Thursday, September 30, 2010

PhoulBallz Interview w/ Musician Mark Evans


Mark Evans is a musical artist and life-long Phillies phan that grew up in South Jersey, but currently lives in enemy territory, New York City. A former actor, Mark has gotten back to his first love, creating music, in recent years.

An accomplished song writer, Mark's music and lyrics can be heard in film, on the radio and on TV. Also an avid Philadelphia baseball fanatic, Mark can be found each home Sunday at Citizens Bank Park.

I recently had the opportunity to speak with Mark about his 2010 album release, "Rain on the Roses", his baseball phandom, and more. Check out the interview below and be sure to go to Mark's web site, MarkEvansMusic.com and sample his music.


1. Mark, you’ve been a Phillies Fan and a musician both for a long time. Describe the differences in your love of baseball and your love of music.

Tough call. I guess the most obvious difference is that I can play music professionally, and with baseball, I’m like Mario Cuomo, I can’t hit the curve ball. They’ve both been a part of me for as long as I can remember. Baseball sooths me, and I can relax and just be with it. Music gets my creative process going, so it’s a very different experience. I’ll say this – they are two loves that have never abandoned me. When it comes to music, I’m still a little boy with big dreams; when it comes to baseball, I’m still a little boy in awe. This spring I went to the WXPN Beggar’s Banquet Fundraiser in Philly. I’m sitting at David Dye’s table. The room is full of music people – on-air personalities, performers, some of Americana’s royalty was there. I spent most of the night talking baseball with a CEO from the finance world… we had the same love of the game. Hey, please support WXPN; they bring great music to Philly!


2. How often do you make it out to the ballpark during the season?

Wow! Never enough. I live in NYC, but have a Phillies Sunday season ticket plan (I’ve had it since the last year in The Vet). So, I get to those 13 or 14 games (unless I’m in Nashville or on tour). I’ve got a nice circle of fellow expatriate Phillie fans in NYC, and we’ll get out to see Mets/Phillies games at Citi Field, or Phillies/Yanks in the Bronx. Then there’s the playoffs and World Series games. Plus, I try to get to a couple minor league games as well. Went out to Lakewood this season, great little ballpark… all-in-all, I guess 25-30 games are a safe bet.

Love wearing my Phillies road grey at Citi Field
!


3. You’ve performed National Anthems at minor league parks. What kind of dream would it be to perform prior to a Phillies’ game?

It’s funny. Clearly I sing, but always see myself as a song writer more than a singer – like a Lauren Hart… that’s a singer. When I do the anthem, it's more out of love for the country, tradition, and the anticipation of the ump calling out “play ball”. It’s not a performance for me. That said, I’d be thrilled to sing it at the Bank (and I think I need to get my manager back on that, we were going to do it in ‘08, but I had a conflict), as long as I can be back in my seat by 1st pitch so I can keep score. In 2008, I was in Nashville to open up for “Lonestar” at a festival, and it had been arranged for me to sing the anthem before the Nashville Sounds game - they’re the Brewers' triple A team. So, I’m down at the field with my “Sounds” jersey on, waiting to be walked to the microphone, when I realize the starting shortstop for Nashville is Abraham Nunez. He’s running by me and I’m like “Abe, I’m a Phillies fan!”, and we start talking about the Phillies, and I’m not interested in singing anymore.


4. What can you tell Phillies fans about your music and why they should check you out?

It’s true, no pretensions. I’m not trying to be a star, or a celebrity, I’m just trying to write and perform music that will touch people, and take them through a variety of emotions: laugh, cry, whatever. It’s from my heart and I hope they like it!!


5. What has been the highlight (or a couple of highlights) from your musical career thus far? (Was it the "Never Again" song?)

This may sound strange, but I do musical ministry at the Bowery Mission in NYC a couple times a year. There’s something about looking out at a room full of homeless men, who are only there so they can get a meal, who are on the bottom and out of hope; and they start singing along and before you know it they’ve touched God and are alive again. It’s very powerful stuff, and not at all about me. Outside of that, yes, it was writing “Steady Now” with Amanda Kravat for the film “Never Again”. She’s so gifted…


6. The video for "Tearing Down Our House" off of you recent release "Rain on the Roses" is pretty unique. What is there to know about the location and creation of the video, the kids, the band or the song?

It’s a 1930’s lighthouse tender docked at Pier 40 on the Hudson River in NY. It’s basically across the street from my apartment, and when I go running, I run by it all the time. See it from my window, you know? So, I was looking for a location that could convey the Feeling of something huge and decaying, to reflect the end of love, and I was sold on this ship in the Raritan called the Mary Murray. It was an old Staten Island ferry ship that had run aground in the 70’s; I’d been passing it on the NJ turnpike for years. So, we’re getting ready to shoot, and I find out the Mary Murray had been sold for scrap a month earlier. I’m literally in a conversation with the producers about what to do next, when I look out the window, and there’s the Lilac – It’s one of those “finding the love of your life in your own backyard” kind of moments. The Ship is gorgeous. I mean, I never knew my paternal grandfather, but he was a lighthouse keeper in Long Island Sound at the same time the Lilac was in service. For me, it was very intense – my father passed away in 1992, and when I stepped up in the wheelhouse for that one shot, I felt him there with me.

The band: drummer, Bobby McKeon, moved from Philly to Nashville a while back – been my drummer since 1990. Jessie Nelson on fiddle – NYC via Minneapolis. Dave Randal on base, NYC via Seattle. The kids were great. Brett Effman, I’m very close friends with his parents. He’s 12 and has been writing songs since he was 10. I mean “GOOD” songs. Real good guitar player too. He’s got that "troubled artist” vibe that I’ve carried my whole life down pat, so he was the perfect choice to play me. The girl, Josette, is my God daughter. Her older sister Caroline was supposed to play the role, but at 12, she’s already modeling, and at 5’10”, she looked more like Brett’s aunt, so Josette stepped up to the plate and was brilliant. I thought that the two of them captured the essence of love’s innocence, even when love is at an end - there’s a innocence in walking away; thinking that you’ll never be over it - when Josette walks down that gang plank – and Brett’s reaction – wow!!

The whole team was great. Produced by Josephine DeMichele and Gary Inzana (Big Fun Studio One). They had us fly in Kurt Feldhun from Seattle to direct, he did all the Bad Brains videos in the 90’s. We were all on the same page and I love the result. The day we shot it was 98° in the shade, if you could find the shade.



7. Are any of your fellow musicians, Jesse, Bobby & Dave, as big of a baseball fan as you are?

Mr. Ballz – only you are as big a fan of baseball as I am! No, and it’s a good thing, 'cause if they were all into baseball like me, we would never get anything done.


8. Who was your favorite Phillies player from your youth? And what did you like about him?

Del Unser. He wasn’t a “star”, a bit of an underdog, but he was tenacious and clutch. When I played ball, I always wore his #25.


9. Do you have any predictions for the Phillies’ 2010 post-season?

Well, following the 4th straight Division title, we'll see a 3rd straight NL Pennant followed by a World Series rematch vs. NY. This year, we win. There's no stopping that pitching rotation, and the lineup is the best it's ever been, when healthy.


10. I know you used to write some freelance baseball material on the side. Can PhoulBallz count on you to be a guest blogger in the future?

I really enjoyed writing those articles – and it was a blessing that Phillybaseballnews.com took a chance with me. It would be an honor to make the pages of PhoulBallz.com – hope I can come up with something the phans want to read about. PhoulBallz is a great blog, and you’re the man!!


Mark's 2010 release "Rain on the Roses" is an independent Americana release from Stampede Music. Also available on iTunes, "Rain on the Roses" can be sampled and purchased digitally on CDBaby.com. Thanks to Mark Evans for taking the time to chat with PhoulBallz.com.
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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Braves' Glavine Would Choose Halladay to Lead Post-season Rotation


Tom Glavine, who currently works as a special assistant to Atlanta Braves president John Schuerholz and pitched 17 seasons with Atlanta during his playing career, recently spoke with Jim Bowden on MLB Network Radio.

Bowden asked the future Hall of Famer Glavine, "Game 1 of the World Series starts tonight. Tom Glavine is the general manager, he gets to pick any pitcher in baseball to pitch Game 1 tonight. Who is starting for you?"

Glavine replied, "Boy, it’d be hard to go away from (Phillies ace) Roy Halladay right now. He’s been as solid as anybody all year long and as solid as anybody for the last five years in baseball. I know there are other guys that may be a little bit more electrifying right now or maybe have a little bit better stuff than him but, I’ll tell you what, I can count on one hand, I think, the number of times it seems that he’s gone out there and not given his team a chance to win. And that’s what it’s about in the postseason."

You see, even the Braves can admit that the Phillies have the best guy in the business. Halladay ranks among the top three in each of the National League pitching triple crown categories (wins, ERA and strike outs). He has posted a 21-10 record with a 2.44 ERA and 219 strike outs in 33 starts for Philadelphia this season.

