Confession of a Phillies fan who left the Harper walkoff slam game early

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I have a confession to make. I’m a lifelong Phillies fan. A partial season ticket holder. I write about the team frequently here at my website.

I was at Thusday night’s game in which the team rallied scoring seven times in the final two innings to come from five runs down and win on Bryce Harper‘s walkoff grand slam.

And I saw none of it. None of the runs. No part of the rally. Not live and in person anyway.

I gave up, and I left early.

To set the stage for you, this was perhaps the eighth game that I had been to this season. After an early season hot streak, things had deteriorated, for me and the ball club.

In each of the previous two games that I had been to, the Phillies had been blown out. Not only that, but they had not even shown up. Both times they were nearly shutout, had few hits, and the games were over by the middle innings.

Thursday night was much the same. The Phillies were down 5-0 when the top of the 8th inning rolled around. They had just four hits. Yu Darvish of the Cubs was dominating, striking out ten batters over seven innings.

So, as the 7th inning rolled around, I turned to my daughter with whom I was attending the game and told her that we would give it one more inning.

Really, I wasn’t hoping for much from the Phillies at that point. The club was down 5-0 on the scoreboard and showing no life. This night on the field appeared to be solely for the many Cubs fans in the stands, including one who was seated directly behind us and had been chirping all night long.

No, I was willing to stay through the 7th inning to see, of all things, the Phillie Phanatic. Hey, the big green furry guy puts on a nice show in that frame, dancing on the Phillies dugout roof. He didn’t disappoint, doing a nice number with a dance troupe from Temple University.

And so, as the action got underway in the top of the 8th, we left.

There was a good crowd at the ball park on a beautiful night. More than 37,000 showed up. Many left, both before us and as we were leaving. But there were still many who stayed. Those who stayed to the end would be the lucky ones. Well, at least those rooting for the home team.

We headed to the car, down towards I-95, and up onto the highway northbound. At somewhere between Bridge Street and Academy Road, the Phillies scored a run. I told my daughter, who was flipping through her phone in the passenger seat, that we scored a run. “Yay” she said, with sarcastic feigned enthusiasm.

I dropped her off at her house, and continued on to home. On the way, my wife asked me to make a stop at Wawa. As I drew nearer to our neighborhood, the Phillies had put two runners on base with one out in the bottom of the 9th inning, still down 5-1.

I slipped through the dark and quiet streets of our neighborhood, my headlights streaming out and the street lamps helping light the way, and as I pulled into the Wawa parking lot a base hit by Brad Miller scored Cesar Hernandez to make it a 5-2 ball game.

Things were getting a little interesting. Roman Quinn, who has been hot for awhile now, was coming to the plate. He would be followed by Rhys Hoskins and Bryce Harper. Dare we dream?

As Cubs skipper Joe Maddon went to the mound to make a pitching change, I went into the Wawa.

Got myself a coffee, and the night manager, a nice guy who I’ve seen in there many times, saw my Phillies t-shirt and cap and said “I guess they lost, huh?

I told him that I had been down there, left when it was 5-0, but now they had a little rally going in the bottom of the 9th, down 5-2. He asked who was up, and I told him that it was Quinn. He kind of nodded with an “oh well” look on his face.

As I walked through the store to find an item for my wife, a notice came over my phone that Quinn had delivered an RBI single to make it a 5-3 game. I rushed back to Mr. Wawa Manager to let him know, and he said “guess I better find a place to listen.” I hope he did.

I got my items, paid, and left the store. Back in my car, I heard that Rhys Hoskins had somehow reached base – I just assumed a walk at that point – and that Bryce Harper was now up with the bases loaded.

Harper battled reliever Derek Holland during my four block drive home. I had just pulled in front of my house and was parking my car when…

You know the rest. Scott Franzke’s typically fantastic voice raised with the call “Swung on…hit high and deep…right field…and that…ball…is……goooooone!

Needless to say, finishing my parking job got a little bit tougher with that adrenalin jolt.

I got out of the car and hurried into my house. My wife, knowing that I was on my way and knowing her husband, had the game on, watched that ending, and had rewound it so that I could watch the end.

Watching it on TV was just as dramatic, even knowing how it ended. I rewound a little further so that I could enjoy the entire rally. When that TV coverage got to the home run, chills again thanks to John Kruk‘s now legendary “Oh my God!!” as soon as the ball left the bat.

So, I was there on Thursday night. I was at Citizens Bank Park for the game in which the Phillies rallied from down 5-0 in the 8th inning and 5-1 in the 9th to win on a walkoff grand slam by Bryce Harper.

