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Red, White & Blue
A blog dedicated to the Philadelphia Phillies
From today's Philadelphia Inquirer:

The average price of a major-league ticket is $19.82, the Chicago-based Team Marketing Report said yesterday. That's up 3.9 percent from last year's revised average of $19.08.

Boston, which plays in the smallest ballpark in the major leagues, has the highest average ticket at $40.77.

The Chicago Cubs were second at $28.45, followed by the Phillies at $26.08 and the New York Yankees at $24.86.

Philadelphia and San Diego, which are opening new ballparks, had the steepest increases. With the move from Veterans Stadium to the smaller Citizens Bank Park, the Phillies' average increased 51.3 percent.

Just last year, in that "antiquated relic," the Phillies had some of the most affordable ticket prices in the game. Back when I was in college, one of the things I loved to do most was go to the Vet on a whim and get a 700 level seat for the price of movie ticket.

Alas, those days are gone now.
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In my other LJ page, I already posted a eulogy for the Vet after their last home game last year. This is something a little different; just a little something before the Vet is imploded this Sunday. I have lots of fond memories of the Vet, and I just wanted to jot a few of them down. Admittedly, none of them had anything to do with the Stadium itself, but still, all great memories nonetheless (listed in chronological order):

  1. August 19, 1989: Terry Mulholland pitches a complete game shutout and Ricky Jordan hits the game winning single with two outs in the bottom of the ninth.
  2. April 20, 1993: John Kruk hits a solo shot in the bottom of the 14th as the Phillies upend the Padres, who still have Gwynn-Sheffield-McGriff in the 2-3-4 spots.
  3. May 8, 1993: Terry Mulholland pitches a 10-inning complete game as the Phillies top the Cardinals 2-1.
  4. May 9, 1993: Mariano Duncan hits an improbable grand slam off of Lee Smith in the bottom of the eighth to give the Phillies a come-from-behind 6-5 win. The on-field heroics help me forget the lobster-esque sunburn I get from sitting in the late May sun for 4 hours without sunscreen.
  5. April 11, 1994: First Phillies home game after the improbable 1993 season, and John Kruk's first game back after treatment for testicular cancer. In the pre-game ceremonies in which the players got their 1993 NL Championship rings, the standing ovation for Kruk is so loud that I literally cannot hear my friend Andrew as he is trying to scream something into my ear. Kruk goes 3-5 with a 2B, 2 runs and an RBI, but the Phillies lose.
  6. August 25, 1995: Gregg Jefferies hits for the cycle, Jeff Juden tosses a complete game and hits a grand slam and ROY Hideo Nomo is chased from the game after giving up 7 runs in 3 innings. Sadly, this is also the game that Darren Daulton blows out his knee so badly that it ends his catching career and he doesn't return until the 1997 season.
  7. September 1, 1997: Curt Schilling strikes out 16 in 8 innings as the Phillies top the Yankees 5-1. There were as many (if not more) Yankee fans as Phillies fans at the Vet, but each time they tried to chant "Let's go Yankees!" they are utterly drowned out in a serious of boos by the Phillies fan. Man, it was so beautiful it brought a tear to my eye.
  8. July 3, 1999: The Phillies manhandle the Cubs 21-8. What I remember most though is the Cubs throwing in the towel in the bottom of the 8th and sending Gary Gaetti out to the mound.
  9. September 23, 2001: In the middle of battling with the Braves for the NL East crown, Bowa loses his cool in the 8th and has one of his all-time classic meltdowns with an umpire. Travis Lee then hits his second homer of the day to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth and Johnny Estrada his another solo shot in the 10th to give the Phillies the win.
  10. June 22, 2003: Brett Myers pitches a beautiful complete-game shutout over the Red Sox 5-0.
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I neglected to note it a few days ago when the transaction occurred, but i looks like former-Phillie Robert Person's career is effectively finished:

...right-hander Robert Person was released from his minor league contract on Friday...

Person, 34, underwent surgery to repair a torn Achilles tendon on Feb. 27 in a procedure performed by Dr. Coco Eaton, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays team physician. Person was signed by the White Sox as a free agent on Jan. 21, 2004, and the team had high hopes for the power pitcher to grab the fifth spot in the starting rotation. But Person tore his Achilles during a routine offseason workout in Phoenix, ending his season before it began.

He was briefly the staff ace after Schilling was traded a few years ago (which ought to tell you something about the state of the pitching staff at the time), but otherwise didn't make much of an impact for the club. However, what I'll always remember about him is June 2, 2002.

