Monday, December 29, 2008

Belated Christmas Gifts

I never expected so many gifts to arrive for me on December 28th...

* The Bears choke away an early 10-0 lead, and lose 31-24 at Houston.

* Tampa Bay chokes away the month of December, capped by a home loss to Oakland, also 31-24.

* Dallas coughs up a pair of fumbles that the Eagles return for touchdowns as Philly destroys the Cowboys 44-6, clinching a playoff berth and ending Dallas' season.

Let me say that last part again...

Philly destroys the Cowboys 44-6, clinching a playoff berth and ending Dallas' season.

Yep, still sounds good.

As far back as November 9th, I felt the Eagles were done. Even though their home loss to the Giants only dropped their record to 5-4, it just felt like the Eagles were lacking the ability to win the big game.

That was followed by the overtime debacle in Cincy, and the blowout loss in Baltimore. At that point, I had given up hope, and was in full Flyers-mode.

Then, they sucked me back in with three straight wins, climbing back in the wildcard chase.

But, an ugly loss at Washington took control out of their hands heading into the final week.

So, even as the Bears were losing their lead in Houston (either the Bears or Vikings had to lose yesterday, and Minnesota ended up winning), I wasn't too excited, because Tampa Bay still had to lose to Oakland.

The Raiders did take a 7-0 lead, but the Bucs tied it. Then the Raiders went up 14-7. Tampa Bay tied it, then took a lead.

Then I thought it was over.

But, somehow, Oakland scored two touchdowns in the blink of an eye -- the details are sketchy as I was simply following along online -- and all of a sudden, the nooses tightened in Tampa, as the Bucs folded down the stretch and the Raiders won the game.

My brother called several times during the final moments of that game -- he was watching at a Buffalo Wild Wings -- to pass along the good news.

Ahhh, but the Iggles were now on the hot seat, still needing a win to get in.

But, they didn't just defeat Dallas, they humiliated them, and not only secured a playoff berth for themselves, but knocked the immortal 'Boys off their perch, and knocked them out of the playoffs as well.


Plus, one of my other least favorite teams. New England, is also home for the holidays.

I truly do not care whether the Eagles get bounced next week. The events of yesterday -- plus the lingering joy of a recent World Series championship -- have taken care of that.

As a 6th-seed, I fully expect them to be eliminated rather soon. But, who knows. The Giants had to win three road games last year to get to the Super Bowl, so, you never know.

The only thing I do know, is that the Super Bowl Champ will not be Dallas.

Donovan, if that was your last game in Philly as a member of the home team, you did yourself proud.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The "Bush Attacked By Reporter" Video


Who knew there was snow in Baghdad?

What About Bob?

Hats off to Bob, winner of Survivor: Gabon. After being given new life thanks to Sugar's plan to have the two of them vote for Matty at the last Tribal Council, forcing a tie as Matty and Susie voted for Bob, the physics teacher defeated Susie 4 votes to 3 for the million dollar prize.

Not bad for a 57-year old, wafer thin guy, who looked like a prime candidate for "first person voted off" when the show began.

But as the season progressed, Bob -- a very likeable champ -- started to dominate the game, winning challenges, and friendships at the most opportune time.

Plus, he did all of it while wearing a long-sleeved shirt and long pants. Remarkable.

This show has been on for 18 different seasons over the last nine years, and we still watch it every week. Our daughter, Megan said to me last night that I should try to go on the show.

I laughed. Although I do enjoy watching it, I have no interest in going on the show as a contestant.

I'd be ready to leave after the first night. Heck, after the first few bugs started to bite me within the first few minutes of getting off the boat, I'd be ready to pack it in.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Illinois: Land Of Lincoln, And Corrupt Governors

Maybe Rod Blagojevich thought that as Governor of Illinois, he was supposed to be a crook. He was just following the pattern. A nice recap from the AP...

Three former Illinois governors have gone to prison in the past 35 years.

_Otto Kerner, a Democrat who was governor from 1961 to 1968, served less than a year of a three-year sentence after his 1973 conviction on bribery, tax evasion and other counts. He was convicted of arranging favorable horse racing dates as governor in return for getting horse racing association stock at reduced prices. Kerner died in 1976.

_Dan Walker, a Democrat who was governor from 1973 to 1977, served 1 1/2 years of a seven-year sentence after pleading guilty in 1987 to bank fraud, misapplication of funds and perjury. The charges were not related to his service as governor.

_George Ryan, a Republican who was governor from 1999 to 2003, was convicted of corruption in 2006 for steering state contracts and leases to political insiders while he was Illinois secretary of state and then governor. He is serving a 6 1/2-year prison term.

In addition, William Stratton, governor from 1953-1961, was later indicted but was acquitted on charges of income tax evasion.

Thanks, Blogo, for upholding such a proud tradition.

But, at least your hair looks good.

Thursday, December 04, 2008


The 51st Annual Grammy Awards will air Sunday, February 8th, 2009 on CBS-TV. Nomnations were announced yesterday. The complete list can be found here.

Unlike a lot of other award show, I try to watch at least a few minutes of the Grammys, since the nominees actually perform on stage, and sometimes you get a memorable performance.

Can't say the same about the Emmys or the Oscars. But, wouldn't it make the broadcast more entertaining if nominees in acting categories went up on stage and acted?

Or casts from nominated movies and TV series were on stage reenacting scenes from their shows or films?

How 'bout a stage version of one of the death scenes from No Country For Old Men, complete with special effects, makeup, the whole nine yards.

Or in 2002, why not have Oscar winner Halle Berry and Billy Bob Thornton reenact their famous love scene from Monster's Ball.

Right in the middle of it, that's when you cut to the shot of Jack Nicholson for his reaction.

