October 2009

Impressive debut

Postseason Memories
Gary “Sarge” Matthews is in his third year as a Phillies broadcaster.  An outfielder, Sarge played 16 seasons in the majors with the Giants, Braves, Phillies (1981-83), Cubs and Mariners.   He was the NLCS MVP when the Phillies upended the Dodgers on this date in 1983.  His NLCS numbers: .429, 3 HR, 8 RBI.  One of his five children, Gary Jr., is an outfielder with the Angels to open their ALDS series against the Red Sox today.

What is your favorite memory of October baseball as a child?
“The New York Yankees always won when I was a kid.  Elston Howard was my favorite player.”

As a player, what was the biggest change between the regular season and postseason?
“I thought the intensity level was about the same.  But, there was so much more media to deal with.  Ticket requests from family and friends were off the chart.”

What is your fondest personal postseason memory?
“Winning the MVP is my individual memory.  As a team, we were dominated by the Dodgers that season and we got to beat them and advance to the World Series.”

Where were you when the Phillies won the World Series last October?
“I was in the broadcasting booth standing behind Harry.  Seeing and hearing him call the last out is something I will never forget.”

Postseason History
First World Series game and win for the Phillies happened on this date 94 years ago. Overall, Phils are 2-3 on this date.

Game 1 Recap
Most of the time the Phillies will beat you with their league-leading power bats.  Yesterday, no homers (wind took one away from Jayson) but all nine starters had hits and five different players drove in runs.  Another offensive weapon is their speed,  three stolen bases in five attempts.

Werth has a 10-game postseason hitting streak, second in club history to the Bull’s 13.

Impressive Debut
Cliff’s first postseason start was awash with firsts: win, hit, stolen base, complete game.  He faced 32 batters and threw 25 first-pitch strikes.  Cliff always runs to and from the mound.  It took him 10 seconds from the last out of the Phillies eighth inning to reach the mound for the top of the ninth.  Oh, first chants by the fans in that ninth:  LEE-LEE-LEE-LEE.

In print
Mike Lopresti, talented Gannett sports columnist:
“Nearly as entertaining as Lee’s pitching tutorial were groundskeepers occasionally chasing debris that the wind was blowing around the diamond.  They looked like men trying to corner a field mouse.”

Phillies Insider is on twitter as barons63.

Garber's postseason memories

(Gene Garber offers his postseason memories today)

A native of Lancaster County (PA), Garber was a relief pitcher with the Phillies from 1974 through 1978.  He also pitched for the Pirates, Royals and Braves.  Pitched in two NLCS with the Phillies (1976-77) and one with the Braves (1982).  Now, 61, he owns and operates a 400-acre farm.

What is your favorite memory of October baseball as a child?
“Listening to Don Larsen’s perfect game in 1956 with my father who stopped planting wheat, got off the tractor and listened to the last few innings with me.”

As a player, what was the biggest change between the regular season and postseason?
“The biggest difference was that there were only two division champs with only a five-game series to go to the World Series.”

What is your fondest personal postseason memory?
“My fondest postseason memory was a game that also turned into my greatest nightmare – Black Friday against the Dodgers in 1977.”

Where were you when the Phillies won the World Series last October?
“I was sitting in the stands at Citizens Bank Park with my family and as excited as everyone around me.  I was so happy for the organization, fans and Charlie and the players.”

Ballpark was quiet at 8 this morning.  Field covered for the overnight rain.  Phillies clubhouse was empty.  TBS crews were busy setting up their cameras.  The quietness won’t last long.

Phillies postseason record on this date isn’t the best, 2-5, including the Black Friday game Garber referred to.  Time to change our luck!


Phillies Insider is on twitter as barons63.


Postseason Memories

(Postseason Memories is a new feature that will appear here during the next few weeks.  Phillies Alumni and broadcasters and perhaps others will offer personal insights into their postseason memories. Leading off is John Kruk, who will throw out the ceremonial first pitch on Thursday afternoon).

“Krukker” (1989-94) was a first baseman who played in the postseason with the Phillies in 1993. He hit .250 in the NLCS and .348 in the World Series that fall.  His big league career also included the Padres (1986-89) and White Sox (1995).  Kruk, now 48, is an analyst of ESPN Baseball Tonight Show.