The Phillies also have a pair of other aces to help lead the way into their team record fourth consecutive post-season. Cole Hamels, the home-grown lefty, has a 12-11 record with a 3.09 ERA for the Phillies this season and Roy Oswalt, who was acquired prior to the non-waiver trading deadline from the Houston Astros, has gone 7-1 with a 1.65 ERA in 12 starts since joining the Phillies.

So, while Hallday may be the one that Glavine and others would choose to be the leader of the pitching rotation, Halladay is not only hurler that opponents will have a difficult time against.

MLB Network Radio can be found on XM channel 175 and Sirius channel 210.

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Photo- AP

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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Back to Back to Back to Back...


With their 8-0 defeat of the Nationals on Monday night, the Phillies clinched their team record 4th straight National League East division title. Roy Halladay led the way in the series opener with Washington, throwing a complete game 2-hit shut out. The precipitation that fell through out the night did not effect Halladay, as he hurled his 9th complete game of the year, which is more than every other team total in the league.


Jayson Werth contributed on the offensive side, lacing 3 hits, including a double and a homerun, while driving in 4 runs. Werth has been hot down the stretch for the Phillies, having driven in 20 runs in 24 games this month. His 8 homeruns in September are a career high for any single calendar month.


The ultimate goal is obviously a few steps further, but the team celebrated well, in the visitors clubhouse at Nationals Park. Phillies players made it a point to allow Halladay, Brian Schneider and Mike Sweeney to pop the initial bottles of champagne, because they are veterans who have never been to the post-season before.

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Photos- AP & Getty

Monday, September 27, 2010

Series Preview: Phillies at Nationals, 9/27-9/29

Already locked into a guaranteed playoff spot, the Phillies (93-63) stand just one win, or one Braves loss, away from clinching a team record 4th straight division title. Some have pointed out that it would be fitting to do it in game 1 of this week's series in Washington, as it would be the exact way the Phillies began the 2010 campaign, with Roy Halladay on the mound against the Nationals (67-89).

Washington will counter with lefty John Lannan, who has a 7.27 ERA in 2 home starts this season against Philadelphia.

Jimmy Rollins is expected to start at short stop for the Phillies for the first time since September 8th. Rollins has been sidelined in recent weeks with a hamstring issue. Rollins returned to action on Sunday, going 0-for-1 as a pinch hitter and playing the field.

The Phillies have won 10 of the 15 meetings with Washington to date this season. Read ahead for details on the pitching match ups and tons more information.


Monday, 7:05pm. Roy Haladay (20-10, 2.53 ERA) vs. John Lannan (8-7, 4.56 ERA). In 11 career games against Washington, Halladay is 7-1 with a 2.20 ERA. In Halladay's last 5 starts, he has posted a 4-1 record with a 4.41 ERA. Adam Dunn is 4-for-12 (.333 avg) with a homerun in his career against Halladay. In 10 career starts against the Phillies, Lannan is 0-7 with a 6.06 ERA. In his last 5 starts, Lannan is 4-1 with a 2.63 ERA. Raul Ibanez is 8-for-12 (.667 avg) with 2 HR in his career against Lannan.

Tuesday, 7:05pm. Roy Oswalt (13-13, 2.80 ERA) vs. Jason Marquis (2-9, 7.18 ERA). Oswalt is 6-4 with a 2.27 ERA and a .199 batting avg. against in 13 road starts this season. In his last 7 starts, Oswalt has posted a 5-0 record with a 1.07 ERA. Nyjer Morgan is 6-for-18 (.333 avg) against Oswalt in his career. In his last 5 starts, Marquis is 2-2 with a 5.25 ERA. In 6 home starts this season, Marquis has a record of 0-5 with a 7.57 ERA. Marquis has a 5-7 record and a 5.60 ERA in 23 games against the Phillies. Chase Utley is 12-for-25 (.480 avg) in his career against Marquis.

Wednesday, 7:05pm. Joe Blanton (8-6, 4.94 ERA) vs. Ross Detwiler (1-2, 2.52 ERA). In 12 road starts this season, Blanton is 3-4 with a 5.82 ERA. Blanton has not lost since July 21st. Ivan Rodriguez is 4-5 against Joe Blanton this season. In 23 Major League games, the righty Detwiler is 2-8 with a 4.34 ERA. Jimmy Rollins is 6-for-9 (.667 avg) with 3 doubles in his career against Detwiler.


In 19 September games this season, Wilson Valdez has posted a .328 batting average.

Raul Ibanez is a career .327 hitter with 11 HR in 40 games played against the Nationals. In 23 September games this season, Ibanez has posted a .341 avg.

Ryan Zimmerman is batting .347 with 7 doubles and 2 homers in 13 games against the Phillies this season. Zimmerman may miss the series with a rib injury.

Former Phillie Joe Bisenius has allowed 1 earned run and struck out 3 batters in 4 innings of work, since being added as a September call up by Washington.

Ian Desmond is a .338 hitter with 5 doubles, 1 triple and 2 homeruns in 18 career games against the Phillies.

Phillies Team ERA- 3.72
Nationals Team ERA- 4.13

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Photo- Associated Press

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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sunday School: Phillies History Lesson 77

Al Demaree was a right-handed pitcher with the Phillies from 1915-1916. His time with the Phillies was brief, but he helped snag the club's very first National League pennant. Demaree debuted as a rookie with the New York Giants in 1912 and played two more full seasons with the Giants, posting a 24-21 record in that time.

Following the 1914 season, Phils manager Pat Moran vowed to make changes and Demaree was among a group of three players that Philadelphia acquired for third baseman Hans Lobert.

Demaree made a fast impact in 1915 when he shut out his former team 3-0 in his Phillies debut. However, Demaree left people doubting the trade when he strung together 6 losses in his next 6 starts. The poor stretch resulted in Demaree being pulled from the starting rotation. By early July, he got another shot at starting and again shut down the Giants, this time 1-0. Demaree won 5 of his next 6 starts. In mid-August, he would throw his 3rd shutout of the season against Boston.

Demaree ended the 1915 regular season with a 14-11 record and a 3.05 ERA, but did not pitch in the World Series for the Phillies against the Red Sox.

1916 would be the best season of Demaree's career as he posted a 19-11 record and a 2.62 ERA in 39 games (35 starts). He continued to perform extremely well against his former team, as he won his first 2 starts of the season against the Giants and 6 of 8 starts overall against them that season.

On September 20, 1916, Demaree pitched both games of a double header against Pittsburgh, winning 7-0 and 3-2. The Phillies would finish in second place that year, 2 1/2 games behind the Dodgers.

In April 1917, Demaree was traded to the Cubs for pitcher Jimmy Lavendar and cash. It is possible the Phillies sensed that Demaree's best days on the mound were behind him as he posted just a 23-26 record in his remaining 3 years in the Major Leagues.

After his playing career was through, in 1919, Demaree worked as a sports cartoonist. His work was syndicated in more than 200 daily news papers as well as The Sporting News. He also illustrated for trading cards. He helped produce die cut cards that featured black & white player portraits on cartoon bodies that still remain some of the most rare and valuable cards from the 1930's.
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Saturday, September 25, 2010

2010 BlueClaws Already Playing Phillies Baseball

This piece I wrote was previously seen on Chicks Dig the Long Ball earlier this week.


If you paid close attention to certain national analysts this season, you probably heard them talk or write about how deep the Phillies low minor league teams are with great prospects. The Phillies’ Class A affiliate, the Lakewood BlueClaws, won the club’s second straight South Atlantic League title and became the first club since Savannah in 1994 to repeat as league champions. They also became the very first team in league history to win their division in the first and second halves and then go on to win the league championship.

Lakewood was loaded with prospects this season. One, short stop Jonathan Villar, was held in high enough regard that he was part of the collection of players that was sent to Houston in a trade for Roy Oswalt in July.

The Phillies had plenty of home grown talent come through their system in the 2000s. Ryan Howard, Carlos Ruiz and Cole Hamels are all current Phillies stars who spent time as BlueClaws on their ways to the big show. They were not there at the same time, however. The Phillies stars of tomorrow could very well have gelled together in Lakewood this year.

In a recent poll conducted by The Reading Eagle that ranked the Phillies’ top twenty prospects, four of their top five and six of their top ten ranked prospects were members of this season’s championship Lakewood team.

Singleton, Cosart, James & Hewitt- Photo credit Scott Greenwald

Among the highly ranked BlueClaws prospects was first baseman "The Boss" Jonathan Singleton, who turned 19-years-old the day Lakewood defeated Greenville in the SAL Championship Series this past Saturday. Singleton was an eighth round selection in the 2009 amateur draft. After beginning the season in extended spring training, Singleton debuted with Lakewood in May and proceeded to post a .290 batting average with 14 homeruns and 77 RBI as an 18-year-old playing A-Level baseball. Last week I spoke to Phillies General Manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. about several Phillies developmental matters. Amaro said the Phillies believed in Singleton’s abilities and disagreed when I suggested he came out of nowhere to excel up the prospect rankings this season. “Jonathan obviously developed very quickly in this league, which is a very tough league for such a young player,” Amaro said.