Now that's an awards show I'd watch.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

iTunes Phillies Games

We have iTunes set up on the home computer, and I guess I never realized that there was a lot more available at the iTunes store than just music.

I was browsing a Phillies message board, and found a post from a fan that was talking about getting some of the playoff games on DVD. Someone in the thread suggested getting the games off iTunes.

So, I checked out their selections, and found all of the 2008 Phillies playoff games, available for just $1.99 each.

Shazamm! I purchased their wins in the NLDS and NLCS, and when watching the games on Quicktime, the quality is great, there are no commercials, and it's certainly money well spent.

I'm holding out hope that I get some DVD's of the World Series for Christmas, but if I don't, then I'll head back to iTunes to download the rest.

Next, I want to see if I can download all of the Cubs playoff games from the last two years.

I'll look under the comedy section.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thanksgiving Recap: Double Stuffed

Everyone have a nice Thanksgiving? As I mentioned on the show we had a busy, but very enjoyable day.

It started at my in-laws for turkey dinner #1. A crisis was averted when after our youngest daughter, Sarah's bip was misplaced, I ran over to a nearby drugstore to purchase a new one.

I know, I know, not only shouldn't she have one by this point - she's almost 2 1/2 years old -- but this would have been a perfect opportunity to have her quit cold turkey. And, of course, quitting cold turkey...on really was set up nicely for us.

But we couldn't do it. She mainly uses it when she's sleepy, and ready for bed. Judging by the mood of the room after a full plate of turkey, gravy, potatoes, etc., we all could've used a bip by the end of the afternoon.

From there it was on to my brother's house. He and his wife were hosting their first Thanksgiving, and it was a really nice time. Counting us, my parents, and his wife's side of the family, there were about 20 of us there.

Now, it just worked out that we arrived just as they were serving dinner, and not wanting to be rude, we, of course, had a plate of food. Again, it was all very good.

One of the highlights of the night was after dinner when several of us gathered around the TV to take a stab at playing the Wii. Bowling and Golf were the initial sports of choice.

Then, we discovered boxing. It's simple enough, in theory: Hold the two controllers provided, and make boxing motions during the fight. You actually can jab, uppercut, roundhouse, all the moves you associate with boxing.

Turns out, my daughters are a little better at it then I thought. Not sure if I'm happy about that, or frightened.

Our oldest daughter, Megan, who had never played the game before, proceeded to knockout my brother, a veteran of the game, in two separate matches.

Then I took her on, and got knocked out as well.

Of course, Sarah wanted to play also. The first go around, Megan dropped her like a sack of potatoes, as Sarah really had no idea what she was doing. the second fight, Sarah -- who was basically just moving her arms around without any rhyme or reason, but it was working -- took out Megan with a 3rd round knockout.

And, credit to Megan, who took it in stride, and was laughing about it, as she felt the same way we did after losing to her.

It was a fun way to cap off a great day. A day that featured a (ahem) 1-2 punch of turkey dinners that still has me feeling (burp) stuffed.

Here's me showing Sarah the ropes...

Megan tries to land a "right", moments before her Wii fighter gets knocked out by the Diapered Destroyer, Sarah...

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Gobble Up More Sarah Palin

*** Note: The video below is not for the squeamish, kids, or PETA.

Boy, Sarah Palin just loves to keep giving. Thanks for giving, Sarah. Gosh, what perfect timing! A "thanks" for "giving" complete with a turkey video below.

A very gruesome video, but, still.

It seems that Governor Palin had just pardoned a turkey for Thanksgiving, and while doing a followup interview, other, less fortunate turkeys in the background were getting their heads chopped off.

You know, as soon as the election ended, I was glad that, quite possibly, I wouldn't have to see or hear from Sarah Palin again.

Now, I'm changing my mind. As long as she stays in Alaska, and out of my way, I hope Palin stays in the news on a regular basis.

You really can't make this stuff up.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Pardon Me

Hey fans, I know things have been a bit slow around here lately. First, after blogging mostly about the Phillies' World Series run the last few weeks, I'm still trying to recover.

I've also been working on trying to launch a similar-style blog for my morning radio show, which can be found here.

It's nothing groundbreaking, but I'm trying to do a nice job on it, so feel free to rack up some traffic for me.

I'll get back to regular posting on here shortly.

Methinks I'll have some discussion of The Shield very soon.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Definitive Phillies Video

If you're a Philly fan, you'll get a lump in your throat about halfway through.

Brilliant job by lukejohnson9 on Youtube.

Beware Of Antivirus XP

There's a pesky little virus/malware program floating around out there, and my home computer has it. It's something called Antivirus XP 2008 (or 2009).

If you start getting popups that you're not used to seeing, warning you that your computer is infected, and you need to download such and such program to get rid of the problem, that's either the virus trying to go onto your computer, or it's already on there.

It's not a particularly dangerous virus, so the experts say, but all I know is, my computer won't boot up now.

Just before we ran into the reboot problem, I was having a hard time running certain spyware removal programs, and when searching google for articles on how to fight back, several pages wouldn't load. It's like the virus knew I was hunting it down and didn't like it very much.

In fact, the moment that our computer "blue screened" us was when we were searching for what we thought was the corrupted file. In the middle of typing it in, it shut down. We got it to reboot that time. Tried to search it again, and down it went again. It never came back.

Most impressive.

Plenty of websites out there offer instructions on how to combat this thing once it's on your computer, like this site.

Keep your eyes open for this thing. Our computer is now in the hands of someone that we trust to fix it, and he says that none of our data will be lost, and we should be back up and running after he sprinkles a little magic dust on it.

