July 30, 2014 |
THE SMOKE signals speak volumes this time of year, if not with their content, then certainly with their timing. This year, the pattern has an unmistakable feel to it. A random Tuesday afternoon in early July: The list of teams left uncovered by Cole Hamels' no-trade clause is leaked. Two weeks later: A national reporter reports the self-evidential nugget that the Phillies would rather trade Cliff Lee than Hamels. A second national reporter says that the Phillies are "telling other teams Hamels is not available.
July 30, 2014 |
NEW YORK - Ryne Sandberg doesn't waste too much brain space on thinking about what could happen in the hours leading up to Thursday's 4 p.m. nonwaiver trade deadline. In the modern day of instantaneous reporting, with the rumor du jour (translation: day) from 10 years ago becoming the rumor d'huere (translation: hour) in the Twitter era, there is certainly a lot of nonsense to sift through. Sandberg doesn't bother, and he wants to make sure his players aren't sucked in, either.
July 28, 2014 |
After a low, growling storm rolled through South Philly on Wednesday evening, bringing a temporary halt to the game between the Phillies and Giants, the end of the rain delay and the resumption of play was punctuated but not affected by several nearby lightning strikes and the loudest thunder of the night - not to mention most of the rain. That didn't impress the umpiring crew enough to signal for another delay, however - getting the Phillies' season into the books as quickly as possible is everyone's desire at this point - but it did provide a couple of handy metaphors for what has taken place in Citizens Bank Park and elsewhere this year.
July 26, 2014 |
Well, at least he wrote. With no public notice, Mayor Nutter flew to Paris on Wednesday on another global trade mission, this time a six-day excursion to woo French commerce and promote Philadelphia as a cycling mecca and tourist destination. Nutter and his wife, Lisa, will also attend the Tour de France, which ends Sunday in Paris. While Nutter and his delegation left unannounced, his arrival in the City of Light was noted Thursday by a staff news release that outlined his itinerary and stated goals for the trip.
July 25, 2014 |
Jonathan Papelbon stood at the base of the mound at Citizens Bank Park as Giants scurried around the bases Wednesday night. He did not flinch when Hunter Pence dunked a 93-m.p.h. fastball into short right field for the decisive hit in a 3-1 Phillies loss. He did not move to back up home plate, and Chase Utley's throw skipped past Carlos Ruiz and into the San Francisco dugout. "What are you going to do? I don't really worry about it," Papelbon said. "I try to prepare every day and do my best.
July 24, 2014 |
ON MAY 28 against the Colorado Rockies, Antonio Bastardo walked four of the five batters he faced. He was booed off the mound. (The Phillies still won the game.) Two years ago, on the day Ryan Howard returned from his Achilles' injury, Bastardo entered the eighth inning of a scoreless game against the Atlanta Braves. He walked in a run and then served up a back-breaking grand slam to Brian McCann. Those are the moments most people are able to recall when they think of Bastardo's role in the bullpen in the last few years.
July 24, 2014 |
LET'S TAKE A BREAK from the pre-trade-deadline frenzy and consider the very real possibility that the sun rises on Aug. 1 with the vast majority of the Phillies' clubhouse intact. A.J. Burnett is gone, having been traded to the Orioles or the Pirates for a midlevel pitching prospect. Kyle Kendrick is missing, too, given away to a team in need of rotation depth for $1 million or so in savings on the remainder of his 2014 salary. Otherwise, the Phillies are the Phillies. Jonathan Papelbon is suiting up at his locker across the room from Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels.
July 21, 2014 |
ATLANTA - The last time the Phillies were pressured into trading Cliff Lee, they emerged with Phillippe Aumont, Tyson Gillies, and J.C. Ramirez. There is no such mandate to jettison Lee at this moment, not when the lefthander languished for two months with a strained left elbow. But that disturbance in Lee's elbow creates an unsettling dynamic. The Phillies need not hasten a Lee trade because he would hold value this winter; then again, what if Lee returns to the rotation and his flexor tendon or ulnar collateral ligament bursts?
July 15, 2014 |
IT IS SO obvious that it does not need to be said. But the nature of the job requires that we say something about this team, so let's get on with it. In wrapping up the unofficial first half of the season with a 10-3 loss to the Nationals, the Phillies offered a tidy summation of their year to date. They are not particularly good at scoring runs, nor are they particularly good at preventing them. In baseball, that is a bad combination. After it was over, a dejected Ryne Sandberg tried to focus on the positive things that he sees from his team heading into the All-Star Break.
July 14, 2014 |
The shoemaker explained what made his lasts last, and the tavern public room was set up for a congenial checkers match. But when we saw the tavern owner's wife sitting at a table practicing the art known as fraktur and when we spotted the ceramic tile stoves that heated 200-year-old buildings, we realized that Old Salem in Winston-Salem, N.C., is a living history town unlike Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia, Old Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts, or...