Thursday, April 29, 2010

Was I Drunk??????

Was I drunk???  I plead the 5th... But I will say this..  I NEVER thought it would be the way I would make it on the field...  

As for my side of the story....

I made my work day short since this was going to be my first game in the stadium since my days of seeing the Phils at the old Vet.  I hit my local watering hole ( Chickie and Pete’s ) after my 1/2 day of work to get some lunch and to get my drinking on.  After a tasty burger and a couple of cold Budweisers, I ventured back home waiting for a couple of friends to show up for the game.  We then proceed to consume more cold beers and ventured over to the stadium, which was a (2 beer) 5 minute walk. We got over to the stadium around 4 pm and were waiting for the gates to open.  My buddies went looking for a beer stand while I took moved onto to the left field seats in hope of getting a ball.  A couple of the players were in left tossing some balls to the fans and warming up.   I think it was Chad Durbin who made the infamous toss of the ball to the stands. I reached for it, slipped, and proceeded to hit the bushes and then tumbled head first towards the warning track.  I did correct myself and threw my feet over my head, how I will never know, so I would come down on my feet like a nimble cat.  As I came down and hit the gravel on the warning track I twisted and landed totally wrong on my feet and screwed up my ankle.  Of course the cart came out and got me as I could not stand.  They took me in to the medical staff to look me over and in my embarrassment I declined treatment (Bad Load move!!). They took me in the ‘Gatorcart’ over to my home which was right around the corner (Thanks again to the medical staff !).   I spent the next 4 months off my feet as my ankle was totally FUBAR!!  I did however receive tickets to another game at a later date as I missed my first game from falling during batting practice.   Lesson learned..??  I don't know, but the sweet thing is to know that the Phils did win the World Series that same year on my birthday no less, so was it my own personal karma that lead the Phils to the title..? Maybe.  Just glad I didn't land on my head and get hurt worse than I did...Since that game, I have been to several games and know that I park my ass in my seat and make good friends with the beer guy and keep them flowing...

As told to BL Chris by The Zinsk

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Random Past Phillie: Rich Hunter

Name: Richard Thomas Hunter
Position: Starting Pitcher
Born: September 25, 1974 in Pasadena, California
Acquired: Selected in the 14th round of the 1993 Draft
Phillies Debut: April 6, 1996
Final Phillies Game: September 29, 1996
Uniform Number: 39

About Rich Hunter: There are various types of prospects when it comes to baseball. Some players are tagged with the "can't-miss" label seemingly from the moment they are drafted. It seems as though we know everything about them before they have even set foot on a Major League Baseball field. Some work their way through the minors and develop into quality big leaguers. Some are unheralded, but catch our eye thanks to one phenomenal season in the minors. That was the case for Rich Hunter, a soft-tossing righty who took the Phillies' farm system by storm in 1995, found himself on the club's Opening Day roster in 1996, out of Major League Baseball in 1997, and out of professional baseball by 2000. It is a cautionary tale of what happens to some players who are rushed to the majors before their time, and can never quite regain the promise that got them there in the first place.

Rich Hunter's pro baseball career didn't exactly get off to a flying start. Selected by the Phillies in the 14th round of the 1993 Draft, Hunter went 0-6 with an astronomical 9.55 ERA at Martinsville of the Rookie League in his first season. He stayed at Martinsville for the 1994 season, where he improved, but was still an unspectacular 3-2 with a 4.50 ERA. In 1995, however, Hunter found an incredible groove. Starting the season at mid-A Piedmont, he went 10-2 with a 2.77 ERA in 15 starts. This earned Hunter a promotion to high-A Clearwater, where he was 6-0 with a 2.93 ERA in nine starts. One more promotion was in store, as Hunter finished the season with AA Reading, winning all three of his starts there to the tune of a 2.05 ERA. Overall, Hunter was a ridiculous 19-2 with a 2.73 ERA. Not overpowering at all, Hunter's big looping curveball kept hitters off balance all season long. For his efforts, he was named one of the winners of the annual Paul Owens Award, given to the top pitcher and position player in the Phillies' system. Hunter had seemingly gone from an unknown to a top prospect in the blink of an eye. But as we all know, as quickly as it can come, it can disappear just as quickly.

By the time the Phillies broke camp in 1996, the pitching staff had already been decimated by injuries. Left with few alternatives, the club made the decision to include the 21-year-old Hunter on the Opening Day roster, despite the fact that he had only made three appearances above class A ball in his professional career. Thrown into the fire, he made his MLB debut on April 6, allowing four runs in 4 and 2/3 innings in what became an 8-4 loss to the Cincinnati Reds. Though it wasn't exactly a dazzling debut, Hunter did manage to strike out seven Cincinnati hitters in his first start, giving many hope that the Phils may have something to build on. Hunter would earn his first career victory on April 13 against the St. Louis Cardinals, and on April 19, he pitched seven shutout innings against those same Cardinals, though he did not factor into the decision. Unfortunately, that was as good as it ever got for Hunter. He quickly found out that Major League Baseball hitters can't be fooled as easily as those in the South Atlantic League. Hitters learned to lay off Hunter's offspeed pitches and sit on his fastball, and teed off. Hunter would be sent to the minors in early May, though he would return in August. The time away didn't really help all that much. In 14 games, all starts, Hunter ended up 3-7 with a 6.49 ERA.

Though the Phillies' pitching situation wasn't much better entering the 1997 season, it was decided that Hunter needed more seasoning and would best be served in the minors. As it turned out, he would never come close to reaching the majors again. He would go 6-11 with a 4.69 ERA at Reading in '97, and was released by the Phillies after the season. Hunter signed on with the Reds in 1998, but found himself out of a job after posting a 1-3 record and 5.97 ERA in seven appearances for AA Chattanooga. He spent the remainder of '98 and 1999 toiling for the independent league Allentown Ambassadors, where his pro career came to an end at the age of 25.

Personal recollection: I remember when Rich Hunter burst on to the scene as far as the Phillies were concerned. Late in the '95 season, it became apparent that the club was going to have to rebuild and look to the future, so they started talking up their prospects a lot more. Scott Rolen was considered the crown jewel, but there was also Rich Hunter, who came out of nowhere to go 19-2. You have to figure he was doing something right, and next thing you know, he's with the big club on Opening Day. He had the potential to keep hitters off balance with a big 12-to-6 curveball and a decent changeup, but it was clear those pitches needed some more time to develop. He simply wasn't anywhere near MLB-ready. You have to commend him for trying. Unfortunately, his experience with the Phillies shattered his confidence, and he never got it back. The Phillies did receive their fair share of criticism for their handling of Hunter. I suppose if they had to do it over again, they would've gone down a different path and let Hunter continue to develop. Of course, it is possible that all Hunter was ever going to be was a one-year wonder. Guess we'll never know for sure.