But still, it's obviously a major pain in the hard drive.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Another Phils Video

The compilations are starting to accumulate. Kudos to those that have the time, and knowledge to put these together.

Keep 'em comin' boys.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Phillies World Series In 5 Minutes

Hopefully, Youtube won't take this video down. It's a nice recap of the World Series.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Reflecting On The Phillies World Series Win

Unbelievable. I watched it, but I'm still not sure that it really happened. Our four major teams from Philly just don't do this anymore. You know, go out and come through when it matters most.

Since May 31, 1983 -- the day the 76ers won the last title in Philadelphia -- Philadelphia teams made the playoffs 47 times, reached the championship game or round seven times, and came up short in every one.

So, until the actual final strike was registered last Wednesday night, it was perfectly understandable how I could be watching my team, one strike away from a world championship, fully expecting Eric Hinske to line a single to right field. Or worse, bomb a home run to center, like he did in game 4.

That's just the way it had worked out for so many Philly teams for the past 25 years. Close, but, oh so far.

It's the main reason my dad basically gave up watching their games. Too much torture seeing them continuously fail.

It's the main reason for the last two years I gave up following along with Phillies games online at night. Too many frustrating losses that ruined the short amount of sleep I get each evening.

But, as the regular season wound down, it was too hard to turn away. Thanks to my work buddy, Jay, he gave me his password info to log onto so I could watch games on the computer.

One of the first games I decided to see was the Brett Myers shutout on three days rest against the Brewers. That win completed a much needed four game sweep, and drew the Phils even with Milwaukee for the wild card lead.

That was when it seemed like the Phils might be able to eek out a playoff spot after all. The fact that they got hot while the Mets pulled their now annual el foldo was even sweeter.

Again, people like to say the Mets choked, and they did to an extent, but the Phillies had to play excellent baseball to catch them, and they did, for the second straight year.

Last season, the Phillies went 13-4 down the stretch to help overtake the Mets. This year, the Phils closed the regular season 13-3, and won by three games.

Still, after last year's early playoff exit, I was just cautiously optimistic about their chances this year.

Even winning game 1 of the NLDS was only slightly satisfying, because it took Brad Lidge escaping a mess he created in the 9th to hang on for the win, and C.C. was pitching in game 2.

But it was during the game 2 win over Milwaukee that I started to believe. Not that it would happen, but certainly that it could.

Shane Victorino will get all of the credit he deserves for hitting the grand slam off Sabathia that broke the game open, but it was Brett Myers' at-bat against C.C. that will be one of the unforgettable moments of the entire postseason for me. Fouling off pitch after pitch, earning a walk to the standing ovation of a fan base that instantly knew how big that at-bat was.

Watching the Phils take care of business in game 4, with Rollins setting the tone with the early home run, and then Pat Burrell hitting two of his own bombs, clued me in that this could be a very special year.

Opening at home against L.A. was nice, but only if they could win both games. Again, Burrell came up big, with a go-ahead home run off Derek Lowe, which followed Chase Utley's game-tying home run in the 6th, rallying the Phillies from down 2-0.

Myers again used his bat driving in runs in game 2, and Lidge held on for an 8-5 win.

The games in L.A. will forever be joined in my memory bank by our trip to Disney World that coincided. I'll never forget watching the conclusions of both games 4 and 5 at the poolside bar at the Pop Resort with a handful of Phillies' fans, even more diehard than me.

My only regret is that I missed the live heroics of Victorino and Matt Stairs bringing the Phillies back in game 4, as I walked up to the bar with the score already 7-5. But, hearing about the two homeruns from a group of Philadelphians was worth it.

The World Series was a bit bizarre, but in the end, incredible.

Cole Hamels was dominant in game 1, and the bats -- outside of Utley's first inning homer -- were not. But, Lidge came through again, and it was advantage us.

Game 2, more of the same frustration from an offensive offense. Myers was just ok, and the offense was still non-existent. Rays even up the series.

Then, it got fun.

Staying up late on a Saturday night to watch Jamie Moyer toy with the Rays was a thrill, especially after having watched Moyer really struggle in the first two rounds. After the career Moyer had, plus having grown up a Phillies fan, he deserved that stage, and pitched beautifully.

Unfortunately, the Phils couldn't hold a 4-1 lead, and he was not the winning pitcher. I don't think he cared too much, as the Phils got the 9th inning win on Carlos Ruiz' infield hit that scored Eric Bruntlett (two of the most unlikely offensive stars you could imagine).

Game 4 should have been known as game FORE, as the Phils hit some bombs -- including two from Ryan Howard -- to help finally enjoy an easy win, 10-2.

The stage was now set for the culmination of everything. King Cole on the mound in their home ballpark for all the marbles. Sure, a loss would still leave them with two to get one, but who wanted to go back to St. Pete? Nobody.

It had to be game 5.

Vic opened the scoring with a 2-run single, and the place went nuts. Then Crawford got them to within one on the homerun, but that was ok, Hamels was still in command.

Then the rain came. And came. And on they played as the field got more unplayable by the second. Plus it was windy and cold.

After the Rays tied it with their "only in those exact circumstances do they score that run since Rollins would have grabbed that groundball, Upton wouldn't have been able to steal second so easily, and Pena would have made an out because normally Hamels would have been able to throw his offspeed pitches" rally, then they finally called the game.

After originally feeling the Phillies got robbed, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

Because what transpired Wednesday night was as unique as it was unforgettable, and it all worked out to the Phillies advantage.

The resumption of a 2-2 game with the home team batting first in the bottom of the 6th presented the Phillies with a big advantage. The hometown crowd would get the rare chance to begin the night cheering the offense, rattling the pitcher, pumping up that first batter -- the best cheerleader on the Phillies bench this postseason -- Geoff Jenkins.

