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 »

Can Baseball Be Saved?

Philadelphia Phillies catcher Wil Nieves calls for an intentional walk at Citi Field on Jul 30, 2014. Photo by Anthony Gruppuso/USA Today Sports

Philadelphia Phillies catcher Wil Nieves calls for an intentional walk at Citi Field on Jul 30, 2014. Photo by Anthony Gruppuso/USA Today Sports

Just as the Phils kick off spring training comes the earth-shattering news that Major League Baseball is tinkering with the very foundations of America’s Pastime. That’s right: They’re killing the spectacle of the intentional walk. Read more »

Let’s Get Irrationally Excited About the Phillies’ Playoff Chances!

Philadelphia Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco (7) celebrates with Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Tommy Joseph (19) after final out against the Colorado Rockies at Citizens Bank Park.

Maikel Franco celebrates with Tommy Joseph after the final out against the Colorado Rockies at Citizens Bank Park on Saturday.

The Phillies won five consecutive division titles from 2007 to 2011. Before their run of success in the NL East, they were competitive almost every season from 2001 to 2006. They were fun to watch down the stretch for pretty much a decade. Even in those years before their run, they got pretty close to the playoffs. They were fun to watch in August and September.

The team’s fortunes have declined since their 102-win season (and subsequent first-round playoff exit) in 2011. The Phillies were close-ish to the Wild Card in 2012, finishing seven games back. They had the worst record in baseball last season. But this year, after an 8-4 start to the month of August, the Phillies are just 6.5 games back of making the playoffs. Sure, there are four teams between them and the St. Louis Cardinals, currently the second Wild Card. But who cares? Wild card fever, baby!

In reality, the Phillies are probably not going to make the playoffs this season. But that we can even pretend they’re in the hunt for that second NL wild-card spot is a reason to be optimistic about the future. The worst is over. Yes, these are the Phillies, still, but it seems like they’ll be good again in the next few years. Read more »

Amazing: Kid Who Received Double Hand Transplant at CHOP Throws Out First Pitch at Orioles Game

Last August, we told you about Zion Harvey. Harvey, then 8, had been released from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia after a successful double hand transplant. It was the first-ever hand transplant performed on a child.

He’s recovered quite well in the year since that surgery. Nine-year-old Harvey last night threw out the first pitch at the Orioles game at Camden Yards in Baltimore. Read more »

Just-Drafted Dodger From Voorhees Beat Childhood Cancer at St. Chris

Devin Smeltzer

Devin Smeltzer signs his first professional baseball contract with the Dodgers. (Photo courtesy Icon Sports)

Devin Smeltzer was not scared.

The Voorhees, New Jersey, native had not yet turned 10 years old, and was diagnosed with a rare form of pelvic bladder cancer. But Smeltzer was a tough kid. The pelvic rhabdomyosarcoma didn’t scare him. It just made him angry.

“I was never really scared,” he tells Philadelphia magazine. “I was more angry and pissed off in the beginning… it was probably two months of me being a pity party.”

But his mood improved as he continued his treatment at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children. He steeled himself by focusing on returning to his playtime passion, baseball. Though he missed the entire fourth grade at his South Jersey school, he recovered — and returned to school and the baseball field.

Last month, Smeltzer was selected in the fifth round of the Major League Baseball Draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers. He signed with the team, and is now a professional baseball player. And, he says, he couldn’t have done it without the support of the staff at St. Chris. Read more »

Police Investigating Beer Bottle Thrown at Ryan Howard

Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard (6) runs the bases after hitting a two RBI home run during the third inning against the Chicago Cubs at Citizens Bank Park. | Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Police are investigating after a fan allegedly threw a beer bottle at Ryan Howard during Saturday’s game against the Milwaukee Brewers.

Howard alerted a security guard when an aluminum Bud Light Lime bottle landed near his feet during his walk back to the dugout – he’d just grounded out in the ninth inning, the Inquirer reports. Read more »

Jackie Robinson’s First Contracts Will Be on Display in Philly

Mykalai Kontilai - Jackie Robinson contract

Mykalai Kontilai holds Jackie Robinson’s first contract with the Brooklyn Dodgers. (Photo | Dan McQuade)

“For the performance of the Player’s services and promises hereunder the Club will pay the Player the sum of FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS ($5,000.00) for the season.”

The salary may not sound impressive today, but the year was 1947. And the signature on the next page of the contract is even more impressive: Jack Roosevelt Robinson.

Beginning Thursday, Jackie Robinson’s original professional baseball contract with the Brooklyn Dodgers will be on display at the National Constitution Center for two weeks. The contract is on what its owners call a “Freedom Tour” of the United States, and it will make its longest-scheduled stay in the City of Brotherly Love. Robinson’s first minor league contract with the Montreal Royals, signed in 1946, will also be on display alongside it.

The contracts will be on display as part of the Center’s primary exhibit, “The Story of We the People,” until June 5th. Regular admission is $14.50 for adults; the museum is free on Memorial Day due to a grant from the John Templeton Foundation. Read more »

Pro Baseball Player Sean Murphy, Fishtown Native, Dead at 27

Sean Murphy. Photo | MLB

Sean Murphy. Photo | MLB

The Oakland Athletics announced today that Sean Murphy, a 27-year-old minor leaguer with the franchise, was found dead yesterday in Arizona. Murphy, a native of Philadelphia, was 27.

“The A’s are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of Sean Murphy,” A’s executive vice president of baseball operations Billy Beane said in a release. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.”

According to Philadelphia Baseball Review, Murphy was a native of Thompson Street in Fishtown. Like his older brother Pat, Murphy was a sports star at Northeast Catholic High School. The Spirit profiled the family just last week. Read more »

Phillies Minor League Squad Will be the Cheesesteaks for One Night

The Phillies farm team will be the Cheesesteaks for one special night.

The Phillies farm team will be the Cheesesteaks for one special night | Via the Lehigh Valley IronPigs

The Lehigh Valley IronPigs, the Phillies AAA minor league affiliate knows the best way to a fan’s heart is through his stomach. On Sundays the team sports bacon themed caps, jerseys and pants. This season the team will change its name to the Cheesesteaks for one night as a salute to the IronPigs Major League parent, the Philadelphia Phillies.

The team is currently holding a contest to decide the on-field cap to wear with their cheesesteaks jerseys; two versions are available to choose from, one with onions and one “witout.” Voting for #TeamWit or #TeamWitOut is being held via social media and on the website, LVcheesesteaks.com.

Read more »

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