April 5, 2016
'Son, is your sneaker on fire?" At a major-league game, my father discovered what burning marijuana smelled like. Thirty-five years ago, during a sunny but cold midweek April matinee at Shea Stadium, I identified for him the byproduct emitted from performance-enhancing joints shared between Mets aficionados two rows behind us, adding yet another chapter to the already colorful bond baseball forged among our typically dysfunctional, large Irish-Catholic family....
February 27, 2016 |
CLEARWATER, Fla. - J.P. Crawford shuffled into the Phillies clubhouse Thursday morning, stashed a pair of bats in his locker, changed his shoes, grabbed his glove, and hustled outside. His instructor was waiting. The team's top prospect had arrived at the ballpark an hour earlier; he was one of the first position players there. Crawford stretched, lifted weights, and took batting practice. Now, the player the team hopes will blossom into a great shortstop headed to a side field to practice his defense under the tutelage of Larry Bowa, the first great shortstop in team history.
February 21, 2016
AH, THE PHILLIES and spring training! The mere images breathe life back into a winter-weary fan base, so take a good look! Here they are again in Clearwater, and gone are many of the familiar names and faces that were part of so many spring-training rosters. Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Cole Hamels . . . gone. With an updated cast for 2016 comes hope. Our own experts tell us that the Phillies should be at least interesting this season - interesting in that maybe, just maybe, they won't be bordering on 100 losses again.
December 12, 2015 |
NASHVILLE - The Phillies' rebuilding project, which began in earnest almost a year ago, continued to roll on this week at the winter meetings, most notably with Wednesday night's trade of closer Ken Giles. The deal added three more young pitchers and another intriguing outfielder to the franchise's arsenal of prospects. In 12 months, the Phillies traded seven players in exchange for 16 prospects as they drastically reshaped a downtrodden farm system. MLB.com ranks 10 of those prospects among the Phillies' top 16. All but one of those players, catcher Jorge Alfaro, is either an outfielder or a pitcher.
September 14, 2015 |
A DAY AFTER the Phillies removed Ruben Amaro Jr. as general manager, Jeff Francoeur was up to his usual antics in the team's clubhouse before a doubleheader with the Chicago Cubs, joking with his teammates, old and young, and making them practically fall out of their seats with laughter. Francoeur was all smiles, but he took no pleasure from the exit of Amaro, who gave the 31-year-old outfielder another shot in the big leagues when his career seemed to be fading around this time last year.
September 10, 2015 |
IT IS A funny and pleasant memory for Chooch: that day he got Chase Utley in New York. Lately, for Carlos Ruiz, it's mostly about the memories. The fifth wheel on the home-grown Phillies nucleus that won five NL East titles in a row, Ruiz was the least likely star. Cole Hamels and Chase Utley were first-round picks; Jimmy Rollins, a second-rounder but an obvious star from the outset; and Ryan Howard, a fifth-rounder but the biggest piece of the puzzle in every sense of the phrase.
September 2, 2015 |
NEW YORK - Cameron Rupp got to spend the last day of August in the MLB Network studio in New York City. He was joined by teammate Aaron Altherr on MLB Central with host Matt Vasgersian and analysts Mark DeRosa and Cliff Floyd. Rupp and Altherr talked about the young, rebuilding Phillies and their recent personal successes. Back at Citi Field, Rupp found his name penciled in the lineup card for the 17th time in August, six more starts than longtime catcher Carlos Ruiz received.
August 25, 2015 |
MIAMI - For the second straight day, third time in four games in Miami, and fifth time in the last six games, Ryan Howard was held out of the starting lineup yesterday. Cole Hamels and Jimmy Rollins are gone. Chase Utley was traded away, too, last week. Of the 2008 World Series roster, only Howard and catcher Carlos Ruiz remain. Ruiz has been splitting time as the starting catcher with Cameron Rupp for the last three months. In the last week Howard has started just once as the rebuilding Phillies go full bore with their youth movement.
August 23, 2015 |
HOUSTON - Not long after the Dodgers were no-hit by Houston's Mike Fiers on Friday night, their clubhouse was a somber outpost of Minute Maid Park. Chase Utley, 0 for 4 in his debut in blue, dressed quickly. While departing from a silence he couldn't have imagined in the long lead-up to the deal that sent him home, he shrugged. "That's baseball," he said, betraying nothing. The carefully cultivated mask, a mix of cool and concentration that for 13 seasons Utley had donned as if it were a required part of his Phillies uniform, got tested on his first day as a Los Angeles Dodger.
August 22, 2015 |
MIAMI - The most apparent reminder that Chase Utley no longer plays for the Phillies was found Thursday inside the visiting team's video room at Marlins Park. This room lined with computer monitors - and the other stations like it across major-league baseball - was typically where one would find Utley, poring over immeasurable amounts of film of that night's starting pitcher or of his at-bats from the previous games. The iconic Phillies second baseman's absence was almost eerie. "It is weird," admitted Kevin Camiscioli, the team's longtime manager of video coaching services.