It started beautifully for the Phils with Jenkins lifting a 3-2 pitch to right center for a leadoff double. The fans, and Jenkins, were cheering like crazy. And, get this: The Phillies got the run in!

They took away any lingering momentum the Rays had generated with their 6th inning game-tying hit in the monsoon two nights earlier.

Starting the game again in the bottom of the sixth meant instant drama. Had Jenkins led off the 1st with a double, yeah, that'd be great, but everyone would know there's still just about a full game to go. But, with a 2-2 game, and the evening starting in the bottom of the 6th, suddenly it's ON right from the outset. Getting that run in meant the Phils at that time were just nine outs from the title.

Now, granted, Ryan Madson gave it right back with the home run allowed to Rocco Baldelli, but the difference is with this 2008 team, they were able to bounce right back and score again.

And, how perfect was the situation in the bottom of the 7th. Almost too perfect. Pat Burrell, who had been invisible in the series, who was most likely playing his last game as a Phillie in Philly, in possibly his last at-bat, lifted a high fly to one of the deepest parts of the park. Oh, if it had just gone another three or four feet, it would have been a home run for the ages -- at least in Philadelphia.

Burrell had to settle for the double, that should have been a triple. Bygones. Moments later, Happy Peter -- I mean, Pedro Feliz -- delivered what would end up being the game winning single to center.

4-3 Phillies after 7 innings.

J.C. Romero entered the game, and after allowing a base hit, induced a tension lifting 6-4-3 double play from B.J. Upton, and all of a sudden, it seemed like a definite possibility that the Phillies just might pull this off.

Heading to the bottom of the 8th, I called my dad...and seemingly woke him up.

Mom was already asleep, and dad was about to join her. I told him the score, knowing that I might be setting him up for a potential disaster in the 9th -- it was only a one run lead -- and I told him to watch only if he wanted to.

He said he wasn't sure, but he'd think about it.

My wife brought our crying 2-year old, who wouldn't go to sleep, into the room. Our oldest daughter Megan sat on the couch to watch, too. I started pacing, more like rocking back and forth, breathing deep, putting my hands through my hair, then up to my face, then exhaling.

This was it. Three more outs to go. Lidge looked calm. He delivered a first pitch strike, and eventually coaxed a measly popup from Evan Longoria for the first out.

Then Navarro broke his bat and looped a single into right.


Tying run on. Pinch runner on first (here comes the steal). Sure enough, the runner (Perez?) broke for second and got in easily.

Great. Only one out, and the tying run in scoring position. What have I done to my dad? I've sent him into a trap. Oh, no! Zobrist just smoked a liner to right...wait, Werth is there! He caught it rather easily. Two outs!!

Uh oh. Eric Hinske is slowly making his way to the plate. He's been up once in the series, and it was about a 589 foot missile to center field.

Breathing getting heavier. Saying out loud, "come onnnnnn, Brad", "ahhhhhhhh just one more out!" Strike one. Megan starts to cover her ears to protect her from my possible screaming that's about to ensue. Check swing. Did he goooooo, no it doesn't look like he - THEY CALLED IT A STRIKE! Wow, we got a lot of calls in this series (admit it Phillies fans).

0-2 count, crowd in a frenzy, just one freakin strike away. Lidge from the stretch, I crouch down, and there it is, a feeble swing from Hinske at a beautiful Lidge slider, the ball hits Ruiz' mitt, and it's OVER!!!

I jump up and shout something like, "YEAHWOOHOOOALLRIGHTYEEEEEEAAAHHH", and all is right in the world.

And, dad -- and mom -- were watching, too.

I felt such joy, relief, and satisfaction. The title washed away about 100 collective seasons without one for Philadelphia. And, after so many close calls with this team this decade, they finally did it.

After all of the frustrating losses, blown saves, strikeouts in key situations, losing streaks, coming up short the last week of the season, it didn't matter anymore.

There were so many great moments in the postseason. Unforgettable ones...The Victorino slam against C.C., preceded by Myers drawing the classic walk. Burrell's two home run game in the NLDS clincher. Utley and Burrell turning a 2-0 deficit into a 3-2 lead within minutes in game one against L.A. Myers driving in multiple runs in game two. The "Beat L.A." chants. Victorino's game tying home run in game four, and Matt Stairs murdering that pinch homerun for the game winner. Utley's diving catch that turned into a huge double play earlier in that game. Jimmy Rollins, leading off a second straight clinching win with a homerun. Cole Hamels shutting down Tampa for his 4th postseason win. Jamie Moyer's performance in game 3. Eric Bruntlett beating the throw home to win game 3 in the 9th. Howard going deep twice in game 4. Joe Blanton's homerun. Victorino getting a 2-run single in the 1st inning of game 5. The rain. The suspension. The ascension, thanks to Geoff Jenkins double, leading to a run. Burrell almost hitting a homerun for the ages. Feliz putting the Phils up for good. Romero getting a huge double play. Lidge striking out Hinske to win it.


It's all worth it. Sulking from loss to loss, season to season, for moments like those.

Watching them clinch a playoff berth when it looked like they were about to blow their first ever 9th inning lead, but having it end on a Rollins to Utley to Howard double play. Overcoming the Mets, again! Shouting at Vic's homerun against Sabathia to "GO, GET OUT!!", and realizing that that slam probably clinched the first round series. Straining to hear the radio call of the final outs in game 2 against L.A., while I was just moments away from going on the air at my high school football game, and learning during the national anthem that the Phils had hung on for the win. Getting to watch two road wins in L.A. at a bar at poolside bar at Disney World with fellow Philadelphians. Getting to share the final out with my family.

