Goodbye, Harry…and thank you, Phillies

This fan-made artwork was one of many tributes to Harry Kalas left outside Citizens Bank Park
This fan-made artwork was one of many tributes to Harry Kalas left outside Citizens Bank Park

I, along with many Phillies fans, paid their final respects and said goodbye to longtime broadcaster Harry Kalas at a memorial service held this afternoon at Citizens Bank Park in South Philadelphia.

My fiancee and I got on line at 8:30 a.m. and entered the third-base gate about 40 minutes later. Once through the turnstiles, I saw a table with free coffee set up on it. As a huge fan of coffee, especially a little after 9 a.m. on a Saturday morning, I was excited. However, I caught a glimpse of two people standing a bit beyond the coffee station…and I was floored.

I whispered to my fiancee, “Oh, wow! Bill Giles and David Montgomery are up there greeting everybody.”

Now, Bill Giles is one of the Phillies’ owners and is the team’s chairman. David Montgomery is president and chief executive officer of the Phillies. And they were personally shaking hands with every single person walking into the ballpark and thanking them for being there.

During the late 1990s and the early part of this decade when the Phils were pretty much dreadful, both of these men took a lot of heat from some of the very fans they were now shaking hands with on a very emotional day.

Seconds after I noticed them, a few other people on line in front of us did too…and had pretty much the same reaction as I did (“Oh, wow!”). I said to a guy in front of us, “That is real class. They did not have to do that.” He agreed.

It was the first of many first-class touches the Phillies displayed during the day. And that’s one thing I want to bring up in this post…for all-non Phillies fans out there, say what you want about Philly fans and the teams, but anytime the Phillies hold a ceremony, they always do a top-notch job with it. Some of the so-called “upper crust” teams in baseball might want to take a lesson from the Phillies on how to stage a special event.

OK…so, anyway…I was going to write a lot more, but it really comes down to this: The Phillies did a great job this week with honoring the legacy and memory of Harry Kalas. And they capped it off with an outstanding memorial service and final goodbye to an icon whose voice will echo around my mind for the rest of my life.

Sound of Summer Silenced (for Harry the K)
6:24/8.8 MB

This is a song I wrote over the days following Harry Kalas’ death. I used some radio calls, which are likely not covered by fair use, but I felt they added to the song and were an appropriate tribute. I’ll remove them if asked.

Phinally…Phillies are World Series champions!

Brad Lidge closes out the 2008 World Series
Brad Lidge closes out the 2008 World Series. (Source: Philly.com)

For the first time since 1980 and for only the second time in franchise history, the Philadelphia Phillies are the world champions of baseball after beating the Tampa Bay Rays, 4-3, at Citizens Bank Park on October 29, 2008. The Phils won the best-of-seven series in five games.

The victory also gives Philadelphia its first major professional sports title since 1983, when the Sixers won the NBA championship.

Savor this, Philly fans…you deserve this.

And congratulations to Charlie Manuel and the 2008 Fightin’ Phils! Thank you very much for this.

Video: Victorino hits grand slam off Sabathia, NLDS Game 2, 10/2/08

Here is video of Shane Victorino’s second-inning, two-out grand slam off C.C. Sabathia that gave the Phillies a 5-1 lead over the Brewers in Game 2 of their NL Division Series on Oct. 2, 2008. The Phils went on to win 5-2 and take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series.

The video is from the TBS broadcast, while the audio is from Phillies radio flagship station, WPHT 1210 AM (featuring Scott Franzke and former Phillies reliever Larry Andersen, who is going nuts in the background).

