Yes, 2008 was a great year for the Phillies. Charlie Manuel’s World Championship team will never be forgotten, never. What a magical ride we took in October, ending with an emotional parade on Halloween. Philadelphia celebrated a championship and millions of fans shared in the joy.
Happy New Year . . . peace, prosperity and good health to everyone.
Oh, another World Series trophy would be nice.
No, 2009 baseball’s season isn’t about to begin but something big is coming at 6 o’clock Thursday evening…the MLB Network. Happy New Year for baseball junkies!
MLB Network will appear in approximately 50 million homes, the largest network debut in cable history. The new network recently launched MLBNetwork.com. Check out the “Channel Locator” on the home page to learn where the network can be seen in your area. (MLB Network will be available on major systems including Comcast, Cox, DirecTV, Time Warner, Charter, Cablevision and Verizon FiOS).
Among the highlights:
**Hot Stove is a live, nightly off-season studio show. It will feature news, reports, and analysis of the moves clubs are making and planning in preparation for the 2009 season. Hot Stove is the lead-off hitter on Friday night, a one-hour show, followed by Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series.
**MLB Tonight, a live studio show that will air each Monday-Saturday night during the baseball season (6 o’clock ET until the last game ends).The show will air during the off-season at 7:00 p.m. ET Monday through Friday.
**Other weekly shows include Prime 9 (Mondays), AL and AL Awards Shows (Wednesdays), Baseball Seasons (Wednesdays).
**Specials include the Hall of Fame announcement (Jan. 12) and Pride and Perseverance: The Story of the Negro Leagues (Jan. 19).
**26 games will be televised live during the season.
There are some “Phillies connections:”
**One of the Studio hosts is Victor Rojas, son of former Phillies infielder Cookie Rojas (1963-69). Victor’s experience in the game has been as broadcaster with the Diamondbacks and Rangers.
**Analysts will include Mitch (Wild Thing) Williams and Dan Plesac, a pair of Phillies Alumni. Dan is part of Veterans Stadium history: the last Phillies pitcher on the mound in the final game of 2003.
**Studio 42 (named in honor Jackie Robinson) features a 25-foot out-of-town scoreboard modeled after the scoreboard at Citizens Bank Park. Scores will be updated in real-time.
**Citizens Bank Park and all other MLB parks, will have two MLB Network cameras installed. The cameras will be controlled from the MLB Network studios in Secaucus, N.J., in order to fully realize the potential of MLB Tonight. These “Ballpark Cams” will be used for live pre- and post-game interviews with players and other subjects, as well as for live “look-ins” during games.
**Jimmy Rollins will be a guest on the Hot Stove show (Friday, 7 p.m.).
**Prime 9 leads off Monday with All-Time Centerfielders at 8 o’clock, followed by All-Time Home Runs 30 minutes later. Will Richie Ashburn be among the top 9 centerfielders? Will Mike Schmidt be in the All-Time Home Runs top 9?
**Cathedrals of the Game will focus on ballparks and Citizens Bank Park will be featured for 30 minutes (Monday, 9:30 p.m.).
The Wild Thing is moving up in the media world.
Mitch Williams, a closer who pitched for the Phillies from 1991-93, has joined the new Major League Baseball TV Network that launches at 6 p.m. ET on January 1.
Mitch will be one of several studio analysts as MLB Network rivals ESPN’s Baseball Tonight Show.
Mitch has been involved with the electronic media in Philadelphia, as a post-game analyst on Comcast SportsNet’s shows after Phillies games, a 30-minute talk show on WPHT radio before Phillies games and an occasional guest on WIP radio.
More about the MLB network in a day or two.
’Twas the eve of another holiday season in the Phillies’ home,
Not a creature was stirring, not even the big green drone
Pinstriped uniforms were once hung with care
But now the clubhouse is totally bare
Instead there is an electric train and a decorated tree
Creating a beautiful picture of holiday glee
In the stands where the fans used to cheer
All is totally quiet to anyone’s ear
From Phillie Phanatic to Bull’s BBQ
Nothing could be spotted from anyone’s view
Charlie’s crew gave us the utmost thrill in ’08,
Winning a World Championship, oh so great
Now, there’s a new piece of jewelry in sight,
A World Series Trophy which sparkles so bright
While nestling in for a long winter’s nap
One realized something big again is on tap
Jimmy, Ryan, Chase, Brett, Brad, Shane and Cole
Will soon be back in the field ready to roll
One can hardly wait for spring training to start
But until then, there’s only one thing on the chart
Goosebumps from a typical Harry Kalas call:
”Happy Holidays to one and all!”