I had a nice evening. My daughter and I ate and had a couple of beers before the game at Pass & Stow. We enjoyed each other’s company and chatted as we watched the game.

But we were not there at the end. We didn’t get to enjoy “the moment.”

You tell yourself a lot of things when you leave early, as I have done many times over the years. Gotta beat the crowd, the traffic being the main thing. I don’t believe that what happened last night has ever happened in a game that I left early before.

So, the question is – will I ever leave early again? Of course I will. Probably the very next game that I attend. And if the Phillies are losing, even losing big, I’ll hope and pray that I get to listen on the radio and/or watch on TV as they rally again.

 

MLB 2019 Power Ranking: August 15

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The Philadelphia Phillies find themselves once again at 14th overall in the 2019 MLB Power Rankings as we reach the heart of the dog days of August.

Five clubs will make the playoffs from the National League. Each division champion will be joined by a pair of Wildcard teams.
In this August 15 version of the Power Rankings, while the Phillies remain right where they were back on August 1 among all teams in Major League Baseball, they have slipped a notch in the National League.
On August 1, the Phillies were the sixth-highest ranked team and were involved in a three-way tie for the two NL Wildcard spots. Now they have slipped a notch, to seventh in the NL. The standings reflect that slippage, as the club is now two games in back of the second Wildcard.
The Phillies have four games left head-to-head with the Nationals, who now control the top NL Wildcard spot, three games ahead of the Phils. Those will take place in Washington at the end of September.
The Cubs are the team in the second Wildcard spot. The Phillies have captured the first two games of a head-to-head series between the two teams, and are 4-2 against Chicago this season.  On Thursday night, the Phillies try to sweep the series and move within a game of the Cubs.
My own personal feelings never have anything to do with the MLB Power Rankings. Instead, the rank is all about actual team performance: results in the standings and statistical breakdowns.
I take what I have found to be key statistical categories and rank each of the 30 teams in Major League baseball on their ability to win ball games and perform on offense, the pitching mound, and in the field. There is never any subjectivity or opinion involved.

The MLB Power Rankings will be updated here at my website on roughly the 1st and 15th of the month for the remainder of the regular season using the following methodology.

RANKINGS METHODOLOGY

Introduced and then upgraded during the course of last season, my formula for compiling the rankings is always being researched to see if it can be improved upon.
That formula carried two categories over from the 2018 season: winning percentage and OPS against. The first is simple, reflecting each team’s ability to actually win ball games. The second reflects a pitching staff’s ability to control the game and limit damage.
As of my first ranking for the 2019 season, runs-per-game replaced last year’s “runs scored” in order to get the offensive component. This was an acknowledgement of the fact that teams play various numbers of games as of the time of each ranking. For example, it wouldn’t be fair to consider a club that had scored 100 runs over 50 games as effective as a club who scored 100 runs over just 45 games.
Also this summer, the defensive component was changed. The defensive metric beginning with the July 15 rankings was switched to “Defensive runs saved” as measured at Fangraphs, replacing the previous “fielding percentage” to gauge a team’s defensive effectiveness.
I then assign each of those four component category team rankings a 1-30 numerical value, and simply add those values up to determine an overall final ratings score. Where there is a tie, it is broken by win-loss percentage since, in the end, winning is what it’s all about.