What is your favorite memory of October baseball as a child?
“Watching in 1977 Yankees/Dodgers World Series and Reggie Jackson hitting three home runs off of three different pitchers in Game 6.  Three guys who played in that World Series became teammates when I was in San Diego, Goose Gossage, Graig Nettles and Steve Garvey.”

As a player, what was the biggest change between the regular season and postseason?
“The biggest change was the amount of media covering the game and realizing that we were the only two teams standing when we got to the World Series.”

What is your fondest personal postseason memory?
“My fondest personal memory was without question Mitch striking out Bill Pecota at Veterans Stadium to put us in the World Series.  I had a great view standing at first base.”

Where were you when the Phillies won the World Series last October?
“I was on the set of Baseball Tonight getting ready to do a show at Citizen’s Bank Park and thinking about how excited my 6-year-old son (Kyle) was that his Phillies were the best team in the world.”

Busy Day
Both teams are working out this afternoon at Citizens Bank Park.  The Phillies are at 1, the Rockies at 2:30.  Workouts are not open to the public.  Interview room today will feature each manager and each Game 1 starting pitcher, four separate sessions for the media.

Ruben and his staff, plus Charlie and his staff will also meet to further discuss the NLDS roster.  It must be filed with MLB by 10 Wednesday morning.  Scouts Del Unser, Jim Fregosi Sr., Gordon Lakey and Craig Colbert, who have been scouting the Rockies, will be part of another meeting.  This crew then heads for the Yankees series.

Two Phillies Alumni will throw out the first ball on Wednesday, Geoff Jenkins and Dick Allen . . . In answer to an inquiry, MLB has decided to cancel the Rally Monday events that have been held right after the season the last few years . . . Questions about game times have also arisen.  Game times are decided by MLB and TBS.  Having two teams on the west coast helped complicate the scheduling . . . Sad news.  Barry Lersch, 65, who pitched for the Phillies from 1969-73, died of a massive heart attack in his Englewood, CO, home two days ago.  He was looking forward to seeing a game in Denver this weekend, according to his wife, Linda.
Phillies Insider is on twitter as barons63.


Time for a new season

The marathon season is over.  Time for three sprint seasons, Division Series (best-of-5), League Championship Series (7) and the World Series (7).

The four NL postseason teams begin the first leg on Wednesday.  TBS will televise all DS games.

Everyone is analyzing the Phillies chances of repeating as the World Champions, something that hasn’t happened with a National League club since the Cincinnati Reds of 1975-76.  It isn’t easy and the Phillies don’t seem to do things the easy way.

Do the Phillies have question marks?  Certainly.  Every club does.  There are no perfect teams.  What happened in the regular season is now in the record books.  A new season starts in two days.

One thing the Phillies have that other teams don’t, an angel in the sky.  Last year it was Charlie Manuel’s mother and Shane Victorino’s grandmother.  This year, Harry Kalas. 

Day Off
Charlie, his staff and the players have the day off.  Time to get away from the ballpark.

Phillies will work out at 1 Tuesday afternoon (workout is closed to the public).  Postseason means some changes from the norm.  During the season, media is allowed in the clubhouse 3.5 hours prior to game time until an hour before the game begins.  Now, the clubhouse is closed pre-game and open as usual post-game.  An interview room is arranged pre and post workouts and games to accommodate the media.

Phillies Insider is on twitter as barons63.



Record Decade, Season

Just think, Paul Hoover’s walk-off single completed the Phillies first decade of the 21st century! 

What a decade it has been for the Phillies.  They won 850 games, more than any other decade in their storied history (1970s produced 812 wins).  The average number of wins per season (85) is also best in club history (81 in 1970s).  Their winning percentage (.525) ranks second to the 1890s (.536).

The season also was a record-setter at the gate:

**3,600,693 season total at home.
**44,450 average per game.
**73 sellouts.
**42 consecutive sellouts.
**30 engagements during games.

There’s little doubt that Phillies fans are very passionate about their team and Citizens Bank Park.