That day my wife and I were returning from a weekend trip up to Philly to visit friends and family. We were making an early start back; early enough to contemplate an unplanned stop by the Vet to catch the Phils. We decided against it and just listened to the game on the radio as far down I-95 as the signal would go.

We were only able to hear the first five full innings, which was enough to see Person put on the offensively display of his life. His linescore: 3 3 2 7 (with one walk). That's right 7 RBIs: A grand slam in the first inning and a 3-run homer in the second. He was on a tight pitch count that day, and since the Phillies had a 14-1 lead going into the bottom of the 5th, you knew his day was done when the Phillies came to bat. Yet, rather than pitch-hit for him when his spot came up with two on and one out, Bowa let him hit anyway -- which paid obvious dividends.

On one hand, I'm still disappointed I only heard the performance on the radio. However, I can't recall having a better time driving home down I-95.
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It's only spring training. Many veterans even admit they don't care about their stats at this time and they're primarly concerned with things such as getting their timing down. Just don't tell that to Philadelphia sportswriter Paul Hagan:

One day last year, Larry Bowa went off on the Phillies' underachieving offense.

Since it was only about a week into spring training, that, ahem, raised some eyebrows.

Now, as it turned out, the lineup didn't click most of the season even though Jim Thome led the National League in home runs. Whether Bowa was prescient or his words became a self-fulfilling prophecy will remain a subject for conjecture.

What isn't up for debate is that the Phillies haven't exactly been scalding the ball in recent Grapefruit League games.

Repeat after me. Phillies2003 ≠ Phillies2004.
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From Baseball Prospectus:

The Phillies are now the best team, on paper, in the National League. As they're saying in Clearwater, now is the time.

To add insult to injury, the current ESPN preseason rankings have the Phillies down as the best team in the National League as well (3rd best overall behind the Yankees and BoSox.)

I just can't handle this sort of level of expectations as I honestly cannot remember the last preseason where the Phillies were being called the team to beat in the National League. After the 1993 season, everyone was fairly unanimous in stating that it was a fluke, and they turned out to be right.

I hope that Bowa doesn't cause the team to implode and it all turns out to be true, but I'm not counting on it.
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The article was actually posted on February 20, so it's slightly dated, but Jayson Stark made a very interesting point in his piece on Billy Wagner and his new role with the Phillies:

For this team last year, you see, the games just seemed to last too long. About one inning too long, to be exact.

"We must have lost at least nine or 10 games in the last inning last year," says catcher Mike Lieberthal.

Well, it was more like 17 -- the fifth-most in the NL and the most of any team still alive in the playoff race in the final two weeks. Fourteen of those losses came in games in which the Phillies either held a lead or were tied in the ninth.

[emphasis added}

Oddly, even though I knew that the Phillies late-inning bullpen was bad, I didn't know it was that atrocious. The Phillies finished five games behind the Marlins last year. Just imagine what the 2003 postseason would've looked like if the Phillies weren't relying on Joe Table to nail down the win.
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Andy Seminick passed away yesterday. Best known as the starting catcher for the 1950 Whiz Kids, he also played a key role in the development of Mike Schmidt, Bob Boone, and many, many others into productive Major League players.

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Baseball Prospectus published an analysis of catcher's arms last week, and looking at it you'd think that Mike Lieberthal had the worst arm of any catcher in Major League Baseball.

Don't believe the hype.

His lousy rating is easily explained by the fact that pitching coach Joe Kerrigan told the Phillies pitching staff to virtually ignore holding runners on first. The catching woes this questionable coaching practice inflicted were only worsened by the fact that Kevin Millwood has one of the slowest deliveries to home in all of baseball.

I know there's really no other way than stolen base percentage to rate a catcher's arm, but clearly Lieberthal's numbers for the 2001 & 2002 seasons suggest that his 2003 numbers were a fluke.
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  • Although he doesn't explicitly state it outright, Peter Gammons seems to think that the Phillies are the team to beat in the National League East this year. I am inclined to believe him, but [insert usual statement concerning pessimism over the chances of Philadelphia teams.]
  • Baseball Prospectus has a Team Health Report for this year's Phillies. I would say that there comments are more or less on the mark.
  • Someone seems to have walked off with the Phanatic's head on Friday. My question: what exactly does the thief plan to do with it?
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Make of it what you will, but Dayn Perry over at FOXSports.com is of the opinion that the Phillies are the best team in the National League.

The guy is obviously not a Phillies fan; otherwise, he never would've written such a piece.
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