Tag Archives: Chase Utley

Off at the Ballpark

Get home from work. Long day. Hot. Stinking hot. Head to roof to unwind, take in view of city. Still hot. Come back inside, catch up on the Philly sports reading for the day. Seriously considering nap. Thought interrupted by knock on door.

“What’s up?”

“You want to go to the Phillies game tonight?”

Well, this was a brilliant and marvelous idea and I was out of my chair and on the subway in the blink of an eye. I mean, it was absolutely the perfect evening for a ballgame. Plus, Cole Hamels was pitching, and I had the inkling that this was the night he was going to really get back into form. Double plus, it was Charlie Manuel Bobble-Head Night.

Even though Charlie Manuel Bobble-Belly Night would have been much, much funnier.

So, $19 tickets in hand, my two comrades and I ventured first to acquire some Schmitters and beer, perhaps the quintessential pairing for a Phillies game. Delicious. Plus, the World Series Trophy, aka The Holy Grail, was located right next to the food line. It’s gold shimmered in the eyes of the Phillies Faithfuls like a beacon of truth, hope, and happiness. I wanted to hold it, to cradle it in my arms and serenade it with lullabies before putting it to rest on my mantle, but the thought of being madly chased by 1,000 screaming Philadelphians quickly brought me to my senses.

Supplies in hand, it was off to the heights of the 400 level, nestled in the peaks of Citizens Bank Park. Now, the problem with the 400 level is simple – you never know who will be sitting up there. Continue reading

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A powerful weekend in Philly sports

As a day well-spent brings happy sleep, so life well used brings happy death. – Leonardo da Vinci

First things first: my utmost commendations to the Phillies organization for a wonderful, touching, and heart-wrenching service for Harry Kalas on Saturday afternoon. Unless you are an alien from a planet renowned for its lack of emotion, you probably watched most of the procession through misty eyes. Lord knows this Pundit did.

I think the moment that will always stand out for me from the day, a moment that was just so beautiful and emotional, was watching Harry’s friends, family and members of the Phillies pass his casket down the line, as “Bridge Over Troubled Waters” played over the PA system. A proper send-off to a beloved man.

We’ll always love you, Harry. Do me a favor – ask Whitey if he can smell the rain coming up there in heaven, would you?

One final footnote to the procession – people around the country can say what they want about Philadelphia fans, conjuring up embellished stories of the day we murdered Santa Claus, or whatever the hell it was we did. But they can never say that this city does not love its own with a passion rarely found elsewhere. The key to that sentence, of course, is “its own.” Philly won’t call you its own just because you live here, or work here, or play here. Philly will call you its own if you bust your butt off, displaying a love for what you do and the people you do it with…if you’re good at what you do but never arrogant…if you give everything you have; and if that isn’t enough, you make no excuses, just give a little bit more next time…if you understand that we will ride you when you aren’t performing up to your capabilities, but we will embrace you wholeheartedly when you do…that our energy and excitement will propel you to victory if you put yourself in a position to win.

Harry understood that, embraced it, and embodied it. That fact, as much as his golden pipes, made him one of the most treasured figures this city has ever known.

Because, at the end of the day, this town isn’t for everybody. Let all of those who don’t understand grit, hard work, undying passion, despair in defeat, and unadulterated joy in victory live somewhere else. We will continue to live and die with every pitch, pass and shot. We will continue to heckle the slackers, praise the scrappers, and love our teams through thick and thin, even if that means the boos rain down in a stifling display of tough love.

This is Philadelphia – this is the place for those with a thick skin, a workmanlike attitude, and a heart almost too big for the chest it beats in.

This is our city. And Harry fit right in. You will not be forgotten, HK.

Now to the events on the diamond, ice and court. Continue reading

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Stairs’ Way to Seven – Phillies beat Rockies, 7-5

On a day when Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Phillies rose from the dead themselves, overcoming an early 5-2 deficit on their way to defeating the Rockies, 7-5.

Hallelujah.