Thank you Phillies. I hope you forgive, and understand all of the negative posts from me, and the many other negative vibes from the fans over the years. We just wanted a winner.

You've taken care of that, now.


Thursday, October 30, 2008

Phillies Are Number One

I'm still trying to figure out how to put into words what's going through my mind after watching the Phillies win the World Series last night.

In the meantime, here are some videos to help fill the space.

The final pitch as heard on Fox, for as long as Youtube will allow it to stay on its site.

And, the same pitch as described by legendary Phillies announcer, Harry Kalas...

Final out as seen at P.J. Whelihan's Blue Bell

The view from Section 209 - Row 6 - Seat 22 at the Bank.

The last out, from section 122

Not the best quality, but the final out call with Kalas' call in the background

and, the scene in one of many living rooms of Phillies fans across the country

Makes me wish I had video going at my place last night.

It's an unbelievable feeling. I'll share more later.

Monday, October 27, 2008

More Phillies Stuff

It'll still be a few more days before I have the desire to blog about anything other than the Phillies -- when your favorite team gets to the World Series for the first time since 1993, it tends to consume a lot of your thoughts -- and as I glanced over the last few posts on this blog, I noticed something: I neglected to say anything about game 1.

I think my thought process was something along the lines of not wanting to write too much about it for fear that it would jinx them down the line.

Still might.

That is also the explanation for the short posts after the game 2 and 3 posts.

But, at the very least, I wanted to at least mention how excruciating it is as a baseball fan watching your favorite team try to hang on to a one-run lead for an extended length of time.

Actually, the Phils had a 3-0 lead briefly, before Tampa Bay scored one run in the 4th, and one more in the 5th.

So, from the 5th through the 9th -- an agonizing five innings, when nails disappear and heart rates soar -- I, along with every other Phillies fan, held our breath and exhaled with every single pitch, until Brad Lidge finally put an end to the game.

It didn't help matters that Philly was in the early stages of a 3 1/2 game long offensive funk, failing time after time to bring home runners in scoring position.

The game reminded me of game four of the 1993 NLCS when the Phils took a 2-1 lead in the 4th inning in Atlanta, and proceded to retire the Braves for six straight innings without allowing a run.

Exhilarating, exhausting, and not for the faint of heart. Even more so back then, with Mitch Williams as the closer (who would blow a 3-0 lead in the 9th inning of game 5, only to have the Phils bail him out with a 4-3 win in 10 innings).

So, watching game 1 of this year's World Series probably took a few weeks off my life, but since they won, it was worth it.

As heart-pumping as that win was, however, I would much prefer a blowout of such magnitude that even Mitch Williams could hang onto the lead.

Is there such a (wild) thing?

Phils One Win Away


Sunday, October 26, 2008

HalPHway There

Who needs Ryan Howard and Pat Burrell to perform when you have Eric Bruntlett and Carlos Ruiz on your team?

Friday, October 24, 2008

Phils Are Offensive

When Eric Bruntlett is providing the power, and you wish out loud that pitcher Brett Myers be allowed to hit to help spark your offense, things are going bad.

The Phils offense sputtered yet again, failing to drive in runners in scoring position at a horrific rate, as Tampa Bay evened the World Series with a 4-2 win.

1-28 with runners in scoring position? And that hit didn't even bring in a run! Plus, they are 0-7 with 5 strikeouts with runners at 3rd and less than two outs.

It's been painful to watch. Even the night they won.

The whole time watching game one, I was pleased they were able to grab an early lead -- and hang onto it -- but as each missed opportunity passed by, my frustration level grew. If the bats were going to stay silent, it was either going to cost them in game one (it didn't), or later in the series (it did).

As important as getting the win in the opener was, last night's game was equally important.

Had the Phils found a way to, oh I don't know, score a run here or there, put some pressure on the Rays, and squeak out a game two win, the series would likely be over.

Now, it's 1-1, and although the Phillies have gained home field advantage with the split, in order to win the series at home they have to win three straight games.

It's likely that will go out the window Saturday night, when ALCS MVP Matt Garza takes on ancient Jamie Moyer. Moyer's arguably been the Phils' most consistent starting pitcher all year long, but he has been awful in two postseason starts.

Granted, those two starts were on the road, and maybe pitching in front of the home town fans will make a bit of a difference -- hopefully for the offense, too -- but, odds are, the Rays will take game three, and retake control in the series.

But, that's the beauty of baseball. Things change quickly. Home cooking could help turn things around. Playing in front of the rabid Philly fans could be a bit of a remedy.

Maybe a shakeup in the lineup will help, or a voodoo ritual in the clubhouse. Maybe they can ask the White Sox for some advice on how to bust out of a slump.

So, Saturday night becomes the next "most important game in the series." If the Phils can find a way to beat Garza and take a 2-1 lead, it will be huge, knowing that Cole Hamels has one more game to pitch Monday.

If not, it's going to start feeling a whole lot like 1983 again.

That year, the Phils played the Orioles in the World Series. Philly squeaked out a 2-1 win in game one in Baltimore. They lost game two 4-1, mustering just three hits.

The next three games in Philadelphia were miserable for the Phils, as they scored just six runs in those games, and were swept at home, losing the series in five games.

Uh oh. Must...stop...negative...feelings.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

World Series

Well, here we go. It's about an hour before the first pitch of the World Series between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Tampa Bay Rays.

...Let me take a moment to read that last sentence again.

I still don't know which team I'd rather see the Phils play in this series. The Red Sox are a little more banged up, but have plenty of history on their side. The Rays are more talented and balanced, but are inexperienced.

I guess the whole experience factor became a bit of a moot point when trying to use it as a defense of the Red Sox, now that Tampa has disposed of them.

