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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…

Thank You Fans…

What a great year it was in Baseballtown this season. Hopefully, it’s not over yet!

The R-Phils played their last home games of the 2011 season on Saturday, August 27 due to the threat of Hurricane Irene. The club split their doubleheader with Portland, losing the second game by a score of 4-2. With that loss, they fell out of second place, and are now 0.5 games out of the final spot.

And, while we hope to host our fans again in 2011 for some playoff games — I thought it was time to take a look back at the 2011 regular season. It was a season I’ll never forget. I would also love to hear from the fans. What did you like most about the 2011 season? All feedback is welcome!

In the upcoming weeks, I am going to put together a “Top 10 Moments” of the 2011 season on here — so make sure you check back each week for the next Top 10 moment. I’ll have photos, as well as a story, and, I am hoping to have some words from the fans. Leave me your Top 10 Moments, and I’ll add your comments to this blog.

In the meantime, continue following www.readingphillies.com for all of the latest news and notes. Listen to the final games of the season on ESPN Radio 1240 AM WIOV.

The R-Phils are in a playoff race — nothing could be more exciting than that!

As I close this blog for now, I just wanted to say thank you to all of the fans who make it so great to come to work. Your continued support is tremendous. The passion you show for this team is amazing, and we thank you for that.

Baseball & Man’s Best Friend…

On Wednesday, August 10, the R-Phils will welcome all fans to the ballpark — even dogs!

Yes, it is the third and final Dog Day at the Park on Wednesday, and the R-Phils are allowing fans to once again bring their pooch to America’s Classic Ballpark.

For just $5, fans can purchase a special “Dog Ticket” and bring their dog into the ballpark to enjoy the fun and excitement of Reading Phillies baseball. Dogs are welcome in all areas of the ballpark, so fans will not be confined to just one area.

During the game, fans can expect a “barking good time”! There will be great music playing throughout the night, including “Hound Dog”, “How much is that doggy in the window”, and more! What better way to spend a Wednesday in Reading, then to bring your pooch to the park!

As part of the extraordinary evening, the R-Phils will honor one of their former players with an exciting giveaway. The first 2,500 adults (21+) will receive a instant collectible — a Ryan Madson “Mad Dog” dog statue. This great giveaway features Madson with his arm around a dog. This is sure to be a collectible among fans, and perhaps even canines!

Madson is enjoying a solid year for the first-place Philadelphia Phillies, and has become a big part of their team over the years. It all began for “Mad Dog”, however, right here in Baseballtown.

Josh Zeid…

Last night, the Philadelphia Phillies got their guy — Hunter Pence.

Pence, a native of Texas, left Texas last night, and made his way to Philadelphia, as he was dealt to the Phils for three prospects and a player to be named later. One of the prospects was RHP Josh Zeid, who was a member of the Reading Phillies.

Let’s take a look at Zeid, who will become a Hook — yes, that’s right a Hook. What’s a hook? Ehh, not sure!

Josh Zeid — Zeid spent 2010 in Lakewood (A). The New Haven, CT native appeared in 43 games for the BlueClaws and made 12 starts. He posted an 8-4 mark with eight saves and a 2.93 ERA.  A year later, he was in Reading to begin the season.

The 24-year-old began the 2011 season in the R-Phils rotation. He made his Double-A debut on April 7 in Portland, ME. On that day, Zeid went five innings and allowed four runs on seven hits. He was saddled with the loss on the 7th.

Zeid would go winless over his first four starts in 2011, but on April 29 — he would get that first career Double-A victory. He would go five shutout innings and beat the Sea Dogs — the team that would beat him in his debut. He ended April 1-1 with a 4.35 ERA in five starts.

In May, Zeid went 1-2 with a an 8.64 ERA in four starts. His best start of the month came on May 21 against Richmond in Baseballtown. He tossed six scoreless innings and earned his second win of the season.

On June 7, Zeid was placed on the disabled list with right biceps tendinitis. The injury sidelined him for 23 days, and when returned, he was a member of the bullpen — a role he was familiar with from his days with Lakewood.

On June 30 — his first day back with the R-Phils, Zeid appeared in the game for Reading and was solid. In just one inning of work, he fanned three batters. He continued to show he could pitch out of the ‘pen — and continued to be dominant. The strikeouts for him kept coming.

