October 2011

Congrats to the Cards…

Welcome back to the “Philling You In” blog.

What a World Series! Amazing! Unbelievable! Unforgettable! Okay, you get the point. It was one of the best ever — and I did not miss a second of it. I was glued to the television for each game — and I was not disappointed.

The 2011 World Series will certainly go down as one of the best ever. And, Game 6 will definitely be considered one of the best World Series games ever played. I’m still thinking about it. What a way to end it! There may be a statue of David Freese in St. Louis soon – keep your eyes open for that.

Isn’t it funny how things work out sometimes? Many fans (except maybe in St. Louis) thought the Cardinals’ season would be over in September. Down 10 1/2 games with not much left in the season, the Cardinals began one of the most remarkable runs in baseball.

It was a combined effort, as many of the players stepped-up at the right time. Led of course by the best player in baseball (Albert Pujols), the Cardinals proved a lot of people wrong. And, the great efforts by the Cardinals made for a great World Series.

”I think the last month of the season, that’s where it started,” Pujols said. ”Different guys were coming huge, getting big hits, and we carried that into the postseason and here we are, world champions.”

Think about what we saw this year in the World Series.

We saw game-winning heroics — numerous times. We saw mis-managing, and over-managing — numerous times. We saw Pujols solidify himself as one of the best players of all-time. Don’t forget he hit three home runs in a game! We saw just how good Chris Carpenter is, and we saw just how important it is to have a full team contribute. From Pujols, to Lance Berkman, to Allen Craig, to Kyle Lohse, the Cardinals proved that they had the right team in place, and in turn, took home their 11th World Championship.

The Cardinals are the Yankees of the National League. Their history is un-matched by many.

So, congratulations to the St. Louis Cardinals and to former R-Phils infielder Nick Punto! It is going to be a crazy offseason for the Cards. They will have a big decision to make with Pujols — who is a free agent. The best player in baseball is going to want to get a big payday. What will the Cards do? Only time will tell.

There’s No Baseball…Tonight!

Welcome back to the “Philling You In” blog. I just found out the news, and boy am I upset.

Due to inclement weather (expected) in St. Louis, there is no World Series game tonight — nooooooo! I don’t know about you, but I was really looking forward to watching a game tonight. Now I’ll have to wait until Thursday, which means two-straight nights without a baseball game — ugh! I guess I should get used to that though, right? The offseason is near.

Here is the official word from MLB.

So now, tonight’s Game 6 is officially postponed, and will be played on Thursday night at 8:05 p.m. Game 7, if necessary, will be played on Friday at 8:05 p.m.

What do I watch tonight now?

Here is what is on tonight, according to TV Guide:

8PM: Survivor: South Pacific (CBS) — How is that show still on television? Is there anyone who actually still watches it? Nope, I’ll pass.

8PM: Family Guy (TBS) — I’m a huge Family Guy fan — I have probably seen every episode at least 10 times. As much as I would turn that on tonight, I’ll pass.

9PM: Modern Family (ABC) — This is by far the best sitcom on tv but guess what? It’s a repeat.

9PM: Criminal Minds (CBS) — I love Criminal Minds — great show, but of course tonight it’s a repeat. I don’t need to watch a repeat of that, so I’ll pass.

10PM: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (CBS) — Another repeat, come on now. Why are these shows not new?

Okay, well here is what I have decided on — Netflix. There has got to be a good movie on there I can watch tonight. Once again television has let me down.

Series Tied — Fans Are Watching…

Welcome back for another edition of the “Philling You In” blog.

I watched a lot of sports this weekend, and enjoyed almost all of them.

Over the weekend, fans had the chance to see the Penn State Nittany Lions improve to 7-1 with a 34-24 win at Northwestern. It’s been an impressive year for Joe Pa and crew. The real test, however, will begin this weekend, and continue throughout the rest of the season. Coming up, they face Illinois (23), Nebraska (13), and then go to Ohio State and Wisconsin (4) to end the season.

