Phils added four more runs in the 9th for good measure on Ruiz' second double of the game, a double from Chase Utley and just a pure lack of defensive hustle on the part of the punchless Nationals.

So now it's time to rest the regulars, get Jimmy Rollins some at-bats and prepare for the Reds, Padres or Giants in the NLDS.  Go Phils!

Looking Back:  This is also the fourth consecutive year there's been a Chachi highlight card celebrating a NL East pennant, following the cards I created in 2007, 2008 and 2009.  (Upon further examination, I've never posted the 2008 Chachi card highlighting their division clinching game.  I'll look to fix this soon.)

Phillies at Nationals: September 27th through September 29th

Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday 7:05

Records: Phillies 93-63, 1st Place in NL East (6 games ahead of the Braves); Nationals 67-89, 5th Place in NL East (26 games behind the Phillies)

1968 Topps #122
Roy Halladay and the Phils will try to clinch the NL East tonight in D.C.  They've already clinched a play-off berth, so there's no danger in me jinxing the team by posting a Gene Mauch card recently purchased at the Valley Forge baseball card show.  Mauch was the first manager of the Nationals' predecessors, the Montral Expos, and when I posted a Mauch card in the last Nationals' series preview post, the Phillies went out and swept them.  A sweep would be nice, but we're really only looking for one more win.  Go Phils!  (I'm assuming that's what Mauch is yelling in this photo.)

Phillies Probables: Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, Joe Blanton
Nationals Probables: John Lannan, Jason Marquis, Ross Detwiler

Sunday, September 26, 2010

1954 Bowman #47 Granny Hamner

Mets 7, Phillies 3
Game 156 - Sunday Afternoon, September 26th in Philadelphia

The Phillies missed out on an opportunity to clinch the NL East pennant at home, dropping the series finale to the Mets, 7-3.  However, their Magic Number dropped to 1 with the Braves' loss today, and they clinched at least the Wild Card when the Padres lost their game to the Reds.  Starting tomorrow night, the Phils (and their champagne) head to Washington to try to win one more to clinch the division.

Cole Hamels was off today.  He lasted just four innings, allowing five runs on nine hits.  The Phils' only runs came in the 5th on Chase Utley's 3-run home run, his 16th of the year.

Granny:  I'm posting a baseball card in honor of my Dad today, as he continues to struggle with his health.  I picked up this card at Saturday's Valley Forge baseball card show and my immediate thought was, "Dad will like this one."  Get well soon, sir.

1992 Donruss #701 Jim Lindeman

Mets 5, Phillies 2
Game 155 - Saturday Night, September 25th in Philadelphia

The Phillies' 11-game win streak came to an end last night as the Mets won, 5-2.  The Magic Number to clinch the NL East title remains at 2 games, as the Braves won their afternoon match against the Nationals.  The lone Phillies' highlight came in the 1st inning when Ryan Howard connected for a 2-run home run, his 31st of the season.  Mets' rookie pitcher Dillon Gee settled down after that, pitching seven strong innings.

Kyle Kendrick pitched well, but he ran into trouble in the 7th.  The Mets scored five times that inning, aided by Howard's fielding error and a bases-clearing double by Lucas Duda surrendered by Chad Durbin.

#12:  Had the Phils won their twelfth in a row, it would have been the first time the team performed that feat since their 14-game winning streak in August 1991.  The '91 Phils won #12 in the streak when Jim Lindeman led the offense with a key 2-run double back on August 11, 1991.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Baseball Card Show Report - Valley Forge

1971 Topps #682
For the first time in nearly four years, I attended a major baseball card show on Saturday, making my way to Valley Forge for the Philadelphia Sportscard & Memorabilia Show.  Admission was $7 and there were at least a couple hundred tables.  I'm not big into autographs, but signers included several players from the '93 Phillies' squad (Curt Schilling, Darren Daulton, Tommy Greene and Wes Chamberlain) and several players from the current team (Joe Blanton, Placido Polanco and Ben Francisco).
I printed out my lists on Friday night, and I went with the goal of picking up some vintage Phillies cards to round out my growing collection of cards from the '50s and '60s.  The trip was a huge success!  In no particular order, here are the highlights and random thoughts from the show:
1969 Topps #350

- I immediately stumbled upon a table selling high grade commons from 1953 through the mid-1970's for $0.75 each.  I easily spent close to an hour at this table, spending the bulk of my allotted funds on a nice stack (over 50 cards) of Phillies cards from 1954 through 1969.  I also picked up 30 or so high numbers for my 1971 set - which at $0.75 a card was an absolute steal.
1954 Topps #45

- I gravitated towards bargain bins after reading about the successes of several other bloggers.  I found a few $1 and $5 bins with vintage Phillies cards from the '50s and early '60s.  The cards' condition would probably be considered mid- to low-grade, but that didn't deter me.  The '54 Topps Richie Ashburn featured here, rounded corners, smudged front and all, set me back $5.