Chan Ho Park struggled, allowing five runs in 3 1/3 innings. But no matter, as Chase Utley tied the game in the top of the eighth with a two-run jack, and Stairs sent another to the heavens and over the fence in the ninth, securing a Phillies victory.

And I missed the whole damn thing, enjoying the festivities of the day and watching the Masters. (Editor’s note: A bunny who lays colorful eggs and puts candy in your basket…I mean, really people? REALLY?) Ah well – a long season it is.

So, let’s do a quick recap here – after six games, or one week of this young season, we’ve already encountered worries over quiet bats, worries over horrendous starting pitching, and worries over Cole Hamels’ elbow (which he insists is fine). Continue reading

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A little bit of last year must have been built right into the rings

The ring ceremony is the last remnant of a World Series – it’s the final gesture, the last bit of hardware, the epilogue in a joyous celebration dating back to late October.

Who expected the Braves bullpen to join in the celebration? Continue reading

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Though Phillies optimism runs rampant, doubt still lurks in the shadows

The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.

F. Scott Fitzgerald

I am inherently fond of polarity. I discover balance by immersing myself in the extremes of any argument or genre, whatever the case may be. The exploration of contradiction in any subject, I find, lends a person an advanced sense of empathy, and facilitates the sort of intellectual antagonism that forges new schools of thought. And I’m fairly certain it explains why I love the Philly sports scene as psychotically as I do.

Because, with optimism at an all-time high for the approaching Phillies season, one question has bullied its way to the forefront of radio shows and newspaper columns.

What should we be worried about? Continue reading

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The Pundit hands out some hardware for Philly’s best this year – It’s the first annual Punny Awards!

(Editor’s note: Ah, New Year’s. A time of year for all of the various articles handing out “best-of-the-year” awards to come pouring out. Not to be outdone, The Pundit has joined in the holiday tradition with his first annual “Punny Awards.” One quick note: These awards will not include the current Flyers, Sixers, or any of the college basketball teams. Everything will be from teams that played the majority of their season in 2008. On to the awards!)

Award shows are really where it’s at. I mean, they’re so ridiculous. Famous audience members pretending to not posture for the camera. Cheesy video montages. And, my favorite, the poorly scripted and unenthusiastically delivered introductions to each award by disinterested celebrities who are probably half-tanked. I think that’s how we’ll run the Punnies.

And so, with that in mind, please put your hands together for Samuel L. Jackson, who will be presenting the Punny for Quote of the Year. Continue reading

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The Pundit List presents: Things to be thankful for

It’s been a while since I’ve done a Pundit List, so it seemed like time. I decided to list the things I was thankful for both in the spirit of the holiday and because I’ve been so negative about the Eagles lately. My thanks will be primarily directed toward the sporting world, but I will undoubtably stray from time to time.  Obvious things, such as my family, friends, shelter, food, etc. will be left off of the list because they aren’t as much fun to write about. But they would be at the top. Probably. Anyway, on to the list.

8. The Flyers and Sixers – Eventually, I’ll actually start watching their games. I’m thankful I have something to look forward to once football is done for the year.

7. Emmananuelle Chriqui – You probably know her better as Sloan from Entourage. She might be the sexiest woman on this planet, at least in this humble Pundit’s opinion. If you aren’t familiar with the show, take a look– you won’t want to look away.

6. Beer – I don’t really need to go into depth here, do I? Though I will say, I am extremely thankful for my two favorite watering holes, The Pope (Pub on Passyunk East) and the South Philly Tap Room.

5. The BCS – The system blows, and I would like a playoff, but at least it gives me something to constantly bitch about on the site. The BCS, if for nothing else, is great for material. Think about how much has been written aruging that one team should be ranked higher than another, or about how there should be a playoff, and how it would be formatted. It’s a story-generator, and for that, and that alone, I offer my thanks.

4. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Entourage, Generation Kill, John Adams, Weeds – After The Wire ended last year, I needed something to fill the gigantic void that was left in my soul from its wake. (Editor’s note: Oh brother). Any show and/or mini-series listed above either helped, or is currently helping, to fill that void. Rest in peace, The Wire – you were the greatest show ever crafted for television. Hell, I’m thankful I ever tuned in.