Fans also had a chance to see just how bad the Indianapolis Colts are without Peyton Manning — they lost 62-7 to the Saints — wow! And, fans got a glimpse at just how bad the Raiders were with the newly-acquired Carson Palmer (28-0 loss to the Chiefs). Palmer and starter Kyle Boller threw three interceptions each! For those keeping track, that’s six interceptions.

Thanks to that awful Colts-Saints game, more people watched the World Series on Sunday night — wooohoo! And, hopefully the same people that tuned into Game 4 will be back for Game 5 tonight. With another bad football game set for tonight, fans would be smart to tune in to Game 5. Watch a game that matters!

And, if you need a little incentive, here you go…

Albert Pujols launched three home runs in Game 3 on Saturday. Don’t you want to watch the best player in baseball on the big stage each night? You have at least two more chances to see him as a Cardinal. By the way, if you like offense, St. Louis won that Game 3 slugfest by a score of 16-7. With that, the Cardinals took a two games to one lead over the Rangers. Don’t forget to tune in to see former R-Phils infielder Nick Punto.

If you like pitching, than Game 4 was for you.

Enter Derek Holland, who may have the greatest mustache ever!

Holland, 25, posted a 16-5 mark with a 3.95 ERA in 2011 for the Rangers. The Ohio native finished first in the America League in shutouts (four), fourth in the AL in complete games (four), and fourth in the AL in wins (16). It was a breakout year for the young lefty, his Game 4 performance was one for the ages.

On Sunday, Holland was marvelous. The young lefty dominated Cardinals hitters each inning, and pitched into the ninth. In the ninth, Holland allowed a one-out walk, and then fought for his chance to remain in the game.

Manager Ron Washington strolled to the mound and talked it over with Holland. The 25-year-old urged his manager to let him stay in — it didn’t work. He was pulled for closer Neftali Feliz, who eventually would shut the door on Game 4 — giving the Rangers a 4-0 win.

The performance by Holland was awesome. Baseball fans all over the world have to be impressed with it. And, he made a case to stay in — gotta love that! Perhaps that was the spark the Rangers will need to win it all.

But, wait, don’t count them as champions just yet. They will have to face Chris Carpenter tonight in Game 5. It will be a rematch of Game 1, as Carpenter will face C.J. Wilson tonight. It’s going to be a good one, I am sure of that.

Continue watching baseball. With the series tied 2-2, things will get even more exciting. And remember, you can always watch football next week!

Great World Series = Poor Ratings…

Welcome back to the “Philling You In” blog!

I was all set to talk about last night’s great game, which saw the Rangers beat the Cardinals 2-1, but first, I’m a little angry. Where are all of the baseball fans?

Game 2 was another great game, but sadly, nobody watched it. The ratings for Game 1 were down from a year ago, and the ratings from Game 2 were down from Game 1 — ugh! Why aren’t people watching the World Series? Where are all the baseball fans hiding?

The ratings probably won’t get any better either, due to Sunday Night Football and Monday Night Football during Game 4 and Game 5, respectively. And, the sad thing is, it’s not like this week’s Sunday and Monday night football games are even worth watching.

On Sunday Night Football this week, NBC will show the New Orleans Saints (4-2) hosting the Indianapolis Colts (0-6). That’s a horrible matchup, but it will get more ratings than the World Series — guaranteed!

On Monday Night Football this week, ESPN will show the Jacksonville Jaguars (1-5) hosting the Baltimore Ravens (4-1). Another bad game from the NFL — but it will have bigger ratings — guaranteed!

I say shame on you baseball fans! Watch the World Series! There are so many great storylines, and so many great players in this year’s Fall Classic.

Albert Pujols, who is set to be a free agent this offseason, is trying to win one more ring with the Cardinals. Tony La Russa, who drives me crazy by the way, is looking for his 3rd World Series win.