(During this time of the year, I like to share a humorous rendition of the “Twelve Days of Christmas.” I first read it some 40 years ago in a Wilmington News-Journal column, “Ala Carte”, written by Al Cartwright, the paper’s sports editor. Al was my mentor at the paper before I joined the Phillies in 1963. I chuckle every time I read it. Hope you enjoy it).
Legendary letters written by Agnes Hollister to her beau:
When I answered the doorbell today, the postman delivered a partridge in a pear tree! What a thoroughly delightful gift! I couldn’t have been more surprised.
With deepest love, Your Aggie.
JOHN, YOU DARLING MAN!
Today, the postman brought your very sweet gift–two turtle doves! I’m delighted at your thoughtfulness. They are just adorable. The partridge likes them, too.
All my love, Aggie.
Oh! Aren’t you the extravagant one! I really must protest, though, John. I really don’t deserve such generosity–three French hens! They are just darling, but I must insist: you’ve been TOO kind.
Today, the postman delivered four calling birds. Now really. They are beautiful birds, but don’t you think enough is enough? You’re being too romantic. Besides, the partridge, the turtle doves and the French hens have eaten all the pears. You dear silly boy, you!
What a surprise! Today, five golden rings–one for each finger! You’re impossible, but I love it. Frankly, all the birds squawking were beginning to get on my nerves.
All my love, Your Aggie.
When I opened the door this morning, there were six geese a-laying on my front steps. So you’re back to the birds again, eh? These geese are huge. Where will I ever keep them? The neighbors are already complaining and I hate to think what will happen when the goose eggs hatch. I can’t sleep through the racket now. Please stop, John.
What’s with you and the birds? Seven swans-a-swimming!!! What kind of joke is this, you sickie? The whole house is full of feathers and broken goose eggs and this zoo is so noisy I couldn’t sleep even if my bed wasn’t full of you-know-what. It’s not funny, so if you’ve got any more birds up your sleeves, you know what you can do with them.
I mean it, A. H.
I think I prefer the birds. What in God’s name am I going to do with all these eight maids a-milking? It’s not enough with all those birds messing, but eight maids had to bring their eight cows! I’m trapped and I can hardly breathe. Lay off, wise guy!
YOU ROTTEN MONSTER!
Nine ladies dancing, eh? How dare you call them ladies? The Health Department has subpoenaed me to show cause why the whole building shouldn’t be condemned. The Vice Squad is staking out the place. If I ever catch you around here again–well, have you ever been skulled by a pear tree?
One Who Means It.
The cops are coming for you, as soon as they finished rounding up those 10 lords a-leaping. The place looks like the Gong Show. All 23 of the birds are dead–trampled by the lords. I hope you’re satisfied, you low-life.
You Know Who
What are you–some kind of sadist? Now there are 11 pipers piping! And geez, do they play–even without the pipes. They’ve never stopped chasing the milkmaids since they got here yesterday morning. Some of them even chased the cows, so the cows got panicky and stepped all over the deceased birds. There are feathers and milk flying all over the house and the aroma has killed the pear tree. The neighbors have entered a petition to evict me.
You’ll get yours! A. Hollister.
DEAR MR CID:
This is to acknowledge your latest gift of 12 drummers drumming which you saw fit to inflict upon our client, Ms. Agnes Hollister.
Any further correspondence with Ms. Hollister should be addressed in care of this law firm, inasmuch as the destruction of her residence was, of course, total.
Please do not attempt to make personal contact with our client, as Ms. Hollister has given explicit instructions to her attendants at Happy Dale Sanitarium to shoot you on sight. Fatally.
Naturally, you are being sued, entered jointly by Ms. Hollister, the Postal Service, the Department of Health, the U. S. Department of Agriculture, the Federal Immigration Office, United Parcel Service and the Humane Society. The State Department of Mental Health is instituting a separate action with a different objective in mind.
Very truly yours,
Badger, Bender, Loophole & Mulford.
Yep, the World Baseball Classic is back in spring training.