I only recall seeing Hunter pitch in person once. It was the first game of a doubleheader against the Atlanta Braves at the Vet. Matched up against Greg Maddux, Hunter actually acquitted himself very well, but came out on the short end of a 2-0 score. I figured maybe someday his time would come, but it wasn't to be.

That's my story on Rich Hunter. If you have any recollections of your own, feel free to share.

A Rod is a juicer and a jerk

When I awoke yesterday morning I was amused to find a story and accompanying video of the shenanigans between Oakland A’s Pitcher, Dallas Braden and public enemy number one, Alex Rodriguez. To summarize, Arod had gone first to third on a foul ball off the bat of Robinson Cano. As he returned to first, he ran right across the mound, Dallas Braden’s mound. To say Braden took exception to this breach of baseball etiquette would be a mild understatement. Actually, he went haywire. More like insane.  While I think Braden went overboard defending his turf it was Arod’s response that made me stop and think. Basically, he said “I’ve never heard of that in my career.”  So he is claiming that he didn’t know any better. It sounded oddly familiar. 

Three years ago, Rodriguez had a similar response when it came to his actions when running the base paths he called off a Blue Jays infielder, Howie Clark on a pop-up. Clark thought it was a teammate and let the ball drop. Again, Arod cited he didn’t know this wasn’t acceptable.  It seems to me that as someone who was been in the majors for 16 years, he should have a better grasp on proper etiquette, but then again the idea of using ignorance as an acceptable defense also translates to other areas of his life.

A few other things Arod didn’t know were wrong so it must be ok:

  1. Using Steroids
  2. Lying about using steroids
  3. Having purple lips
  4. Saying things like, "When people write [bad things] about me, I don't know if it's [because] I'm good-looking, I'm biracial, I make the most money, I play on the most popular team."
  5. Using prostitutes.
  6. Being born in the USA and wanting to play for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic
  7. Sticking his dick in the Material Girl while he was still married.
  8. Having a portrait of himself as a centaur painted
  9. Hanging said painting over his bed
  10. Thinking the prostitute he dated, Joslyn Noel Morse, was actually a woman.

It might be a good idea for Alex to hire a personal assistant who could give him a heads up on the stuff most other people realize are wrong.

The link to check it out for yourself:

Just like any batter facing Halladay, I’m out.

Jay Wrizight

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Recent Opinion and Observation, Da Butcha Style

Yo, Philly. What an April it's been! The fickle climate has offered both summer-like, 80 degree-plus days and blustery-frigid nights. Cerulean skies contrast with heavy gray overcast in typical early Spring fashion. From the departure of an aging eagle to the ascension of one much greener; where one Broad Street bunch took a step closer towards irrelevance while another found redemption in a season-saving shootout, we fans hunger for consistency. Well, dear brethren, in the spirit of Rumi, we find satiety in our Beloved. Our Red Army. Our Phillies. Mashed potatoes and gravy, toes between the sand, the embrace of a dear friend... this team is a comfort to our collective soul.

As we sit 10-plus games into the 2010 campaign, the Phils have shown why they now own the hearts and minds of the city. They've jumped out to an 8-2 start and given us every reason to believe we will witness them perform deep into October. Metaphor aside, I feel now is a good time to make my first observations, criticisms, and predictions.

Deservedly so, my first mention is of the second baseman: Chase Utley, you are the man. It can not be more-concisely stated as it was by the dearly-departed Harry Kalas. Each time I'm wowed by the play of #26, HKs refrain echoes in my memory. While teammates Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard already have theirs, I predict this to be Chase's first MVP season.

I've watched as much game as I could on TV, but there's just no way to become familiar with your squad as being at the ball park. As many of you were aware, last night was also the first such gathering of the Drunk Phils Fans staff at the ballpark. Thanks to traffic, my late arrival prevented me from tailgating with my fellow bloggers. To be honest, sober tailgating is about as fun as it sounds. Rest easy, DPFers. I was there in spirit as I cursed South Broad and its many red lights. I consequently endured the wicked weather as the Phils outlasted the Marlins 8-6 giving new ace Roy Halladay his third victory. A fittingly frigid rain fell on "Irish Heritage Night." Someone, please text me a reminder to attend the Hawaiian Aloha Luau doubleheader. I will know no justice until.

Speaking of Justice, who else is eager to learn of the prison justice that awaits the lunkhead who intentionally vomited on a young girl and her police-captain father? Almost makes me want to commit a misdemeanor within city limits to get a crack (unintentional pun notwithstanding) at this piece of dirt. Hopefully, he will be sweeping his cell floor hands-free, if you catch my meaning. That said, I will waste no more of your time on this guy...

I digress. When I attend a game, my plan is always the same. I arrive at the park early. Purchase my food and beverage from the concession stand closest to my seats. Then I plant my ass and watch a baseball game. What a fucking concept, huh? I could literally write a paragraph or several on the delicate art of properly watching a fucking game. That this section is/will be laden with F-bombs testifies to the fact that I get incredibly annoyed. Fuck! All excited to see the Phils play impressive ball, I expect that everyone else is there to do the same. Not fucking necessarily. You see, as I drink Diet Coke, eat my hot dog and gaze with boyish wonder at the majesty that is the American Pastime, droves of latecomers fill the aisles and rows around me, obstructing my view, making me repeatedly rise to allow them to pass to their seats. "That's ok," I think. Things will settle down as the inning progresses; everyone will gather their focus as I have. We will watch some fucking baseball!! But just as my boiling blood reduces to a simmer and my racing heart starts to jog, the opponents record the third out of the Phils half of the stanza and there's a fucking jailbreak all around me. Kids, moms, dads and seniors rise to their feet and, yet again, the rows and aisles fill up with people. I sit, even more frustrated. All else grows silent and my mind endorses just one thought. "They've only played 1 inning. Can you people just SIT the FUCK DOWN and WATCH BASEBALL???"

OK, now that I've gotten that off my chest, I'll try to describe a few more things that irk me at the park, while refraining from excessive usage of the word fuck. Here goes:

*Throwing back HRs is lame. This ain't Wrigley.

