September 2007

Utley at First Base

September 9, 2007

Today’s Lineup
Rollins, ss; Iguchi, 2b; Burrell, lf; Utley, 1b; Rowand, cf; Werth, rf; Ruiz, c; Nunez, 3b; Moyer, p.

Charlie Manuel is giving Ryan Howard, who is in a 2-for-15 mixup, the day off.  Well, perhaps not the entire day but he’s not in the starting lineup.  Chase Utley is playing first base for the first time since July 9 a year ago, Pirates at Citizens Bank Park.

Normally at 10:30 on a Sunday morning, most of the Phillies are on the field stretching prior to batting practice.  Reporting time today was posted as 11:45 am. after yesterday’s game. 

Aaron Rowand is always one of the first players to arrive.  He was joined this morning at that time by Greg Dobbs, Antonio Alfonseca, Kyle Lohse, Francisco Rosario and Jamie Moyer.  Within a half hour, many more arrived.

There’s no batting practice on the field for either team today as the Phillies Home Run Derby Championships are taking place, 9:30 to 12 noon.  50 youngsters, 7-15 years of age, are in the finals.

The annual hitting contest reaches more than 22,000 children during the summer.  Acme and Skippy Peanut Butter are the sponsors.

Rowand will present the trophies to the champions at 1.

Stepping Up
Its no secret, consistent pitching will be the key during the Phillies’ run for October baseball.

John Ennis and Clay Condrey really stepped up yesterday, allowing just one run in 6.1 combined innings.  When Ennis left the game in the fifth, he received an ovation from the 38,559, the loudest cheer for an Ennis in his town since Del played here in the 1950s.

Remembering Whitey
Today is the 10th anniversary of the death of Richie “Whitey” Ashburn, the most beloved athlete ever to play in this city.

GM Lee Thomas called me around 4 a.m. with the sad news 10 years ago.  Anytime the GM calls at that hour, you know the news isn’t good.

Dan Stephenson, the talented Phillies videographer, is currently working on a 60-minute video (plus bonus footage) of Ashburn.  It should be on sale in December.  Stay tuned.

The video includes some exclusive home movies that were taken by Whitey.  Video Dan and Richard Ashburn, one of Whitey’s sons, visited Tilden, NE, Ashburn’s home this summer.  We all heard stories from Whitey about Tilden but for many, this will be the first glimpse of his hometown.

In honor of today’s anniversary, Phillies Charities, Inc., is presenting a $10,000 check pre-game today to the Ashburn Foundation, which sends inner-city youngsters to baseball camps every summer.

"Old" Lineup Returns

September 8, 2007

Today’s Lineup
Rollins ss; Victorino, rf; Utley, 2b; Howard, 1b; Burrell, of; Rowand, cf; Dobbs, 3b; Coste, c; Ennis, p.

Aaron left last night’s game after the fourth inning with a left hip strain.  It was thought he may not start tonight but he’s back in there.  He’s as tough as those professional bull riders.

Today’s lineup, the first six hitters followed by third base and the catcher, is the one that was used during the early part of the season.  The last time Charlie Manuel wrote in this order was June 5. 

Pat Burrell has 15 homers and 47 RBI since the All-Star break . . . Phillies defense contributed to three unearned runs last night . . . 78 Phillies errors have led to 47 unearned runs . . . The Marlins have committed 112 errors and 83 unearned runs, both NL highs . . . Rockies lead NL with fewest errors, 61 . . . Marlins have 9-7 edge over Phillies.

FOX TV Tomorrow

September 7, 2007

Tonight’s Lineup
Rollins, ss; Utley, 2b; Burrell, of; Howard, 1b; Rowand, cf; Dobbs, 3b; Werth, rf; Ruiz, c; Durbin, p.

Coin Flip
MLB conducted a coin flip of National League teams this afternoon for potential Division ties and Wild Card ties. 

Basically, a tie involving the Phillies and Mets (Division) or Cubs (wild card) will mean a one-game playoff on Monday, October 1, at Citizens Bank Park.   Other wild card games involving the Phillies will be on the road. 