On July 2, Zeid earned his first Double-A save after tossing two scoreless innings. On July 22, Zeid tossed two innings out of the bullpen and struck-out five batters. Things were going well for him out of the ‘pen.

In all, Zeid posted a 0-0 mark with a 2.25 ERA in 10 relief appearances for Reading. He fanned 24 batters over 16 innings.

Now, he’s a member of the Houston Astros organization and a member of the Corpus Christi Hooks (Double-A affiliate). On a personal level, I wish Josh all of the luck in the world. He was a great guy to have around in the Reading clubhouse. Good luck Josh.

550 pounds…

550 pounds — yes, that’s what it weighs. No, I’m not talking about the Baseballtown Big Dipper. I’m talking about the Life-Size Crazy Hot Dog Vendor statue, which arrived this week. One lucky fan will take it home for FREE on Sunday, as the R-Phils are set to give away this instant collectible.

So, what do you do with this thing you may ask? Well, that’s a great question. I would love to hear from fans on what they would do with it. Me, well that’s easy. I would put it on my doorstep. Who needs a guard dog when you have the Crazy Hot Dog Vendor guarding your door! Best way to greet people, right?

The Crazy Hot Dog Vendor is a staple of the R-Phils ballpark experience. Fans love when his music hits, the video plays on the videoboard, and GM Scott Hunsicker introduces him. Once he runs out onto the field, the crowd goes crazy. Fans immediately jump out of their seats and try to catch delicious Berks Packing hot dogs. It’s a great part of the Reading Phillies experience!

As for the 550-pound statue, well, if you want to see it in-person before Sunday, make your way to the ballpark on Friday and Saturday. It will be displayed at America’s Classic Ballpark for all to see. Or, check out 69 NEWS WFMZ TV tonight at 5:30 to see some up-close video of it.

We’ll see you at the ballpark this weekend!

Mr Belding Returns TONIGHT!

I grew up watching Saved by the Bell. I never missed an episode. I wanted to be Zack Morris. I wanted to date Kelly Kapowski. I wanted to be a part of the greatest teen show ever!

Last year, I got to meet Mr. Belding. We talked, I watched him sing karaoke, I took him through the clubhouse to meet the players — it was awesome.

Well, tonight, Mr. Belding returns to America’s Classic Ballpark. He raved about our stadium last year. He said it had that “Fenway Park feel to it”. Well, wait until he sees what we did with the place.

Mr. Belding will be here tonight to meet and greet fans, and well, do much more. Here’s a bit  from my press release…

The series continues Wednesday, June 22, as the R-Phils are set to host a special “School’s Out Teacher Night” at the ballpark, and will bring back the great Mr. Belding from the television show “Saved by the Bell”, thanks to Good Neighbor Pharmacy. Fans of the show “Saved by the Bell” – one of the most popular television shows ever, will not want to miss their favorite television principal on Wednesday, as he will meet and greet fans and also sign autographs.

Also, this year, Mr. Belding will host an Adult Spelling Bee and Karaoke Jam starting at 5:00 p.m. in VIST Financial Plaza, thanks to Rock Hits Y102. During this great event, fans 21-years-old and over can take advantage of another Happy Hour (5:00-6:00 p.m.) in VIST Financial Plaza, with $1 off all beers, thanks to Miller Lite.

I’m excited to welcome Mr. Belding back to Reading tonight. It was great to see him interact with our players. We all gre up on Saved by the Bell.

Last year, I had the chance to talk to him for an interview and he was great. He even appeared in my post-game interview with Michael Spidale — check him out here.

New Sensation in the Nation — “Baseballtown Big Dipper”

Who’s hungry? No, I mean, who’s really hungry?

Well, the R-Phils are looking for fans with appetites, as we introduced the “Baseballtown Big Dipper” on Saturday and so far, so good!

As part of the celebration on Saturday, we held a pre-game eating contest and we had two teams of eight eat this great new Baseballtown treat.

The “Baseballtown Big Dipper” consists of 24 scoops of ice cream, with your choice of flavors, Dippin Dots topping of your choice, Swedish fish and/or sour patch kids to garnish, and as many spoons as you need, in a full size R-Phils batting helmet – all for just $25! This delicious treat is available at the 3B Ice Cream Stand.