Clearwater, specifically Bright House Field, will serve as the home of Team USA, one of 16 teams from across the globe that will compete in the tournament that runs from March 5 through the 23rd.
All WBC players must report to their National Teams on March 2. For the USA, practice will take place at Bright House Field. Whether the workouts will be open to the public is yet to be decided.
On March 4, we play the Canadian team at 1:05 p.m. at Bright House. The next day, March 5, we’ll face the US team at 12:05 p.m., also in Clearwater. Tickets for individual Clearwater games will go on sale on January 9, but 3-Packs in spring training are on sale now.
Former Phillie Davey Johnson will manage the USA squad. Mike Schmidt will be the third base coach.
Chase Utley played in the WBC in 2006 and loved the experience. Because of his hip rehab program, he won’t be able to participate this year.
Rosters will be announced in early February. According to Paul Hagen in the Philadelphia Daily News today, Brad and Cole have declined invitations, while Jimmy and Ryan are thinking about it. Potential players from the Phillies on other rosters include Carlos Ruiz (Panama), J. R. Romero (Puerto Rico), Matt Stairs (Canada), Brad Harmon (Australia), Pedro Feliz (Dominican Republic), Carlos Carrasco (Venezuela).
Always looking for players, yesterday we announced that 10 minor league free agent players will be coming to our major league spring training camp, which by the way, opens seven weeks from this coming Saturday. Seven weeks until baseball!
Chances are most of the 10 will wind up in our minor league system, probably the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. But, one never knows.
Over the course of a baseball season, and sometimes in spring training, injuries happen. That’s where these non-roster players can enter the picture. Last season when Mike Cervenak and Andy Tracy spent time with the big league club.
In 2004, one of the names was Chris Coste and we all know how that turned out. He’s certainly contributed.
Phillie Phanatic appearances for 2008: 516. Despite that, he/she/it hasn’t lost one ounce of fat.
No matter who you talked to, clubhouse employees at the Mariners, writers from there, Seattle club officials and former teammates, all said Raul Ibanez is someone special, a “Jim Thome-type person.”
We got to experience that first-hand yesterday during a press conference at Citizens Bank Park. Alden Gonzalez captured it well on this site.
Two years ago in spring training, Pat Gillick felt that there was character in the Phillies clubhouse. “Character can carry you a long way when up have the ups and downs of a season,” he explained. We all know that that character carried the club to the 2008 World Championship and Ibanez will fit in perfectly.
While in town for some appearances, Charlie Manuel and Melissa, his fiancé, spent most of Tuesday is his Citizens Bank Park office. Together, they had a system for addressing holiday cards to friends and family. Melissa addressed the envelopes and Charlie signed the cards.
Charlie has spent about “8-9 days” at his Winter Haven home since Halloween. He’s not complaining. “Everywhere you go, restaurants, shipping, airports, airplanes, walking down the street, fans say ‘Thank you.’ There are Phillies fans wearing our colors everywhere. I knew we had fans but never this many,” he said.
He headed back home today but will return next month for more appearances, including some club functions.
Today is our ninth annual holiday dinner at Our Brother’s Place Homeless Facility in center city.
Members of the front office provided and prepared the meal: 23 turkeys, 28 containers of mashed potatoes, vegetables and more vegetables, rolls, salads and deserts.
Serving the food were David Montgomery, Ruben Amaro Jr., Milt Thompson, Larry Andersen, Dickie Noles, Bill Giles, Scott Palmer and Gene Dias.
“I’ve done this for years and learned it isn’t speed that is the most important, it is location, just as Jamie Moyer says,” philosophized Giles. “If that’s the case, why am I pouring gravy on the cranberry sauce?”
In addition, Phillies Charities, Inc., presented a $10,000 check to Our Brother’s Place Homeless Facility.
The new left fielder arrived in town today.
Raul Ibanez was a hot free agent item this off-season with the Angels, Cubs, Mets and Braves in pursuit. ESPN.com reported he sent signals through friends that the Phillies were his first choice.
Last Friday, Ruben Amaro Jr. and his staff agreed to terms with the lefty hitter. A physical exam this morning finalized the deal.
For the last four seasons, Raul averaged .288, 90 runs, 176.5 hits, 35.7 doubles, 24.2 homers and 106.7 RBI. And, he’s durable, playing in 632 of the Mariners’ last 648 games.