So, a huge THANK YOU!

Phillies Insider is on twitter as barons63.


Getting Ready for the NLDS

With three games left in the regular season, the wheels are in motion for the National League Division Series.  The Phillies are in but still await the enemy.  A bundle of employees behind the scene are hopeful that will be determined soon.

Games 1, 2 and 3, if necessary, could be played at Citizens Bank Park next week.  Schedule calls for games on Wednesday and Thursday, and October 13.  Other two games are somewhere October 10 and 11.  Game times? To Be Determined.

Frank Coppenbarger handles all the team travel.  He’s got charter flights, hotels and busses lined up for three NL cities, St. Louis, Los Angeles and Denver.  He’s also set up for other postseason series. 

Chris Long schedules the pre-game field festivities: anthem singers, musical groups, ceremonial first balls, seventh-inning stretch singers, etc.  Her biggest dilemma?  When, where and what time are the games.

Once the season is over, head groundskeeper Mike Boekholder, will need to paint NLDS logos on the field before the first game.  When, where and what time are joined by weather concerns.  Tough to paint in the rain.

Tina Urban oversaw the design and manufacture of 42 colorful postseason banners that have been mounted on light poles surrounding Citizens Bank Park.  Christine Negley oversees the Phillies Division Series Magazine that will be available for home games.

Media accommodations come under the supervision of Bonnie Clark, head of the communications department.  NLDS media numbers are larger than opening day.  Those numbers grow significantly with each successive postseason series.

TBS, who will handle the national telecast of the NLDS, is standing by, waiting to move their trucks to some ballpark.

Merchandise is busy unpacking boxes of “NL East Champions” paraphernalia for the Majestic Clubhouse Store and the Mitchell & Ness Alley Store.  The Majestic Store has added tents to help accommodate Phillies fans hungry for postseason merchandise.

The events team is planning a rally that will take place prior to the first game on Citizens Bank Way.  Once again, when, where, what time.

Scott Brandreth, in addition to overseeing the merchandise empire, has ordered 140,000 rally towels.  The advertising department has lined up sponsors for the first two games, Teva Pharmaceuticals and Liscio’s Bakery & Holy Family University.

Then, there’s a little matter that needs attention: What 25 Phillies are on the NLDS roster?  Deadline is 10 a.m. of the first game day.  Don’t tell anyone but Jimmy Rollins will make it. 

Phillies Insider is on twitter as barons63.


Champs, Champagne, Classy Moves

The Sherwin-Williams clock at Citizens Bank Park registered 10:10 p.m. when the Braves’ lost, ending their drive to the NL East title.

One minute later, Brad threw one pitch, a grounder to Howard.  Ryan stepped on the bag for the final out, Brad pumped his fist in the air and the celebration was on.  Players hugged one another, the sellout crowd remained on its feet waving MyPhilTV rally towels, NL East Championship hats and t-shirts were given to the players and Phillie Phanatic appeared with a white 2009 banner that will now join the others above Ashburn Alley.  Oh, aerial fireworks were exploding.

For the third straight year, the Phillies are the beasts of the NL East.  We now have nine  NL East crowns. The first six all were settled on the road.  There’s magic in Citizens Bank Park.

From the field, the players went to the clubhouse for the usual champagne and beer fun.  That never gets old no matter how many times it happens.

One by one players appeared on the field to the delight of the remaining passionate fans.  At 10:18 p.m., PhanaVision showed a video of Harry Kalas singing “High Hopes” and everybody joined in.  That never gets old, either.

Classy Moves
**Needing one more out, Charlie brought in Brad.   Brad struggled during the season but he is needed postseason.  It may have been the biggest confidence boost Charlie could have done.

**The fans.  When Brad started trotting in from the bullpen, there were some low murmurs.  But the closer he got to the mound that changed and a loud ovation took over.  Phillies fans knew and understood.

**At 10:36 p.m., a group of players marched to the HK memorial sign on the left field wall.  They shared their champagne with Harry and touched the sign, some pausing and lowering their heads.  It was a true indication of the character of this very special group of human beings.

Phillies Insider is on twitter as barons63.