March 31, 2011

Sweet, Sweet Fantasy, Baby

Happy Opening Day! Or, as my friend Rob put it, the only day this season when the New York Mets will be tied for first! For some of us (the city of Philadelphia, me, other people who are in love with Cliff Lee), the excitement of baseball season started with a bang way back in December. Even before spring training began, the fantasy of what the 2011 season would hold was so sweet. Now Opening Day itself feels rather anticlimactic. What are you doing to get yourself in the mood?

2011 marks the first season that I will be participating in a fantasy baseball league. I drafted my team (newly christened "The Sunnydale Razorbacks") last night and am proud to report I have one Fightin' Phil. And it's Joe Blanton! Don't make me sad, Joe. :(=

On that note, I wonder if I should try to invent a Sad Chase Utley emoticon as well. Is there a way to draw a sad little blue bench under a sad face?

Poor Chase. Left unpicked through round after round, until finally you were auto-drafted by someone who didn't even want you. Poor Chase. I can't possibly imagine your life without baseball in it. Poor Chase. I hope your wife didn't really cheat on you with Jayson Werth. Poor Chase. Did you have a good relationship with your father? Me neither. Poor Chase Utley. Is second base cursed?

With the first real game of the season just one day away, let's hope that the 2011 Phillies have avoided all curses: Sports Illustrated cover-related, William Penn-related, and otherwise. And let's all hope that my Sunnydale Razorbacks have far fewer fatalities than The Sunnydale Razorbacks.

March 30, 2011

Luis Castillo, We Hardly Knew Ye

Today the Phillies announced the fine decision to release Luis Castillo, just a week after he actually reported for spring training and without paying him a dime.

I'm sure all Phillies fans are happy to see Luis go, but Beerleaguer probably said it best:
You don't need to force yourself to like Luis Castillo, because he's been released by the Phillies. Thank God. As thin as they are at second, I was loathe to watch a Punch-and-Judy burnout like Castillo live out his golden years draining the lifeblood from an already fragile offense. I’m proud of the Phillies, friend of the aged, for seeing through the smoke and mirrors. Good for you, Luis, you can take a walk against minor league pitching in Spring Training. He’s such a sh*theel, I can’t even stand it. I was rooting so hard against him, you have no idea.

March 22, 2011

The Best Fans in America

For those who haven't heard the "news," GQ named Philadelphia fans "the worst fans in America." Eagles fans placed #2 to Phillies fans who took the cake... or ate the cake, had a couple beers, and threw it up all over April's issue of GQ while whipping a persistent stream of batteries at it. I know, I know. What do a bunch of pretty boys at GQ know about sports? Probably nothing. It still makes me angry when "journalists" don't do their research and churn out the same old stereotypes about Philadelphia. Here's their superficial and flawed logic about what constitutes a fan (and don't forget click the issue with Derek Jeter on the cover in the upper left corner if you want to start your subscription):
Over the years, Philadelphia fans have booed Santa Claus as well as their own star players. They've even booed a guy who just helped the city win a friggin' World Series title—while he was getting his ring. Boooo! Admittedly, there are some things fans have cheered. Like Michael Irvin's career-ending neck injury and a fan being tased on the outfield grass. Things reached their nadir last season, when Citizens Bank Park played host to arguably the most heinous incident in the history of sports: A drunken fan intentionally vomited on an 11-year-old girl. The truth is this: All told, Philadelphia stadiums house the most monstrous collection of humanity outside of the federal penal system. "Some of these people would boo the crack in the Liberty Bell," baseball legend Pete Rose once said. More likely, these savages would have thrown the battery that cracked it.
Google image search result #1: Phillies fans

It seems like the author of this article has it out for the City of Brotherly Love, for "savages" like me and Nadine. The fans I know and love are some of the best and most loyal fans on earth, and that's a "most loyal" based on
science and being able to count the Phillies caps while walking around the city on any given day. I want to argue further but I haven't had any coffee yet, and this dude's reaction pretty much sums up everything I would have wanted to say:
I think the worst fans are the ones that don't boo. These are professional athletes, not kids. They are paid to do this. We should expect everything from the Phillies. We buy tickets, jerseys, and hats. We read about the Phillies year round. We get excited every March when baseball season approaches. Is it so wrong to voice our opinions? I'm glad I am part of a city that cares so much about their teams. Let's face the facts. Phillies fans aren't any more misbehaved than other passionate fans in Chicago, New York, and Boston. If GQ wants to find fans to call the worst, they should look at a city where no one shows up at the ballpark. Philadelphia Phillies fans line up every game to get the last few standing-room-only tickets. Contrary to what the media might say, we aren't buying tickets just to boo our team. We are doing it because we love the Phillies, we love the ballpark, and we love baseball. We are the best fans in America. We show up to every game, read every article, call the local stations, and watch every game on television. Yes, we are loud. That's what comes with being a passionate fan.
Feel free to get all nostalgic about your favorite fan moments in the comments.

March 16, 2011

The Red Death

Patella tendinitis. Biceps tendinitis. Fractured hamate bones. Overextended elbows. Oh, how the mighty are falling.