Media and bloggers are quick to point out the Phillies are now over-loaded with left-handed bats. Well, there are three: Raul, Chase and Ryan. Shane and J-Roll are switch-hitters. Last time I looked, the Mets had Schneider, Delgado, Church and three-to-four switch-hitters. So much for over-load.
Plus, the majority of starting pitchers are right-handers. In our division right now, the Nationals have the most lefty starters, three.
Lee Elia has spent 47 of his 71 years in the game of professional baseball. He’s seen Raul from his rookie days through last season when Elia served as a special assistant to the Seattle manager. Elia’s scouting report:
“Quiet guy, but a real gamer and a true professional. Made himself into a top-of-the-line ballplayer. Very accomplished hitter, tremendous worker, so much so that sometimes you need to back him off. He has power and hit a lot of balls at Safeco Field that would have been out of many other parks.
“Lefties? He hits them well. A Very smart defensive player with an accurate arm, not a cannon, but accurate. You won’t have to lift him for defense late in the game.
“Simply, he was the heart and soul of our club,” concluded Elia.
Can’t wait for PA announcer Dan Baker to bark, “Now batting, # 29, left-fielder Raul (rah-OOL) Ibanez (ee-BAHN-yez).”
Let’s see. It is Monday (brilliant deduction). What’s the news today?
Well, the PR department arranged for Chase Utley to meet the media this afternoon. Idea was a post-op update from Chase, head athletic trainer Scott Sheridan and Ruben Amaro Jr. Media room needed to be arranged with a three-microphone head table.
Arrangements were made so the press briefing could also be carried live on phillies.com and also on Comcast SportsNet, Philadelphia.
When Chase came into the room, he limped, smiled and then walked normally to the table. He responded to questions for 15 minutes. Basically, barring a setback, he hopes to be ready for the start of the season but said he will proceed rehabbing with caution. He and Sheridan’s staff (Mark Andersen and Dong Lien) monitor a program Chase goes through daily.
Chase will head for his California home for the holidays and then return to Citizens Bank Park to continue the rehab in early January.
The briefing turned into more news.
Ruben announced that we have come to an agreement with Jamie Moyer. Jamie was in Florida and couldn’t be here for the announcement so the PR department arranged for a conference call with him later in the day.
Ruben also confirmed that we have agreed to a tentative contract with veteran right-handed pitcher Chan Ho Park, pending a physical.
Park held a press conference in Seoul earlier today saying he would be with the Phillies. According to the Korean Times, five teams had contacted Park, the Giants, Diamondbacks, Royals, Blue Jays and Phillies.
“I selected Philadelphia because they are the World Series Champions and have high expectations for a playoff berth next season,” Park was quoted in the Times.
With Moyer, 46, and Park, 35, we’ve stabilized the pitching staff with a couple of proven veterans. Park can start (1-0, 2.16 ERA, 5 starts) and relieve (3-4, 3.84, 49 games), something he did well for the Dodgers last season.
As far as Raul Ibanez, “We will have something for you tomorrow,” said the GM.
Any more player moves? “We’re always working on improving the ballclub, basically depth in the pitching staff and bench,” he responded. Over 40 players were non-tendered contracts for 2009 on Friday night. “We’ve made contact with 20 or so.”
Other news? Brad and Lindsay Lidge became parents of a son, Rowan Thomas, last week, a very precious holiday present. Avery can now help take care of her baby brother.
So, any news today?
With the expected arrival of Raul Ibanez, the career of Pat Burrell in Phillies pinstripes appears to be over. Both are leftfielders.
The 32-year-old Burrell came to town as the overall first pick in the 1998 draft out of the University of Miami. He left with his name etched in the Phillies all-time record book. Consider:
Home runs, 251, ranking him behind Del Ennis (259) and Mike Schmidt (548).
RBI, 7th (827).
Extra-base hits, 8th (518).
Sacrifice flies, 8th (42).
Walks, 5th (785)
Strikeouts, 2nd (1,273).
Yes, Pat struck out but all sluggers do. Ryan Howard will some day pass Pat.
Some day, too, Pat will be back to be inducted into the Phillies Wall of Fame. His career certainly entitles him to that honor.
Pat will surface with another team and we wish him well. His last hit as a Phillie led to the decisive run that gave us the World Championship. We’ll always remember that and much more about Pat.
Thanks for the memories.