View from Spring Training: 2011 Philadelphia Phillies

2011 Philadelphia Phillies

NFL Equivalent – Baltimore Ravens: And the Mid-Atlantic is alive and well!  The Ravens made a name for themselves during the last decade with a lights-out defense that put the fear of god in opponents.  To me, nothing was more terrifying on a Sunday night than hearing Fabolous open the broadcast, Mike Patrick crowing about “guys flying around the field”, and seeing Ray Lewis and Ed Reed wearing all black.  That fear returned this past season, and, with a possibly historic starting rotation in Philly for 2011, the NL East is already a bit a quiver.  Both sides have home run hitters in the Ravens’ RB Ray Rice and the Phillies’ 1B Ryan Howard.  With strong fan bases and relatively new stadiums, this comparison—for once—actually makes some sense.

Google Search: The Phillies very much held ground this offseason, with one rather notable exception.  P Cliff Lee is here to firm up a starting rotation that already featured three All-Stars….. and Joe Blanton.  OF Jason Werth is gone, replaced by the handy Ben Francisco, who is actually a typical “Skoal Guy”: great in a pinch, but rather unpleasant when left in for too long. The Fightin’ Phaithful can also exhale, after the announcement that 2B Chase Utley’s opening day replacement will be IF Wilson Valdez, and not, after all, Luis Castillo.

Famous Movie Quote: Forget everything you’ve seen on television and in the movies. – Denzel Washington from Philadelphia.

In the case of the ’11 Phillies, this may actually be apt.  With a staff anchored by two horses in Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee and buffeted by Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels—two righties and two southpaws, if you’re scoring—and a battle-tested clubhouse, this team could make a run at the record books.  They are, nearly, to a man, the same team that won the NL East easily last year.  They have an American League lineup with speed at the top, thunder in the middle, and a bunch of pests at the bottom.  OF Shane Victorino is a guy that just about everyone would kill for to have in their team’s lineup, and might STILL be the most underrated player in the game.  Lots of pundits are predicting that the Phillies’ weakness lies at the back of their bullpen, where closer Brad Lidge will be set up by RP Ryan Madson and RP Jose Contreras. 2011 record: 102 – 60; 1st Place NL East

view from Citizens Bank Park courtesy of @EveryDe

NLCS Game 4: We’re that much closer to a Giants/Rangers World Series

How do the Philadelphia Phillies conceivably come back from a 3-1 series deficit?  They have Roy Halladay pitching tonight and then, if necessary, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels in games 6 & 7.  Against most opponents, I would say this presents a favorable pairing for the Phillies.  However, the Giants are not most opponents.  Tonight, they will trot Tim Lincecum out to the mound in a pitching rematch of Game 1 where Lincecum beat Halladay in Philadelphia.  With Jonathan Sanchez and Matt Cain waiting in the wings for games 6&7, do people really believe that Philadelphia is going to win 3 games in a row?

The advertising department over at Fox Sports must be going crazy right now thinking about the prospects of a Texas Rangers/San Francisco Giants World Series.  Two major markets, in San Fran and Dallas, but not a lot of national appeal for either team.  We shall see how it all pans out.  As a fan, I’m hoping for a Philly win tonight and more baseball from Philadelphia this weekend.

NLCS Game 3: Is AT&T Park the Best Park in Baseball?

It may not be the best park in the MLB but baseball in San Francisco does provide fans with a picturesque backdrop.  Today’s NLCS game 3 was played on a perfect fall day in the Bay Area and Giants fans were treated to another fantastic pitching performance, this time around by Matt Cain who led SF to a 3-0 victory, and 2-1 series lead, against the Philadelphia Phillies.  So fans of baseball who have traveled to San Francisco, is the ballpark experience as good as it looks on TV?

MLB Playoffs: League Championship Series Open

Fans turned out in record numbers to watch Cy Young award winners CC Sabathia, Tim Lincecum, and Roy Halladay take to the mound in the opening weekend of the MLB League Championship series.  It comes as a major surprise  that, with all this pitching talent, Cody Ross would be the player every fan is talking about this morning.  Ross, who came over from the Marlins in a late season trade, belted 3 homeruns this weekend, 2 off of Halladay Saturday night, to lead the Giants to a crucial 1-1 series split in Philadelphia.  As the games shift west to San Francisco, expect to see more great pitching as the likes of Matt Cain and Cole Hamels prepare to take their turn.

Sabathia and the Yankees are relatively lucky to leave Arlington with a 1-1 split. Except for the 8th inning of game 1, the Rangers have outhit, outpitched, and outplayed New York.  Tonight represents an enormous game for the Yankees, who will face Cliff Lee and his impressive playoff ERA.  Yankee fans are hoping that Andy Pettitte can come through tonight because that means that unless Joe Girardi sends Sabathia back to the mound on short days rest, AJ Burnett will start game 4 for NY down 2-1 in the series and that makes all Yankee fans very, very nervous.

MLB Playoffs Are Here: All Eyes On History

Looks like Roy Halladay’s no-hitter caught the attention of the Target Field jumbotron operator.  If you look carefully, you can also see the Yankees sneaking a peek from the outfield.  Congrats to Doc on a masterful pitching performance. Congrats to Carlos Ruiz for not tripping on Brandon Phillips bat while recording the final out.  How in the world do the Reds bounce back from this?