The Rangers, back for a second-straight season, are looking for their first-ever World Series win in franchise history. And, how about the story of Josh Hamilton, who went through so much to get back to the baseball diamond?

I can go on and on. And, if you are someone that needs all of that, than great. As for me, all I need are two teams facing off in a winner-take-all series.

You know why? The answer is simple: because I am a BASEBALL FAN!

Yes, that’s right, I live for baseball. I work in baseball, I watch baseball, I eat, sleep, and breathe baseball.

Tune in and find out for yourself why the World Series is worth watching. There is something for everyone — I promise!

The Cardinals Take Game One…

Welcome back to the “Philling You In” blog! I am back in the office and ready to blog about Game 1 of the World Series.

First, let me say how excited I am to be able to talk about the World Series. I love baseball. I love writing about baseball. And, even though it’s between two teams I was not expecting to see in the Fall Classic, I believe we are in for a great World Series.

Take the Cardinals for example. They are a great story. They got hot at the right time, and have used that momentum to put up a fight in the postseason. And, so far, so good.

Watching that game yesterday had me thinking. Is St. Louis the best baseball city in America? Think about it. They love baseball in St. Louis — much more than football (Rams), and hockey (Blues).

And, think about this, all of the other cities that missed out on their baseball team getting to the World Series, are curently entrenched in football.

In Boston, fans are in mourning, but they do have the Patriots. In New York, fans are into the Giants and Jets. In Philadelphia, fans are caught up with the Dream Team, I mean the Eagles. Plus, they have the Flyers too! In Chicago, it’s Bears season. Da Bears! Should I go on?

St. Louis has a tradition of great baseball over the years. They have won 10 World Series championships — the most of any National League team, and second overall to the New York Yankees (27).

Think about some of the greats who have donned a Cardinals jersey over the years.

Here are a few greats who have had their numbers retired by the Cardinals:

Bob Gibson, Stan “the Man” Musial, Enos Slaughter, Rogers Hornsby, Dizzy Dean, Lou Brock. Bruce Sutter, Red Schoendienst, Ken Boyer, Whitey Herzog, and of course the “Wizard of Oz” Ozzie Smith.

Don’t forget Hall-of-Famers Steve Carlton, Johnny Mize, Joe “Ducky” Medwick, Orlando Cepeda, and others, who played for the Cardinals in their careers. Also, don’t forget about legendary broadcaster Jack Buck — “I don’t believe, what I just saw”.

Now, onto the game from last night. The Cardinals, who have the best pitcher in the Series — Chris Carpenter, beat the Texas Rangers in game one by a score of 3-2. Carpenter was solid — making just one mistake, a two-run home run to Mike Napoli. It was Napoli’s second home run against Carpenter in his career.

The Cardinals offense came through in the right spots, and perhaps it was the play of former R-Phils infielder, Nick Punto, who was the “Unsung Hero” of Game 1.

With the game tied 2-2 in the bottom of the sixth inning, Punto came to the plate against Rangers’ ace C.J. Wilson. Wilson had already gotten two outs in the inning, but had allowed David Freese to get to third after a double and wild pitch.

Punto, who spent the 2000 season in Baseballtown,  took all four pitches he saw from Wilson, and drew an important walk. Now, things would get interesting. Wilson was pulled for Alexi Ogando, and Carpenter, who was set to bat, was pulled for pinch-hitter Allen Craig.

Craig lined Ogando’s pitch into right field just under the glove of Nelson Cruz, and Freese crossed the plate with what proved to be the game-winning run. Punto went 1-2 with two walks, and helped lead the Cardinals to a 3-2 victory in Game 1.

I think we are in for a great series. I thought the Cardinals would take the first one, and I think they’ll take another one, but I still think it’s the Rangers in six. But, anything is possible!

What a Wild Weekend…

The weekend is over, and it’s back to the office for another full week here in Baseballtown. I have lots to do regarding the Baseballtown All-Star Classic. Stay tuned for a feature on a former Eastern League All-Star. That will be written and posted to www.readingphillies.com later today.