2019 AUGUST 1 –  MLB RANKINGS

The Los Angeles Dodgers are again technically at the top of the Power Rankings. It marks a second straight period at the top for the Dodgers, and their third top-ranked position of the six rankings that I’ve done this season.
However, the new top team from the American League was actually tied with the Dodgers in points. That would be the Houston Astros, who held the top position themselves during two of the three periods in which the Dodgers didn’t control the top spot.
Houston was only slotted in at #2 due to the tie-breaker that I use, which is their overall win-loss record. The Astros did pass the Minnesota Twins, who are the only other team besides  the Dodgers or Houston to hold the top position, as the top AL ball club.
The Cleveland Indians continue to move up, now a top five team. The Arizona Diamondbacks, who sit 3.5 games out in the Wildcard race in the actual standings, remain the biggest enigma, with the formula spitting them out as the second-best team in the National League and eighth overall.
On the rise further back are the New York Mets, who have moved into the top twenty for the first time all season.
In parentheses are each team’s position in the June 1, June 15 , July 1, July 15 and August 1 rankings, shown in that order from left to right.
  1. Los Angeles Dodgers (1-3-2-2-1)
  2. Houston Astros (3-1-1-5-3)
  3. Minnesota Twins (2-2-3-1-2)
  4. Oakland Athletics (8-12-5-3-4)
  5. Cleveland Indians (18-18-15-10-6)
  6. Tampa Bay Rays (4-4-4-4-5)
  7. New York Yankees (5-8-9-6-10)
  8. Arizona Diamondbacks (9-5-6-9-7)
  9. Atlanta Braves (12-9-7-12-12)
  10. Chicago Cubs (10-13-11-7-9)
  11. Boston Red Sox (6-6-10-8-8)
  12. Saint Louis Cardinals (14-15-14-14-15)
  13. Washington Nationals (24-19-13-13-13)
  14. Philadelphia Phillies (15-14-18-16-14)
  15. Los Angeles Angels (19-17-19-11-11)
  16. Milwaukee Brewers (7-10-16-19-16)
  17. Cincinnati Reds (13-16-17-18-17)
  18. San Diego Padres (17-20-20-17-20)
  19. New York Mets (22-23-24-25-24)
  20. San Francisco Giants (29-27-25-21-18)
  21. Texas Rangers (16-11-8-15-19)
  22. Kansas City Royals (21-21-22-22-22)
  23. Colorado Rockies (11-7-12-20-21)
  24. Miami Marlins (23-26-21-23-23)
  25. Toronto Blue Jays (28-28-26-28-27)
  26. Chicago White Sox (25-24-28-27-28)
  27. Seattle Mariners (26-22-27-26-26)
  28. Pittsburgh Pirates (20-25-23-24-25)
  29. Baltimore Orioles (30-30-30-30-29)
  30. Detroit Tigers (27-29-29-29-30)

SPOTLIGHT TEAM: ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Previous spotlight teams: Minnesota (6/01), Atlanta (6/15), Texas (7/01), Oakland (7/15), Tampa Bay (8/01)
 
The Arizona Diamondbacks woke up on Thursday morning at 61-60, just barely above the .500 mark. They are a distant second in the NL West Division, 19 games behind the Dodgers in the loss column. They also sit a game ahead of the division-rival Giants.
Manager Torey Lovullo is in his third season at the helm in the Arizona desert. During his first season back in 2017, Lovullo guided the Dbacks to a playoff berth and was named the NL Manager of the Year. Last season, Arizona led the division into September but collapsed in much the same way as did the Phillies.
 
This year, the Dbacks have bounced back and forth between second place and third in the division since the start of July. They have also again mirrored the Phillies in a way, in that they have not been able to go on either a long winning streak to solidy a playoff berth or a deep losing skid to fall out of the race.
 
Arizona ranks as the top team in baseball defensively – by a wide margin – and that is a major reason for their high finish in the Power Rankings. They also rank 8th in runs-per-game, and their 11th ranked pitching staff is also solid. 
 
Despite a strong defense, productive offense, and that solid pitching the Dbacks just cannot seem to win consistently. With a bunch of really good ballplayers, they seem to be lacking that one big star, the “straw that stirs the drink” type player.
 
Here in the middle of August, eight teams are within 4.5 games of one another in the battle for the two NL Wildcard playoff berths. My bet is that by the time these MLB Power Rankings are next updated on September 1, at least a couple of those will have fallen out of the race. My bet is that Arizona will not be one of those.

Charlie Manuel fine, but Phillies need higher-level change

The struggling Philadelphia Phillies baseball club stunned the fan base on Tuesday with the announcement that hitting coach John Mallee had been released, and that he would be replaced by popular former manager Charlie Manuel.

The stunning part wasn’t that Mallee was let go. The Phillies offense has struggled to find any consistency in parts of two seasons with the team since his hiring in November 2017.

Offensively, the Phillies rank just 19th among the 30 teams in Major League Baseball in runs scored per game this year. They are only 22nd in hits and OPS, 23rd in home runs, 17th in stolen bases.

After changing half the starting lineup from a year ago, bringing in stars like Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto, Andrew McCutchen and Jean Segura, it was expected that the offense would be the least worrisome part of the 2019 team.

More surprising was that the 75-year-old Manuel would be taking his place, albeit on what is likely to be an interim basis. Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said that this was a move which was not likely to extend beyond the balance of the 2019 campaign.

 
The move is certainly one that was, at least in some measure, calculated to inject enthusiasm into a fan base that was beginning to turn on the team. The Phillies have gone just 28-36 since their season high-water mark at 11 games over .500 on May 29. They had lost seven of their last 10 prior to Tuesday night.
 
With the Philadelphia Eagles preseason now underway and the NFL season set to begin in just three weeks, the Phillies were in danger of completely losing a large portion of their fans attention.