1962 Post #198
- I don't understand the lure of graded cards.  Let me rephrase that - I think graded cards are borderline silly.  Table after table contained rows of the sterilized slabs and dealers and their customers were viewing them as if they were framed paintings in an art gallery.  I just don't get it.

- And I'm always amazed at the tables containing nothing but high-end tobacco cards with prices starting in the hundreds and running into the thousands.  Do people come to these shows and plop down $950 for a single rare T206 tobacco card?  I always feel like asking these dealers, "Have you sold anything today?"  Plenty of people always stop to look at these cards (I did), but do they buy them? (I didn't.) 

1965 Topps
Embossed #32
- I bought my 2010 Topps factory set and I'm happy this is the first year Topps has released the set in a special "Phillies" box with five bonus Phillies cards.  After walking the entire floor, I found dealers were selling these sets anywhere from $40 to $59.  Before leaving the show, I circled back to the guy selling the set for $40 and I left with my new set under my arm.  These were the only baseball cards I bought that were not from 1975 or earlier.

- There were very few kids or teenagers walking around.  Back in the day, in my teen years, I'd typically see  a few dozen kids my age walking around with their lists trying to complete their '84 Topps set or their '83 Fleer set.

- Asking dealers if they're carrying any 2009 Upper Deck singles is akin to asking someone if your festering, massive head wound looks contagious.

- I missed my Dad today.  Dad's working on getting himself healthy and he couldn't make it to the show.  Had he been there, he would performed some advanced scouting for me and then helped me cross my new purchases off my list.  Here's hoping he makes next year's show with me.

1940-1949 Phillies Want List

1949 Bowman #14
Futile?  Probably.  Realistic?  Not really.  Fun to day dream about tracking these cards down?  Absolutely.

1940 Play Ball (R335)
94 Suhr, 95 Mulcahy, 96 Mueller, 97 Arnovich, 98 May, 99 Johnson, 100 Martin, 101 Young, 102 Klein, 119 Alexander, 160 Lobert, 216 Marty, 217 Beck, 218 Millies, 240 Atwood

1941 Double Play (R330) 

1941 Goudey
1 Mulcahy, 17 Tamulis, 27 Crouch

1941 Play Ball (R336)

1946-1949 Sports Exchange (W603)
3-3 Ennis

1947-1966 Exhibits
Have Ashburn, Ennis, Konstanty, Sisler and 1950 Team Card

1947 Homogenized Bond Bread
Ennis - I have the square corner Ennis card, but I'm looking for a round corner card

1948 Bowman
24 Leonard, 28 Verban

1948 Leaf
49 Ennis, 68 Miller, 113 Leonard, 137 Walker, 143 Sisler

1948 Philadelphia Bulletin Stand-Ups
HAVE Sisler

1949 Bowman
214 Ashburn, 228 Mayo

1949 Eureka Stamps
128 Ashburn, 130 Bicknell, 131 Blattner, 133 Caballero, 135 Ennis, 136 Hamner, 138 Hollmig, 140 Konstanty, 142 Mayo, 144 Roberts, 145 Rowe

1949 MP and Co. R302-2 - 109 Ennis

1949 Philadelphia Bulletin
HAVE Sisler

I found this Curt Simmons baseball card on the cheap (less than $10) over at Checkoutmycards a few months ago.  As of this writing, it's my first and only '49 Bowman card and I really like how Bowman took a black and white photo and added color highlights to Simmons' hat and uniform.  One of the coolest things about adding these older cards to my collection is that I've never even seen pictures of most of these cards.  There's a whopping 19 Phillies cards in the '49 Bowman set, and eight of these cards are in the elusive high series (cards 145-240), so they'll be even tougher to track down.

Friday, September 24, 2010

2010 Topps 206 #8 Shane Victorino

Phillies 3, Mets 2
Game 154 - Friday Night, September 24th in Philadelphia

The game's easy, Harry.  With their win tonight, the Phillies:

- Won their 11th game in a row, their longest winning streak since 1991.
- Improved their record to 19-3 in September.
- Dropped their Magic Number to clinch the NL East to 3.
- Made it even more realistic that I'd get to use the Playoff tickets that arrived in a UPS envelope this afternoon on our front step.

The Phillies got yet another dominant pitching performance tonight, this time from #4 starter Joe Blanton.  Blanton won his 8th game of the year, throwing just 74 pitches in his seven innings of work while striking out six and allowing just two runs.  His one mistake came on a 1-0 changeup to Angel Pagan in the 4th, which resulted in a 2-run home run and the Mets' only runs of the night.  Ryan Madson pitched another perfect 8th and Brad Lidge saved his fourth game in four days.

