It’s Spring Training Charlie Brown!

b8748ed2149a2bf54a6c0d339d21b72eFebruary 13, 2017 – This week is the best week of the winter season because it’s the week that pitchers and catchers report to spring training camp.

Today is the actual day for the Phillies. The full team will report in a few days so team workouts can begin, followed by the spring game schedule.

Each year, I say I’m going to make it down to Clearwater, Florida, and one of these years I will. However, even if I only get to experience it from Southeastern Pennsylvania, it signals that spring is on the way and Opening Day is within our sights.

It doesn’t get much better than that!

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The first place Phils?

downloadMay 20, 2016 – Yes, that is correct and the title doesn’t need a question mark. For a few hours on Wednesday, the Philadelphia Phillies tied the Washington Nationals for first place in the National League East, surprising many baseball fans – including me.

After the Phillies’ abysmal record these past few years, and the prediction they’d come in last again this year, it is surprising. Yet, this talented young team believes they can win. According to Phillies.com, here are five reasons why the Phillies are playing so well.

By last night, the Phillies sat alone in second place after a day off yesterday and two Nationals wins, but only a respectable one game behind.

Philadelphia should be proud of this team; they have defied the odds and proved they are contenders, which is something they weren’t supposed to do until next year or the year after. Still, most fans don’t expect playoff baseball in Philadelphia this year, but we’d be thrilled if it happened.

My prediction for this summer – Phillies games will be heard again on the New Jersey beaches and front porches throughout the area announced by the greatest radio play-by-play and color duo ever, Scott Franzke and Larry Andersen. If that’s as good as it gets this year, I’m good. It’s a step in the right direction with the promise of a much brighter future ahead.

Baseball’s Best

October 29, 2015 – The Phillies may not have made the playoffs this year, but the team was voted the best in baseball … for their mascot.

The team at Good Morning America named the Phillie Phanatic the best team mascot and they were right on target. I hope this sets the record straight for the 2012 debacle, when Mr. Met pushed the Phanatic out of the top spot and claimed it for himself.

Who’s the best mascot? Isn’t it obvious?

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The pro sports edge

downloadJanuary 29, 2015 – With the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots in Arizona awaiting Sunday’s Super Bowl, it’s the perfect time for a sports-related top ten list that focuses on weird ways pro sports teams try to gain an edge over the competition.

Deflate-gate is sort of tied into this top ten list, highlighting that the Patriots are serial cheaters. No. 3 on the list suggests that the Philadelphia Eagles are more paranoid than other NFL teams about code breaking, which might have to do with the Patriots getting caught stealing plays against them in Super Bowl 10 years ago.

Sports ethics 101

bildeJune 3, 2013 – While the Phillies abysmal play has me seeing red, and I don’t mean of the pinstripe variety, should I be happy that they took the last game of the series off a Milwaukee team with the second worst record in the National League?

I’m not even going to argue that Saturday afternoon’s game may have been a win if not for the terrible blown call by the umpire who called Kyle Kendrick out at second after the Brewer’s Jean Segura clearly dropped the ball. At least not for winning the game, because at that point it didn’t matter. There were too many reasons prior to that situation that cost the Phillies this series.

I promised to swear off of the team and baseball, but what I discovered over the past few weeks is that ignorance is not bliss. Occasionally, when I check the score or dare to watch an inning, I still want to see the Phillies ahead, though I am often disappointed.

Enough about poor play; I planned to write about the ethics of the game – if they apply to sports at all – and the blown call in the ninth inning on Saturday. Not only did the ball roll away from Segura, which immediately meant that Kendrick returned successfully and safely to second base, but the Milwaukee second baseman picked up the ball after it rolled away and then back to him, and lifted it to show to the umpire that he had it all along. Is that an ethical play?

Perhaps any baseball player would have done the same, yet still it is cheating.

The umpire came clean after the game and admitted he blew the call. That’s fine; and I’m sure one game in the Phillies’ dreadful season isn’t going to matter much. Suppose, however, that this game was the deciding factor in a World Series. Would it still be OK? And would a team want to win that way and possibly have an asterisk next to that game forever?

In the ethical sense, this may be considered a small issue, but where to we draw the line? It also begs the question, should there be instant replay at baseball games?

Here’s something else to consider. Now that the umpire admitted his mistake and baseball fans everywhere have seen the replay, does Segura come off as a cheater, or is it just no big deal?

The true confessions of a frustrated Phillies fan

0926-help-wanted_full_380May 17, 2013 – Would you rather cheer blindly (and happily) for a team who has struggled for years with little or no success, or enjoy a great five-year run where they dominate the division, win a world championship, and then return to mediocre?

In other words, is it better to have loved and lost, then never to have loved at all?

I am probably not the only Phillies fan to ponder this age-old question. Their run from 2007 through 2011, and the 2008 championship is the dream of every baseball fan. Now, left with memories of greatness and a present and near future that looks bleak, I almost wish it never happened. Ignorance truly is bliss.

During the bad years, before 2007, I cheered for my flawed team. In 2008, when we finally made it to the ultimate goal, it didn’t satisfy my taste for winning, it made me greedy for more. How I long to return to the days when I did not know better, when I took each game for what it was and enjoyed it despite being out of first place by double digits, back when I was accustomed to mediocrity.

Say what you will about fan faithfulness or jumping off the bandwagon. It does not apply to me.  I once was one of those fans that balked when friends and family would say the Phillies stink, and I never counted them out of a playoff run until it was mathematically impossible. Now I am ready to admit defeat this early in the season, agree that they are a bad team, and that I am frustrated because I thought they are capable of more. Sure, they are aging, but I convinced myself at the beginning of the season they had enough gas in the tank to make one more run with this team in tact. Last year, in a season plagued with injuries, I could get away with the excuse that the lack of offense had to do with the absence of key players on the disabled list. They played better in the second half, when Chase Utley and Ryan Howard came back, so the theory seemed plausible. Nevertheless, this year is no better, even with a full team on the field.

I still have my moments of fantasy, and try to keep my momentum up for the team. I went to Wednesday’s terrible 10-4 loss against the Indians, and I look at the standings and realize that the NL East is still up for grabs. Atlanta or Washington is not running away with this division, as the experts predicted. Unfortunately, I do not have the faith the Phillies will take advantage of this situation and do something about it. They look defeated, as if they have given up themselves. That leaves me scratching my head wondering why I should care. There is nothing left to say except my beloved team is not doing their part to keep me interested, and that is a painful confession.

How can we fix this? Only one thought comes to mind. It is time to say goodbye to many core members of this team that I once loved, become sellers at the trade deadline, and hope we can get our competitive edge back quickly. My faith and passion for baseball and the Phillies depend on it.