 
Manuel is the extremely popular former manager who led the Phillies to a 2008 World Series crown, back-to-back National League pennants, and five consecutive NL East titles. He compiled a 780-636 record as skipper from 2005 into the 2013 season, and has now been enshrined on the Wall of Fame.
 
What do the Phillies hope to gain from the change from Mallee to Manuel? The general manager seems to believe that it is more about how the message is being communicated to the hitters, rather than some major shift in philosophy.
 
I understand that there’s kind of a simplistic viewpoint here that we are shifting from new school to old school,” said Klentak. “But it’s really not that simple. I think the messenger is changing, but I think the message will be largely the same.
In the short-term, Manuel’s easy-going attitude, down-home demeanor, and positive messaging along with his hitting philosophy of attacking the pitcher aggressively should help some the rest of the way.
While that is important – no one wants to throw in the towel on 2019 – more influential for the longer run will be who ends up getting the job for the 2020 season and beyond. Will the organizational philosophy change if results do not improve? And, will it be Klentak who is doing that hiring?
Kevin Cooney of The Philly Voice did an excellent job yesterday of breaking down the questions and answers, and the politics within the organization, surrounding this decision.
Given what the tone of the conversation was over the past few months and the words of patience that came out of both Klentak and MacPhail’s mouth on various topics, it certainly doesn’t feel like a stretch to believe that this move had (John) Middleton’s fingerprints all over it.
Klentak noted that both MacPhail and principle owner John Middleton were involved in the decision to make this change.

Look, any time we make a big organizational decision, we’re very collaborative about that,” Klentak said per Matt Gelb with The Athletic. “So, John definitely was aware of this, involved in this — as he has been for a lot of decisions we’ve made. Andy MacPhail as well. But when we made these big decisions, they are done with a collaborative approach and a kind of united front. John was involved.

As I have written prior to this, the Phillies overall failures can be traced all the way up the chain to Andy MacPhail. He is the president of baseball operations. The buck stops with him. As long as MacPhail remains, there is no reason to believe based on the man’s track record that this organization will become a consistent long-term winner.
We have to hope that the injection of enthusiasm from Charlie Manuel helps the Phillies in the short-term. The fans are certainly happy to have him back. I’m personally happy to see him back doing what he does best, teaching and talking about hitting.
Middleton, as the owner who has spent nearly a half-billion dollars in upgrading his offensive personnel, is going to have to take a hard look this coming fall and winter at the people he has directing the organization at higher levels if he wants his baseball team to become a big, consistent winner.

Phillies now must buck the odds to make the playoffs

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For a second straight August, it all feels like it’s falling apart for a Philadelphia Phillies season that once appeared destined to end in October.

The Phillies lost to the San Francisco Giants by a 3-1 score on Saturday afternoon. It was the club’s fourth defeat in five games, their sixth in the last nine. They are 2-4 on a western swing through Arizona and NoCal that will end this afternoon by the bay.
This most recent losing stretch is part of a 27-35 performance since late May, one that has dropped the team from the top of the National League East Division standings into fourth place.

It’s not just that the Phillies are losing in San Francisco – they aren’t even showing up to play. Just three hits in yesterday afternoon’s defeat. One hit in Thursday night’s series opening loss to the Giants.

As recently as their postgame statements at the start of this past week, Phillies players were clinging to the hope provided by the standings. Fact was, they still controlled a National League Wildcard playoff berth.
That is no longer the case. The Phillies woke up on Sunday morning at two games behind both the Saint Louis Cardinals and Washington Nationals in the loss column. They also trail both the Milwaukee Brewers and New York Mets in that Wildcard race.
The stats show that the Phillies have earned this position. They have a -30 run differential. They are just 18th of the 30 MLB ball clubs in runs scored per game. The pitching staff is 22nd in batting average against and 23rd in OPS against.
In short, the Phillies are not a good baseball team right now, and they haven’t been one for a few months.
All of this is reflected in the updated Fangraphs MLB playoff odds. Taking a wide variety of factors into consideration, Fangraphs now ranks three teams from the NL East as having better than even odds of reaching the postseason. None of those is the Philadelphia Phillies.
The Atlanta Braves, who hold a five game lead in the loss column in the division race, have a 98.1% chance of reaching the playoffs. The second place Washington Nationals are at 67.8%. And now, the red-hot New York Mets are rated as having a 53% chance at the postseason.
The Phillies? They now have a miniscule 8.8% chance at making the playoffs. Their odds at winning a Wildcard spot are at 8.5%, and actually roaring back to win the division at just 0.3%. The Phillies odds to win the World Series are at a nearly impossible 0.1% level.
So, if the Phillies are going to reach the Major League Baseball postseason for the first time in eight years, they are going to need a major hot streak. At this point, that would be seriously bucking the odds.