Shane Victorino led off the game with his first career lead-off home run, and he added an RBI double in the 2nd to score Wilson Valdez.  After Pagan's homer tied it in the top of the 4th, the Phils quickly retook the lead in the bottom of the inning when Carlos Ruiz drove home Raul Ibañez with an RBI-single.

And with the Braves currently losing in Washington, the Magic Number could soon drop to two, giving the Phils a chance to wrap up the division tomorrow night.  Go Phils!

Mets at Phillies: September 24th through September 25th

Friday & Saturday 7:05, Sunday 1:35
2008 Topps Allen & Ginter
Cabinet Boxloader #BH3

Records: Mets 74-48, 4th Place in NL East (17½ games behind the Phillies); Phillies 92-61, 1st Place in NL East (6 games ahead of the Braves)

Remember when the Phillies won their first of three consecutive division titles on the last day of the 2007 season?  When they were seven games behind the Mets with 17 games to play?  And the Mets completely collapsed down the stretch going 5 and 12 and allowing the Phils to creep back in?  Remember that?  That was awesome.

Mets Probables: R.A. Dickey, Dillon Gee, Pat Misch
Phillies Probables: Joe Blanton, Kyle Kendrick, Cole Hamels

1950-1959 Phillies Want List

1951 Topps Blue Backs #3
1952 Bowman #52
1953 Bowman Color #103
1956 Topps #180
1959 Topps #372

The Jim Hegan card featured above was probably my first ever Phillies "vintage" baseball card.  I think we bought this card on the fly back at a baseball card show at the Y, or maybe Memorial Junior High.  In any event, I remember marvelling at the "oldness" of this card.  Prior to obtaining this card, probably the oldest card in my collection was from the early '70s.  What strikes me now though is that relatively speaking, when I obtained this card back in 1981 or 1982 (probably), it wasn't really that old. 

By way of analogy, me getting this card then would be like a 9-year-old getting his hands on a 1987 Topps Rick Schu card now.  That's kind of scary, isn't it?

1950 Drake's
- 10 Sisler, 12 Waitkus
1950 Philadelphia Inquirer Fightin' Phillies - Ashburn, Bloodworth, Caballero, Candini, Church, Donnelly, Goliat, Hamner, Heintzelman, Hollmig, Johnson, Jones, Lopata, Meyer, Miller, Nicholson, Seminick, Silvestri, Simmons, Sisler, Waitkus, Whitman

1951 Fisher's Bread Labels (Bread for Energy) - Jones, Konstanty
1951 Topps Major League All-Stars - Konstanty, Roberts
1951 Topps Teams - Phillies

1952 Berk Ross - Ashburn, Roberts
1952 Dixie Lids - Ashburn, Seminick
1952 Red Man Tobacco - 7N Hamner, 11N Jones, 18N Roberts
1952 Star-Carl Decals - 77A Ashburn, 77C Simmons, 89C Ashburn
1952 Tip Top Bread Labels - Hamner, Roberts, Waitkus
1952 Topps - 13 Wyrostek, 323 Church, 339 Meyer, 352 Drews, 357 Burgess, 362 Heintzelman, 383 Wilber

1953 Bowman Black & White - 35 Wyrostek, 47 Lohrke, 64 Hansen
1953 Canadian Exhibits - 60 Ennis
1953 Northland Bread Labels - Ashburn, Ryan
1953 Red Man Tobacco - 3N Ashburn, 11N Roberts
1953 Topps - 230 Lindell

1954 Dixie Lids - Ashburn
1954 Red Man Tobacco - 1N Ashburn, 12N Simmons, 18N Roberts

1955 Armour Coins
- Simmons
1955 Red Man Tobacco - 15N Hamner, 24N Simmons
1955 Robert Gould All Stars - 6 Simmons, 18 Hamner, 22 Ashburn
1955 Topps Doubleheaders - 81 Schell, 91 Ortiz, 108 Qualters, 122 Owens, 131 Wehmeier

1956 Topps* - 3 Valo, 77 Haddix, 114 Owens, 180 Roberts, 274 Baumholtz, 293 Miller, 334 Miller
1956 Topps Pins - Negray, Smith, Wehmeier

1957 Swift Meats - 17 Ashburn

1958 Hires Root Beer - 10 Ashburn, 14 Post, 15 Repulski, 20 Hamner, 28 Simmons
1958 Kahn's Wieners - Post

1959 American Motors Home Run Derby - Post
1959 Armour Coins - Ashburn
1959 Bazooka - Ashburn
*Going after these cards seems like a bit of overkill.  My Dad and I have successfully completed the 1956 Topps set, taking over 20 years to put it together.  Do I really need a separate Phillies team set in another binder?  Yes.  Yes I do.  (Although it will probably take another 20 years to do so.) 

I haven't included Phillies cards from the ridiculously scarce issues like the 1955 Felin's Franks set or the 1958 Hires Root Beer Test Set.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

1950-1954 Phillies Want List

This post has been retired as of February 2021, and replaced here with a full want list for 1950-1959.
1997 Topps Stars Rookie Reprints #2
Too ambitious?  Every journey starts with the first step.

