(During this time of the year, I like to share a humorous rendition of the “Twelve Days of Christmas.” I first read it some 45 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 N-J 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.
OK, there are a few more shopping days left this week.
This just in…..one of the hottest selling items in the Phillies world is the new cookbook: “From Our Home to Yours, A Collection of Phillies Recipes.” Over 500 copies were shipped today by the merchandize department staff. Volunteers were needed to process the orders.
You’ll get recipes from the players and staff, from Danny Baez (“Cuban-style chicken fricassee) to Shane Victorino (chicken katsu). Plus inside information such as their favorites restaurant, who does the cooking in the family and a player’s traditional pre-game or post-game meal or snack.
When asked who does the cooking in his household, Chase replied, “Hahaha…next question.” Guess he answered it.
Phillies photographer Miles Kennedy did all photographic work, all outstanding poses. Ryan Madson is wearing a white chef’s hat and apron; Sara (wife) and Ella (daughter) are wearing white aprons. Twin sons (Luke and Ryan) are wearing red chef’s hats and red aprons. Their recipe: “chicken tacos with green sauce.”
Oh, don’t worry, not all the recipes are chicken oriented.
Proceeds will benefit the Covenant House Pennsylvania, a shelter for homeless, runaway or at-risk youth. Just another way that the Phillies are reaching out to the community.
The Majestic Clubhouse Store at Citizens Bank Park will be open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday. Ordering online or by phone (1-877-GO-PHILS) at this late date may not make it in time for Christmas day but getting gifts after the holiday is more normal than unusual. Well, I’ve been known to deliver late Christmas gifts so I must be normal.
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote how quiet it was at Citizens Bank Park. Well, this place is buzzing today.
Cliff Lee’s return to Philly became official at a major press conference this afternoon. The Media Room was packed. 17 TV cameras, over a dozen still photographers and a rows of reporters. It was carried live by MLB.com, MLB Network and Comcast SportsNet.
The ticket office is selling Six-Pack ticket plans in record numbers. The Majestic Clubhouse store was shoulder-to-shoulder with fans looking for Lee memorabilia.
Around 1 this afternoon, official Lee t-shirts arrived, #33. Authentic jerseys with his name and numb from Majestic should be here later tonight or first thing Thursday morning. But, the store is capable of putting that info on a jersey in a few minutes. That process was continuous throughout the afternoon.
The team’s commemorative coffee table book that came out in May (Phillies: An Extraordinary Tradition) is a hot seller this holiday season. Well, Lee’s photo is among the montage on the cover (lower left corner). Must be honest, that cover was designed over a year ago.
December 16, 2009, Lee was traded, setting off a wave of unhappy emotions by fans and the pitcher himself. Now, he’s back where he wanted to be. Phillies fans and Lee couldn’t be happier. He talked about the passion of Phillies fans and how that impacted his decision.
Ruben said it would be a quiet winter meetings and it was. But, the week after, WOW. He delivered a surprising, shocking, stunning free agent signing. Sort of like POW.
As everyone has written or said, the Phillies now have the premier starting pitching in the NL. Folks in San Francisco would argue and they have that right because they are the World Champions, mainly because of their pitching.
Yes, pitching is the key to winning a championship. Ruben acknowledged that pitching and defense are so key.
Some people say it is the greatest foursome in baseball history. That may be a stretch as they haven’t thrown a pitch. Others say in modern history.
They’ve been called the Fearsome Foursome, Fabulous Foursome, Four Horsemen. Undoubtedly, they are the best this franchise has ever had.
20 years ago in the Phillies Phantasy camp, one of my teammates was a pitcher named Kurt. He sent an e-mail yesterday: “Halladay, Lee, Hamels, Oswalt….is that legal?” Good question.
The depth of four outstanding starters also makes it possible to survive the nicks and bruises that pitchers can experience during a long journey of a season. That’s a plus.