Jarred Cosart, a right-handed pitcher who had been sidelined since June with an elbow injury, is highly regarded among Phillies prospects as well. The Texas native, who was a 38th round draft selection in 2008, has a fastball that regularly hits 97 mph. Cosart missed much of the season, but is held in high regard within the organization. While his fastball was his best pitch, Cosart developed a better curve and improved his deception when delivering his change-up this year. Cosart, who recently told me his elbow is back to 100%, was shut down by the Phillies to reduce his work load and monitor his valuable arm closely. Cosart is already looking forward to a healthy 2011 at any level of the system and a big future beyond that. He told me, “I don’t care where I pitch; I have no control over that. Wherever they want to put me, I am going to go out there and compete. Everyone’s goal is to [get to] the big leagues. No matter how long it takes or how hard I’ve got to work, that’s my goal.”

Trevor May, a righty hurler, began the season at High A-Level Clearwater, but after struggling with his grip and command in the Florida humidity, he was demoted to Lakewood where he had previously pitched in 2009. Once May returned to Lakewood, his focus was on first pitch strikes, which reduced his walks, got his pitch counts down and in turn helped all aspects of his game. In 11 regular season starts with the BlueClaws, May went 7-3 with a 2.91 ERA and recorded 92 strike outs in 65 innings. May, who has now won championships in all 3 of his seasons in the Phillies minor league system, was extremely pleased with the progress he made this year. In an exclusive interview, May told me, “I’m definitely happy with the steps I’ve taken and the direction I’m going in. I feel like I’m still nowhere close to where I want to be (the Majors), but definitely on the road to getting there.”

Sebastian Valle, a 20-year-old catcher, was signed as an amateur free agent in 2006 out of Mexico. In 117 regular season games this season, Valle posted a .255 batting average and slugged 16 homers while driving in 74 RBI. In game four of the SAL championship series, Valle hit a no-doubt-about-it homerun onto FirstEnergy Park’s left field berm that gave the ‘Claws a lead that they would not relinquish. Valle’s undeniable talent and was part of the reason the Phillies felt comfortable trading away catching prospect Travis D’Arnaud to Toronto last off-season. If I had to place money on one player from this season’s Lakewood team to reach the Majors one day, it would be Valle. Lakewood hitting coach Greg Legg is impressed with Valle’s improvements this season. “He’s got power, he can catch, he’s getting better at throwing the ball down to second, he’s quicker, he blocks balls, he calls a good game. He’s gonna play at higher levels,” Legg told me last month.

Brody Colvin is another powerful right-handed pitcher who used an impressive fastball (clocked at 96mph late this season) to make his mark in the SAL this season. Colvin posted a 6-8 record with a 3.38 ERA through 27 regular season starts in 2010. In the post-season, Colvin allowed just one earned run in ten innings pitched while striking out nine. With a fastball/curveball/change-up repertoire, the 20-year-old Colvin is high on a lot of people’s lists of Phillies prospects. Colvin recently talked about what he attributes to his strides to improve this season. “It’s definitely just working hard, working with my pitching coach (Steve Schrenk) everyday. We’ve made some mechanical adjustments that have me trying to not throw across my body so much, which was restricting me a little bit. And the strides have just been tremendous this season and everything’s starting to come together for me. It’s been great.”

Even with Singleton and Valle on the team, switch hitting center fielder Jiwan James was often regarded as the team’s offensive catalyst. Described by hitting coach Greg Legg as “a pillar of consistency,” the 21-year-old James led the team in runs scored (85), and batted .270 in 133 regular season games. James, a converted pitcher, is compared to Domonic Brown and called the best athlete in the Phillies’ system. James had a team record 24-game hitting streak in July, but experienced fatigue down the stretch in his first full season as an everyday player. After posting a .361 average in 29 July games, James batted just .220 in 29 regular season games after July. Not to worry though, as James increases his stamina and matures physically, he’ll continue to get better. Legg told me recently, “He’s got a real high ceiling. I think he’s gonna get stronger. When he gets his man-strength, look out!”

Julio Rodriguez, a righty hurler who turned 20 in late August, is a finesse pitcher who lacks the speed that some of the other prospects possess, but had impressive strike out totals (126 K’s in 96 1/3 innings at two levels this year) by keeping opposing hitters guessing with solid off-speed pitches. His fastball regularly reaches 90mph on the radar gun. Lakewood manager and former Phillie Mark Parent recently said of Rodriguez, “He’s done nothing but impress us. In any role…long relief, starting, I’m very impressed with him.” Rodriguez is versatile and will certainly pitch at higher levels.

They players I’ve spoken about are just the better known names on the Lakewood roster. More BlueClaws players like 20-year-old RHP Jonathan Pettibone, who won two games in the playoffs, RHP Josh Zeid, who was named Phillies minor league pitcher of the month in April, All-star infielder Jeremy Barnes, who played at Notre Dame and wore the same jersey number that Brad Lidge wore there (20), and outfielder Leandro Castro, who led the club with 81 RBI this season, were all key contributors to the club all season long and have the potential to move up the ranks toward the majors. And don’t forget former top draft pick Anthony Hewitt who moved to the outfield from shortstop this season. Hewitt was signed for roughly $1.4 million, so the Phillies will continue to work with Hewitt, who batted .202 in 116 games this year, on his pitch recognition.

Getting used to post-season action at a young age surely won’t have any ill effects on these players. The Phils of the future are simply playing ball the winning way…the Phillies way.

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Friday, September 24, 2010

Series Preview: Metropolitans at Phillies, 9/24-9/26

With their magic number to clinch a team record 4th straight division title sitting at 4, the Phillies (92-61) enter the weekend needing some help from the Nationals, who are playing the Braves, to clinch at home. The Phils will be facing the Metropolitans (74-78), who visit Citizens Bank Park for a 3-games series starting Friday night.

New York will send right-hander R.A. Dickey to the mound in game 1 of the series. Dickey threw a one-hitter against the Phillies last month at Citi Field. The Phillies will counter with Joe Blanton, who has notched 8 strike outs in each of his last 2 outings.

Injured short stop Jimmy Rollins, who has been sidelined with a hamstring injury in recent weeks, faced live pitching in a simulated game on Thursday and could return to action this weekend.

The Phillies have won 8 of 15 meetings with the Metropolitans this season. Read ahead for detail on the pitching match ups for this series and loads more information.


Friday, 7:05pm. RA Dickey (11-7, 2.92 ERA) vs. Joe Blanton (7-6, 5.04 ERA). Dickey is 2-1 with a 2.00 ERA in 3 career starts against the Phillies. In 14 road starts this year, Dickey has posted a 4-5 record with a 3.62 ERA. In 6 career starts against the Metropolitans, Blanton is 2-1 with a 2.66 ERA. In his last 7 starts, Blanton has posted a 3-0 record with a 3.21 ERA. Jose Reyes is 2-for-15 (.133 avg) against Blanton in his career.

Saturday, 7:05pm. Dillon Gee (1-1, 1.80 ERA) vs. Kyle Kendrick (10-9, 4.78 ERA). The righty rookie, Gee, will be making his 4th Major League start. Gee has a 13-8 record and a 4.96 ERA in 28 minor league starts this year. In his last 5 starts, Kendrick is 2-3 with a 5.88 ERA. In 15 home starts in 2010, Kendrick has posted a 4-6 record with a 5.60 ERA. In 8 career starts against the Metropolitans, Kendrick is 3-3 with a 3.07 ERA.

Sunday, 1:35pm. Mike Pelfrey (15-9, 3.75) vs. Cole Hamels (12-10, 2.93 ERA). In his last 5 starts, Pelfrey is 2-2 with a 4.50 ERA. In 5 career starts at Citizens Bank Park, Pelfrey has a 1-2 record with an 8.17 ERA. Chase Utley is 9-for-30 (.300 avg) with 4 HR and 8 RBI against the right-handed Pelfrey in his career. In his last 9 starts, Hamels is 5-3 with a 1.55 ERA. In 3 starts against the Metropolitans this year, Hamels' record is 0-3 and his ERA is 1.69. Opponents are batting .202 against Hamels since the All-star break.


Fill-in Metropolitans closer Hisanori Takahashi has allowed just 1 earned run in 11 1/3 innings pitched (0.79 ERA) against the Phillies this season. Placido Polanco is 3-for-5 against Takahashi.

David Wright is batting .244 in 60 games since the All-star break. Wright is batting .345 against lefty hurlers this season.

In his last 9 games, Jayson Werth has gone 12-for-33 (.363 avg) with 5 homers, 13 RBI, 12 runs scored and 3 stolen bases.

Chase Utley has posted a .338 batting average with 4 homers and 17 RBI in 23 games played this month. In his last 12 home games, Utley has posted a .366 batting average.

Raul Ibanez has posted a .355 avg. in 20 September games this season. Ibanez is batting .232 in 15 games against the Metropolitans this season.