Truth is, no matter who the Phillies would end up playing, they need to get at least one road win, and it wouldn't have been easy at either place.

That's why tonight's game is big. When your ace is on the mound in a playoff series, you'd better win. Cole Hamels has come up huge so far this postseason, and Philly needs him again tonight.

No Phillies fan wants to see this team down one game, pinning their hopes for a split on the right arm, and the not always right mind of Brett Myers, who hasn't pitched in almost a fortnight.

It's a strange feeling now that we're so close to the first pitch. I'm excited, but nervous. Hopeful, but cautious.

These next few days and games will offer many memorable moments, and trying to predict how any of it will turn out is pointless.

Obviously, a Phillies championship would take care of so many negative feelings and years of despair in Philadelphia.

I've given you the gory details of what it's like to follow this team before.

Four more wins, boys, and all of it goes away. Until next year, of course.

Just four more wins.

I think they get them, too.

Disney World

Some random thoughts on Disney World, where we spent most of last week on vacation:

* Fast Pass is a must if you want to avoid big lines at the popular rides. The Fast Pass allows you to come back later in the day -- usually within a couple of hours -- and wait only with fellow Fast Pass returnees, instead of having to stand in the general line.

It saves a ton of time. The only problem is that you can't accumulate multiple fast passes, even if the times don't overlap. At 9:30am on one day, I got Fast Pass for Toy Story Mania that told me to return between 12:30pm - 1:30pm to be able to ride. Then, I went to Rock 'N' Roller Coaster at 10:00am, tried to get a Fast Pass, which was having people come back between 10:50am - 11:50am, only it wouldn't let me.

A certain amount of time has to pass until you get to have a second Fast Pass.

* Another tip for saving time in long lines, go in as a single rider. Granted, this may not be available on that many rides, but for Rock 'N' Roller Coaster, I went on as a single rider and waited about 10 minutes, instead of 60.

Even if you're going on a ride with someone else, or a group, if you don't mind riding without them, you can really save time.

* Speaking of Rock 'N' Roller Coaster, I highly recommend it. One of the best thrills anywhere in Disney World is the first three seconds of that ride, when your car goes from 0 to 57 m.p.h. Makes my tummy tickle every time.

* I also enjoyed Tower Of Terror, which never disappoints, and Expedition Everest was solid, too.

* Test Track is ok. I rode it in 2003 -- and videotaped it as well -- and went on it with Megan this year. I think there should be more time on the outside track, and it should go faster, but that's just me. Good to see they still have the video at the beginning of the ride featuring John Michael Higgins.

* You absolutely must go to Beaches And Cream at the Yacht and Beach Club to have their No Way Jose ice cream treat. Look at this thing. It's about $7, and it's underpriced. Go ahead and have your cheeseburger or whatever you want for dinner, but make sure you save room for this. Helps if you're a peanut butter fan.

* The chocolate shake at Ghirardelli's at Downtown Disney is also splendid.

* Some of the best views and settings, for me at least, involve water. Find time to take the monorail from the Contemporary to the Magic Kingdom, if for no other reason than to see the view of the Grand Floridian Resort.

I also like the view outside of the Yacht and Beach Club, looking over water to the Disney Boardwalk.

There's also a nice setting overlooking the water at Downtown Disney.

* It may be a bit pricey, but the character breakfast at Chef Mickey's -- also at the Contemporary -- is worth it. The kids get to meet the heavy hitters (Mickey, Minnie, Donald Duck, Goofy, Pluto), and everyone gets to enjoy a help yourself feast. Four types of potatoes, omelettes, french toast, waffles, breakfast pizzas, muffins, fruit...just about everything you could want.

* Bring your comfortable shoes. The amount of walking for the time you're there is insane. In addition to the walking inside the parks, there's all the walking to get from your room to the bus, and from the bus stop to the park. Of course, when you stay at the economy friendly places like we do, the walks are a bit longer.

* I can't say that it's like this all the time, but going in October, weather wise, was fine. It was hot all of the days we were there (mid to upper 80's), but the humidity wasn't too bad, the evenings were pleasant, and there was a nice breeze each day.

Now, try to avoid going the week of Columbus Day like we did. Apparently, a lot of southern schools take that whole week off, so it was more crowded than usual.

So, there you have it, some of my recommendations for good ol' WDW. If it were up to my wife and kids, we'd go back every year. Twice.

I'm fine with not going back for at least a few years, maybe more. But, as long as we got to do all of the things above -- with an added day or two for a trip to the beach and a round of golf -- I could possibly be talked into going again sooner.


Throw in a massage from Ariel, or Jasmine, and then we could be getting somewhere.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Phellow Phillies Phans

Back from our vacation at Disney World, and had to share a story about a very cool experience I had Wednesday night, as the Phillies clinched their first NL pennant since 1993.

This vacation was booked months ago, and although I clearly remember seeing the dates and thinking to myself, well, at least it won't be during the World Series, I really had no thoughts at the time that the Phils would even be playing in the middle of October anyway, so the thought that I'd potentially be missing NLCS baseball didn't occur to me, or have me worried.

Once the Phils reached the playoffs, and then disposed of Milwaukee, I knew I'd be missing some NLCS games while we were on vacation, but I figured that since we were on the East Coast, games wouldn't end until near midnight anyway so I could at least catch the last few innings of most of the games that were played while we were away.

As I wrote in an earlier post, I did get to see all of game 1, and I was able to see most of game 2. I had to broadcast a football game that night, so I was able to watch Philly grab an 8-2 lead, and I left for my game right after Manny's homerun made it an 8-5 game.