3. The Eagles – They are driving me absolutely crazy this year – how could I possibly be thankful for them? Well, much like the BCS, they constantly give me something to talk about. I mean, they tied the Bengals. Andy Reid benched Donovan McNabb, and is starting him this week. They blew chances to win close games against the Bears, Redskins, Cowboys and Giants. Honestly, a few clutch plays, and this team could potentially be undeafeted right now. And honestly, that is what makes them so damn frustrating – wasted potential. But success wouldn’t stir conversation, now would it? The Eagles are like the girl in the neighborhood who sleeps around – everyone knows her business, has their own idea of how she should be living, and are constantly gossiping about her. (Editor’s note: So wait…are the Eagles like the town’s bike?) I suppose I’m just thankful for football in general, but as a writer, the Eagles specifically are wonderful for controversy. (Editor’s note: Kind of sad, really).

2. Change – More than everything except for one thing on this list, I am thankful for the possibility, and the hope, of change. It was what made the number one item on this list so very special. I am thankful that “Yes We Can” became “Yes We Did.” I am thankful for the possibility that the Eagles will move in a new direction after this season. I am thankful for the possibility that maybe, just maybe, college football will someday have a playoff. I am thankful that the Sixers brought in Elton Brand, the legitamate big man they haven’t had since Charles Barkley. (Editor’s note: What, no love for Dikembe “Cookie Monster” Mutombo?) I am thankful that, after 25 years of failure, we finally had ourselves a winner. Which brings me to number one:

1. The 2008, World Phucking Champion, Philadelphia Phillies – I mean, what is there to be said that hasn’t already been said? They brought us the parade we had been waiting for so long. They were a team full of players that were easy to embrace. Talented. Team-oriented. Focused. Unflappable. They were led by a manager with the waddle to the mound. The guy who had divine hunches. I offer my thanks to Charlie Manuel, Jimmy Rollins, Jayson Werth, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Pat Burrell, Shane Victorino, Pedro Feliz, Carlos Ruiz, Cole Hamels, Brett Myers, Jamie Moyer, Joe Blanton, Chad Durbin, Scott Eyre, J.C Romero, Ryan Madson, Brad Lidge, Matt Stairs, Greg Dobbs, Geoff Jenkins, Chris Coste, Eric Bruntlett, and So Taguchi. On second thought, not So Taguchi. Sorry, pal. I give my thanks to the 2008 Philadelphia Phillies – it was one hell of a ride, and I sure hope to take it with you guys again.

I hope everybody a damn good Thanksgiving. Stuff your faces, take a nap while watching a football game, and enjoy seeing your family. But don’t use it as an excuse to be thankful for the things in your life – we should all be doing that everyday. (Editor’s note: I’m thankful for self-righteous advice!). Oh, and Rant: I’m thankful for you too, man. Rant has been the man. Many thanks go out to him. Now…bring on the feasting!

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The Pundit feels empty inside – Finding ways to replace the high of the Phillies

I used to love the summer breaks from college, especially before I moved into Philadelphia on a permanent basis. You get like 4 friggin’ months off, for God’s sake. And it always offers the possibility of one of the truly great scenarios in life: the Summer Fling.

You normally know your Summer Fling from high school, and the two of you always kind of had chemistry, but for whatever reason, nothing ever came to fruition. During this particular summer, however, the pieces fell into place, and you’re each on the same page. A couple of months, no long-term commitment, and a whole lot of fun.  Once you go back to school, all bets are off, because, honestly, who wants to start a serious relationship and then move hours apart from the person after a few months? It makes no sense.

The Summer Fling is right up there with Friends With Benefits, though that almost always becomes Friends With Relationship, which can dangerously stray into Ex-Friends With Hang-Ups.  The Summer Fling, if done correctly, offers all of the comforts and pleasures of a relationship, without any of that unwanted commitment.

Unless, of course, you get hooked.