*Equally lame is the ballpark, Phan-o-vision marriage proposal. Please, ladies, just for my own personal amusement, would one of you please say no. Even if you really mean yes. For me. Shatter this guy's dreams on the huge screen in front of thousands of his closest friends. I mean, what is he thinking, putting you on the spot like that. Has he even asked your father's permission yet? These are things you need to know before making a lifelong commitment. And, do you really want to be with someone this needy for attention. Let's be honest, this is a man that will never allow you a Girls Night Out. We both know he'll have you paged during your spa treatment.

*For the love of God, someone please tell these kids to bend their brims and take the stickers off their hats. From what I recall, hats are supposed to look worn, as if they've seen some game action. Not brand-spanking new!!! Shit, what was the first thing we all did as soon as we received a new lid, before even trying it on? We BENT the BRIM, form-fitting it to frame our faces. Everyone knows that. Kids today do things that make me feel so out of touch. I can't be that friggin' old, can I? C'mon guys. BEND THAT BRIM!

*Is it me, or are there some places where we simply accept a financial raping at the hands of merchants? Disney World: $20 for a poncho. The movie theater: $4.25 for a bottle of water. Though, for only twenty-five cents more, you can get a liter. Who can honestly drink a liter of water in 86 minutes?? The airport: I'm pretty sure I once paid $9.99 for a five-piece pack of spearmint chewing gum at Jacksonville International! Well, as you read earlier, copious amounts of rain fell at Citizens Bank Park last night. Having failed to dress adequately, or even check in with Cecily Tynan, I wore shorts and a polo shirt. Since I was getting soaked and shivering in the wind, I broke my own, aforementioned cardinal rule and left my seat in search of a sleeved and hooded garment. After waiting in line for 20 minutes to even enter the Store in Ashburn Alley, I begrudgingly agreed to pay $70 for a zip-up sweatshirt. Though it is nice-looking gear, I can only state, "Fuck."

I don't want to give you the impression that despite loving the game, all my experiences at the park are negative. Here are a couple things that brought me joy last night:

*Roy Halladay is good. Very good.

*Juan Castro, Jimmy Rollins' fill in, comes to the plate with Pearl Jam's "Corduroy." Each player picks his own "entrance song, and I am impressed with Castro's selection. Great song!

And, lastly, one small piece of wisdom for you to ponder before I leave you:

*It's bad form to fart while seated in a crowded stadium. Outdoors or not, windy or still-aired, there is no call for punishing fellow fans with your beef. As much as they spend for tickets, they deserve to be treated to the classic aromas of the park and nothing more.

Those are my rantings at this early point in the season. Special things are sure to come; this team will ensure as much. I commit to you now, I will continue to write and to rave. You will come to understand and appreciate the relationship between myself and baseball. You will know just how sick I am. That is, if you don't know already.

April is only halfway through; we got a lot of ball to play yet, yo....

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Jay Wrizight's on Harry Kalas

Over the past year, I heard countless times how bad the Phillie’s announcing has been since Harry died. I’m not sure if people even realize how spoiled Philadelphia fans actually have been with regards to the announcers we have had.  Even though national broadcasts limit Eagles announcer Merrill Reece to the radio, he does an excellent job of describing the action and interacting with color commentator Mike Quick. A few years back, before they became the number one team for various media outlets, Mike Emerick and Bill Clement were the Flyers broadcast team. And of course, the crème of the crop is the Phillie’s team of HK and Whitey.  I was always much more of a Whitey guy. Maybe it was my lack of life experience, but I didn’t realize how good Harry was until after Whitey died.  I did however have the opportunity to meet him and it totally changed my perception of him.

When I was a teenager, I was quite the autograph hound.  Going to high school in center city, it would only take a few minutes to walk to the hotels were the visiting teams were staying.  I was in awe some of the greats I got to meet. Don Drysdale. Tony Gwynn. Don Sutton. I rarely waited for the Phillies, as it required a subway ride down to South Philly. My buddy who I will refer to as Joe Smith and I were going to a Phillies game and decided to head down to the Vet early so we could pick up few Phillies signatures, and as my friend said “something I REALLY have to do.”  He wouldn’t elaborate, but whatever I was going to see the Phils and hopefully get a couple of my baseball cards signed.

One by one they strolled into the Stadium. Von Hayes. Darren Daulton. Rodger McDowell. I was admiring how nice McDowell’s signature looked on his 1989 Topps card when my friend started going nuts. “ Where’s my bag? Where’s my bag?” he frantically mumbled as he scurried to find his backpack.  This sort of behavior was usually reserved for superstars and particularly ones you weren’t expecting to see that day. I quick grabbed my trusty Sharpie and surveyed the parking lot for autograph royalty. No Schmidt or Carlton, but I did spot Harry Kalas. I figured I ask him while my buddy and the others mobbed the guy I failed to spot.  “ Mr. Kalas, can you sign my book?” I asked. “Certainly,” he said with a genuine smile. “Are you going to the game tonight?” Mr. Kalas asked as he signed the book for me. “ Yes. We are going to buy general admission tickets,” I responded. “Wonderful. We’re glad you could make it,” he said as my friend came rushing over rifling through his book bag. “Mr. Kalas. Mr. Kalas, can you do me a favor? Can you do a home run call with my name?” he said as he pulled a mini tape recorder from his backpack. He had his name written down on a piece of paper. “I’d love to,” said Mr. Kalas. “Hit and a long fly ball. Could it be? Yes! That ball is outta here. Home run, Joe Smith. The first of what I’m sure will be a brilliant Major League Career.”  My friend was so excited he dropped the recorder; Harry seemed to enjoy his youthful exuberance. “ Thank you so much,” Joe said as he picked up the recorded. “You’re quite welcome and enjoy the game,” Harry said as continued on his way.

To this day, it still amazes me how genuinely nice he was to a couple of high school kids.  He went above and beyond. I still regret not ever stealing Joe’s idea. I hope he still has that tape somewhere. I still have that autograph.

Thanks for listening,

Jay Wrizight

Harry the K

Harry was everything that was right with the game of Baseball. Everybody admired Harry, everybody imitated Harry. As a kid, I spent countless summer nights pitching to my Dad and brother. I even received a few tips from a college pitcher out of Textile. I guess I just wanted to be the next Tyler Green. I always imagined Harry calling each pitch, "the 3-2 pitch....STRUCK EEEM out!" He had that effect on me. I wish I had the opportunity to meet him. After hearing and reading about the stories of people who have met Harry, it has to bring a smile to your face and it kind of makes you shake your head. HK impacted so many lives it is unbelievable.
Harry had the ability to make a meaningless game feel like the most important game of the season. No matter how bad things got for the Phils, somehow he stayed positive. his passion and love for the game was obvious. I will never forget a game where Mike Lieberthal hit a pinch hit walk off against the Pirates and HK went crazy. I believe it was in 99. Not exactly the Phillies best season, but that didn't matter to Harry. Random moments such as that made Harry a special part of the Phillies family.
I'm sad that Harry is gone, but we were all very lucky to hear his voice for so many years. It is hard to watch a game and not think about HK. I wanted to keep this short, everyone knows all the stories about Harry. We all have our memories, most recent his 2008 World Series clinching call. HK holds a special place in all of our hearts. I wanted to keep this short. No words can give HK enough credit. We miss ya Harry.