1950 Bowman - Completed
1950 Drake's - 10 Sisler, 12 Waitkus, 21 Ennis

1950 Philadelphia Inquirer Fightin' Phillies - Ashburn, Bloodworth, Caballero, Candini, Church, Donnelly, Ennis, Goliat, Hamner, Heintzelman, Hollmig, Johnson, Jones, Lopata, Meyer, Miller, Nicholson, Roberts, Seminick, Silvestri, Simmons, Sisler, Waitkus, Whitman

1950-1952 Royal Desserts - Seminick, Sisler


1951 Berk Ross - Completed (Thanks Mom!)
1951 Bowman - Completed

1951 Fisher's Bread Labels (Bread for Energy) - Jones, Konstanty
1951 Topps Blue Backs - Completed (Thanks Mom!)
1951 Topps Red Backs Completed
1951 Topps Major League All-Stars - Konstanty, Roberts
1951 Topps Teams - Phillies Team


1952 Berk Ross - Ashburn, Ennis, Roberts
1952 Bowman - Completed

1952 Dixie Lids - Ashburn, Seminick
1952 Red Man Tobacco - 2N Ashburn, 7N Hamner, 11N Jones, 18N Roberts
1952 Star-Cal Decals - 77A Ashburn, 77C Simmons, 89C Ashburn
1952 Tip Top Bread Labels - Hamner, Roberts, Waitkus

1952 Topps (Yikes - Intimidated just typing that) - 13 Wyrostek, 323 Church, 339 Meyer, 352 Drews, 357 Burgess, 362 Heintzelman, 383 Wilber


1953 Bowman Black & White - 35 Wyrostek, 47 Lohrke, 64 Hansen
1953 Bowman Color - Completed (Thanks Mom!)

1953 Canadian Exhibits - 60 Ennis, 62 Sisler
1953 Northland Bread Labels - Ashburn, Ryan
1953 Red Man Tobacco - 3N Ashburn, 11N Roberts, 17N Ennis, 18N Hamner

1953 Topps - 230 Lindell


1954 Bowman - Completed

1954 Dixie Lids - Ashburn
1954 Red Heart Dog Food - Ashburn
1954 Red Man Tobacco - 1N Ashburn, 12N Simmons, 18N Roberts

1954 Topps - Completed
Thanks Mom!

1954 Wilson Franks - Ennis

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

2010 Topps Allen & Ginter #340 Brad Lidge

Phillies 1, Braves 0
Game 153 - Wednesday Night, September 22nd in Philadelphia

The Phillies swept the Braves in Philadelphia for the first time since 2001, winning their 10th straight and extending their lead in the NL East to six games with nine to play.  Their Magic Number is down to 4, and it's entirely conceivable they could clinch the pennant this weekend against the Mets.  Hard to believe, Harry.

We were there tonight and even though we got a little wet at times, it was a terrific ballgame.  Roy Oswalt and Tommy Hanson locked in for a pitcher's duel through the first six innings.  Oswalt was wonderful, and Martin Prado's double in the 4th was the only hit he allowed.  He struck out eight and walked one in his seven innings of work.  Unfortunately, the Phillies didn't score until the 8th inning, so Oswalt took the no decision.  (He's now 7-1 with a 1.76 ERA in his 11 starts since his trade from the Astros.)

The Phils had their chances, stranding eight base runners through the first seven innings.  It took a Jayson Werth 2-out walk followed by a Raul Ibañez double into the left field corner to push across the game's one and only run.  With all due respect to Ibañez, I wanted to feature a Brad Lidge baseball card tonight for the tremendous job he's done closing out games recently.  He saved his 26th game tonight, alternating between an effective slider and his fast ball to sweep the Braves out of town.

Farewell:  This was most likely Braves' manager Bobby Cox' final visit to Philly, and the team paid tribute to the retiring manager in a brief pre-game ceremony.  In a classy move, the entire Phillies team lined up outside of their dugout to pay tribute to Cox.

1987 Topps Mike Schmidt - Batting Sequence

1987 Topps #430, 1987 Topps All-Star Glossy (22) #4,
1987 Topps All-Star Glossy (60) #28, 1987 Topps Baseball Highlights #8
This post is for Night Owl who recently pondered:  "[W]ith all the card lines that companies put out in the late 1990s and early 2000s, how often did they use the same photo sequence for multiple cards over multiple years? It had to happen a fair amount."

1987 KayBee
Superstars of Baseball #29

I know of at least one other occasion, as I've displayed above.  A fair amount of Topps cards for the Phillies in 1987 and 1988 feature players at-bat with a benchful of Montreal Expos in the background.  (Go check out your Phillies cards from '87 and '88 Topps.  I know everyone has at least a few thousand of these cards.)  These photos had to have been taken during a Spring Training game, as the sun is shining and the Expos played their regular season home games under the roof of Olympic Stadium.