Unless you realize that your Summer Fling is a friggin’ awesome person, and even though you weren’t ever planning on any form of committment with the person, and you were looking forward to going back and casting your line into the College pool of honeys, you are suddenly totally crazy for this person. Shoot, you even start to do the “God, I don’t want the summer to end because I won’t see so-and-so any longer.” Which makes you think that maybe you could deal with a long-term relationship, which makes you realize that you are going to be waaaaaaayyyyyyy off your game back at school. Not a good position to be in…not at all.

So, uh, Mr. Pundit, what in God’s name does this have to do with sports?

Right. See, this is how I am feeling right now, except my Summer Fling was with the Phillies, and all of the other sports teams suddenly aren’t cutting it anymore. I’m not really excited to see them, or get to know them, which is odd, because the Eagles, Sixers, and Flyers are all potential playoff teams, and Penn State has a very good chance of playing for the National Championship. I’ve known the Phillies for years, but something fell into place this year, and now, I just can’t imagine being committed to another team like I was with them. Normally, I would have my Summer Fling with the Phils, Eagles training camp would open, Penn State would get rolling, and I’d be playing the field once more. But this year, those damn, sexy Phillies sunk their teeth right into me and I can’t shake this fever. (Editor’s note: Ok, that just got weird and pretty disturbing on a number of levels).

They ruined me.

Alright, alright, so that’s a bit dramatic. (Editor’s note: A bit? That’s like saying Oprah was a bit excited after Barack Obama got elected, or that the white dude she was leaning on during his entire speech was a bit curious as to how he became a piece of human furniture for the Daytime Diva). But, for the past week, all I have wanted to do was to watch some baseball, and I have been far more interested this week in listening to trade talks for next season than getting hyped for an absolutely gigantic game against the Giants on Sunday.

The Phillies high was just so damn good, and I’ve crashed back to earth. Without that high, I’ve become disinterested, fairly unmotivated, and, if you haven’t picked up on it already, ridiculously bleak. Now, an Eagles win this Sunday night would go wonders to getting me back to my old self. Still, I’m not taking any chances. Below I’ve listed several ways I am going to attempt to rediscover my Phillies high, ways to get that loving feeling back.

1. Actively watch the games. Don’t just sit in front of your tube and watch – get out and do something while you are watching. Tailgate. Go to a bar with a bunch of your friends. Actually get tickets for Flyers and Sixers game. Start looking up hotel prices for Miami, like my buddy Jacobs has been doing, just in case Penn State gets a bid to the Big Game. Don’t be a passive viewer, people – make it an experience.

2. Play some damn sports your damn self. This weekend, I am organizing a big kickball game with some of my friends. Physical activity clears my head, and excercising always helps reduce hangovers and lessens the effects of withdrawl.

3. Change up your routine. If you normally listen to WIP, listen to ESPN Radio. If you normally read the Inquirer’s sports section, check out the Daily News. If you always went to Beerleaguer, go over to the 700 Level or any of the other quality Philly Blogs out there. (Editor’s note: And obviously, always come to The Pattison Pundit. Seriously. He needs the readership). Mindless routine is the fertilizer of depression – change it up, man!

4. Take chances. Make a big fantasy football trade. Buy a Sixers or Flyers ticket package without first referencing your bank account. That’ll keep you on your toes. Bet a tad too much money on the Eagles. Every week. That’ll keep you on the edge of your seat. See if you can watch an entire episode of Daily News Live without falling asleep. Actually, do anything but that. Anything at all.

5. Give yourself some time to be okay again. Hey, listen – you’ll have days when you just miss the Phillies. You’ll just wonder how they are doing, you know? You’ll just want to see a Chase Utley swing again, or another Brad Lidge slider, or Cole Hamel’s hair whipping in an October breeze. (Editor’s note: Dude, you’re freakin’ me out, Pundit.) And yeah, you’re going to miss those crazy nights at the bar with your friends, watching the Phils make history. You’ll miss the camraderie you had with total strangers, and the chants that encapsulated every fucking inch of the bar. Hey, I know how hard it is – I had to go outside and smoke a cigarette in the middle of this post, because the flashbacks were getting pretty intense.