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Video: Victorino hits grand slam off …“, posted with vodpod

Video: Brett Myers’ epic NLDS Game 2 walk off C.C. Sabathia (pitches 7-9)

Here is video of Phillies starting pitcher Brett Myers’ epic, nine-pitch, two-out walk off Brewers ace C.C. Sabathia in the second inning of Game 2 of their NL Division Series on Oct. 2, 2008. The video, shot from the right-field, upper-deck stands, picks up at pitch number 7 of the at-bat. After Myers walked, Jimmy Rollins walked on four pitches to load the bases for Shane Victorino, who deposited a 1-2 pitch into the left field seats for a grand slam that put the Phillies up 5-1 en route to a 5-2 victory. I was at the game in Sect. 431 far down the left field line…and it was freakin’ awesome.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Congrats, Jimmy Rollins…2007 National League MVP!

(BBWAA) – Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins, the offensive and defensive catalyst for a club that reached post-season play for the first time in 14 years by winning the 2007 National League East title, was elected the NL Most Valuable Player in a tight race against Colorado Rockies left fielder Matt Holliday in balloting by the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA).

Of the 32 ballots submitted by two writers in each league city, Rollins was listed first on 16, second on seven, third on four, fourth on four and fifth on one for a total of 353 points, based on the tabulation system that rewards 14 points for first place, nine for second, eight for third and on down to one for 10th. Holliday’s breakdown was 11 first-place votes, 18 seconds, one third, one fourth and one sixth for 336 points.

Rollins, 28, who batted .296 and scored 139 runs, was the first player in history with 200 hits (212) and 20 doubles (38), triples (20), home runs (30) and stolen bases (41) in one season. He set a league record for shortstops with 380 total bases, breaking by one the previous mark of the Cubs’ Ernie Banks in 1958.

Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard (.268, 47 HR, 136 RBI), the 2006 winner, placed fifth this time behind New York Mets third baseman David Wright (.325, 30 HR, 107 RBI, 113 R). Rounding out the top 10 were Braves third baseman Chipper Jones (.337, 29 HR, 102 RBI, 108 R), San Diego Padres pitcher Jake Peavy (19-6, 2.54 ERA, 240 K in 223⅓ IP), Phillies second baseman Chase Utley (.332, 22 HR, 103 RBI, 104 R), Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols (.327, 32 HR, 103 RBI) and Florida Marlins shortstop Hanley Ramirez (.332, 29 HR, 81 RBI, 212 H, 125 R). In all, 26 players received votes.

Rollins and Howard are the 11th set of teammates to win the NL award in consecutive seasons and the first since the Giants’ Jeff Kent (2000) and Bonds (2001). Cincinnati had three teammates win successively in 1938 (Ernie Lombardi), 1939 (Bucky Walters) and 1940 (Frank McCormick), as did the Cardinals in 1942 (Mort Cooper), 1943 (Stan Musial) and 1944 (Marty Marion). Other back-to-back, MVP-winning teammates were the Dodgers’ Campanella (1955) and Don Newcombe (1956), Wills (1962) and Koufax (1953), the Cardinals’ Orlando Cepeda (1967) and Bob Gibson (1968), the Reds’ Joe Morgan (1976) and George Foster (1977) and the Pirates’ Dave Parker (1978) and Stargell (1979).

It marked the seventh time a Phillies player won the award with Rollins joining Howard, three-time winner Mike Schmidt (1980-81, ’86), Chuck Klein (1932) and Jim Konstanty (1950). It was the seventh MVP for an NL shortstop, a list that includes Banks, a two-time winner (1958-59), Marion, Wills, Dick Groat (1960) and Barry Larkin (1995). Shortstops have won in the American League eight times.

(Photo courtesy of Getty Images.)

2007 Phillies: The Team to Beat, Indeed!

Phillies celebrate 2007 NL East title

Congratulations to the 2007 National League Eastern Division Champion Philadelphia Phillies! As Phillies shortstop — and NL Most Valuable Player candidate — Jimmy Rollins (below) said before the season began, the Phils were “the team to beat” in the NL East.

Oh, and one more thing…note to Mets manager Willie Randolph and catcher Paul Lo Duca…we’re sipping champagne and dancing on the field…what are you doing now?