UPDATE:  As I was putting away the four cards featured above, I found this fifth card.  This shot is very similar to the one featured on Schmidt's main '87 Topps card.

2010 Chachi Prototype #RH Roy Halladay

Phillies 5, Braves 3
Game 152 - Tuesday Night, September 21st in Philadelphia

Let's cut to the chase:  The Phillies won their ninth straight game last night, increasing their lead in the NL East to five games, and cutting their Magic Number to clinch down to six with ten games remaining.  The team is 30 games over .500 for the first time since 1993.  It's a very good time to be a Phillies fan.  (Should "Magic Number" be capitalized?  I'm making an executive decision here and capitalizing it.)

Roy Halladay methodically mowed down the Braves through seven innings, surrendering three runs on seven hits while striking out just three.  He became the first Phillie to win 20 games in a season since Steve Carlton did it way back in 1982.  He became the first right-handed Phillie pitcher to reach the milestone since Robin Roberts in 1955.  Ryan Madson and Brad Lidge pitched the final two innings for the Phils, looking very 2008-esque in the process.  Lidge recorded his 25th save of the season.

The Phils jumped on the board first with Jayson Werth's 3-run home run to left center in the 3rd.  It was Werth's 25th home run of the year.  Fortunately, they added two more runs in the 6th when Raul Ibañez hit a clutch 2-out, 2-run double, scoring Ryan Howard and Werth.  The Phillies should have scored a lot more in this game, but they went only 2 for 14 with runners in scoring position.  They had at least two baserunners reach in all but the 5th, 7th and 8th innings.

Roy Oswalt goes for the series sweep (!) tonight, hoping to drop the Magic Number down to 4.  Go Phils!

1971 Topps:  I really like this set.  But do I like it more than the 1983 Topps set?  I'll be honest, this is going to be a tough call this year for the 2011 Chachi Set Planning Committee.  I've already used my all-time favorite Topps designs from the '70s and '80s (1975, 1981, 1976, 1980, 1977) for previous Chachi sets, so now we're getting into designs that I don't love, but I really like.  If you catch my drift.  Decisions, decisions.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

1974 Kellogg's #26 Wayne Twitchell

Former Phillie Wayne Twitchell lost his battle with cancer last Thursday, passing away at the age of 62.  Twitchell pitched with the Phils from 1971 until 1977, making the NL All-Star team in 1973 as the team's sole representative.  That was probably his best year with the team, as he led the pitching staff in both ERA (2.50) and shutouts (5), while tying for the team lead in wins with 13.  During Twitchell's 11 years in the Majors, he also pitched with the Brewers, Expos and Mets.  The Oregonian recently published a great tribute to Twitchell's baseball career and his legacy.

2010 Upper Deck Baseball Heroes 20th Anniversary Art #BHA-8 Cole Hamels

Phillies 3, Braves 1
Game 151 - Monday Night, September 20th in Philadelphia

And with this win, the Magic Number dropped to 8 and the Phils have a four game lead in the NL East.  Cole Hamels dominated the Braves through eight innings, allowing six hits while striking out six.  He allowed the lone Braves' run in the 2nd on the way to his 12th win of the year.  He was helped out along the way by three inning-ending double plays.

The Phils scored their three runs with the benefit of only five hits.  With the Braves up 1-0 in the bottom of the 2nd, Ryan Howard doubled to open the inning and he eventually came around to score when Carlos Ruiz doubled.  The Phils broke the tie in the 5th.  Shane Victorino reached on a 3-base error by right fielder Jason Heyward.  (Tough scoring on this play - Heyward was at a full run and the ball glanced off his glove.  This home field scorer probably would have given Victorino a triple.)  A single by Chase Utley and back-to-back walks to Howard and Jayson Werth loaded the bases.  Raul Ibañez brought Utley home on a ground ball to short, and that was all Hamels needed.

Brad Lidge came in to close out the game, and his stuff was absolutely filthy.  (He types with a huge smile on his face.)  With just 11 pitches, Lidge shut down the Braves for his 24th save of the year.

Am I allowed to start getting excited yet?  Charlie Manuel says not yet.  "I'll feel good when we've got a four-game lead with three to play.  That's when you've got something. There's no sense in celebrating until we get there."