Lee’s signing has certainly created a buzz among the fans and media be it print, electronic or the online universe. It also pushed the Eagles to the side as they prepare for a first-place showdown with the Giants.
59 days until spring training. It will be cool to see the rotation of #33-34-35 and 44. Can imagine how many photo requests will come their way.
We’re living the greatest era in the 127 years of this franchise and it just got better.
The winter meetings are history. Ruben indicated it might be a quiet time for the Phillies and it turned out that way. Oh, Gillick being a Hall of Famer was great news but on the player front, it was quiet.
Other teams went bonkers with some of the contracts but that’s their business.
The Rule 5 draft ended the meetings this morning and the Phillies took a versatile infielder, Michael Martinez, from the Washington organization. He will need to stay with the big club the entire season or be offered back to the Senators.
A year ago, we grabbed reliever David Herndon. He stayed the entire year and now, if he doesn’t make the big club in spring training, can be sent to the minors for further schooling.
Martinez is a switch-hitter who can play the middle infield positions. Going into the draft, Wilson Valdez was a lock as a spare middle infielder and then the door was open for a second such type player. So, Martinez will get a good look in Clearwater.
The Phillies have had some success in drafting players during the Rule 5 draft. Shane is the most current and prominent player to come to Philly that route. Third baseman Dave Hollins was another.
For you Senior Citizens out there, reliever Jack Baldshun and catcher Clay Dalrymple were drafted in the same draft.
Ruben is still working on beefing up the bullpen. Right field appears to come from within.
Wirth is gone and a couple other right-handed hitting outfielders are off the free agent market, so Ben Francisco heads the candidates to replace Werth. Jayson was a talented player with multiple tools and he will be missed. But, time and the game marches on.
Prior to coming to the Phillies, Werth’s last year as a “regular” was 2005 with the Dodgers: 102 games, .234 average, 22 doubles, 7 homers, 43 RBI, 114 strikeouts. The 102 games were the most he’d played in the majors.
Francisco’s last season in which he played over 100 games was 2008 with Cleveland: .266, 121 games, 32 doubles, 15 homers, 54 RBI, 86 strikeouts.
When someone exits, it opens the door for someone else.
First baseman Art Mahan, the oldest living Philies player, died yesterday ag age 97. He played one season with the Phillies, 1940, and hit .244 in 146 games.
Our thoughts and prayers are extended to the Mahan family during this sad time.
Outfielder Alex Pitko, 96, is now the oldest living Phillie. He played one year with the Phillies, 1938.
Not so good news Sunday night was followed by great news Monday as baseball’s winter meeting began in Disney World, the world where everything seems like a fantasy.
Jayson got a fantasy contract from the Nationals which means he’ll face the Phillies 18 times a year now. That shocking announcement came Sunday night. His first appearance against the Phillies will be in DC on April 12. His return to Citizens Bank Park will be May 3rd. Sure he’ll receive a favorable fan response as did Pat Burrell.
Then, yesterday, the Hall of Fame announced that Pat Gillick was the newest member. What great news. Funny, Gillick picked Werth off the scrap heap three years ago after Jayson missed the entire 2006 season with a hand injury.
Best line on the enormous Werth contract came from Mets’ GM Sandy Alderson: “I thought they’re trying to reduce the deficit in Washington.”
Then, today, we learned that veteran Daily News columnist, Bill Conlin, will receive the J. G. Taylor Spink Award during the Hall of Fame induction weekend (July 22-25). The award, named after the founder of The Sporting News, is voted upon annually by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America since 1962 and honors a baseball writer for “meritorious contributions to baseball writing.”
Other Philadelphia media who have won this award include the late Allen Lewis (Inquirer), Ray Kelly (Evening Bulletin) and Bus Saidt (Trentonian and Trenton Times). Conlin began covering the Phillies in 1966.
Once again, Cooperstown will have Philly flavor.
Citizens Bank Park a quiet place?
Well, if you are looking for baseball games and sold out crowds, it is quiet.