Metropolitans team runs scored- 618
Phillies team runs scored- 723

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

MLB Jeopardy...Part 11


For $1,000 in the category of douche bag teams that are mistakenly regarded as the class of Major League Baseball, the answer is: The idiot franchise that let a rapper diss them lyrically on their own field prior to a World Series game and later rewarded him with a championship ring.








Question: Who are the New York Yankees?

Correct! The Yankees invited Jay-Z and Alicia Keys to perform their single "Empire State of Mind" prior to game 2 of the World Series last year at Yankee Stadium. The track contains the lyric, "I made the Yankee hat more famous than a Yankee can." Yankees fans in attendance cheered.

Firstly, the phrase is not true. Also, the Yankees should not have let that happen. If the front office wasn't aware of the lyric before the concert was booked, why didn't the players take exception at some point?

The team should be embarrassed for giving Jay-Z a World Championship ring after he clearly took credit for people buying their merchandise.

And if you didn't notice in the above photograph, the inscription under the brim of Jay-Z's cap that he wore to Yankee Stadium this week, contains that questionable lyric "I made the Yankee hat more famous than a Yankee can." Yes, he's still making the absurd claim and the Yankees are still dumb enough to invite him into their home.

The Yankees and their fans are clearly simple-minded to allow this embarrassment to continue. I don't believe that other organizations and their fans would be so moronic.

It's no wonder a great majority of sports fans hate the Yankees. They aren't even bright enough to know when a celebrity takes a verbal crap on them. If a big-time Philadelphia musician made a similar claim about one of Philadelphia's teams, I assure you that he or she would be met with serious negative fan reactions, would no longer be held in the same regard and would forever damage his or her career.

NEW YORK! These streets will make you feel brand new, big lights will inspire you...to look stupid in front of the whole world.

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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Recognize Ruiz


Carlos Ruiz has been hot for the Phillies

In seasons past, the role of the catcher on the Phillies club has been to guide the pitching staff, lead the team on the defensive side of things and simply contribute a bit on offense. The same does not apply this season.

In 2008, Phillies catchers posted a .243 batting average. In 2009, Phillies catchers combined for a .252 batting average while driving in 57 runs. This season, Phillies catchers have stepped up their production at the plate and become key contributors to the offense. In 2010, Phillies catchers have combined for recent season highs in all of the following categories...a .276 batting average, 44 doubles, 15 homeruns and have driven in 75 runs.

Some of the increased production could be attributed to the injuries the team has suffered this year, which has resulted in Carlos Ruiz and Brian Schneider batting 7th in the batting order instead of 8th, where the catcher regularly batted in recent years. Other credit can simply go to the catchers themselves, mainly Carlos Ruiz, who has stepped it up to raise his batting average and on-base percentage.

Carlos Ruiz's previous full-season high in batting average was .259. He has posted a .296 average thus far this season. His .837 OPS (on-base % plus slugging %) this season is also by far the highest of his career. In addition, Ruiz's 37 RBI since the All-star break are a career high in any half of his career with more than a week left to play.

Ruiz has been an underrated player on this Phillies team in years past. That should no longer be the case as Ruiz has begun to contribute in more evident ways. The Phillies are close to locking down a team record 4th consecutive division title. Perhaps it's no coincidence that the Phillies' run of division titles began in 2007 when Ruiz's run as the everyday backstop for the club began. The man known as Chooch has become a serious leader behind the dish, in the clubhouse and now with his bat. Give the man his props.
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To check out my exclusive interview with Ruiz from earlier this season, click HERE.

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Monday, September 20, 2010

Trevor May's BlueClaws Boogie

The Lakewood BlueClaws built a reputation for being dancing machines well before they locked down a second consecutive South Atlantic League title. Last season, the 'Claws started a tradition of passing the time during rain delays by performing dance routines. Early this season, they kept it going.

Trevor May, a pitching prospect who turns 21-years-old this week, managed to keep his love of the dance a secret until Lakewood defeated the Greenville Drive (Boston affiliate) in the SAL finals for the second straight year. During the BlueClaws' celebration following the game 4 victory that gave May his third league championship in three seasons in the minors (May won the Gulf Coast League championship with the Phillies in 2008 and was a member of last season's BlueClaws team), May joined the ranks of Lakewood's rhythmic expression elite.

Check out the media player below to witness May's masterful moves.



Trevor May was a 4th round draft pick by the Phillies in 2008 and was recently ranked as the 4th best prospect in the Phillies organization in a poll of minor league experts done by The Reading Eagle. In 11 regular season starts for Lakewood this year, May went 7-3 with a 2.91 ERA and 92 strike outs in 65 innings pitched. In the 2010 post season, May started 2 games, and posted a 1-1 record with a 0.77 ERA while striking out 21 batters in 11 2/3 innings.

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Series Preview: Braves at Phillies, 9/20-9/22


The Philadelphia Phillies (89-61) and Atlanta Braves (86-64) will meet 6 more times over the final 12 games of the season to potentially decide the winner of the National League East. The Phils sport a 3 game lead over Atlanta, and could lock in their strangle hold on the division as a 3-game series starts in Philadelphia on Monday night.

Atlanta has won 5 of the last 6 meetings with Philadelphia, but the Phillies have gone 18-4 since being swept at home by the Astros last month. A key of the Phils' strong run is their trio of ace starting pitchers. Since the Phillies acquired Roy Oswalt from Houston July 29th, Oswalt, Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels have posted a combined 16-6 record. The three hurlers have also combined for a 2.27 ERA in August and September.

The Braves, who have dropped 9 of 18 games this month, will send Jair Jurrjens to the mound to change the team's fortunes. The Phillies will counter with left-hander Cole Hamels, who has a 6.39 ERA in 3 starts against the Braves this season.

Read ahead for details on the pitching match ups for this series as well as plenty more statistics and information.


Monday, 7:05pm. Jair Jurrjens (7-6, 4.64 ERA) vs. Cole Hamels (11-10, 3.01 ERA). Jurrjens has been experiencing knee trouble and could be skipped. In 9 career starts against the Phillies, the righty Jurrjens has a 3-3 record with a 2.56 ERA. Jurrjens has posted a 1-4 record with a 5.81 ERA in 10 road starts this season. In 5 career starts at Citizens Bank Park, Jurrjens is 2-1 with a 1.87 ERA. In his last 5 starts, Hamels is 4-0 with a 0.76 ERA. In 17 career starts against Atlanta, Hamels is 8-5 with a 4.25 ERA. Omar Infante is 10-for-26 (.385 avg) against Hamels in his career.

Tuesday, 7:05pm. Mike Minor (3-1, 5.84 ERA) vs. Roy Halladay (19-10, 2.49 ERA). The rookie Minor is 1-0 with a 6.75 ERA in 3 road games thus far. Minor, a lefty, was Atlanta's first round draft pick in 2009. In 4 career games against the Braves, Halladay has a 3-0 record with a 0.63 ERA. At home this season, Halladay is 11-5 with a 2.12 ERA in 17 starts.

Wednesday, 7:05pm. Tommy Hanson (10-11, 3.62 ERA) vs. Roy Oswalt (13-13, 2.90 ERA). In 15 road starts this season, Hanson is 5-6 with a 3.44 ERA. In his last 5 starts, Hanson is 2-2 with a 4.06 ERA. In 13 starts since the All-star break, Hanson has posted a 2-6 record with a 2.98 ERA. In his last 9 starts, Oswalt is 7-0 with a 1.57 ERA. In 7 career starts against Atlanta, Oswalt is 0-3 with a 7.58 ERA.


Omar Infante is batting .323 in 10 games against the Phillies this season. Infante's .337 batting would rank second in the league, but he does not currently have enough plate appearances to qualify.

Jason Heyward's 9 steals are the highest total on the Braves team.

In 11 games against the Phillies this season, Brian McCann is batting .229. McCann is 1-for-15 (.067 avg) in his career against JC Romero.

In 62 games since the All-star break, Jayson Werth is batting .304 with a .930 OPS.

In 28 career games against the Braves, JC Romero has a 1.19 ERA and a .110 batting average against.

Placido Polanco is just 1-for-14 (.071 avg) in his career against Braves closer Billy Wagner. In 18 games this month, Polanco has posted a .247 batting average.

Braves Team ERA- 3.59
Phillies Team ERA- 3.76

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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sunday School: Phillies History Lesson 76

In 1973 Dick Ruthven was drafted first overall in MLB's secondary amateur draft by the Philadelphia Phillies. The secondary draft would only feature players who were previously drafted, but did not sign. Ruthven had previously been picked by the Orioles and Twins.

After being selected by the Phillies out of Fresno State, Ruthven signed with Philadelphia and skipped the minor leagues all together. He made his Major League debut on April 17th, 1973. In his second big league start, Ruthven was matched up against eventual Hall of Famer Bob Gibson and held St. Louis to just 1 run in 7-plus innings, helping the Phils win, 2-1. His next time out, Ruthven faced the defending league champs, the Cincinnati Reds and held them to just one hit over 7 innings, leading the Phillies to a 1-0 victory. In July, when Ruthven faced Gibson and the Cardinals again. he shined, beating the Cardinals with a 2-hit complete game shut out.