Cool Stuff:  Ripped right from Todd Zolecki's Twitter feed - Hamels is 5-0 with a 0.49 ERA in his last five starts.  Lidge has 14 saves in his last 15 chances with a 0.91 ERA over that span.  Who would have predicted Ruiz would be the team's leading hitter at this point, with a .299 average?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Blog Bat-Around: The New Commish

1980 Topps #540
David, the fine proprietor over at Indians Baseball Cards and Random Wax recently posed the following topic for a Blog Bat-Around
With Bud Selig supposedly retiring in 2012 (and assuming the end of the world doesn't follow soon afterward), if YOU were asked to become the next Baseball Commissioner, what would you do? What changes would you like to make, what things would you leave as-is, what would you like to see as your legacy when your retirement time came?
Without further adieu, written as an attempt to relax during tonight's Phillies-Braves game, here's what I would do as baseball's new commissioner:

- Pete Rose would be reinstated.
- Interleague play would be eliminated.
- I haven't done the math here, but the Phillies would go back to playing more games against teams like the Cubs, Cardinals, Pirates and Dodgers.  You know, the National League teams would actually play other National League teams.  Just like in the days of yore.
- The designated hitter would be phased out of regular season play, but used during the All-Star Game.
- Spring Training would be shorter.
- Chris Berman would be banned from the Home Run Derby.
- For all nationally broadcast baseball games, including the Postseason games, the home team's announcers would call the games.
- The ALDS and NLDS would be a best of 7 series.
- World Series games would start at 7:05 and one of the games would be a Saturday afternoon game.
- Jose Reyes would be suspended whenever the mood struck me.
- The Diamondbacks would be forced to change their name to something that would actually fit on the front of their jerseys.
- Topps would be strongly encouraged to hire several baseball card bloggers to help with design ideas and set composition.
- Fleer, Donruss and Upper Deck would have their licenses restored.
- Each of the four baseball card manufacturers would be limited to five sets a year.
- The Astros would be forced to wear their rainbow uniforms from the '70s at least once a month.

I haven't had a chance to properly flesh out these ideas, but I would finalize my plans during my tour of all 30 Major League Baseball stadiums during the first summer of my tenure.  Play ball!

Braves at Phillies: September 20th through September 22nd

Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday 7:05

Records: Braves 86-64, 2nd Place in NL East (3 games behind the Phillies); Phillies 89-61, 1st Place in NL East (3 games ahead of the Braves)

This is a ginormously huge series.  Its importance is monumental.  This is big, folks.  The Phillies currently hold a 3-game lead over the Atlanta Braves in the NL East with 12 games to play.  The Braves, who spent the entire summer in first place, have been struggling of late, but they're coming off a 3-game sweep of the more craptastic than usual Mets.  The Phillies have steamrolled through the past 6 weeks, overcoming what was a 7-game deficit on July 22nd.
2010 Topps Heritage #443

Todd Zolecki summed up the stakes nicely:  "If [the Phillies] win two of three against Atlanta, they will have a four-game lead with just nine games to play. Even if the Phillies would finish 4-5, the Braves would have to finish 8-1 just to tie."  And if the Phils should sweep . . . the mind boggles.

Braves Probables: Jair Jurrjens, Mike Minor, Tommy Hanson
Phillies Probables: Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Scrapbook Sunday (Late Edition): September 22, 1991

I distinctly remember thinking back on September 22, 1991, "When will that be us?"  As the Pirates celebrated on the field at Three Rivers Stadium that day, many of the '91 Phillies had the same thought.  (I love Cliff Brantley's quote:  "Golly, maybe someday."  Please click the picture to enlarge.)  "Someday" would come two years later on September 28, 1993, when the Phils returned the favor and clinched the NL East against the Pirates at Three Rivers.  A long, long dry spell followed, and we had to wait until September 30, 2007, the last day of the '07 regular season, for the Phillies to clinch their next division title.
1992 Topps Debut '91 #20

We've been spoiled every year since then.  The Phils have won three straight division titles, and if they can just hang on for 12 more games, they can clinch their fourth in a row.  I've said it before on this blog - suffering through the lean years of the late '80s and again from 1994 through the mid-2000s, makes me appreciate what the Phillies are doing now even more.  The 2010 Phillies look absolutely unstoppable right now, and it's made all the more enjoyable when I think back to the road it took to get here.  Golly.

Maybe Someday?:  Brantley never made it to the Postseason.  He pitched in 6 games for the '91 Phils and in 28 games for the '92 Phils, putting together a 4-8 record with a 4.25 ERA.  He latched on with the Expos' organization from the '92 season, but he ended up back within the Phillies' organization by season's end.  He pitched in 7 games for the Phils' AAA team in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre before hanging up his spikes.

2010 Topps 206 #285 Jayson Werth

Phillies 7, Nationals 6
Game 150 - Sunday Afternoon, September 19th in Philadelphia

Poor Brian Schneider.  If not for Joe Blanton coughing up the lead in the 6th and Jayson Werth's dramatic walk-off homer in the 9th, he'd be the featured baseball card in today's post.  Instead, he'll just have to be happy with his 3 for 4 performance and his 2-run double in the 4th to give the Phils a temporary lead.