But you’re going to be okay.

It’s going to get easier. You’ll get that life-or-death feel back every time the Eagles are in a close game. You’ll start watching all of the other top contenders in College Football, to see if Penn State can get to that National Championship game. You’ll get into the ebb and flow of the basketball and hockey seasons. March Madness will blow your mind, like it does every year. And before you know it, Spring Training will be here once again. Baseballs will whip around the diamond once more. Charlie Manuel will resume his waddle to the mound.

Ah, the Summer Fling. You know you shouldn’t, but you’ll always go back – there’s just never enough of a good thing, is there?

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To win, you gotta have chin

On Saturday night, I met up with Jacobs and Hoffman, two contributors to the site, at Fox and Hound to catch the Penn State game. I was fairly surprised by what I saw when I arrived – Penn State was trailing Michigan 17-7 at the 12 minute mark of the second quarter.

“What the hell is going on here?” I asked.

Jacobs didn’t hesitate to answer my question. “Fucking Michigan is running up and down on us. Let’s get the hell out of here, go to a different bar. I can’t stand all of these damn Michigan fans. Look at all of them over there! Where do they come from?”

Sure enough, an entire section of the bar was entirely decked in blue and maize. Disgusting. Apparently, they had been hooting and hollering for the entire game; in fact, one delightfully obnoxious bar patron had even brought his cowbell, and was whacking that thing unmercifully every time Michigan did anything positive. (Editor’s note: Yeah, I’m just gonna stay away from that one). It was too much for Jacobs, a diehard State fan and a rather passionate dude. But I wasn’t about to be phased by some stupid cowbell.

“Dude, trust me – when Penn State comes back and wins this game, it will be awesome to watch all of these Michigan fans leave the bar dejected and distraught,” I said. “You’ll see – when Appalachian State beat Michigan last year, I was at this bar. Watching all of the Michigan fans sadly stream out of here, dreams broken, while all the fans of other teams heckled them, was truly priceless. As annoying as it now, it will be sooooo worth it later.”

Now, I know how harsh, and unbelievably cruel, that sounds. But there was a deeper point I was trying to make – a real winner always has to take the best punch his/her opponent can throw, get back up, and punch back harder. To win, you gotta have chin.

Chin has been all over the MLB playoffs. In game one, the Dodgers jumped on Cole Hamels early, scoring two runs and quieting the uproarious Philadelphia crowd. But the Phillies calmed down, shook out the cobwebs from the Dodger haymaker, and Chase Utley and Pat Burrell each hit home runs to seal the Philly win. Game 4 was another example – for most of the game, no matter what the Phils did, the Dodgers had an answer. They led 5-3, and you could sense that series momentum was shifting in their favor. But the Phillies weren’t done fighting yet, and when Shane Victorino tied the game with his rope to right, the Dodgers started to sway. And then Matt Stairs hit them with a left that they never saw coming, and they dropped to the ground like a sack of potatoes. No matter how much, or how hard the Dodgers swung, they couldn’t knock the Phils down, and they certainly couldn’t handle the counter punch. It was of little surprise that the Phillies sealed the deal in game 5 – the Dodgers were sporting a glass jaw.

To win, you gotta have chin.

The ALCS was a dissertation on chin. The Rays had the Red Sox down for the count, leading them 7-0 in the seventh inning in game 5, with a 3-1 series lead, after pasting them in the two games before. Honestly, the Red Sox looked unconcious before they hit the mat. And yet, somehow, someway, the came back to win that game. Uh-oh. And when they won game 6, you couldn’t help but wonder if the Red Sox had absorbed the very best punch that the Rays had (and, truthfully, it was one hell of a punch), and were going to win this series. And yet, the Rays had one last trick up their sleeve (Matt Garza), and were able to take a few crushing blows of their own, pulling out the game 7 win. That the Rays were able to regroup after seemingly losing all of the momentum in the series that they had signed, sealed and delivered, they showed me something. Resiliance. Fight. Chin.

