Thursday, December 23, 2010

Happy Halladay and Merry Cliffmas!

2010 Topps #655
This has been, by far, the slowest month of posting I've ever had on this blog.  Rest assured, this has nothing to do with my waning interest in the blog, but rather it has much more to do with having two small boys, the approaching Christmas holiday and the demands of work.  It also has a little to do with the fact that frankly not much has been going on around these parts since the second coming of Cliff Lee.

So as I draw the curtain on 2010, I'll leave you with two quick items.

It's Good to Be Us:  Friend o' the blog Christopher sent me this link recently to a Sports Illustrated article celebrating just how awesome it is to a sports fan in Philadelphia right now.  I'd love to somehow send this article back in time to the 10-year-old me and say, "See, just you wait.  Those Mets fans are making fun of your Phillies hat now, but that's going to come back to bite them and bite them Hard."

Mad Dog Likes Pizza:  My wife Jenna gets credit for this one.  While recently dining out at Pizzeria Uno, she spotted Ryan Madson and his family leaving the restaurant having recently enjoyed their dinners.  Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to ask him if he was as excited about the Lee signing as I was.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

2009 Sweet Spot #22 Cliff Lee

I went to bed last night having read it was possible the Phillies were the so-called "mystery team" in the Cliff Lee sweepstakes.  I honestly didn't put much credence into it.  I had already resigned myself to the fact that Lee would be wearing pinstripes next year (the bad kind) and that, at worst, the next time we'd see him would be in Game 1 of the 2011 World Series.  I woke up this morning, prepared for my day, and I decided to check my e-mail as I waited for my car to defrost.  What greeted me in my inbox and on Facebook was shocking:  "CLIFF LEE IS BACK!!"

Clifton Phifer Lee, the man the Phillies traded this time last year to the Seattle Mariners, the man who reluctantly left town and eventually pitched the Texas Rangers into the World Series, the man who spurned the Yankees and their offer of more years and more money . . . Cliff Lee is back.

To say this excites me is a ginormous, awesomely huge understatement.  Although there are still a few holes in the line-up and the bullpen could use some work, the Phillies are heading into 2011 with the following rotation:  Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt, Cole Hamels and Who Cares.  I've seen the top foursome already dubbed as R2-C2 on various websites today, and I imagine the Phillies marketing department has at least considered contacting George Lucas to see if his famous droid's likeness could be licensed for Phillies t-shirts next year.

And as much as I'd like to say, "I told you so," based on the last line of my World Series post-mortem post, I am as shocked and excited as everyone else.  Bring on 2011.

Lingering Questions:  Will Topps just use photos from 2009 with Lee in a Phillies uniform and Photoshop out the "HK" patch?  Given that Halladay assumed Lee's #34 last offseason, what number will Lee wear?  He's worn #31 (with the Indians) and #33 (with the Rangers) and both those numbers are currently unoccupied.

Friday, December 10, 2010

2005 Chachi #61 Pat Gillick HL

On the heels of the monster Jayson Werth signing by the Washington Nationals, it was announced earlier this week that former Phillies general manager, and current senior advisor for the team, Pat Gillick will be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.  With an assist from outgoing general manager Ed Wade, Gillick cobbled together the pieces needed to return the Phillies to the Postseason in 2007.  The team has returned every year since, winning the 2008 World Championship during his reign.  He's the only general manager in history to lead four franchises (Blue Jays, Orioles, Mariners and Phillies) to the Postseason.

Gillick becomes the first person with a connection to the Phillies to be inducted since Ryne Sandberg gained admission in 2005.  Other recent inductees with Phillies connections are Sparky Anderson and Tony Perez (2000), Jim Bunning (1996) and (my favorite class) Mike Schmidt and Richie Ashburn (1995).

Thank you, Mr. Gillick for bringing a winning tradition back to the Phillies and good luck with your speech in Cooperstown!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

1992 O-Pee-Chee Premier #16 Ruben Amaro, Jr.

I recently returned from a few days of work-mandated training down in Orlando.  I was within a stone's throw of the Baseball Winter Meetings being held over in Disney's Swan and Dolphin Resorts, but I didn't get a chance to make my way over to the lobby to market my wares and see if anyone would take a chance on an aging former middle infielder with little to no pop.

I did however get the chance to rub elbows with a key player in the Jayson Werth saga.  Sort of.  Well, not really.  But here's my story anyway.  While I was in Orlando, Werth signed his ridonkulous* 7-year, $126 million contract with the Washington Nationals.  At the exact moment the news of this signing seeped out into a shocked baseball world, I was sitting about 15 feet from Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. on the flight down to Orlando on Sunday afternoon.