I miss you Harry....

I am sad that Harry is gone, but I am happy I feel like I got to know him. What have I learned in the past year? Well a few things. I do not ever want to hear the song “Bridge Over Troubled Water” or “High Hopes” (unless it is Harry singing it) again. I learned I miss tuning into the TV for the Phils and hear Harry in his familiar velvet voice say “Welcome to beautiful Citizens Bank Park where today your Philadelphia Phillies will take on….” I still have not removed Harry’s last game versus Colorado from my DVR. I cannot tell you how many times in the past year I just turned it on to hear his Matt Stairs HR call. Maybe I am not ready to let go. Maybe I never will be.

I find myself now watching a game and wondering ‘What would Harry say here?’ I probably mimic his voice a couple of times a week. Some are baseball related and sometimes I just will do it in normal conversation. I never met Harry in person. I regret not being able to do that at least once. I did go down to the ballpark alone for his wake and paid my respects, but they were far from final. Harry is baseball to me. More importantly, Harry is the Phillies to me. I often tell that story that the first voice I heard was my Mom’s, the second was my Dad’s, and I am fairly certain Harry’s was the third.

So I think what could I do to honor him? I think it is all of the above. Live and die with the Phillies, enjoy some adult beverages, and be more kind to people. The first two are easy, the last thing is what separates people like Harry from most of the world. So I will leave you with a poem I wrote and an appropriate quote, which some of you will know why I used. Thinking about Harry gives me “a smile on the lip, but a tear in my eye”. Here’s a ‘See-Through’ (Gin and Tonic) to you Harry!
I always knew when the Spring had come
Could not wait to hear his voice
Now the airwaves are empty
And Wheels is my only choice

All I have are memories
Of a man I felt I knew
This spring won’t seem as sunny
The sky won’t be seem that blue

No more Summer nights
Of listening to his calls
“Number 500 for Michael Jack Schmidt!”
Or “Right down the middle for a ball.”

The Fall will seem a bit lonelier
Without Harry at the mic
But we will always have 80 and 08
When he called the last strike

I can still see him in the booth
With his heater and mug of beer
What I wouldn’t give
For just one more “It’s Outta Here!”

Hard to Believe It's Been a Year

April 13, 2009. It was a chilly, overcast day after Easter. I had the day off from work, so I was looking forward to some family time, lunch, then settle in at 3:00 to watch the Phillies take on the Washington Nationals. The season was still very young, and we Phillies fans were all still basking in the glow of the team's 2008 World Series triumph. The previous day, the Phils had pulled out a dramatic 7-5 win over the Colorado Rockies, with '08 playoff folk hero Matt Stairs delivering a two-run, pinch-hit home run in the ninth inning to provide the winning margin. The opener of the Washington series was to be followed by an off day in which the team would make the traditional White House visit as a reward for their World Championship. Little did anyone know we would soon be receiving news that would turn our world upside down.

I was on my way home from the park at approximately 1:15 P.M. when I received a haunting text message. It stated that Harry Kalas had been found unconscious and unresponsive in the broadcast booth at Nationals Park. I won't name names, but the original source of the message was someone close to the situation. My heart immediately sunk and a million thoughts raced through my mind. Although deep down I knew there was no way this was going to have anything but a devastating conclusion, I tried to deny it. Maybe there was some bad information passed along, or maybe the circumstances weren't quite as dire as they seemed. I mean, this was HARRY KALAS, for crying out loud! There's no Philadelphia Phillies without Harry, right? He has to be OK. All the while, I was hoping against hope to hear some kind of good news, because there was no way I could handle the announcement that was about to be made.

At 2:00, the announcement that I never wanted to hear was officially made. Harry Kalas had died at approximately 1:20 P.M. on April 13, 2009 at the age of 73. Upon hearing the news, I broke down and sobbed uncontrollably for several minutes. It was like losing a family member. I kept saying how it would never be the same anymore. When I was finally able to somewhat compose myself, I looked at my daughter (seven years old then, now eight), smiled halfheartedly and noted that I believed it was the first time she'd ever seen me cry. The Nationals offered to postpone that day's game, but the Phillies declined, as they knew Harry would want the game to be played. Like so many other Phillies fans, I watched the game in a daze. The Phils held off the Nats, 9-8. Four days later, I was in attendance as the Phillies played their first home game since Harry's passing, and more tears were shed. Then, on April 18, a public memorial was held at Citizens Bank Park. Work commitments prevented me from attending, but I was able to watch on TV. Let's just say that as the service drew to its conclusion, I had to close the door and shut the blinds in the office. And I can never, ever hear Simon and Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Water" in the same way again. Just the thought of it puts a lump in my throat.

I was born in 1980, so if you're in my general age group, you know it wasn't easy to grow up a Phillies fan. When the team won its first World Series title, I was all of two months old. Three years later, the Phils returned to the World Series, but then the wheels came off. Between 1984 and 2000, the Phillies managed just two winning seasons. Yes, they'd win the NL Pennant in 1993, but there was much more thin than thick during that time. Year after year of bad baseball without much hope of getting better. You better believe I faced a lot of ridicule for continually putting my faith in the Phightin' Phils, and there absolutely were times when I wondered if it was ever going to pay off. But loyalty always won out, and the Phillies remained my team. I think a lot of that had to do with Harry Kalas and Richie Ashburn. No matter how bad things got on the field, there was always that level of comfort Harry and Whitey could provide. Growing up on Howland Street in the Juniata section of Philadelphia, we'd spend many a summer night gathered around a transistor radio on the front steps listening to Harry and Whitey call the action. The losses outnumbered the wins, but they kept us coming back night after night, year after year. They became part of our family. To me, they were like a six-month security blanket, a perfect way to end the day. On good days, I could turn on the radio and let the good times roll. On bad days, I could turn to Harry and Whitey to take my mind off things for a couple hours. When all was said and done, I'd often forgotten about what was bothering me in the first place.