To win, you gotta have chin.

It’s the reason that Rocky is Philly’s favorite sports hero: the man never gave up. He never stayed down. He not only took your best shot, he wanted it. He wanted you to give him all you had, and then he wanted to give you just a bit more. He wasn’t the most talented or hyped fighter, but he could take anything you had in your arsenal, and fight on. Rocky wasn’t real, but the spirit and essence of his character most certainly is, and its what the Phillies are going to have to rely on against a dangerous Rays team.

To win, you gotta have chin.

Oh, I almost forgot: Penn State ended up beating Michigan, 46-17. Since my arrival at the bar, Penn State scored 39 unanswered points. Apparently, your Pundit is good luck. (Editor’s note: Doesn’t change the fact that he never gets lucky – ZING!). After every touchdown, following the traditional “WE ARE – PENN STATE!” chant, a chorus of us would ask one other question.

“CAN WE PLEASE GET SOME MORE COWBELL?”

Nobody on the Michigan side ever answered our pleas. They knew they were defeated. They knew that to win, you gotta have chin.

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A Game Four For the Ages

There isn’t much I can say to really do last night justice: it was tormenting, it was exhilarating, it was exhausting, and it most certainly was awesome. Here are some of my notes from the game that certainly will always be remembered by Phillies’ fans:

– Manny Ramirez is absolutely unbelievable. Seriously, the best postseason hitter I have ever seen. Big Papi’s curse-crushing performance was superb, but Manny is better. You can’t pitch to him. It’s ridiculous.

– While neither bullpen was very good, the boys in the pen for the Phils did just enough to close this one out. I have to be honest, I didn’t agree with using Lidge for the four-out save, though it worked. I was worried that he was going to give up a hit against Manny (which he did), and possibly either get shaken or throw a lot of pitches in the eighth and have a less effective arm in the ninth. Plus, I think there is something about coming out for the ninth inning that is lost when you go into the dugout after the eighth – you come running out, adrenaline pumping, knowing you’ve got three to go and the game is over. Sitting in the dugout, you’re hanging around, you’ve already thrown a bit, the adrenaline decreases. But what do I know? Lidge did his job, and we all leave happy. Charlie Manuel, the visionary.

– How perfect was it that Shane Victorino tied the game? “Sugar Shane,” “The Flying Hawaiian,” “Hit Me In The Ribs Victorino” had to be the one guy that LA fans absolutely didn’t want to see do something positive; his rope into the bullpen must have broken their hearts.

– Matt Stairs, that home run was one of the most majestic, beautiful, wonderful, surreal home runs I have ever witnessed. Take away the context of the shot, and it was still the perfect swing. As soon as his bat struck the ball, I swear a bolt of electricity shot through the city of Philadelphia, because I was on my feet well before the camera showed the ball landing squarely in the shattered hopes and dreams of Dodgers fan everywhere. We were going absolutely nuts at the Pundit Palace. Matt Stairs has hit a fair share of home runs in the fair share of years he has played this game, but I promise you, he has never hit a home run like that. A spectacular moment.

– This team is just special. You simply can’t quit on them – every time I’ve been a bit down on them this year, or I felt momentum slipping from their grasp, they do something that leaves me speechless. They just know that they’re going to somehow pull it off. In Philly, I’ve been saying that there’s something in the air. Well, in LA, the only thing up in the air is the smog and probably the acting careers of half of the waiters and waitresses in the city, so the Phillies had to bring their own magic. And when Chase Utley made his diving double play, and when Shane roped a homer into right, and when Carlos Ruiz hit what seemed to be an innocent little single, and when Matt Stairs enthralled a city 3000 miles away with a swing that I’ve watched about 25 times today and will never forget, that magic made itself known.

– This is the game we have been waiting to see Cole Hamels pitch. He’s been filthy in his first two postseason starts – game five is his opportunity to not only firmly entrench himself as our stopper, but to establish himself as a big-game pitcher on the national scene. I’m confident he’ll deliver.

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