In 25 games as a rookie, Ruthven posted a 6-9 record and a 4.21 ERA.

Ruthven would go on to pitch better in his second season, but did not boast the record (9-13) to show it. The Phillies were often unable to score runs behind Ruthven as the club was shut out in 6 of Ruthven's 13 losses. Ruthven even lost two different 1-0 games that season in which he allowed only 3 hits.

Following a disappointing 1975 season, Ruthven was traded to the Chicago White Sox in a deal that brought veteran pitcher and 3-time All-star Jim Kaat to Philadelphia. The White Sox quickly flipped Ruthven to Atlanta. Ruthven became an All-star in his first season with the Braves. He went 14-17 for Atlanta with a 4.19 ERA and 4 shut outs.

In June 1978, the Phillies reacquired Ruthven in a trade for reliever Gene Garber. The move paid off as Ruthven posted a 13-5 record with a 2.99 ERA in 20 starts over the remainder of the season, helping the Phillies lock down their third straight division title.

The following season, Ruthven began with a 6-0 record, but an elbow injury held him back going forward, as he won just one more game the rest of the year.

Ruthven bounced back to win 17 games in 1980 for the Phillies, en route to the club's first ever World Series championship. In the League Championship Series against Houston, Ruthven appeared in 2 games, 1 of which was a start. He allowed 3 earned runs with 7 strike outs and 0 walks over 9 innings in that series and was on the mound for the final out, locking down a World Series berth and earning the win in game 5. In game 3 of the World Series against Kansas City, Ruthven pitched 9 innings, before the Royals won in extra innings against Tug McGraw.

Ruthven became an All-star for the second time in 1981, when he represented the Phillies in the Mid-Summer Classic. He continued pitching with the Phillies until May 1983, when he was traded to the Chicago Cubs for Willie Hernandez. Ruthven played with Chicago for nearly 3 years, going 22-26 with a 4.55 ERA over that time, before retiring.

Dick's son Tyler is a professional soccer player with the Harrisburg City Islanders. Ruthven's twin sister married former Phillie Tom Hutton.
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Historic Title Victory For Lakewood

LAKEWOOD, NJ- It was a historic day for the BlueClaws as they defeated the Greenville Drive in game 4 of the South Atlantic League Championship Series to lock down their second consecutive championship.

After winning the Northern Division title in the first and second halves of the season, Lakewood became the very first team in league history to win both halves and clinch the championship. The current format began with the 2000 season.

It was a clutch homerun by catcher Sebastian Valle in the 5th inning and masterful pitching from right-handed reliever Josh Zeid that led the way for the BlueClaws' victory. Valle's 3-run bomb off of Drive reliever Kendal Volz gave Lakewood a lead they would not relinquish thanks to 4 perfect innings of relief from Zeid.

"I owed it to my team. I struggled earlier in the year and I finished strong and the team battled all year, so I just really wanted to finish it for them," Zeid stated following the game.


Josh Zeid with the SAL Championship Trophy
Zeid entered the game in the 6th inning, in relief of starter Jonathan Pettibone, who earned the win, with a runner on base and nobody out. Zeid quickly enduced a 6-4-3 double play and struck out Greenville's Chris Vazquez on a 96 MPH fastball to escape the inning. The next three frames went three-up-and-three-down. Zeid, who was the Phillies' minor league pitcher of the month in April when he allowed no earned runs and went 2-0 with 3 saves in 9 appearances, recorded 6 strike outs and did not allow a baserunner en route to earning the save.

The crowd at FirstEnergy Park was not at capacity, with 3,076 in attendance for game 4 at a facility that has hosted over 10,000 at a game within the past month. However, those who came out to see their home club make history were wild for every strike as Zeid brought the BlueClaws closer to another title, the team's third in its ten year history.

"The fans have been an extra man for the team all year long and their energy can really fuel the team at times," Zeid said of the home crowd.

Zeid took his time while delivering his solid effort. "I made sure I walked around the mound a little bit. I took two big breaths before every pitch. You know, you've gotta be calm, cool and collected every time. It's one of those things where if you don't throw strikes, they're going to get runners on base. You don't want the tying run at bat in a late game situation in a championship game," Zeid said.

The match up between the Boston affiliated Drive and the Phillies' Class A team, the Lakewood BlueClaws, was the first rematch in the championship series since 1964-1965, when the league was then known as the Western Carolinas League. Lakewood won last year's series in 4 games also.

Lakewood manager Mark Parent spoke about how special this season was. "What these guys gave me this year was priceless," Parent said. "There was a lot on the line this year and this was a very high maintenance team. Every day there was something going on.

"It's something that got me back into the game. Thinking the game and running the game, it's something that really challenged me and got me to where I used to be when I played.

"Like I said in the beginning, I really wasn't looking forward to it, till I saw the kids. And then to see them do this is unbelievable."

Greenville needed to win game 4 to force a deciding game 5 later in the evening, but it was not to be. Greenville starting pitcher Drake Britton mixed speeds well and took a 2-0 lead and a shut out into the 5th inning, but ran into some trouble after walking the lead off batter Brian Gump. Alan Schoenberger pushed Gump into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt, which led to a Keoni Ruth RBI single that cut the Drive lead in half. Jonathan Singleton knocked a single that set up Valle's deep drive onto the left field berm.

"The place blew up, when Sebastian hit that homerun," Zeid stated.
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Saturday, September 18, 2010

VIDEO: BlueClaws Win Second Straight SAL Title

Video of the final out and the celebration that ensued...
Josh Zeid on the hill for Lakewood, Christian Vazquez at bat for Greenville.




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BlueClaws One Win From Repeat

LAKEWOOD, NJ- In a game pushed back one day due to rain, it took until the very last at bat to decide who would have the advantage heading into the final day of the South Atlantic League Postseason, as the Phillies affiliate, the Lakewood BlueClaws, played host to the Red Sox affiliate, the Greenville Drive.

The team affectionately known around the region as "The Cardiac 'Claws" locked down their 14th walk-off win of the season when mid-season All-star Jeremy Barnes singled to drive home the go ahead run that gave Lakewood a 2-1 win.

In the home half of the 9th, Jiwan James led off with a single and was moved over the 2nd on a Michael Dabbs sacrifice bunt. Slugger Jonathan Singleton was intentionally walked, to set up a force play with one out. Lakewood catcher Sebastian Valle then flied out, setting the stage for Barnes' shining moment against Greenville reliever Dennis Neuman.

"To have a walk-off hit in a game like this is huge. This is the highlight of my season, by far," Barnes told the media after the victory. "(The walk-off win) has been out forte this year. That gives us a lot of confidence."

"As soon as I hit it and I saw the trajectory of it, I knew it was in and I got excited. I knew we had a fast runner on second and I almost forgot to touch first, but I promise I definitely went back and touched it."

Barnes, an 11th round pick in the 2009 amateur draft, credited the coaching staff for keeping the team motivated to win throughout the season. "Hats off to (Mark) Parent and Legger (Greg Legg). They've kept us gelled all year and we've been pretty consistent for the most part."

BlueClaws starting pitcher Brody Colvin put forth a solid effort, throwing 5 innings while allowing just 1 run on 3 hits. Drive hurler Chris Balcom-Miller dazzled the defending champs for 3 innings, recording strike outs for 6 of his first 7 outs, but lasted just 4 innings, allowing 3 hits and an earned run.

Greenville plated their run in the 4th inning, when third baseman Kolbrin Vitek hit a blooper behind second base against a drawn in infield that fell in for a single and plated Zach Gentile, who reached on a single and moved to third after a wild pitch and a balk by Colvin. The BlueClaws clapped back in the bottom of the same frame, tying the game on an RBI hit by Keoni Ruth that scored Barnes.

Righty reliever Luke Wertz pitched 2 shut out innings, retiring all 6 batters he faced, to earn the win. Wertz was not interested in earning a win for himself, he was only concerned with the team getting a victory to move ahead 2 games to 1, in the best-of-5 series. "Personally, I don't care (about earning a win for myself)...as long as we're winning. We did what we've been doing all year at home and that's win when it counts," Wertz said.

BlueClaws manager Mark Parent felt that Friday's win was the biggest of all the dramatic wins that the BlueClaws have recorded this year. "This was the biggest one of them all. I'd have to say that half of these walk-off wins have started with James at the plate. The more times he's on base, the better chance we have to score," Parent said of his speedy lead-off man.

Greenville's lefty ace, Drake Britton (2-3, 2.97 ERA) will face Lakewood's Jonathan Pettibone (8-6, 3.49 ERA) in game 4 at 4:05pm Saturday. If necessary, game 5 would be played 30 minutes following the completion of game 4. Greenville needs to sweep both games to win the SAL championship. However, if Lakewood wins one on Saturday, they will become the first team since 1994, when Savannah did it, to win back to back South Atlantic League titles.