When Whitey passed away in 1997, that security blanket was ripped in half. We needed Harry to comfort us in a time of despair, and we in turn had to help Harry get through a most shattering loss. While Harry may have never been quite the same after Whitey's passing, we made it known just how much we loved Harry and how much we cared. Players came and went, but we felt Harry was going to be with us forever. During every team ceremony that he emceed, Harry was the one who got the biggest ovation. As much as we love certain players, I think we can all envision the day when they're no longer wearing a Phillies uniform. But when it came to Harry Kalas, did anyone ever envision a day when he was no longer behind the microphone?

During the 2000s, the fortunes of the franchise began to change. After a string of painful near-misses, the Phillies finally broke through in 2007, winning the NL East on the season's final day. A year later, the Philadelphia Phillies became World Champions of Baseball. Network regulations prevented Harry from calling the 1980 World Series (a rule that would be lifted due in no small part to the public outcry from Phillies fans), so at the age of 72, he finally got to make the call of a lifetime when Brad Lidge struck out Tampa Bay's Eric Hinske to end the '08 Series. No victory celebration was complete, however, without hearing Harry belting out Frank Sinatra's "High Hopes." To hear Harry singing that song was a dream come true for many, and the tradition continues today after every single Phillies win at Citizens Bank Park. In retrospect, it's hard to imagine us enjoying the 2008 World Series victory any more than we did, but can you imagine how much more we would've lived it up had we known Harry would be gone less than six months later?

When Harry left us a year ago today, the other half of that security blanket was taken away forever. Outwardly, nothing will ever change in the way I root for the Phillies. I'll still enjoy every win and be disappointed by every loss. I'll still get pumped when Ryan Howard hits a big home run and cringe whenever he chases a breaking ball in the dirt. The adrenaline will still flow whenever Shane Victorino flies around the bases, and my face will still rest in the palm of my hand whenever he pops up the first pitch after the previous hitter has walked on four pitches. I'll still marvel at Cole Hamels baffling a hitter with a Bugs Bunny changeup, but be frustrated whenever he falls victim to a two-out rally. But there will always be something missing. Whenever a great moment occurs, there won't be that voice, that call. But where I'll miss Harry the most is after the tough losses. Harry felt our pain, shared in our disappointment, but he had a way of reminding us tomorrow was another day, so there was no sense dwelling on this one.

I was fortunate enough to meet Harry Kalas twice in my life. The first time was in 1995, when I advanced to the championship round of the Phillies Home Run Derby, which was held at the Vet. The finals took place before a Sunday afternoon game late in the season. I was in the oldest age group, so we were the last ones to hit. We got to hang out in the Phillies' dugout for four hours, the only rules being no autographs and we couldn't go in the clubhouse. Eventually, the players started filing in. After a while, Harry strolls along with a cup of coffee in his hand, humming a tune. We all kind of gravitated to him, but nobody said anything until yours truly blurted out, "Hey, Harry the K!" Very eloquent, I know, but without missing a beat, Harry (as only he could) responded, "You boys gonna hit the ball loooooooooooooooooooong and faaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrr today?" That's the sort of thing you never forget.

My other meeting with Harry was in 2007, at the annual postseason holiday sale at the Majestic Store in Citizens Bank Park. On my way in, I noticed Harry was walking a good bit in front of me. I tried to speed up to hold the door for him, but couldn't quite get there in time. We did eventually make eye contact. Not wanting to miss an opportunity, I said, "Harry the K, my idol! How ya doin'?" To be honest, I'm not even sure what his reply was. It doesn't really matter. It's simply amazing how much of an impact a person you've interacted with for a total of about 30 seconds can have. But then I realize how lucky I am. So many people who never got to meet Harry at all felt the exact same way.

We never thought the day would come that Harry Kalas left us. It truly is hard to believe it's already been a year. As Phillies fans, we must continue to do what Harry would've wanted, and that's to keep cheering on the Phightins. The fact that Harry won't be there to call any more great Phillies moments leaves an infinite amount of sadness. But we can take solace in the fact that through the good times and the bad times, he gave us enough great memories to last a lifetime.

Harry, we remember you every day. On this first anniversary of your passing, I just want to say from the bottom of my heart that we love you, we miss you so much, and we will never, ever forget you. Any time I have a "see through" it will be with you in mind. Have fun with Whitey, keep watching over us and the Phightin' Phils.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Random Past Phillie: Steve Lake

Quick shout out to Tony Dunkelberger for the suggestion!

Name: Steven Michael Lake
Position: Catcher
Born: March 14, 1957 in Inglewood, California
Acquired, Part I: From the St. Louis Cardinals along with Curt Ford in exchange for Milt Thompson on December 16, 1988
Acquired, Part II: Signed as a free agent on April 5, 1992
Phillies Debut: April 4, 1989
Final Phillies Game: September 16, 1992
Uniform Numbers: 25, 30
Career Elsewhere: Cubs (1983-86, 1993); Cardinals (1986-88)

About Steve Lake: Bob Peffle, my baseball coach at Frankford High School, had a brief pro stint as a shortstop in the farm system of the Houston Astros. He once told me that if he had to do it all over again, he'd want to be a backup catcher. Earn a living by playing once or twice a week. If you're looking for a prototype backup catcher, Steve Lake might just be who you have in mind. Known much more for his skills behind the plate rather than with the bat, Lake never appeared in more than 74 games in any season, but managed to spend a decade as a Major League Baseball player.

Lake's pro baseball career began in 1975, but he would not reach the big leagues until 1983. Lake was a third-round selection of the Baltimore Orioles in the '75 Draft. He would be sold to the Milwaukee Brewers after the 1978 season, and was traded to the Chicago Cubs prior to the 1983 season. Lake would make his MLB debut during that '83 season, appearing in 38 games for the Cubs. He stayed in Chicago until midway through the 1986 season, when he was released and subsequently signed by the St. Louis Cardinals. In 1987, Lake appeared in a career-high 74 games for the eventual National League Champion Cardinals. He saw action in three World Series games for the Cards, who lost the series to the Minnesota Twins in seven games. Lake would spend one more season in St. Louis, and then it was off to Philadelphia.