There are so many great food options at America’s Classic Ballpark, and this one is definitely a home run!

News & Notes…

It’s been quite awhile since I have posted a new blog, and with a few extra minutes on this beautiful day in Baseballtown, I figured I might as well throw in some news and notes.

Reading will face Trenton tonight in game two of their four-game series.

Let’s first look at who’s hot:

Cody Overbeck — Overbeck launched two home runs and added a season-high five RBIs on Monday to add to his Eastern League highs. The Atoka, TN, native leads the E.L. with 16 home runs and 43 RBIS — impressive numbers. Seven of his home runs have come against left-handers, and he gets to face lefty Kei Igawa tonight.

Overbeck has also enjoyed success at home this season. The 25-year-old has hit 12 of his 16 home runs at America’s Classic Ballpark this season, along with 28 of his 43 RBIs.

 

Michael Spidale — There may not be a hotter hitter in the Eastern League than Michael Spidale. The Illinois native shattered the R-Phils All-Time Hit Record on May 29, and has continued to rake. Over his past ten games, Spidale has hit .444 with a home run and five RBIs. He finished-up the month of May by hitting .381 for the entire month (25 games).

So far in June (5 games), Spidale has hit .450 (20 at-bats). His hot-hitting has seen his average steadily rise, and he has now put himself among the league leaders. Currently (June 7), Spidale is hitting .328 on the season — good for fifth best in the Eastern League.

 

Tuffy Gosewisch — Reading catcher Tuffy Gosewisch has been a staple for the R-Phils behind the dish. Gosewisch, who was named as the best defensive catcher in the Eastern League last season, has swung a good bat for the R-Phils this season.

Over his last 10 games, Gosewisch, 27, is hitting .346 with one home run and seven RBIs. He hit safely in nine of his last 10 games, and has provided an offensive spark for the R-Phils. The Freeport, IL native is hitting .324 with one home run and eight RBIs against lefties, as he enters tonight’s game against LHP Kei Igawa and Trenton.

Belated Mother’s Day Celebration…

Mother’s Day was on May 8 — but the R-Phils were on the road, so you know what that means! The R-Phils will hold a belated Mother’s Day celebration this Sunday, May 15 at FirstEnergy Stadium.

Want to treat Mom to a great day? Bring her to America’s Classic Ballpark this Sunday for what will be an amazing day at the park. The R-Phils will host the Fisher Cats in the finale of their four-day, five-game series, with first pitch set for 1:05 PM.

VIST Financial Plaza gates open at 12:00 PM, and the first 2,000 women get a Belated Mother’s Day R-Phils Pink Compact Umbrella, thanks to Coventry Corners.

Also, as part of the fun, the first 500 women will receive a Pink Carnation for Mom, courtesy of Royer’s Flowers & Gifts.

Also, check out these pictures from the R-Phils clubhouse of the pink jerseys the R-Phils will wear for Sunday’s game. Fans will have a chance to own these great jerseys, as there will be a Pink Game Jersey Auction/Raffle, courtesy of 830 AM WEEU, 69 News Berks Edition, and PA Breast Cancer Coalition.

Redner’s R-Phils Kids Club members get a FREE ticket every Sunday, and can enter the ballpark on Sunday at 11:00 AM for a special Q & A session with R-Phils players. Also, there will be a chance to introduce their mom on the field at 12:00 PM, all thanks to Redner’s Warehouse Markets, Kellogg’s, the Reading Eagle, & 69 News Berks Edition.

Also, $5 of all picnic area tickets will be donated to the PA Breast Cancer Coalition.

As with every Sunday game in 2011, the R-Phils will have delicious $1 hot dogs. Chow down on tasty hot dogs, thanks to Berks Packing and Stroehmann’s.  Also, another great Post-Game Run the Bases, thanks to 69 NEWS Berks Edition.

Every Sunday game also features the chance to win Flat Screens & Bicylces, thanks to Red Robin & Maidencreek TV & Appliance. The R-Phils will give out three bicyles and two flat screen televisions.

Don’t miss this great day for Mom! Hey, she deserves it!

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