But the offseason is still an active time.
The Majestic Clubhouse store is open for Phillies fans looking for holiday (or Halladay) gifts. Plenty to choose from.
This weekend, the store will be buzzing with the annual two-day Holiday Sale & Food Drive. Included is the lighting of the Christmas tree by the Third Base Gate on Saturday. Who will have the honor of turning on the lights? None other than Jimmy Rollins and Phanta Claus.
Popular Six-Pack ticket packages went on sale this week. Another great holiday gift.
You’ve probably never heard of Bram Reynolds and Carolyn White. They head Global Spectrum, the company that maintains Citizens Bank Park. At this time of the year, winterization of the park is underway. For example, all water in the Suites has been shut off. Same for the Terrace Level. Pressure washing the concession stands and ballpark is rounding third base to the finish line.
Through Special Events various parts of the ballpark are booked. The Diamond Club, Hall of Fame Club, Media Room and Executive Dining Room are available for functions.
Last month, 37 events were held in the park, the most ever for one month. You name it….engagement photo-ops, wedding receptions, meetings, Eagles tailgate parties, birthday parties, holiday parties, Bar Mitzvahs.
Ballpark tours continue during the offseason, Monday through Saturdays. The behind-the-scenes tours include the Phillies clubhouse which is decorated for the holiday season.
Before you know it, the Phillies and Astros will open the 2011 season at the park. Another sell out. Only 116 days until then, April 1, to be specific. No foolin’.
Five minor league prospects were recently promoted to the big club’s 40-man roster, which means they aren’t subject to the Rule 5 draft next week at the winter meetings and they will be in camp with the big boys in three months.
For a scouting report, we checked in with Chuck LaMar, assistant GM, Player Development & Scouting. Chuck’s office is located on the second floor of the newly-renovated Carpenter Field clubhouse in Clearwater. He’s on the south side of the building which gives him a view of Bright House Field. Not too shabby.
His view on the five prospects:
RH reliever Justin DeFratus: “Continues to impress. Had had back-to-back good years development-wise. Was outstanding in the AFL. He’s placed himself as a candidate for AAA in spring training while at the same time raising some eyebrows in the big league camp. He has outstanding stuff and outstanding make-up for a reliever.”
SS Freddy Galvis: “Superb fielder. Needs to continue to impress at-bat. Good work ethics, good instincts. He’s a major league shortstop right now defensively.”
2B Harold Garcia: “Coming off an outstanding season. Another player with outstanding make-up and work ethic. He’s primarily a second baseman and that’s where he’ll play in 2011. But, he’s very athletic. During the FIL, he experimented by playing him in the outfield, shortstop and third base. We’ll continue to see how he fits in at other positions.”
2B Cesar Hernandez: “Very good athletic ability. Has some plus tools, including speed. Has shown the ability to hit in four minor league seasons, all on the lower level. We project him to play second in A ball next summer. He’s currently holding his own in the Venezuela Winter League. Even though he only played in a short-season rookie level (Williamsport) in 2010, we didn’t want to take a chance to lose him in the Rule 5 draft. He has enough tools that a club could carry him for a year.”
1B Matt Rizzotti: “Hit himself out of the Florida State League and was outstanding in AA before moving to AAA in 2010. He also did very well in the AFL. Continues to work on his defensive skills. Has the ability to put the bat on the ball, using all field. He turned himself around with a strenuous workout program last winter. He’s earned the right to go to camp with the big club in February.”
Phillies Alumni keep coming back.
Last year, Mark Parent returned as the Phillies’ manager at Lakewood. He’s moving up to Reading in 2011. Three second basemen got in line recently: Juan Samuel (major league coach), Ryne Sandberg (Lehigh Valley manager) and Mickey Morandini (Williamsport manager).
Two other former Phillies second basemen are also looking for jobs: Manny Trillo and Mariano Duncan.