During the early days of Lee Thomas's stint as General Manager of the Phillies, he seemed intent on stockpiling as many former Cardinals (who had been his previous employer) as possible. One such move occurred on December 16, 1988, when Lake was dealt to the Phillies along with reserve outfielder Curt Ford in exchange for center fielder Milt Thompson. Darren Daulton was to take over for Lance Parrish as the Phillies' starting catcher, and it was hoped Lake would provide the club with a steady backup. The Phillies would finish the 1989 season with a 67-95 record, but Lake was outstanding defensively, throwing out 26 of 53 potential basestealers. He didn't embarrass himself at the plate, either, hitting .252 in 58 games. Injuries limited Lake to just 29 games in 1990, but he was even more adept at gunning down baserunners, as just seven of 18 attempted thefts were successful. Lake's 1991 season wasn't quite as outstanding, as 34 of 51 runners stole successfully on him. Lake signed with the San Francisco Giants for the 1992 season, but he was released late in Spring Training. Not enamored with their catching situation, the Phillies decided to bring Lake back in the fold. The return wasn't exactly triumphant, as Lake battled through a knee injury, appearing in just 20 games. By the time the '92 season was over, it was decided that Todd Pratt was ready to be Daulton's understudy. Lake returned to the Cubs for the 1993 season, which would be his last in the majors. He attended Spring Training with the Cincinnati Reds in 1994, but did not make the club, ending his career. Lake retired having thrown out .4543 percent of potential basestealers, ninth on the all-time list.

Personal Recollection: From time to time on these Random Past Phillie posts, I'll mention the old Phillies Home Companions, which is what they called the team's end-of-season highlight videos in the late 80s and 90s. Since the team often didn't provide a ton of highlights on the field, these videos tended to focus more on the offbeat and behind-the-scenes stuff. One such highlight was Kruk's Korner, a segment hosted by John Kruk that basically focused on gaffes made by fellow players. Once such segment featued Steve Lake being thrown out at third base after a fly ball to shallow left. Kruk asked Lake what he was thinking, to which the lead-footed Lake deadpanned, "I felt fast at that particular moment."

Aside from that, Lake wasn't the kind of player who made a huge impression. Until doing research for this post, I didn't realize how strong Lake was at throwing out runners. Though he didn't have the sample size that an everyday player would have, his percentage is pretty impressive. I guess it's not hard to see why he stuck around for as long as he did.

So that's my story on Steve Lake. If you have any recollections of your own, feel free to share.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Memories of HK

As we continue closer to an entire year without "the voice". I am going to post my favorite memory of Harry. Harry was too great to have just one, so I have 1 and 1A.

It was March 20, 2002. My wife and I had brought our four month old daughter to Clearwater, FL to Spring Training to see the Phils. We had just witnessed Bill Conlin’s fat ass squeezing out of a convertible in the parking lot, so I was hoping for something to make me forget about that horrible sight. As we walked into Jack Russell Stadium, it seemed different than the regular season, way more relaxed. Everyone seemed to be in a good mood. As we made our way down to the field, players began to wave and smile to my Michelin Man tire legged baby. Brandon Duckworth, so busy with sucking on the field, even stopped before going into the dugout. Past him, was the greatest broadcaster in Phillies history sitting on the field giving an interview. After the interview, he made his way to the edge of the field. Kids and autograph hounds rushed passed us towards him screaming his name. I also made my way towards him, with my daughter in one hand and a baseball in the other. We stood back and waited. Harry signed every baseball, paper and item that was handed to him. As the crowd thinned down to a few, he glanced up to us and finally waved us down. Finally, it was just us and Harry. He asked my daughter’s name and talked to us as if we had known him for years. He asked if that was my wife sitting about fifteen rows back, I said yes and he said to her, “What a beautiful little girl” in that unmistakable voice. I began to tell him how much I admired him and how he and “his Royal Whiteness” had made up the best broadcast team ever. I then said that congratulations on being elected into the Hall of Fame and wished that Whitey was there to see it. Harry thanked me and stated that I was the first person to say that to him that day. He then said, “Goodbye Erin”, and signed my ball, Harry Kalas HOF 2002. It was the only ball that he had signed that way all day.

My second Harry story is pure “Harry and Whitey”. The 1989 Phils were one of the worst teams in baseball history. I had trouble sitting through some of the games, I can’t imagine sitting through all of them like they had to do. As true Phil’s Phans know, during rain delays, they would show the previous year’s video yearbook. I always loved seeing them. They were always well done and even during BAD years, there were enough highlights to make me smile. Sometime during the 1990 season, there happened to be a rain delay, and on came the 1989 Phillies video yearbook. As stated before, this was a bad team! At one point they were doing a montage of “Whiteyisms”, and as it ended, came a moment that I will never forget. During an inning, during a game, an actual game, there was Harry and Whitey singing “On the Way to Cape May”. To this day, any time I think of it, it cracks me up.


Jay Wrizight's 2010 Predictions

Microsoft Word - P3 - 02707 Protocol V.10-16-09
As far as predictions go, I will preface this by saying: I can talk baseball  all day but I’m not a big fan of predicting an entire season. Why? There are too many variables.  Injuries that are kept quiet.  Players on the trading block. And so on and so forth, but the King BL said he wanted predictions, so here they are:

National League:

MVP: Hanley Ramirez, Florida Marlins.  The safe choice would be Pujols, but if Ramirez stays healthy, he’ll win it. Don’t worry though; Pujols will still be in the MVP talks. He’ll be the one complaining because the Marlins missed the playoffs

Cy Young: Roy Halladay, Philadelphia Phillies. I know this is the safe choice, but it’s also the only choice. He’s the best pitcher on the planet on the best team in the league. Easy decision.

Rookie of the Year: Jason Heyward, Atlanta Braves.  He’s a Beast. Period. I’d like to show love for Steven Strasburg, but he got sent to the minors. I heard he considered it a promotion over playing for the Nationals. Or even Mike Leake, but it seems even pitchers are an afterthought for this award, just ask JA Happ.

Biggest Surprise: Garrett Jones HR total. I’m thinking he hits 45-50. Mostly because the Pirates lineup is so bad, opposing pitchers won’t be afraid to challenge him in blowouts.  He’ll only end up with 72 rbi’s.

Breakout Performer: Everth Cabrera, San Diego Padres.  He may only hit .260 but will get 60 steals.  I don’t imagine he’ll get many more than that if he hits for a higher average, because he’ll get moved to the top of the lineup and may be used to create confusion and a bigger hole for the left handed Adrian Gonzalez. Of course that means he’ll score a 100 runs.

Biggest Bust: Edwin Jackson, Arizona Diamondbacks. He was considered a premier pitcher last season with Detroit. I thought he stunk when he was with the Dodgers, and was god awful with the Rays. Last season was a mirage, he won’t win 10 games and his ERA will be over 4.50.