Listening to the radio broadcast, I was able to follow along until the top of the 9th, when my broadcast had to start. I signed on for my broadcast as the Dodgers had mounted a 2-on, 1-out rally against Brad Lidge.

Luckily, at my high school football game, the national anthem happened at a point in time -- during our commercial break -- that I could go back to the radio broadcast of the baseball game and find out that Lidge had put out the fire, preserving the win.

We left for Disney World the next morning, and had actually budgeted a quiet Sunday night for me -- the girls stayed at the Magic Kingdom while I came back to the resort -- so I got to see game 3. However, the Phils were blown out early, and I watched something else in my room, before falling asleep.

As we were enjoying our time at Disney World, I started to notice something. A lot of people were wearing Phillies stuff. Shirts, hats, jerseys, you name it. For about 5 seconds I thought to myself, "Yeah, sure...everyone's coming out of the woodwork now that they're in the NLCS."

But, then I thought, so what! I'm seeing other people openly showing love for the Phils, outside of Philadelphia. Who cares if they're long time fans or not. In fact, I'd offer to hold the bandwagon door open for anyone who wanted to jump onboard.

Then, that night, as game 4 was taking place, I was trying to figure out the timeframe of certain events, and if I'd have a chance to catch any of the game.

Turns out, we had a late night planned watching fireworks, parades, etc. at the Magic Kingdom. Add in the extra time for walking to and waiting for a bus back to the hotel, and I was looking at about a 11:30-12:00 arrival, most likely after the game had ended.

I was all set to just go back to the room, click on ESPN and look for a score on the ticker, when I started to make my way from the Pop Resort main building, out to the pool area that led to our room.

That's when I heard it.

The sounds of Phillies fans gathered around the Petal Pools Bar that sat nearby one of the resort pools. I could see red hats, and various Phillies shirts and jerseys in front of one of the TV's behind the bar, and the game was still on!

I walked over to see the score, and it was 7-5 Phils in the top of the 9th.

My wife agreed to take our daughters back to the room, and I decided to stick around to see the end.

There I bumped into several phellow philly phans, all sounding as if they were from Philly themselves (hard to misplace the accent), and it was such a treat to be able to cheer on the final three outs with them.

You see, I live in Illinois, and have for most of my life. With the exception of watching various Eagles games of importance over the years with my brother and several of his friends, most of my viewing of Philly games -- and certainly the open cheering for those Philly teams -- has been done alone.

But, here I was sitting with phellow Phillie Phans, probably all from Philly, cheering on the final few outs of a most improbable win. I was clued in by one of them on the game tying homerun by Shane Victorino, and the go-ahead homerun by Matt Stairs to give the Phils the 7-5 lead.

As midnight came and went -- the bar actually was supposed to close then -- so did the Dodgers, and the Phils went up 3-1 in the series.

Everyone that was there cheering for the boys in red vowed to return Wednesday night for game 5, and I thought to myself that I'd like to be a part of that, too.

Wednesday found us again at the Magic Kingdom, and I had bargained my way into a secnario where I would leave around 9:30 to head back to the resort to watch the end of the game.

A phone call from my in-laws clued me in to the fact that Philly had jumped out to a 1-0 lead, and that it was the 3rd inning.

About an hour or so later, I was off to catch a bus back to the Pop Resort, and hopefully to share in the pennant clinching celebration with my new friends.

The Phils had to clinch that night. Hamels was pitching, Philly had stolen back L.A.'s momentum with the 8th inning game 4 comeback, plus, I knew I'd miss game 6 due to yet another football game I had to work, so the game 5 win in L.A. just absolutely had to happen.

I walked fast to the bus, willed a bunch of green lights, and reached the resort shortly after 10pm.

As I walked to the bar, there was a commercial break on the TV, and there were my phellow phillie phans, all gathered, chatting, and looking fairly happy. No hanging heads, no dejected looks, no frowns. Then I heard one of them say, "There's no way Hamels is giving up 5 runs."

That's when I knew we were in good shape. Sure enough, the game came back on the television, and it was 5-0 Phils, but only in the 5th inning!

Wow, a long way to go. I re-introduced myself to the throng, took some bags back to the room, and walked right back, grabbed a seat at the bar, ordered a beer, and proceded to watch, root, cheer, and enjoy the Phils' march to the pennant.

With the Phils leading 5-1 heading to the bottom of the 9th, I grabbed our video camera and videotaped the final moments of the game, and the subsequent jubilation shared by the group of phans present. High-fives, woo-hoos, and bought drinks were the norm as the game concluded.

I thanked everyone for making it such a fun experience, and congratulated them on our team reaching the final stage.

Then, I walked back to the room where the rest of my family was relaxing, and told our oldest daughter Megan to grab her suit for a late night swim.

She had been bugging to do some swimming, and as this was our last night in Florida, the time had come. We walked down to the pool by our room, just past midnight.

She had a great time, getting to do something, at a crazy time as well, that she really enjoys doing, and I had fun, too. Reflecting on a memorable night, thanks to the guys in grey on the field in Los Angeles, and the strangers from Philly, who, for a few nights at least, became friends of mine, getting to share in something that hasn't happened since 1993.

Now, here's hoping a similar scene plays out at that very same bar in the next few days.

Cheers to all of my phellow phillie phans.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Pat The Bat

I'll be taking some vacation time this upcoming week. Combining that with my work schedule, there's a very good chance that last night's opening game of the NLCS will be the only game I'll get to see from start to finish.

No complaints so far.

What was looking like a classic Phils' laying of a turd offensively turned around thanks to a fielding error and two big swings.

Chase Utley's 2-run home run, followed shortly by Pat Burrell's line-drive solo shot suddenly gave Philly a 3-2 lead, got "The Bank" rockin' and rollin', and the bullpen shut it down for the win, including a 1-2-3 inning from Brad Lidge in the 9th.