The Mets scenario is a bit more complicated than a coin flip but we’ll worry about that later.

Latino Legends Award
Larry Rojas, who has been and with the Phillies since 1971, is being presented with the annual Phillies Latino Legends Award before tonight’s game.

While he has never set foot in the major leagues, Larry is a legend when it comes to player development in the Phillies organization.  Overall, he’s been in pro baseball for 46 years.

Along the way, he has coached and managed in the minors, served as a roving infield instructor, field coordinator, special assignment scout, area scout and Director of Instruction/Latin American Scouting.  He is still active in Clearwater as the Latin Liaison/Professional Coverage Scout.

In 1985, Larry underwent a heart transplant and like the Energizer bunny, he keeps going and going.  Larry is an amazing person, very dedicated, very knowledgeable and very tough.  He’s one of the many unsung heroes who spends endless hours behind the scenes.

Attendance Note
With school back in session, there are tickets available for this homestand and all the remaining September games. 

National TV
Tomorrow’s game (3:55 p.m., EDT) will be one of three national telecasts on FOX.  The others: Twins at White Sox and Dodgers at Giants. 

Broadcasters here tomorrow are Matt Devlin, Joe Girardi and Ken Rosenthal.

FOX as the right to change the starting time of Saturday games the final two weeks of the season, depending upon the impact of those games in the races.  The Phillies’ final two Saturdays are against the Nationals.  Stay tuned.

Hard to Believe

September 6, 2007

Hard to believe.  Yes, yesterday’s gut-wrenching loss was hard to believe.  A week ago today the Phillies had swept the Mets with an exciting come-from-behind win.  Hard to believe that six days after that high we would be so low.

A reader responded about another typical Phillies September swoon.  I understand and welcome opinions, but there are teams that aren’t in a position to swoon.  Their seasons ended long before the final month. 

The Phillies have played very few meaningless games in September over the last three-four years.  There are more meaningful games ahead, starting tomorrow night as the Marlins begin a seven-game homestand.  We need to reverse last weekend’s 1-2 record against Florida. 

Home Cooking
The Phillies have the best home record among NL East clubs, 39-29, including 4-2 vs. the Marlins.

Chasing a Batting Title
Chase Utley is in the running for the NL batting title.  Entering today’s brief NL schedule, Chase is hitting .341 with Atlanta’s Edgar Renteria (coming off the DL soon) second at .336.  Colorado’s Matt Holliday is third (.334).  Holliday and the Rockies have a four-game series at Citizens Bank Park starting on Monday.

Utley also leads all NL hitters in home batting average (.394).  Other Utley numbers: day games (.350), night games (.337), vs. RHP (.336), vs. LHP (.350).

Phillies Batting Champions
1891 Billy Hamilton  .338
1899 Ed Delahanty  .408
1910 Sherry Magee  .331
1929 Lefty O’Doul  .398
1933 Chuck Klein  .368
1947 Harry Walker  .363
1955 Richie Ashburn  .338
1958 Richie Ashburn  .350

Bounce Ability Needed

September 4, 2007

Back from the Labor Day holiday break.  The Phillies certainly labored during this past weekend.

As well as things went in the Mets’ sweep, they disappeared this weekend.  The pitching couldn’t hold the Marlins and yesterday, the Phils came out flat in losing in Atlanta.  Perhaps Sunday’s loss carried over.

But, as Paul Owens often said, you need “bounce ability” in this game.  We need it tonight.  Twenty-five more games, including 13 at Citizens Bank Park.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Ruben Amaro Jr. will interview this week for the vacant GM position with the Houston Astros . . . Cole Hamels will see Dr. Michael Ciccotti later this week . . . The Clearwater Threshers won the second-half title in the Florida State League West Division. They begin a best-of-three series tonight at Bright House Networks Field against the Sarasota Reds, winners of the first half.  Winner advances to a best-of-five championship series . . . Except for the Williamsport Crosscutters, the seasons have ended for the other Phillies minor league teams.  Williamsport’s season ends Friday night.