NL East: Philadelphia Phillies. It’s a great time to be a Phillie’s fan.
NL Central: St Louis Cardinals. Tony LaRussa, Albert Pujols, Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright should be good for 60 wins the rest of the team can come up with 27 more.
NL West: San Francisco Giants.  I think is an extremely close division.  All but the Padres can contend. Injuries and trades will make the difference. When all else fails go with pitching.
NL Wild Card: Atlanta Braves.  They made some nice acquisitions over the last year. Jair Jurrjens is the best pitcher that no one knows how to say his name.

NL Pennant: Philadelphia Phillies. They will be the first NL team to advance to the World Series three consecutive years since the 40’s. They will do this by disposing of the Giants in the NLDS and relaying on playoff experience to best the Braves.

American League:

MVP: Evan Longoria, Tampa Rays. He will go ape shit this year. I don’t know a better way to put it.

Cy Young: Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners.  Maybe my toughest choice.  I belive Zack Greinke is the best pitcher in the AL, but his ERA will be a little higher this year and his lack of wins will be too much for the voters to overlook this year.

AL Rookie of the Year: Lou Marson, Cleveland Indians.  This is how the Phillies fans will turn on Ruben Amaro Jr.  Trading Cliff Lee and then a guy we gave up to get Lee becomes an absolute stud. Just kidding. Austin Jackson will win it. I just didn’t have anything to say about him.

Biggest Surprise: CC Sabathia’s win total.  He’ll only mange 11 this season.  He’s been an absolute horse the past 3 seasons. I’d imagine his 300-pound frame would say enough is enough.

Breakout Performer: Billy Butler, Kansas City Royals. Sooner or later one of these Royals hitting prospects will turn out. Why not the big fat guy?

Biggest Bust: Boston Red Sox. It is my guess that being content with having Tim Wakefield in your starting rotation for the 34th consecutive season is enough to say they will miss the playoffs. Other than Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia, this team could get really old really fast. Just look how grumpy David Ortiz is already.

AL East: NY Yankees. I hate them with a passion, but they can sure buy talent.
AL Central: Minnesota Twins. Another tough decision. I could have just as easily said the White Sox.  Without Joe Nathan, either Jon Rauch will need to step up or the Twins will need go out and find a closer…. wait who am I kidding the Twins only trade away talent. The White Sox will win the central.
AL West: Texas Rangers.  If the pitching can at least duplicate last year and not progress they will win. Their offense will carry them. Ending the Angels stranglehold on the division.
AL Wild Card: Tampa Bay Rays. Look out if what they say comes true for Wade Davis and Davis Price.

AL Pennant: Tampa Bay Rays.  They still won’t sell out their ALDS home games as they beat the White Sox, and will give the Yankees and nice showcasing of Carl Crawford’s talents in the ALCS.

World Series: Philadelphia Phillies.  Not the rematch Bud Selig was rooting for but this Phillies team will cement themselves as the greatest team in Philadelphia sports history.

Miscellaneous Awards:

Best Comeback: (tie) Adrian Beltre, who will batter the Green Monster taking out the years of frustration he built up in playing in the pitcher friendly Safeco Field.  And the San Diego Chicken. After they trade away Adrian Gonzalez, Padres management will bring back the Chicken in hopes to boost attendance above 7,500 per game.

Most Likely to Bang Anna Benson: Rodrigo Lopez.  Hoping to revive her modeling career. Benson will take aim at the man keeping who is the roadblock to Kris Benson’s return to the majors. Rodrigo and his Amigo’s will be heartbroken when Anna dumps him when she realizes he is Mexican and not Latin American.

The Storyline that won’t die (AKA the Farve Award): Where is Adrian Gonzalez going to end up? Although it has already started, it will hit full stride when the Padres are 5 games out….so next week. And won’t End until July 30th.

Most Likely to get Popped for Roids: Placido Polanco. It will become evident when his gigantic melon explodes.

Thanks for Listening,

Jay Wrizight

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Random Past Phillie: Tony Longmire

Name: Anthony Eugene Longmire
Position: Outfielder
Born: August 12, 1968 in Vallejo, California
Acquired: From the Pittsburgh Pirates on September 28, 1990 as the player to be named later in the August 30, 1990 deal that sent Carmelo Martinez to Pittsburgh in exchange for Wes Chamberlain and Julio Peguero
Phillies Debut: September 3, 1993
Final Phillies Game: August 6, 1995
Uniform Number: 16

About Tony Longmire: Potential. How often do we hear that word regarding young players? For Phillies fans in the early to mid 1990s, we heard that word a lot in regards to one Tony Longmire. The sweet-swinging lefty was part of a deal that the Phillies were touting as one of the steals of the century. Late in the 1990 season, long after they'd fallen out of contention, Phillies management noticed a clerical error made by the front office of the eventual NL East Champion Pittsburgh Pirates. The error exposed outfield prospects Wes Chamberlain and Julio Peguero to the waiver wire, and the Phils claimed them both. To cover up for this mistake, the two clubs worked out a deal on August 30. Going to Pittsburgh was Carmelo Martinez, a veteran first baseman/outfielder for whom the Phillies had no future plans. The Pirates agreed to throw in a player to be named later. On September 28, it was announced that Longmire, an outfielder who had been selected by Pittsburgh in the eighth round of the 1986 Draft, would be sent to Philadelphia.

After spending the 1991 season in the minors, Longmire came to Spring Training in 1992 with a legitimate chance to claim a spot on the big league bench. Unfortunately, Longmire came down with a severe case of shin splints that would eventually require surgery to relieve the pressure. He would miss the entire season. While Longmire didn't play, he spent the year on the Major League disabled list, thus earning an MLB paycheck, a move that reportedly did not sit well with many of the club's veteran players. Longmire was back in the minors to start the 1993 season, but he would eventually get the call to the big club. It seemed there was never a dull moment with Longmire, and his callup was somewhat controversial. With the August 31 deadline looming for postseason eligibility, the eventual National League Champion Phillies had to decide on the final player to include on the 25-man playoff roster. The choices came down to spot starter/long reliever Mike Williams, switch-hitting outfielder and local product Ruben Amaro, Jr., and Longmire. The Phils went with the potential of the untested Longmire, who would collect three hits in 13 at-bats over the season's final month. Longmire would make one appearance in the postseason, striking out as a pinch-hitter in Game 2 of the NLCS against the Atlanta Braves, a game the Phillies lost by a score of 14-3.