It was a weekend with lots of great sports to watch on the tube, and I enjoyed every minute of it.

First, how about another Penn State win? I certainly miss being at Beaver Stadium each Saturday to cheer on the blue and white, but I definitely enjoyed another win on — even if I was watching it from home.

At this point, with the Nittany Lions 6-1, I must ask, where is the love for PSU? As of today, Penn State is not even ranked in the AP Top 25. Come on, get it right! The defense was solid again, and Matt McGloin stepped it up when he was needed. Go PSU!

And, how about another enjoyable week of football in the NFL? The game that I couldn’t wait to watch was in Foxboro, where the Patriots hosted the Cowgirls. What a finish to that one!Tom Brady continues to prove that he is one of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of the game. Did you see that final drive?

Before I was able to watch that one though, I watched the Redskins, led by the worst QB in football (Rex Grossman), give a win to the Eagles. And how about the poor play by Donovan McNabb last night for the Vikings?

I did enjoy the coach vs. coach ending in Detroit. Two young teams (Lions and 49ers) squared-off in what was a great ending — only to be upstaged by Jim Harbaugh and Jim Schwartz. Can we see these two face-off in a boxing match? That would have made for an even better weekend. Harbaugh vs. Schwartz with special enforcer Mike Ditka. I would pay for that on pay-per view right now!

Now, on to baseball. How about those St. Louis Cardinals? The hottest team in all of baseball in the final month of the season will now play in the World Series. What a year it has been for them. Remember when Adam Wainwright was lost for the year before the season even started?

Led by the best player in baseball (Albert Pujols), the Cardinals will be tough to beat in the World Series. They plowed past the Phillies, and Brewers, and now, will face the ultimate test. Now, they move on to face the best team in all of baseball in 2011 — the Texas Rangers.

The Rangers are obviously built on offense, but they have a solid bullpen, solid defense, and could do just about anything. Their storyline is great.

With players such as Josh Hamilton, Michael Young, and Ian Kinsler, the Rangers will be tough to get out. Combine those three with the defensive skills (and bat) of Adrian Beltre — who may have been the best free agent pickup in all of baseball in 2011, and the emergence of Nelson Cruz, the Rangers will be tough.

And, at the trade deadline, who was the busiest, or should I say smartest? It wasn’t the Yankees, who stayed put. It was the Rangers, who added Koji Uehara and Mike Adams to their bullpen. Combine those two with the late addition of Mike Gonzalez, the unhittable Neftali Feliz, and the transition of Alexi Ogando to the ‘pen, and the Rangers are tough to hit in the late innings. Also, don’t forget to add the ageless Darren Oliver to the mix as well. At 65 years-old, this guy can still pitch — wow! Who needs starting pitching anyway?

While this may not have been a World Series most would have guessed on Opening Day, I do believe this will be a good one. I’m looking forward to Wednesday night. Rangers vs. Cardinals — who will win? I am going to say it’s the Rangers in six games. With back-to-back World Series appearances, and a possible ring this season, are we looking at a dynasty? Only time will tell.

Offseason mode…

Welcome to the offseason!

With the 2011 R-Phils season over, and the Philadelphia Phillies season over, there isn’t much to talk about on the diamond right now. What a tough way to end things in Philadelphia, mamma mia!

Now, it looks as if the Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals will have a great battle to the finish. The winner should make for a tough World Series foe.

I’m really not a fan of either team. I certainly don’t like the Brew Crew — especially Nyjer Morgan, and I have never been a LaRussa fan, although he is a fellow Italian. I do like Bob Uecker though. Good luck Mr. Baseball.

On the other side, it looks as if the Rangers are just too tough for the Tigers. Texas has the offense, starting pitching, and one of the most solid bullpens in all of baseball. As I write this, they lead the series 2-0.

How about a Brewers/Rangers World Series? Could you imagine the ratings for that one?