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Friday, September 17, 2010

Exclusive Interview with Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr.

Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. is in the house at FirstEnergy Park in Lakewood for game 3 of the South Atlantic League Championship.

I had the opportunity to speak with Amaro Jr. about several subjects including the importance of the BlueClaws' run at a SAL title repeat, prospects that came in return for Cliff Lee, prospects who have shot up the Phillies' ranks this year, and plenty more minor league related matters.

Check out the media player below to listen to the full interview.



**This interview was featured on 97.3 ESPN's The Weekend Sports Guide with Tyrone Johnson. Listen to The Weekend Sports Guide every Saturday at noon on WENJ 97.3 in Millville, NJ.**
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Billy McMillon Speaks with PhoulBallz.com

Phillies phans will remember him best as being the player acquired in the deal that sent Darren Daulton to Florida in 1997. Currently, Billy McMillon is the manager of the Greenville (SC) Drive, Class A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox.

In his first season as a manager, McMillon has led the Drive to the South Atlantic League Championship Series against the Phillies' affiliate, the Lakewood BlueClaws, who are trying to become the first club to repeat as league champs since 1994, when Savannah won their second straight title.

A South Carolina native, McMillon played collegiate ball at Clemson University, where he still holds the best lifetime batting average, at .382.

I spoke with Billy prior the postponement of game 3 of the SAL championship series. Check out the media player below to listen to the full interview.



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SAL Championship Postponed, Suspensions & Zeid Speaks

Poor weather washed out the return of the South Atlantic League Championship Series to Lakewood. With more precipitation on the way, game 3 was postponed Thursday night when heavy rains left the FirstEnergy Park field too wet to play on. The best-of-five series between the Phillies' Class A affiliate the Lakewood BlueClaws and the Red Sox affiliate Greenville Drive is tied at 1 game apiece. Last season Lakewood defeated Greenville in 4 games to win the SAL championship.

The rescheduled time for game 3 is Friday at 7:05pm, with game 4, which was originally slated for Friday evening, being pushed back to Saturday at 4:05pm. A deciding game 5, if necessary, will be played 30 minutes following the finish of game 4.

Normally, minor league double header games are regulated to 7 innings. However, with the league championship on the line, both games on Saturday will be scheduled for 9 innings.

Game 3 will feature Lakewood starting pitcher Brody Colvin (6-8, 3.39 ERA in the regular season) against Chris Balcom-Miller (7-7, 3.30 ERA in the regular season).

Six suspensions were handed down by South Atlantic League president Eric Krupa, following a bench clearing scuffle that took place during game 2 of the League Championship Series on Tuesday night in Greenville.

Julio Rodriguez

In the 5th inning of game 2, Greenville's Derrick Gibson was gunned out at home plate by Leandro Castro while trying to score on a single. Gibson attempted to bowl over Lakewood catcher Sebastian Valle in an effort to knock the ball loose. Valle held on and spiked the ball. Gibson expressed his displeasure for the gesture, and Lakewood pitcher Julio Rodriguez made his point of view known, as Gibson's move resembled a cheap shot. Gibson and Rodriguez exchanged words, then got physical before both teams stormed the field.

After reviewing video of the incident, Krupa announced the suspensions. Lakewood's Leadro Castro and Korby Mintken will be suspended for game 3, while Julio Rodriguez will be suspended for game 4. Greenville's Michael Almanzar and Jeremy Hazelbaker with miss game 3, while Vladimir Frias will sit out game 4.

Josh Zeid

Josh Zeid, who pitched great in relief following Julio Rodriguez's ejection from game 2 with 3 hitless innings, has gone from Lakewood's closer in April, to the BlueClaws' 5th starter through the middle of the season and now seems to be the team's featured reliever.

Zeid, who won Phillies minor league pitcher of the month honors in April when he posted a 2-0 record with 3 saves, a 0.00 ERA and a .096 batting average against, has contributed in multiple roles to the team's championship repeat chase this year. The variance in duties hasn't discouraged Zeid, even though he admits the switches have not been ideal. "It's tough to adjust, when you don't know what you're doing each week. The change of routines is tough, but I've always said that I'll pitch whenever they want me to and I'll have fun doing it," Zeid stated in an exclusive interview with PhoulBallz.com.

The 23-year-old righty hurler, Zeid, feels like he has put his mark on the story of the 2010 BlueClaws, but knows his job isn't finished. "We're not done yet. There are still two more games to win. I've had a great year and a bunch of other guys have too. We've all worked hard and deserve to win (the SAL championship)."

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Thursday, September 16, 2010

BlueClaws...10 Years in 10 Minutes

This week I spoke with Scott Nap, who was formerly a videographer for the Phillies Single A affiliate the Lakewood BlueClaws. Scott began working with the team as a press box assistant with at the age of 16 in the team's inaugural season in 2001. In his 6 years with the team, Scott progressed upward, working closely with others to learn as much as he could and loved filming all the fun around Lakewood's FirstEnergy Park.

In 2007, Scott left the club to pursue a film teaching position, but he continues to have a close relationship with those around the team. Currently employed as a video producer with the MSG Varsity Network, Scott now has upgraded his own equipment and took it upon himself to put together a 10 year tribute video.

I posed some questions to Scott, who is also the writer-director for the web series "Issues", about his relationship with the BlueClaws organization and the video honoring a decade of baseball in Lakewood. Check out what he had to say as well as the terrific video below.


Can you tell me exactly what went into the creation of the video?

I spent over two weeks combing through over two dozen VHS tapes and miniDV tapes I had compiled over the years. I was often caught off guard by some of the events I found or the faces I saw. I wanted to focus on the FirstEnergy experience, rather than just a typical highlight reel of player moments. I included a lot of footage of people who never got to be down on the field, people working behind the scenes who never got the chance to speak with fans or watch the skits. You see fans who never missed games for the entire season. My best friends from home make a cameo. It was practically therapeutic. But the one shot I had to include for myself was a shot I didn't even know existed: Sue Keppel, the team's 1st head videographer, had filmed footage of me taking a picture of the press box and I turn toward her and take a shot of her as she's filming me. I had been looking at that still shot for years, wondering why I took this random picture. But more than that, it was just fun to find the matches between lyrics and the shots.


At this point after you've moved on, what does the BlueClaws team mean to you?

I was a 16 years old and thought I wanted to be a broadcaster or a general manager when I started day one of year one. By the time I left, I had become a professional filmmaker with listed credits to my name. I virtually grew up at FirstEnergy Park. I didn't just bring family and friends there- a lot of the people I met for the first time in the park became friends and family. It's to the point where someone flagged me down in Disney World the day I proposed to my fiancee and asked if I used to be the cameraman for the Blueclaws. This was almost four years after I last used the camera! It's a tight-knit community and I love being a part of it. The way my father talks about working at the Point Pleasant boardwalk when he was a teenager is the same way I speak about my time with the team: with great love and occasional laughing disbelief at some of the crazy things that happened.


What are some highlights that folks who watch the video can look for?

A lot of former 'Claws made it in! Check out Ryan Howard from his recent rehab start, Cole Hamels signing autographs, Carlos Ruiz scoring the winning runs in Year One, JA Happ warming up in the pen and Michael Bourn making like a Springsteen song running out a triple. Plus there's Jody Mac from WFAN, local broadcaster and newly recruited ESPN radioman Mike Krenek goofing off, Phillie great John Kruk, never-before-seen stills from the Christopher Reeve speech, and much more. Ten minutes is not nearly enough to encapsulate ten years of memories. Not even close.


Thanks to Scott for his time and for allowing me to display the video on PhoulBallz.com.



Blueclaws: 10 Years in 10 Minutes from Scott Nap on Vimeo.

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Hunt for the Other Triple Crown

Much has been made of the triple crown chase in the National League this season. Such a feat means a batter would lead his league in batting average, HR and RBI in the same year. No National League player has accomplished this since 1937.

While Carlos Gonzalez, Joey Votto and Albert Pujols chasing such an accomplishment is surely an intriguing story, the offensive triple crown is not the only rare tri-fold achievement. How about the other one?

Roy Halladay is chasing the pitching triple crown in the National League, which would include leading the Senior Circuit in wins, ERA and strike outs. Currently tied for the league lead in wins with Colorado's Ubaldo Jimanez and St. Louis' Adam Wainwright, at 18, Halladay ranks third in ERA and second in strike outs.

Halladay's 2.44 ERA places him behind just the Padres' Mat Latos' 2.43 and the Marlins' Josh Johnson's 2.30. Florida's ace, Johnson, has been shut down for the season after he experienced recurring back pain, so his mark stands as the one to beat, as he started 28 games and threw 183 2/3 innings this season and will qualify as the leader in that category.

Currently tied for second in the league in strike outs at 201, with teammate Cole Hamels and the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw, Halladay ranks behind just one NL pitcher...San Francisco's Tim Lincecum, who currently has 208 strike outs this season.

Wainwright is also in contention to rock three crowns this year, as he is tied atop the wins list, is ranked fourth in ERA at 2.50 and is fifth in the league in strike outs with 199.

