The Phillies’ Latino Uprising

The Phillies’ emerging Latino core (from left): Odubel Herrera, Hector Neris, César Hernández and Maikel Franco. Illustration by Gluekit, photos by AP

For teenage big-league hopefuls at the brand-new baseball academy the Phillies opened (with the Minnesota Twins) in the Dominican Republic this January, the box score from the home team’s April 26th victory over Miami had to provide inspiration.

Vince Velasquez got the win. Joely Rodriguez, Joaquin Benoit and Hector Neris provided solid relief work. Maikel Franco slugged a grand slam, and Freddy Galvis hit a solo dinger. The Phils’ fifth straight victory had a distinct Latin flavor. Read more »

The Best Thing That Happened This Week: The Awakening of Aaron Altherr

Philadelphia Phillies’ Aaron Altherr in action during a baseball game against the Seattle Mariners, Wednesday, May 10, 2017, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Some weeks are so full of hope and wonder that we have a hard time choosing amongst all the Best Things That Happen. Then there are weeks like the one we just had. While the Republic crumbled around us, we stood in the rubble and said to ourselves, “Oh, yeah, right, Best Thing … ” And it’s not as if we could turn to our sports teams to save us (though the Union did win their second straight game). The Phillies got spanked, 10-9 and 11-6, in their abbreviated midweek stand against the Mariners (in the midst of six straight games against the Nats; who makes up these schedules?). They also got beat on Saturday night in the bottom of the ninth by a walk-off homer by—wait for it—Bryce f’ing Harper.

On the other hand — and, yeah, we’re digging deep here — left fielder Aaron Altherr is tearing it up these days. In Wednesday’s game he smacked two home runs and became just the third Phil since 1929 to hit three-run home runs in three straight games. (His company? Mike Schmidt, in 1981, and Whiz Kid catcher Andy Seminick in 1949.) Through Wednesday, he’d had nine extra-base hits in eight games, prompting coach Pete Mackanin to marvel, “He’s turned into a monster.”

Oh, and we got to see Carlos Ruiz again. You see? There’s always something, if you dig deep enough.

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South Jersey’s Mario Tobia Is America’s Top Blind Golfer

Mario Tobia (left) with his coach, Frank Hesson. Photo by Joe Trinacria.

Imagine yourself standing on the uneven green of a meticulously manicured golf course, the soft turf giving slightly beneath each step of your spikes, the smell of freshly cut grass and the sounds of birds chirping in the air as you set up your putt.

Now, reading the break on a green is difficult enough for any golfer, but how do you think you’d fare with your eyes closed? How about setting up a shot off the tee box without being able to visualize where you wanted to place the ball?

Is there a dogleg left or right? How far are the trees from the start of the rough? Are there even trees there at all?

Golf Digest’s Dan Jenkins once said, “Golf is 90 percent mental. Once you know how to hold the club and swing it, it’s all in the mind.”

For South Jersey’s Mario Tobia, the president of the Middle Atlantic Blind Golf Association, vision is overrated. Read more »

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