As for me, I have been focused on the upcoming 2012 Baseballtown All-Star Classic, which will hit FirstEnergy Stadium next season! Reading, PA will be a great host, and I am excited to release more and more details as they become available this offseason. Check out my latest feature here. Stay tuned for more great info to come regarding the All-Star Game.

As for now, let’s stay on the diamond, and check in on some of the winter league action. There are former R-Phils are scattered all over the diamond this winter.

Let’s check in on a few…

Tyler Cloyd – 2010-2011
Cloyd enjoyed a breakout season with the R-Phils in 2011. After beginning the season with Clearwater (A+), Cloyd made his 2011 R-Phils debut out of the bullpen on June 3 in Richmond. He tossed a scoreless inning.

Four days later, Cloyd was promoted to the rotation, and went on to become one of the most important starters for the R-Phils. He posted a 6-3 mark with a 2.78 ERA in 18 games (17 starts). At home, he was brilliant, going 5-1 with a 2.45 ERA (12 starts).

Cloyd is now pitching in the Arizona Fall League for the Scottsdale Scorpions. So far, Cloyd has made one appearance, a start with the Scorpions on October 5. The 24-year-old fanned two batters over two perfect innings. Keep an eye on Cloyd — he has a bright future ahead!

Tyson Gillies – 2010 (2011 – disabled list)
After an injury-riddled 2010 season, Gillies, 22, began the 2011 season on Reading’s disabled list. On 6/10, Gillies was activated off the DL and assigned to Clearwater (A+). The Vancouver, BC native appeared in just three games for the Threshers, and posted a .143 batting average (2-13).

Gillies is now back on the field, and is playing in the Arizona Fall League. The 6’2 speedy outfielder has appeared in three games with Scottsdale, and is among the league leaders in batting average (.375). On October 7, Gillies went 2-2 with three runs scored and two walks. The AFL will be an important test for Gillies, who is looking to come back from two-straight injury-plagued seasons.

Josh Zeid – 2011
Zeid began the 2011 season as a starter for the R-Phils. He posted a 2-3 mark with a 6.80 ERA in 11 starts, before an injury led him to the DL. When he returned, he was moved to the bullpen, where he flourished. He posted a 0-0 mark with two saves and an impressive 2.25 ERA over 10 appearances. he struck-out 24 batters over 16 innings and was looking sharp out of the ‘pen.

On July 29, two days before the MLB trade dedline, Zeid was dealt to Houston as part of the trade that brought OF Hunter Pence to Philadelphia. The 23-year-old went on to pitch for Double-A Corpus Christi and appeared in 14 games. Zeid posted a 0-1 record with a 10.13 ERA for the Hooks.

Now, Zeid is playing in the Arizona Fall League and has appeared in two games with the SaltRiver Rafters. He allowed three runs on three hits and two walks in one inning on October 5, and in his next appearance, he was better. The New Haven, CT native tossed a scoreless inning on October 8 and earned his first win. He is currently 1-0 with a 13.50 ERA in two games.

Tim Kennelly – 2009, 2011
Kennelly was born in Australia, and is back home this winter, playing for Team Australia in the 2011 World Cup. Things have gone well for both Kennelly, and his club, as they have advanced to Round 2.

Kennelly, who hit .215 with three home runs and 21 RBIs for the R-Phils this season, is a versatile player. He appeared at catcher, first base, second base, third base, left field, and right field this season for the R-Phils. In fact, the Aussie native also made his debut on the mound — getting an out at Portland on May 17.

Now, Kennelly is looking to help his hometown team advance to the finals. On October 9, Kennelly played left field and went 2-2 with a run and an RBI in a 9-6 win over Team Germany. In seven games, Kennelly is batting .292 with three runs scored and five RBIs. And, get this. He is not the only Kennelly on the team, as his brother Matthew (Braves farmhand) is also a member of the squad. Perhaps there is a new set of “Bash Brothers” down under? Good day mate…