Monday: OF Alex Pitko turned 96, the second oldest Phillies Alumnus. He played in 1938. The day also saw Greg Luzinski turn 60. Soon a senior citizen will be manning Bull’s BBQ.
Thanksgiving this year means three former Phillies will also be celebrating birthdays the same day: C-CH Mike Ryan, 69 (1968-73; 1980-95); LHP Mark Davis, 46 (1980-81;1993), OF Mark Whiten, 44 (1995-96).
HAPPY THANKSGIVING…Gobble, Gobble
Comedian Rodney Dangerfield once said, “I get no respect.”
Well, to me, the same goes for Charlie Manuel. Once again, he didn’t win the manager of the year award in the NL. Four straight division titles, two World Series appearances, one NL ring and one WS ring over the past four seasons. Never once has he won the award. Granted, Charlie would much prefer the rings to an award.
Well, to me, Charlie did his best managerial job in 2010. A simple stat: the straight eight was available for a total of 14 games during the regular season. The total number of players on the DL: 18. Wilson Valdez had 342 big league at-bats in 152 games prior to this season. He had 333 playing second, short and third (111 games).
Charlie certainly kept them afloat when the postseason seemed like a dream in July. In the end, his team led the majors in wins, a first for the Phillies. But, it wasn’t good enough for the writers who vote. Not winning is one thing, finishing fifth is an insult. Sorry, but that’s how I feel.
The Arizona Fall League ends this weekend. Three Phillies farmhands have outstanding stats with the Mesa Solar Sox: 1B Matt Rizzotti, RH starter Joshua Zeid and RH reliever Justin DeFratus.
Zeid has been shutdown by the Phillies as he reached a certain number of innings. He’s facing a 2,400-mile drive from Phoenix to Clearwater. You can read all about him in his outstanding blog.
While the AFL is ending, several Phillies are playing winter ball, including Dom Brown and David Herndon who will begin shortly in the Dominican Republic.
MLB has posted the top blogs for October. Todd Zolecki’s Zo Zone ranks #1 in the MLB.com writers division.
In the Fan category, congratulations to Phillies Phollowers, # 11.
In the MLB Pro category, the Phillies ballgirls are #16 and this blog is #17.
Anyway, thanks for reading.
**November 19: Phillies need to file their reserve list, which is fancy name for the 40-man winter roster.
**November 20: Third annual Shane Victorino Foundation Celebrity Dinner and Golf Classic at the Four Seasons Resort in Maui. The event is sold out so I’ll skip it.
**November 23: Deadline for teams to offer arbitration to their free agents.
Glad to have Juan Samuel back in a Phillies uniform. He’ll certainly look at home in pinstripes. And, he’ll help. Great addition to Charlie’s staff. Plus, he’s always smiling.
Shane is on a three-consecutive Gold Glove streak. He’s got a way to go to match Garry Maddox’ eight Gold Gloves, most for any Phillies outfielder. Garry truly was the “Secretary of Defense.” A writer once wrote, “Two-thirds of the earth is covered with water, the other one-third is covered by Maddox.”
Gold Gloves among outfielders aren’t broken down by position. But, the Phillies have had four consecutive centerfielders win the award, starting with Aaron Rowand in 2007.
**MLB Industry Meetings begin Sunday in Orlando’s Disney World. Communications, advertising, promotions, marketing, publications, new media, radio-TV, tickets, sales are among the numerous departments from the 30 ball clubs that will be in attendance. Phillies are sending 31 from the front office. These meetings are not to be confused with Baseball’s Winter Meetings.
**Owners and GM meetings begin Monday, also in Orlando.
**NL and AL Rookies of the Year will be announced on Monday.
**NL Cy Young Award winner on Tuesday.
**NL and AL Managers of the Year on Wednesday.
**AL Cy Young winner on Thursday.
93 more days until pitchers and catchers report to spring training.
Phillies have lined up spring training tours once again. An addition in 2011 is a trip for Seniors, which is down my alley.