Stick around for the horse race footage. It’s worth it.
Cliff Lee returned to pitch for the Phillies Monday night for the first time since May 18th. After Lee won that game against the Reds, the Fightin’ Phils were 19-22 and just 3.5 games back of first in the NL East. Coming into last night’s game, the Phillies were 43-55 and 11 games back.
Lee allowed six runs on 12 hits in 5 2/3 innings on Monday as the Phillies lost to the Giants, 7-4, falling to 43-56 and 12 games back.
When the news came that legendary sportswriter Gary Smith was retiring from Sports Illustrated, I did what any writer would do: I called my dad.
Before I was born, my father worked as the Eagles beat writer for the Bucks County Courier Times. He covered the team during the Dick Vermeil era, the team’s first taste of success since 1960. So did Smith. I asked my father about him on Monday, and he told me two stories:
Baseball is back! And yesterday was an incredible start for the Phillies, as they walloped the Rangers by a football-like 14-10 score. It was an incredible start to a season filled with low expectations.
So, why not recap it with a few animated GIFs! There was plenty to get excited about during Monday’s big win.
Yes, the first big highlight of the season was a walk. Ryan Howard has averaged 81 walks over a 162-game season for his career, so it’s not really surprising he drew a base on balls here. But look what it led to!
Yeah, it led to a run. And to the always-excellent scene of Ryan Howard rounding third base. Maybe Howard could’ve been a two-sport athlete: Get him going in open space and who’s going to tackle him? Howard finished 2-for-5 with 3 strikeouts.
The white board in the Phillies’ locker room — across from the tubs where the players dump their dirty clothes — was the spring training communications center.
It’s where the daily lineup and travel rosters were posted, along with reminders for players to get their visas and announcements about who had to show up for which practice.
One by one every morning, guys walked over to see if there was anything pertaining to them.
On the last Sunday of spring training, a message was written in green marker.
“Walking Dead Night Sunday,” the message read. “(See AJ about details).”
I never was able to pin down A.J. about the details, but I am guessing he wasn’t referring to the potential disaster which general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. hath wrought.
Still, Burnett may just have well been forecasting 2014.
In a recent game against the Cincinnati Reds, Cliff Lee was inexplicably picked off as pinch runner and made a crap ninth-inning mess of it. The Phillies won anyway, but even better than the surprise win was the attention his locally made t-shirt received by national press. The shirt, which reads “Don’t Worry Be Charlie,” is one of a series of Philly-centric beautes by South Philly print shop Hog Island Press. Here’s a Manuel inspirational quote that goes with the shirt:
“You know what they call that? Baseball. I’ve been in baseball for 40-some years and I haven’t been able to figure this game out. That’s what makes you care. That’s what makes you come back the next day and try harder. It’s hard to explain this game. It’s amazing.”
The most remarkable thing about the new list of the 25 highest-paid athletes in Philadelphia that it’s an orthopedist’s dream. Phillies pitchers Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay lead the list at $21.5 million and $2o million apiece—deals that made sense when they were signed, even if 2012 was a bit of a bummer for them. But get the next three names on the list:
• Ryan Howard: $20 million.
• Andrew Bynum: $16.889 million.
• Chase Utley: $15.285 million.
So much money. So few healthy knees.
Now, Howard and Utley brought us a World Series championship back in 2008, so Philadelphians are inclined to be patient. Bynum’s another matter—he still hasn’t played his first game for the 76ers, since a trade that many observers hoped would transform Doug Collins’ crew into championship contenders.
Still: What that means is that three of the top-five most expensive athletes spent a huge chunk of 2012 sidelined with knee injuries of various sorts. And come to think of it: The entirety of that top five served up mediocre performances during the year. The worst part? We can’t blame Andy Reid for any of it. [Philadelphia Business Journal]
The Phillies fire sale might not be over just yet. The team put Cliff Lee on waivers on Thursday. That means that if another team claims Lee, the Phils can allow the team to take his contract or negotiate a trade with that team. If he clears waivers, the Phillies will be able to trade Lee to any team, but would likely have to eat a healthy portion of his contract to get top-tier prospects in return. The whole process is relatively routine and doesn’t necessarily indicate that Cliff Lee is going to be anything other than a Phillie. [CBS 3]
The 2012 Major League Baseball season is more than a third of the way done. Ryan Howard and Chase Utley have combined for zero at-bats in the Bigs, Roy Halladay is on the DL for another month or so, and the Nationals are in first place. Cue trade talks. New York Post columnist Joel Sherman seems to think that the Phils would be best served to deal Cliff Lee to the Yankees for younger talent—something the organization desperately needs. This is what happens when your baseball team has lost 12 of 15 games and is nine back from the division leaders. [NY Post]