Less rare than the offensive triple crown, which hasn't been accomplished since 1967 when Boston's Carl Yastrzemski led the American League in the big three categories, the pitching triple crown has been won eight times since the last offensive triple crown was locked down. No matter which crown is being discussed, the appeal of each is high because of its elusiveness.

There have been 35 pitching triple crown winners in the history of the American and National Leagues, while an offensive triple crown has been won 15 times.

It's not surprising that a hurler would be closing in on such an accomplishment in what has often been referred to as The Year of the Pitcher. In 2010 an unprecedented (in the long ball era) 5 no-hitters have been recorded in the Majors, including 2 perfect games...one of which was by Halladay. The last time more than 3 no-hitters were thrown in a single season was 1991 when Major League hurlers notched 7 no-hitters.

In Phillies history, two pitchers have brought a pitching triple crown home. Grover Cleveland Alexander did it in 1915 and 1916. Steve Carlton did it also, in 1972. Former Phillie Pedro Martinez clinched an American League pitching triple crown in 1999 with Boston.

Based on the Cardinals' schedule, Wainwright should get at least 3 more starts this season, and could go 4 if he makes a start on short rest. Halladay is on pace to start 4 more games, if the Phillies need him to. Should the 3-time defending NL East champions lock down another division title with time to spare, Halladay wouldn't be needed in the final weekend of the regular season and could potentially skip the start to enjoy some extra rest prior to beginning the post-season.

Despite the greater focus on the offensive hunt for the Triple Crown, if Halladay or Wainwright can accomplish the feat this season, it will be just as special and worthy of praise.
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Photos- Getty Images

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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Phillies Prospect Nick Hernandez Talks Injury & Rehab

Nick Hernandez, a 22-year-old pitching prospect, has had an injury plagued 2010 season. In 8 starts with the Phillies Class A affiliate Lakewood BlueClaws, Hernandez posted a 3-1 record with a 1.61 ERA and a .197 batting average against.

A 12th round draft pick out of the University of Tennessee in the 2009 amateur draft, Hernandez was sidelined in May with a shoulder injury. Despite that, Nick was selected to represent Lakewood in the mid-season South Atlantic League All-star game.

Nick had a pair of brief stints with the rookie level Gulf Coast League Phillies in July and August, while he rehabbed his shoulder, but experienced a set back and wasn't able to display the same dominance in Florida as he did with Lakewood earlier in the year.

Recently, I spoke with Nick about the status of his shoulder, his rehab work, his outlook for next season and more. Check out the media player below to listen to the full interview.



To read my previous interview with Nick, click here.

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Ryan Howard on the Season Finale of Entourage

If you missed it, here is the season finale of Entourage that featured Phillies All-star Ryan Howard.

In the episode, Howard sits poolside with his twin brother Corey and speaks on the phone with Jerry Ferrara's character Turtle, who hits Howard up for some money to fund his upstart tequila venture.

Howard's cameo comes up at about the 5 minute mark of the episode featured in high quality video.



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Monday, September 13, 2010

Jarred Cosart Speaks About the Status of His Elbow

Jarred Cosart has been sidelined with an elbow injury since he left a late June start after pitching just 2/3 of an inning. Eventually diagnosed as a mere strain that would heal with physical therapy, the Phillies organization shut down Cosart for the season to avoid a strenuous work load and allow the 20-year-old right-hander the opportunity to heal fully and avoid further aggravation of the ligaments in his elbow.

As his baseball activities wrapped up in Clearwater, Florida this month, where Cosart had been doing his therapy and throwing sessions, Cosart was assigned to return to the Lakewood BlueClaws and join his teammates for their playoff push, as they attempt to repeat as South Atlantic League champions.

With the BlueClaws this season, Cosart went 7-3 with a 3.79 ERA and 77 strike outs in 71 1/3 innings pitched. Cosart's sick fastball (often measured at 97 MPH) and exceptional command got him recognized recently as the #2 prospect in the entire Phillies minor league system, in a survey of minor league experts conducted by the Reading Eagle.

I had the opportunity to speak with Jarred over the weekend about his status, what activities he's doing to stay healthy and what he'll be working on over the off-season. Check out the media player below to listen to the full interview.



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Series Preview: Phillies at Marlins, 9/13-9/15


With Jimmy Rollins still out of the lineup, the Phillies will need to continue battling division rivals, with a playoff berth on the line, minus their former league MVP and multi-time All-star. Rollins traveled back to Philadelphia to visit team doctors for his injured right hamstring, while the Phillies (83-61) travel south to begin a 3-game series against the Marlins (73-69). Initially, Rollins was expected to return to the lineup after resting a few games, but when the injury did not subside, Rollins was scheduled to have his leg examined.

Philadelphia has posted a 13-4 record since being swept by Houston at home last month. The Phillies will try to continue their hot streak by sending Joe Blanton to the mound for game 1 of the series. Blanton, who missed the opening month of 2010, has improved lately (3-1 record, 3.67 ERA in 11 second half starts), after a poor start to his season (3-5 record, 6.41 ERA in 13 first half starts). Florida will counter with lefty Andrew Miller, who will be making his 4th start of the season.

Read on for details on the pitching match ups and plenty more analysis from the series.


Monday, 7:10pm. Joe Blanton (6-6, 5.15 ERA) vs. Andrew Miller (1-1, 6.16 ERA). In 7 career starts against the Marlins, Blanton has posted a 4-2 record with a 3.35 ERA. In his last 9 starts, Blanton is 3-0 with a 3.62 ERA. Dan Uggla is 3-for-17 (.176 avg) against Blanton is his career. Miller gave up 7 earned runs in 4 innings against the Phillies in his last start. In 11 career games against Philadelphia, Miller is 0-4 with a 6.42 ERA. Shane Victorino is 10-for-20 (.500 avg) with 4 doubles and 2 HR in his career against Miller.

Tuesday, 7:10pm. Cole Hamels (10-10, 3.06 ERA) vs. Adelbert Mendez (1-0, 0.00 ERA). Hamels' career ERA in September is 2.62. In 14 career starts against Florida, Hamels is 3-7 with a 3.92 ERA. In his last 4 road starts, Hamels has posted a 1-1 record with a 1.45 ERA. Mendez earned a win in his Major League debut last week, throwing 6 shut out innings against the Phils. In 40 minor league games this year, Mendez has a 5-5 record with 1 save and a 3.98 ERA.

Wednesday, 7:10pm. Roy Halladay (18-10, 2.44 ERA) vs. Alex Sanabia (4-2, 3.95 ERA). Halladay has a 3-2 record and a 1.98 ERA in 6 career starts against the Marlins. In his last 6 starts, Halladay has posted a 4-2 record and a 2.82 ERA. Dan Uggla is 6-for-16 (.375 avg) with 2 homers is his career against Halladay. Sanabia, a 22-year-old righty, is 3-1 with a 3.45 ERA over his last 5 starts. In 5 home games, Sanabia has a 4.43 ERA with a .290 batting avg. against.


Ryan Howard is batting .326 with 5 homers and 13 RBI in 11 games this month. In 11 August games, Howard batted .125 with 1 homer and 4 RBI.

In his career against Florida, Brad Lidge is 1-1 with 16 saves in 17 chances and a 2.01 ERA. In 23 games since the All-star break, Lidge has posted a 2.49 ERA and a .169 batting average against.

Jayson Werth is a .207 career hitter in 69 games against the Marlins. Werth is a combined 1-for-18 (.055 avg) against Andrew Miller, reliever Burke Badenhop and Adalberto Mendez.

In 65 games at home, Dan Uggla has posted a .245 batting average. His average in 74 road games is .311.

Rookie Mike Stanton is a .368 hitter in 9 games against the Phillies this season. Stanton, who is batting .251 overall this year, has posted just a .169 avg. in 35 home games this year.

Emilio Bonifacio is 14-for-29 (.483 avg) with 9 runs scored over the past week.

Phillies Team ERA- 3.78
Marlins Team ERA- 4.00

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Sunday, September 12, 2010

BlueClaws Advance to SAL Finals


LAKEWOOD, NJ- On Saturday night in game 3 of the Northern Division playoffs, Lakewood starting pitcher Jonathan Pettibone took charge early and led his team back to the South Atlantic League Championship.

From the start, Pettibone's command was on point and his fastball was a notch faster than normal, coming in at 94 MPH on the FirstEnergy Park radar gun. Pettibone's battery mate Sebastian Valle fed off the energy from his pitcher and slammed a 2-run homerun in the bottom of the 1st inning that scored Michael Dabbs, who singled. Jeremy Barnes also drove in a run in the 1st, when he slapped a single that plated Leandro Castro.

Pettibone held opposing batters to just 1 hit while striking out a career high 9 batters over 7 innings, leading the defending league champs to a 6-0 victory and clinching a return to the finals.

"The early run support definitely helped my confidence," Pettibone said after the game. "I just tried to go out there and pitch the best I could to give the team a chance to win. I knew they were going to score runs for me. We got shut down (in game 2) and that's not like us."