Just when it seemed as if the Phillies' lead in the NL East was about to drop to 2 games, the Phillies scored 4 times in the bottom of the 9th to win their 6th in a row and keep the Braves 3 back.  Nationals' closer Drew Storen entered the inning with a 3-run lead and he exited the inning having not recorded an out.  Placido Polanco singled to open the inning and Chase Utley followed with a double.  Ryan Howard singled them both home to cut the deficit to a single run.  With a full count, on the 8th pitch of the at-bat, Werth drilled a 94-mph fastball just over the wall in the deepest part of center field.  He circled the bases, tossed his helmet as he approached home, and jumped into a throng of his waiting teammates.

It was a huge win as the Braves had already won their game against the hapless Mets and they're now on their way to Philly to open a 3-game set.  With 12 games to play, the Magic Number is now down to 10.  Go Phils!

Lost in the Shuffle:  Werth's heroics gave Vance Worley his first Major League win.  Shane Victorino was ejected in the 6th for throwing his helmet and bat after being called out on a check swing.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

2010 Topps Allen & Ginter N43 #N43-RH Ryan Howard

Phillies 5, Nationals 2
Game 149 - Saturday Night, September 18th in Philadelphia

On a gorgeous night for baseball, the Phils stayed one step ahead of the Braves, winning 5-2 against the Nationals and cutting their Magic Number to clinch the NL East to 11.  Before we had even reached our seats, Phillies' starter Kyle Kendrick had allowed the first Nationals' run when Danny Espinosa led off the game with a single and came around to score on a Ian Desmond triple.  After that, however, Kendrick settled in, facing the minimum in the 2nd through 5th innings.  He surrendered just one more run in the 6th before his night was over.

The Phillies scored their runs via the long ball and a Wilson Valdez double.  Jayson Werth led off the 2nd with his 23rd home run of the year, and Valdez later doubled home Raul IbañezRyan Howard hit a 2-run shot in the 3rd, his 30th of the year and Ibañez followed that a few batters later with a solo home run, his 15th of the season.

After Kendrick departed, the bullpen did their job as Chad Durbin, Ryan Madson and Brad Lidge threw scoreless frames in the 7th, 8th and 9th innings.  Madson worked his way into and out of trouble, loading the bases in the 8th but escaping unscathed.  Lidge needed just 8 pitches to secure Kendrick's 10th victory of the season.  The Phils go for the series sweep tomorrow afternoon behind Joe Blanton.

Other Stuff:  Howard's home run was the 252nd in his career, moving him past Pat Burrell for sole possession of third on the Phillies' all-time list.  It also marked Howard's fifth consecutive 30-home run, 100-RBI season, setting a franchise record and besting Chuck Klein's streak of four consecutive seasons reaching those plateaus.  Since being swept by the Astros in late August, the Phillies have compiled a record of 18-4.  The Class A Lakewood BlueClaws, managed by former Phillie Mark Parent, won their second consecutive South Atlantic League Championship tonight.  Congrats BlueClaws!

2010 Chachi Prototype #RO Roy Oswalt

Phillies 9, Nationals 1
Game 148 - Friday Night, September 17th in Philadelphia

The Phillies staked Roy Oswalt a 5-run lead in the 1st inning, and that's all the Phillies' starter would need on the way to his 7th win as a Phillie.  Since joining the Phils in July, Oswalt is now 7-1 with a 1.94 ERA.  He even drove in his first run of 2010 last night, singling home the team's 5th run in the 1st last night and chasing Nationals' starter Jason Marquis.  Marquis recorded just one out in his shortened outing.

The Phils added 3 more runs after their 6-run 1st inning outburst.  Jayson Werth hit a solo home run in the 5th, his 22nd, and Carlos Ruiz added a 2-run shot in the 8th.  (Chooch's home run came off former Phillie Joe Bisenius.)  The win dropped the Phils' Magic Number to 12.

1988 Topps:  Why is the design of this set growing on me?  I have thousands of these cards and I believe I personally hand-collated at least 3 different '88 Topps sets back in the day.  (I'm pretty sure Jenna has her own '88 Topps set around here somewhere too.)  The Phillies cards are saddled with the same purple and green color combination Topps somehow assigned to the Phillies throughout the late '80s and early '90s, but I like the clean design and the prominence of the "PHILLIES" team name floating behind the players' pictures.  However, when it comes right down to it, I wouldn't be able to choose this set design for the 2011 Chachi set over the designs of the '71 and '83 Topps sets.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Nationals at Phillies: September 17th through September 19th

Friday & Saturday 7:05, Sunday 1:35

Records:  Nationals 62-84, 5th Place in NL East (23½ games behind the Phillies); Phillies 86-61, 1st Place in NL East (3 games ahead of the Braves)

Former Phillie Cal McLish passed away last month at the age of 84.  He's featured here as the Expos' first pitching coach under manager Gene Mauch.  (Also featured is former Phillies' coach Dave Bristol.)  McLish finished his 15-season Major League career with three seasons with the Phillies from 1962 until 1964.  Primarily a starting pitcher, McLish went 24-17 in 66 games with the Phils, compiling a 3.68 ERA.  Following his playing days, Mauch added him to the Phillies' coaching staff in 1965 and 1966, and he served as a Phillies' scout in 1967 and 1968.  When Mauch became the first manager of the Expos, he brought McLish with him and McLish coached with the Expos until Mauch's dismissal in 1975.