Longmire didn't get much of a chance to show what he could do at the Major League level in 1993, and by the time 1994 came around, he was out of minor league options. Not wanting to risk losing him on waivers, the Phillies included Longmire on the Opening Day roster. Early in the season, Longmire was mostly relegated to pinch-hitting duty, but he got some starts in the outfield later on after a wave of injuries decimated the club. Overall, Longmire hit .237 in 69 games during the infamous strike-shortened '94 season. In 1995, however, Longmire would finally make his mark. In his first at-bat of that season, Longmire hit a pinch-homer off Vicente Palacios of the St. Louis Cardinals, and never looked back. In 59 games, Longmire hit a sizzling .356 with three homers, all of which came as a pinch-hitter. It looked as though Longmire could finally be carving out his MLB niche as a lefty bat off the bench. Once again, however, the injury bug would bite. Longmire went down with a fractured wrist in early August, and would miss the remainder of the '95 season. The pain had not subsided by the time he reported for Spring Training in 1996, and it was announced that Longmire would have to undergo another surgery, which would cost him the entire '96 season. There were some grumblings that Longmire hadn't been diligent enough in his rehab from the initial procedure, and the organization seemed to sour on him. He would return to the Phils for Spring Training in 1997, but was released in late March. Aside from a brief stint with the independent Tri-City Posse in 1999, Longmire would never again play professional baseball at any level.

Personal recollection: Tony Longmire was responsible for one of my all-time favorite Harry Kalas calls. It occurred on June 15, 1995 against the Houston Astros at the Vet. The Phillies trailed, 2-1 in the ninth, but singles by Gary Varsho and Randy Ready started an unlikely rally. With two outs, Longmire hit a walkoff three-run homer off John Hudek to give the Phillies a 4-2 victory. You can only imagine how nuts Harry went over that. Just an absolute beauty of a call. If any audio of that exists, I suggest you check it out.

Longmire wasn't that bad of a player at all, but it just always seemed like he was hurt. Because of that, he developed a reputation for being a bit of a malingerer. I know Jim Fregosi was often critical of his work habits. Just when it seemed like he was going to make something of his career, it was all over in the blink of an eye. I suppose his reputation was known around baseball, since no other team gave Longmire a look after the Phillies let him go.

So that's my story on Tony Longmire. If you have any recollections of your own, feel free to share.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Cliff Lee Fiasco

I remember last summer when the rumors were running rampant about how the Phillies were going to get Roy Halladay.  No matter were you went someone was saying whom the Phillies were going to give up to get arguably the best pitcher in baseball. I also remember how disappointed most people were when the Phillies opted to pull the trigger to get Cliff Lee instead. Imagine that disappointed to get the reigning AL Cy Young winner.  Lee went from second best option to a cult hero in just 17 games with the Phillies.  He made the people around Philadelphia forget the name Roy Halladay.

Well, everyone but Ruben Amaro Jr.

As the winter meeting were adjourning, a rumor mill concerning Halladay starting generating another buzz in the city of brotherly love. I remember waking up with morning wood dreaming about the 1-2 punch of Halladay and Lee and thinking about how many wins this team could have with Hamels as a #3.  The same names got bandied about Drabek, Brown, and Taylor as the primaries and then a few other lesser know prospects to fill out the trade. When Halladay came to town to negotiate a new deal so too did the notion this may be a 3 team deal and Clifton Pfifer may be headed elsewhere.  I completely understand Amaro’s logic and not wanting to deplete the farm system.  I’m not saying I agree but it’s understandable.  Amaro has said, "I’m not a dummy. I know what Cliff Lee means to our rotation. Our goal is to be a contender every year. That’s really my job. So, yes, I’d like to have a championship, but not at the cost of having our organization not be good for 10 years. Absolutely not. That’s not the goal. The goal is to be a contender every year.”

And Lee enjoyed his stay here and was shocked by the trade saying, "I thought I was going to spend the rest of my career there. I loved my time there in Philly, but obviously this goes to show this is a business and you never know what's going to happen until you have a full no-trade clause.”

But in all the commotion of the trades there were so many different stories of why Lee was being traded. The main focus was on Lee’s expiring contract and if the Phillies would be able to sign him to a new contract.  There were many people citing a statement Lee made that he would test the free agent market.  This statement, of course, was made while he was still a member of the Cleveland Indians who were not only underachievers but also dumping salaries and trying to revamp the team.

Amaro until recently has refused to give more than standard answers in regards to the trade. Simply saying that it was for the good of the team in the long run and just not the 2010 season. But recent events have given him reason to believe his suspicions were correct. “I heard the stories, but I thought they were just stories,” said Amaro. “The guy weighs 190 pounds and throws like a guy 230. He doesn’t even ice down. That’s not natural.  He’s not natural…if you know what I mean.   Amaro also mentioned Lee’s run in with Chris Snyder this spring. Lee has been suspended for 5 games for throwing at Snyder.  “It’s Spring Training. A lot of the guys I shared he field with have been linked to steroids, but I never seen anyone snap like that”

In response to the allegations Mariners General Manager Jack Zduriencik said. "In the end I don't think we have a whole lot of comment about it. ... There is an appeal process and an opportunity for Cliff to state his case. He will do that and we'll see what happens."
Cliff Lee could not be reached for comment.

I'm Jay Wrizight

To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure how it really ever happened. It could have been those summer days when the intersection of Cottage and Higbee Streets was transformed into a baseball diamond from sunrise until sunset. Or the many times I took the El and subway to sit in Section 719. Or maybe it was sitting in the Holiday Inn parking lot debating whether Don Carmen or Bruce Ruffin was a better pitcher.  But somewhere along the way I became a baseball junkie.

Any Twelve step program will tell you that the first step is admitting you have a problem, but my only problem is there is not enough hours in the day to see each and every one of the 2,430 MLB games that will be played this year.  Of course, the Phillies are my favorite team, but when push comes to shove I will even watch the Mets play the Yankees (if it the only game on.)

I spent four years if my life learning the trade of journalism. When I graduated, I decided it wasn’t for me.  Not because I wasn’t talented enough (I won awards for heaven’s sake) or no longer had the desire, but the bureaucracy involved was astounding. Like any self absorbed artist,  I decided I’d rather produce nothing than produce trash.  That all changed after I was contacted by BL Chris to write for this blog.  I’m not sure if it was his thirst for answers that no one else could provided or the Dr. Mcgillicuddy's but he said he would support my hard hitting, truth seeking style.  So I vow to you, the reader, that I will leave no base unturned to find the truth in those stories the main stream media are so complacent to spoon feed you the easy answers.  I hope you enjoy my weekly column and feel free to send me your comments and burning question.

Jay Wrizight