Chase Utley's sidelined "indefinitely", Lights Out Lidge's arm went out, and Placido Polanco hurt his elbow swinging a bat in yesterday's win against the Toronto Blue Jays. This is looking all too familiar to the injury plague of 2010. Now that the oldest team in baseball has tacked on another year, it's just a matter of time before more hips and backs are thrown out. Even young and once hopeful prospect Domonic Brown hurt his wrist in his first spring training hit against the Pittsburgh Pirates, a team that makes money off of losing. The season hasn't even started yet, and the Red Death seems inevitable.

At least Life Alert, the "I've fallen and I can't get up!" company, might have found itself a valuable new market in the 2011 Phillies:

All Philadelphia Phillies should have Life Alert.

On second thought, maybe there needs to be a system in place that contacts Phillies fans every time a player gets injured - you know, to keep us all grounded.

March 7, 2011

Roy Or Super-Roy?

Apologies to Roy O, who is from Mississippi, not Alabama
Roy Oswalt gets the start today as the Phils pay a visit to the Yankees. We're so happy to have him as our third (third!) starter now, but did you know that a serious shoulder injury almost ended Little Roy's career way back in 1999? According to his own woefully-outdated website and Wikipedia:

"In 1999—when Oswalt was with the Class A Michigan Battle Cats in the Midwest League—he suffered an apparently serious shoulder injury. After a month of pain, Oswalt was convinced that his shoulder was torn. Shortly thereafter, he was checking the spark plug wires on his pickup truck. He touched one of the spark plug wires, causing the truck's engine to start. The truck's electric current flowed through Oswalt's body and the muscles in his hand tightened on the spark plug wire. Unable to let go of it, Oswalt grasped the wire for almost one minute. After the electric shock, Oswalt told his wife that his shoulder's condition improved and that he no longer felt any pain. According to Sports Illustrated, he reported it thus: 'My truck done shocked the fire out of me, and my arm don't hurt no more.'"

Ben Franklin would be proud!

Wow. We sure are glad that didn't kill you, Roy. Now just change the bio on your website so it doesn't say you hope to win a World Championship for the Astros, please. :(=

March 3, 2011

The Adventures of Carlos and Carlos and Carlos

Dear Carlos Ruiz,

Congratulations, bro! We were wondering why you'd missed a couple of spring training games, and then we heard that your wife back in Panama just had a baby son. And that you named him Carlos, just like yourself. And, uh, your eight-year-old son.

This got us thinking one thing: you could really use some new entrance music. I mean, Phil Collins? Really? What's your strategy there? I can't imagine the former Genesis singer is particularly intimidating to the opposing team's pitcher. Or is it the "American Psycho" connection? You're right—Christian Bale is pretty terrifying. But even he went with the crowd-pleasing "Sussudio" instead. And as a catcher, we thought you'd understand the value of a catchy entrance song more than almost anyone.

Okay, okay, we get it, you just really love Phil. No disrespect. I'm quite fond of him myself after hearing Starlee Kine's piece on "This American Life." But we were thinking maybe you could use another song that will remind you of something you love, while making the crowd at CBP feel just a little less awkward. Something simple, poppy, and nostalgic, perhaps? Something that'll take you back to your family in Panama, to Big Carlos and Little Carlos... Hey wait, I've got an idea:

Come back soon, Chooch! No matter what song you choose to walk out to this year, we really, really miss you. And so does Roy Halladay, in this incredibly adorable video:

Lots of love and best of luck to Mama Chooch, Chooch Jr., Baby Chooch, and to our favorite Chooch of all!

Come home soon!
Nadine and Lauren

March 2, 2011

Roy O Takes On the O's

Listen live as the Phillies take on the Orioles in a free webcast. Yes, 2010 MLB subscribers who should have renewed their subscriptions yesterday and cheapskates accustomed to following cartoon games on MLB Gameday, I'm serious. As for Roy O, not so serious:

Charles Schwab and Rich Dubee getting Roy O'd—still funny after all these beers. We should probably have a Photoshop contest now of different people getting Roy O'd, if someone hasn't done that already.

And while Nadine's talking baseball, which we so rarely do, how many games will Little Roy win this year? How will the aces rank by the end of the season? Discuss.

March 1, 2011

Matt F***ing Anderson

Matt Anderson was a #1 draft pick in 1997. Chain wallets and JNCO (Judge None, Choose One) jeans were all the rage and "MMMBop" was at the top of the charts. Mike Tyson bit Evander Holyfield's ear off and people thought that creepy dancing baby on Ally McBeal was entertainment. It makes you wonder, VH1, if anyone outside of Matt Anderson truly did love 1997.

My point is that while the strange time in American history known as the late 90s is long gone, Matt Anderson threw a perfect inning for the Phillies yesterday in their 6-3 win over the Toronto Blue Jays. The 34-year-old right-hander recorded one strikeout and hit 96 mph on the radar gun. After the game, he told reporters, "I figure I've still got a 103, 104, 105 left in me. I'm pretty excited about where I'm at."

Anderson was signed to a minor-league deal with the Phillies this past January, hasn't pitched in the majors since 2005, and hopes to eventually resign with "the best organization in baseball."

If this Cinderella story does come true, it'll be proof that Kenny Powers isn't the only one with the keys to the kingdom and an arm like a cannon, and an inspiration to us all.

In other news, Joe Blanton can pitch, Ben Francisco can hit, Chase Utley's prone to injury, and Cliff Lee is pitching today at 1:05 pm ET versus the Detroit Tigers. For those who won't be watching while they work, the saga continues with a replay at 8:00 pm.