Prior to boarding, I first spotted Amaro in the corner of our gate, typing along on his laptop and completely unaware that anyone was standing across from him, gaping.  After the giddiness of spotting Amaro wore off, and after I texted several people to share my good fortune, a few thoughts crossed my mind: What if I'm seated next to Amaro on the plane ride down to Orlando?  What would we talk about?  Would I get any inside dirt?  Would he offer me a job in the Phillies' front office?  Would we become best friends and maybe I'd even end up with a 2011 World Series Championship ring?

2010 Bowman Chrome #17
But it wasn't to be. We began to board the plane and as I made my way down the aisle to seat 21A, I spied Amaro in his seat in row 10. (Is it strange that one of the most powerful GM's in baseball flies coach?) Not wanting to completely miss my opportunity, I leaned in, tapped his shoulder and said, "Good luck this week." Earth shattering stuff, I know. Amaro looked up from his laptop and casually replied, "Thanks, but it should be a slow week." And that was it.  Did he know Werth was about to sign with the Nationals?  If he did, that could explain why he was kind of grumpy when I saw him.  Then again, maybe it was the guy tapping his shoulder on the plane that made him grumpy.

I had another chance to approach Amaro as we waited for our luggage to arrive on the baggage carousel.  I chickened out however and approached the Philadelphia Daily News' Paul Hagen instead, as he was also on our flight.  "So did Werth really just sign with the Nationals?" I asked.  "That's what I'm hearing," said Hagen, "I think Todd [Zolecki, from] just broke the news."  He went on to say, "I guess it shows that in the end he was more interested in the money than in winning."  (Hagen filed this report on Monday, and he echoes what he told me in the airport in the last sentence of his article.)

Will D.C. embrace the beard?  (
A few hours later, Amaro addressed Werth's departure during a makeshift press conference in Orlando.  He revealed the Phillies had made a "significant" offer to Werth, but obviously it didn't come close to what the Nationals were offering in terms of dollars or years.  Sadly, Amaro never mentioned the fine looking gentleman who tapped his shoulder and wished him luck on the plane.

* This is the first time I've ever used this word in print, however I feel it to be the perfect word to best describe Werth's contract.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

2010 Chachi #40 Mike Zagurski

I've been out of town for a few days for work purposes, so I haven't had a chance to comment on Jayson Werth's departure, or Pat Gillick's induction into the Hall of Fame or even Domonic Brown's dismissal from the Dominican Winter League after hitting .069 and looking "sluggish."

However, I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to post lefty reliever Mike Zagurski's 2010 Chachi card. 

You may be asking, "What does Zagurski have to do with the Winter Meetings or $126 million over 7 years or the team's apparent pursuit of Dennys Reyes and Delwyn Young and Juan Rivera and Jeff Francoeur?"

And I would answer, "Absolutely nothing."  For some inexplicable reason, I had Zagurski's Chachi card saved to my work laptop.  I'm as puzzled as you are.

Zagurski pitched in only eight games for the Phillies in 2010 - five in June and July and three more after his call-up in September.  He threw a total of seven innings and his 10.29 ERA is a good indication of how things went for him.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Topps Phillies Baseball Cards - Diamond Anniversary

1981 Topps #540
I've spent a significant amount of time raking leaves over the past several weekends, which means I've had a lot of time while I was communing with nature for personal reflection, spiritual renewal and of course, blog planning.  I've had a few ideas for this blog come to me that I've summarily rejected - all Donruss for a month, Mike Schmidt oddball Tuesdays, It Came from the '90s Wednesdays - but I recently landed on a not quite novel idea that just might work.

I think I'd like to jump on the Topps retrospection bandwagon and do a post for each of the 60 main baseball card sets produced by Topps since 1951.  This being The Phillies Room, I'd focus on the Phillies cards in each of these Topps sets - my favorite Phillies cards, key Phillies from the sets, who got left out, cards that never were, and so forth and so on.  The idea would be to work my way through each of the Topps sets as a way to celebrate the diamond anniversary of Phillies' players featured on Topps baseball cards.  If I stick to a weekly schedule, I should get to this 1981 Topps Mike Schmidt card by August.

To do this, I may retire Scrapbook Sundays at the end of 2010 and come back with Topps 60 Sundays or Diamond Sundays or Something Clever Sundays to start 2011.  I'd need a few bonus posts to round out the year as there are obviously less Sundays in 2011 than Topps sets, unless my math is off.  The challenge of course would be to keep at this and see it through as I'm sure my interest in such a project could start to wane say around 1961 or in the mid-'90s, if I even got that far.  This could be fun.