I'm very disappointed with the back of this 1974 Topps card as it doesn't feature McLish's full name.  On the back of this card (and on the back of the 1973 Topps' Expos manager and coaches card), McLish's name is listed as Calvin Coolidge McLish.  However, his full legal name was actually Calvin Coolidge Julius Caesar Tuskahoma McLish.  You can look it up.

Nationals Probables: Jason Marquis, Jordan Zimmerman, Yunesky Maya
Phillies Probables: Roy Oswalt, Kyle Kendrick, Joe Blanton

Kendrick and Oswalt swapped their spots in the rotation, to allow Charlie Manuel to pitch the Big 3 (Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels and Oswalt) against the Braves in their upcoming series starting on Monday night.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

2010 Topps #424 David Herndon

Today's Quiz:  Can you name the 7 players who survived through the entire 2010 season on the Phillies' active roster?  (Answer is below.)  That's crazy, when you think about it.  The Phillies have had only 7 players suit up every day since Opening Day.  They've used 42 different players this year.  According to Baseball Reference, through Tuesday night's game, Charlie Manuel has run out 90 different line-ups, excluding the pitcher's spot.  The "everyday" line-up when the season started has taken the field together only 9 times.  They've made 42 roster changes this year, and the longest the team went without making a roster change was a 14-game stretch in early June.

And yet, somehow, the team is now 3 games ahead of the Braves in the NL East.  Amazing.

2010 Topps #154

Former Phillies Triviality:  There are four Ex-Phillies featured as Phillies on regular-issued 2010 baseball cards.  Each of them left the Phillies in the offseason for different teams, and they've each since moved on to yet another organization - Cliff Lee (Mariners to Rangers), Pedro Feliz (Astros to Cardinals), Eric Bruntlett (Nationals' organization to the Yankees' organization) and Jack Taschner (Pirates to the Dodgers).

2011 Chachi Set:  The 2011 Chachi Set Planning Committee will be meeting shortly to discuss the classic Topps' design to be used for the 2011 Chachi set.  Without giving too much away, the Committee has held internal discussions and the early indications are that either the '83 or '71 Topps sets will be used as the inspiration for next year's set.  Surprisingly, the '88 Topps set has entered the fray and the '65 Topps set has emerged as a dark horse candidate.  The '65 Topps set intrigues me, and I only have a few more years until Topps runs this design out again as 2014 Topps Heritage.

Trivia Answer:  Only outfielders Raul Ibañez, Jayson Werth, Ben Francisco, starters Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels and relievers Jose Contreras and David Herndon have been on the Phillies' active 25-man roster for the entire 2010 season.

2010 Topps 206 #246 Raul Ibañez

Phillies 10, Marlins 5
Game 147 - Wednesday Night, September 15th in Miami

The Phillies were in complete control from the outset of this game, scoring 3 times in the first, and never looking back.  With 15 games remaining on the 2010 schedule, the Phils are now 3 games ahead of the Braves in the NL East.  Six of their remaining 15 games come against the Braves, and the Phils' Magic Number to clinch the division is down to 13.  They have the best record in the National League, and if that continues they'll clinch home field advantage throughout the play-offs.  A few months ago, I had no idea I'd be typing out the sentences in this paragraph.

The team's three 1st inning runs all came with two outs.  After Chase Utley and Ryan Howard walked, Jayson Werth drove home the first two runs with a single to right and Raul Ibañez followed with a double.  Ibañez finished the night with 3 hits, 2 RBIs and 2 runs scored.  Utley added a solo home run (his 15th) to right in the 3rd to make it 4-1, Phillies.  Six more Phillies' runs followed, as everyone in the starting line-up, save Howard, Carlos Ruiz and Roy Halladay, finished the game with at least one RBI.

Halladay didn't have his best stuff, scattering 10 hits over 6 innings, but his savvy pitching and 9 strikeouts allowed him to earn his 19th win of the season.  He's now up to 210 strikeouts for 2010, which represents a career high for him, and the most for a Phillie since Curt Schilling's 300 in 1998.  Charlie Manuel continued to work the back-end of his bullpen like rented mules, sending Ryan Madson and Brad Lidge out to pitch the 8th and 9th, when guys like Mike Zagurski and Danys Baez could have eaten those innings instead.

The Phillies and I will enjoy an off-day today before opening a weekend series with the Nationals.  (Just to clarify - the Phillies are opening the weekend series, and I'll just be watching on TV.)