Watching your team trying to nurse a one-run lead in a playoff game is frightening. Your heart never stops racing, you take deep breaths after every pitch, fingernails disappear in record time.

I love every minute of it.

Great win, but it won't mean much if they blow a gasket today.

Brett Myers, it's your turn.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Dodger Blue, Cubbies Blew

Well, at least when the Phillies eventually blow a series in the playoffs, it won't be against the Cubs.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Phils Go Up 2-0

We're in the midst of getting a new roof. The primary day of work was yesterday. All day long, loud bangs, thuds, and constant noise.

However, the only time I ever saw my daughters cover their ears, was during my reaction to Shane Victorino's unexpected grand slam in the 2nd inning of last night's 5-2 Phillies' win over the Brewers.

We were in the kitchen -- the game was on in the sunken family room, within view of the dinner table -- and as Victorino made contact, it looked like a routine fly to left. I didn't realize how solid the contact was. Ryan Braun kept going back, and I started to shout, "Get out. GET OUT!"

Once it hit the stands, giving the Phils a 5-1 lead against no-longer-immortal C.C. Sabathia, I did my dorky at-home celebratory maneuver: Hard hand clap, a shout of "Wooooooo", a fist pump, then a "Yes!"

Hey, when you're a Phillies fan living in the Chicago suburbs, in a house with 3 girls, you end up celebrating in understated ways. Plus, it was only the 2nd inning.

After my display, I looked at my daughters (ages 8 and 2), hands over their ears with dazed, confused, and slightly concerned looks on their faces. The way most Americans look after hearing a Sarah Palin quote.

Hopefully, they'll eventually understand what it's like to be a suffering die-hard fan, suddenly staring at a possibility of better things to come. Oops, can't get ahead of myself. All the Phils have done is hold serve. Be nice to wrap this up Saturday night.

The Victorino home run was even appreciated by my wife, who is rooting for the Phillies simply for the fact that would mean me being in a better mood around the house, as after she realized it was him that hit the home run declared, "that's my favorite player! His name reminds me of beef-a-reeno," from the classic Seinfeld episode featuring Rusty, the flatulent horse.

Naturally, the Phillies wouldn't score another run after Vic's blast -- leaving the bases loaded in successive innings -- but were able to hang on for the 5-2 win.

Brett Myers was fantastic on the mound, a huge relief after his last two lousy starts, but it was his at-bat in the 2nd inning that will be remembered most of all.

With a runner on 2nd, and with two outs, Myers strolled to the plate against Sabathia, and everyone in the park -- probably Myers as well -- fully expected a three-pitch strikeout to end the inning.

Myers quickly fell behind 0-2. Then a slider missed. Myers then fouled off a 1-2 pitch, which drew a few "wow, you actually made contact" sympathy applause from the crowd.

Sabathia tried another slider, only this one dropped to the dirt, and Myers didn't offer. Suddenly it's a 2-2 count. Crowd starts to sense that C.C. is having some trouble putting away a guy that had just six hits in his last 127 at-bats.

C.C. tries to blow Myers away on the next pitch with a fastball, but Myers fouls it off. Now, the crowd is into it.

After failing to get Myers with the slider and the fastball, Sabathia tries the changeup, but it misses the plate, and Myers watches it for ball three.

All of a sudden, Myers is one pitch away from extending the inning, bringing up Rollins with two-on and two-out in a 1-1 game.

If nothing else, he was forcing C.C. to throw more pitches. After all, he was making his 4th straight start on short rest.

Payoff pitch, a fastball fouled off. Crowd on their feet, waving their towels, and getting into C.C.'s head.

One more try at a fastball from Sabathia, and it just missed the plate. Myers jumps out of the box on his way to first, while the crowd, already standing and cheering, erupt even more as they realized how valuable that at-bat was.

After C.C. continued to struggle with his control -- walking Rollins next -- Victorino came up and launched a big fly that will go into the annuls of top Phillies moments of all time.

Without the instant classic at-bat by Myers, it would have never happened.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Thome Launches White Sox To Playoffs

There are plenty of smiles at work today. All three of our favorite teams have reached the playoffs.

Last night, Jay Capron's White Sox clinched the final playoff berth on the strength of Jim Thome's bomb to center field, and some fantastic pitching and defense, in a tense 1-0 win over the Twins in the AL Central tiebreaker.

I'm sure Minnesota is feeling pretty bad right now. Tough break that despite defeating the Sox 10-8 during the head-to-head meetings, they had to settle for the 50/50 chance of a coin-flip to go their way -- it didn't -- to get the home game for the tiebreaker.

Oh well. The Sox will take it.

I thought the blackout was a cool idea (fans wore black and were given black towels to wave). However, watching it on TV, it was hard to even notice the towels because they blended in with everyone's outfit.

And, if it's supposed to be a blackout, why were the Sox wearing their white uniforms?

Shouldn't they have fielded an all African-American lineup?

Inquiring minds.

So now that the palehose are in, Jay, my newsman, is now smiling along with fellow co-worker Kevin Schramm. His Cubs have had things wrapped up now for over a week.

And, yeah, I'm smiling today, too. My Phils clinched their berth on Saturday. I figure I might as well smile now, before the inevitable game 1 loss in a few hours.

Until then at least, everyone upstairs here at work -- us on-air guys work on the 2nd floor -- is feeling good about the chances of our respective teams. It's been 102 years since the Cubs and White Sox were in the playoffs at the same time.

The fact that each of our favorite teams -- and the Sox are my 2nd favorite, for whatever that's worth -- has reached the postseason is borderline insanity.

We'll see how long our smiles last.