Lakewood added a run in the 4th inning when short stop Alan Schoenberger knocked a single that drove Brian Gump home.

Pettibone rode a no-hitter into the 6th inning, where he surrendered the Crawdads' first hit to Travis Adair, with 2 outs.

"Pettibone set the tone right away. He was just outstanding in every sense," Lakewood manager Mark Parent stated. "He had ice water in his veins and he did exactly what he has done for (us lately)."

Pettibone's ERA over his last 9 starts is a sparkling 1.82.

The BlueClaws tacked on some insurance in the 7th inning, when Keoni Ruth reached on an error by Hickory third baseman Matt West. Alan Schoenberger then stroked a double on an 0-2 pitch that was barely fair, down the left field line. Ruth displayed great speed to score from first base on the play.

"I got the pitch away with runners on and I had been struggling to gets hits with runners in scoring position so it was nice to contribute tonight in the win," Schoenberger said. "Parent had actually called for a bunt on the first two (pitches), and I wasn't unable to get that down. I got an 0-2 change up that I got out in front of and just hit it hard enough to get it past the third baseman and keep it fair."

Also in the 7th, Dabbs plated Schoenberger with a sacrifice fly.

Hickory played poorly in the field, committing 5 defensive miscues in a game where there was no margin for error. Three of the BlueClaws' six runs were unearned.

Right-hander Luke Wertz threw the 8th and 9th innings for the BlueClaws to complete the 2-hit shut out.

Lakewood will travel to Greenville (Red Sox affiliate) to play the first two games of the championship round on Monday and Tuesday. Lakewood will host games 3, 4 and 5 on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, if necessary.

Pettibone expressed belief in his team's chances in the championship series. "We're all fired up and ready. We can beat Greenville. We beat them before." Lakewood would become the first repeat SAL champions since Savannah did it in 1993-1994.


Notes...
Mark Parent's pitching rotation for the SAL championship series is slated to be Trevor May, Julio Rodriguez and Brody Colvin. For games 4 & 5, if necessary, Parent would use Jonathan Pettibone and Trevor May. This will be Jonathan Pettibone's first opportunity at any level to win a championship. The BlueClaws went 18-for-100 (.180 avg) in their first round series. Next week's match up against Savannah marks the first championship rematch in league history. Lakewood beat Savannah 3 games to 1 last September.
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Saturday, September 11, 2010

Jiwan James Speaks with PhoulBallz.com

The Lakewood BlueClaws are in the midst of the South Atlantic League playoffs. One of their offensive leaders all season has been outfield prospect Jiwan James. In 133 regular season games this season, James posted a .270 batting average, hit 5 homeruns, drove in 64 runs, scored 85 runs and set a BlueClaws franchise record 24-game hitting streak.

James, a 21-year-old, is a converted pitcher and is often described as the best athlete in the Phillies minor league system.

In a recent poll of minor league experts, conducted by the Reading Eagle, James was ranked as the 9th best prospect in the Phillies' system.

I spoke with Jiwan about the BlueClaws' confidence level in the post-season, slumping and plenty more. Check out the media player below, to listen to the full interview.




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Rollins & Lidge Ailments Not Serious


A pair of key Phillies contributors were sidelined this week, as both Jimmy Rollins and Brad Lidge were inactive with new ailments.

Rollins, who has already spent two stints on the disabled list this season with a calf injury, strained his right hamstring while running out a double on Wednesday against the Marlins. He was removed from the game and sat out Friday's contest in New York, following a day off.

Rollins is expected to sit out Saturday's afternoon contest against the Metropolitans and quite possibly Sunday's series finale as well. No additional rest should be required, provided Rollins does not experience a set back.


Lidge hyperextended his elbow last weekend, and the condition worsened as he continued to throw after feeling discomfort. The decision was made to give Lidge a few days off, and after throwing a side session without a set back on Thursday, Lidge is expected to throw for the Phillies this weekend in New York. Early reports that Lidge would be available on Friday were accurate, but since the Phillies did not have a save situation in their 8-4 defeat of New York, Lidge received an extra day of rest.

The hyperextension occurred when Lidge was overthrowing his fastball. A mechanical adjustment could be in store for for the Phillies' closer.

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Lakewood Falls Short, Deciding Game Saturday

LAKEWOOD, NJ- With a chance to clinch a spot in the South Atlantic League finals, the Lakewood BlueClaws couldn't muster the offense it was going to take to get themselves an extra day off before travelling to the host city for the next round's opening game.

Struggling to put the ball in play when it counted against the Rangers affiliate Hickory Crawdads, the BlueClaws stranded 4 runners in scoring position, with the game tied in the 7th and 9th innings. Lakewood fell short again when they came to the plate trailing in the 10th inning and lined themselves out of a chance to tie the game or walk off with a victory.

A lead off walk for Leandro Castro and a double by Jeremy Barnes, that began the 7th inning, were wasted when Hickory reliever Miguel De Los Santos refocused and struck out the next 3 batters. This occurred in the midst of a stretch where 13 of 14 outs made by BlueClaws batters were on strike outs.

In the 9th inning Castro led off again drawing a walk. Barnes bunted him over and Stephen Batts flied out to center, allowing Castro to advance to 3rd base. Brian Gump, batting for Anthony Hewitt, walked and took 2nd base on a fielders choice defensive indifference call. Australia native Alan Schoenberger, with a chance to be the hero, then went down on strikes against reliever Joseph Ortiz.

"We just couldn't make contact when we just needed a simple fly ball or a ground ball. We weren't doing the fundamental things on offense, when there were guys in position to score runs, which is something we've been pretty good at for the most part," Lakewood manager Mark Parent said after the game.

A 10th inning run, that put the Crawdads ahead, nearly wasn't a run at all. With runners on first and third with 1 out, clean up hitter Zach Zaneski hit a slow grounder to short stop that was scooped by Schoenberger, who flipped to second baseman Keoni Ruth to get an out at second. However, Ruth was unable to complete a transfer in order to throw the ball to first base for a double play. As a result, Leury Garcia scored the go ahead run, before McGuire escaped the inning.

Garcia had reached scoring position in the 10th when he laced a base hit to center field, that should have been a single, but Jiwan James fell down while fielding the ball and Garcia was awarded a double when he hustled into second base.

Lakewood starting pitcher Brody Colvin had a strong outing overall, going 5 innings and striking out 5, while allowing just 3 hits and 1 unearned run. His counterpart, 19-year-old lefty Robbie Erlin, put forth an excellent effort as well. Erlin went 5 innings, struck out 8 and allowed just 2 hits and 1 earned run.

Hickory relievers Miguel De Los Santos and Joseph Ortiz combined for 5 shut out innings and 10 more strike outs.

"That team pitched their (butts) off and for the most part we did too," Parent said.

Lakewood attempted to rally in the 10th inning, when Ruth slapped a 1-out double to left center. Lakewood was in an ideal spot, with their top two hitters, Jonathan Singleton and Sebastian Valle, due up. Ortiz pitched carefully to Singleton and walked him. Valle ripped the first pitch he saw to third baseman Matt West who stepped on third to get the force out on Ruth, then fired over to first base to end the game and force action on Saturday.

In the end, Hickory pulled out a 2-1 extra inning victory in front of 7,335 BlueClaws fans. Saturday's game will determine the winner of the best-of-3 series.

Hitting coach Greg Legg expressed both frustration and understanding after Lakewood's offense completed an 18 strike out exhibition. While it was tough for the veteran hitting guru to watch his players struggle, Legg knows that this is the sort of baseball people should expect in the South Atlantic League. "This is a strike out league," Legg said. "How many times did they strike out? 12 tonight, and last game they struck out 16 times. That's why these two teams are in the playoffs, 'cause they've got good pitching."

Both teams got on the board in the opening frame and the game stayed locked into overtime. Hickory left fielder Travis Addair walked to start the game and advanced on a wild pitch before he moved to third on a sacrifice. Crawdads right fielder Jared Prince plated the run by grounding out to first base. Lakewood clapped back in the bottom of the 1st when Castro drove home Ruth with an RBI ground out of his own.

Greenville, a Boston affiliate, swept Savannah in 2 games in the Southern Division series, so the BlueClaws' or Crawdads' destination is decided for the best-of-5 championship series, after a winner is determined on Saturday. Right-hander Jonathan Pettibone (8-6, 3.49 ERA) will take the mound for Lakewood against righty hurler Jake Brigham (5-5, 3.51 ERA) at 7:05pm.


Notes....
Prior to the game, the BlueClaws announced that they were extending their player development contract with the Phillies through the 2012 season. Lakewood pitching coach Steve Schrenk will spend the off-season as a manager in the Australian Baseball League. Righty prospect Jarred Cosart, who has been sidelined since late June with an elbow injury, is with the BlueClaws after spending 2 months rehabbing in Florida. Cosart, who is still on the disabled list, says his elbow is 100% and he has begun facing hitters.

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