NY Daily News back page - Oct. 1, 2007

YouTube: An intelligent commentary on the Phillies’ Pat Burrell

As a Phillies fan, I am often embarrassed by the “baseball stupidity” of those who root for the Phillies with me. They boo people based on reputation and stories put out there by equally idiotic media types and the cosmically idiotic Dallas Green, instead of actually looking at stats and seeing how productive players actually are.

Philly has a tendency to cheer for the guy with the bloody face and dirty uniform…even though he is batting .240 and has a lower on-base percentage than I do. I actually heard a guy sitting a couple of seats away from me at Citizens Bank Park say, “I love Tomas Perez. I hope the Phillies never get rid of him.”

Now, Tomas Perez sucked…but fans loved him because he would throw shaving cream pies in the faces of his teammates after exciting wins. Ugh.

Anyway, here is a great video that actually offers a intelligent, statistics-based argument why current Phillies left fielder Pat Burrell is undeserving of much of the criticism dumped on him over the past couple of years, but especially as of late.

RIP Dave “MVPsoft” Snyder

As you probably know, I am a huge Phillies fan. I also consider myself relatively intelligent and, of course, I’m an Internet geek.

That’s why one of my favorite Web sites is PhilliesPhans.com, which features the Renegade Phan Phorum. The Phorum has some of the most intelligent baseball–and non-baseball–conversation around and exists at the opposite end of the spectrum from Philly’s so-called sports radio station, 610 WIP-AM.

I haven’t posted too often on PhilliesPhans.com, but I read it a lot because there are many conversations about sports, news, politics and even religion.

PhilliesPhans.com was started several years ago by a Philly-area transplant named Dave Snyder, who was the owner of MVP Software in Grand Rapids, Mich.

Before tonight, that sentence would have read “…Dave Snyder, who is the owner…”

I went to check the site earlier this evening to see if anything was going on and saw this thread title:

Is MVPSoft OK?

Now, MVPsoft is…was…Dave’s screen name. The thread’s initial poster went on to say he saw on another message board that Dave had been killed in a car accident today (as it turned out, the poster had been on a Rutgers message board where Dave’s cousin, whose son recently signed to play college football at Dave’s alma mater, Rutgers, broke the sad news). Since there had been no comments about it on the board Dave created, that first poster figured there was nothing to it.

But soon links started appearing on Michigan news sites that confirmed the worst…

I-196 clear after fatal accident

One Man Dies in I-196 Accident

So, yeah, my only connection to this man was that he created a Web site that has become a big part of my daily routine. Yet, it still feels like I have been punched in the gut.

He gave intelligent Phillies fans a place to go and get away from the idiotic rhetoric written in the Philly newspapers and being talked about on WIP.

At least I know I’m not the only one who feels like this.

The reason for this outpouring of emotion is because when Major League Baseball Advanced Media first took over the Web sites for every MLB team a few years ago and completely messed up the fan communitiy the old Phillies.com site had built, Dave stepped up to host a Phillies message board that would foster intelligent conversation based on analysis and thought…not one that would allow trolling and name-calling. Through the years, PhilliesPhans.com evolved into one of the best online communities around.

However, there were several dust-ups that led to many popular PP.com posters being banned by Dave for breaking his rules one too many times. But those dust-ups would lead to the creation of new Phan communities, PhilliesBoard.com and BackSheGoes.com, which are now called home by former and current PP.com members. In fact, it was just this past December when Dave pulled the plug on the Phorum for a few days after a thread went out of control and he contemplated shutting it down for good. However, he was convinced by the members to bring it back under new registration and posting rules.

So even though many PP.com members had battles with Dave at one time or another, one thing is certain: He was a man of principle devoted to his family and the Phillies. And a huge number of Phans “met” through the community he built.

You will be missed, MVPsoft.

UPDATE (2/11/07): I have just read that, in a strange twist of fate, it was exactly six years ago today that Dave launched the Renegade Phan Phorum at PhilliesPhans.com.

😦