Liberated by Kaepernick-supporting lefty trolls

Alright, the liberation to get back to writing political and social commentary! Perhaps I owe a debt of gratitude to the far left lunatics who tried doxing me in recent days.

Let’s start with what actually happened.

During Thursday night’s Philadelphia Eagles preseason game, backup quarterback Nate Sudfeld suffered a wrist injury, one that it was later announced would keep him out for awhile.

At the time, I was “live-Tweeting” a Phillies game for a site by the name of Phillies Nation” for which I had been the lead writer for more than a year. Basically providing updates of key moments in that game as they developed.

In reaction to Sudfeld’s injury, I began to see a number of folks interjecting commentary on Twitter regarding the Eagles possibly looking at bringing in controversial former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick. There were many folks who were for this happening, and many against it.

At my personal Twitter feed (@MatthewVeasey), I put out a message that stated if the Eagles were to actually sign Kaepernick, I would find it offensive and would stop watching and following the team until he was gone.

My feelings had nothing to do with race, and in fact, very little to do with football talent. I could care less that he hasn’t played in three years.

What I do care about is that Kaepernick has publicly come out against American police. As a three-decade law enforcement officer, supervisor and training instructor, one who still has family and many friends in the profession, I find his messages offensive.

Socks depicting pigs wearing police hats, framing police shootings as “lawful lynchings“, reactions to police shootings with statements such asthere are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.

Kaepernick is no social justice warrior as he refuses to stand and respect the American flag and our national anthem. He is an anti-police, far-left radical activist. Here in America, I have a right to publicly stand against him and his positions.

That opinion did not go over well with those who support Kaepernick. Some among that group looked at my profile and saw that I was a retired police supervisor, which I am sure raised their ire even further.

Someone among the group chose to do a little research on this personal blog of mine. They dug up a few old articles that I had written, highlighting what they felt were controversial snippets pulled from pieces on race and sexual preference issues, most of which I had written a decade or more ago.

No context was provided on these snippets, of course. They simply began an online campaign to brand me a homophobe and racist. A hater. They spread the message to many of their lefty friends, and hundreds began to pile on.

Phillies Nation became a target, with the attackers threatening to continue bombarding them with negative comments, as well as to go after the advertisers, if this “hater” was allowed to continue with the site.

Needless to say, Phillies Nation caved. I am no longer associated with that site. So, that is what happened.

Now, to address the issues.

The fact of the matter is that I hate no one. Well, I have always half-jokingly said that I hate no one except “Nazis, Islamofascits, and the Dallas Cowboys.” I have no problem sticking with that statement.

This situation highlights perfectly, in fact, why I have a hatred for those Nazis and Islamofascists.

Fascists of any type want one thing, to impose their agenda on society, and to not only stifle, but to destroy all vestiges of dissent. If you aren’t with the program, then you are a threat, and you must be silenced.

As anyone who knows me well already already realizes, you aren’t going to silence me. I don’t cow-tow to fascists, far-left or otherwise.

There are things that I personally believe involving political, social, religious, familial and more issues. There are things that I feel are right, and things that I feel are wrong.

Here in the United States of America, at least to this point in our history, I am fully entitled to those beliefs, and am fully entitled to write about those issues and opinions. That is, as long as I do not advocate violence against anyone else.

And also as anyone who knows me is well aware, and as I have already said, I hate no one. I do not advocate violence against anyone for their political, social, sexual or religious beliefs or practices.

I served for nearly three decades as a Philadelphia police officer, detective, and supervisor. I interacted with many members of the community of every race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and religious affiliation. Never had any complaints in these regards, few at all in my entire career, none sustained.

My website has existed in this form, right here at this location on the web, for 15 years. That includes more than 13 during which I was with the PPD. My writing was well known, read by many officers, known of by the department, and was never the subject of an investigation or discipline.

If you should ever run across someone trying to share one or two sentences or columns from one of my pieces while attempting to frame me as racist or bigoted, I would challenge you to find the full piece and read it in its full context.

If you want to start your own blog and write in support of the issues and positions that you believe in, and against the things that you feel are wrong, go right ahead.

So, that is exactly what I will be doing. I will continue to write regularly about the Phillies, baseball, and Philly sports. But I will also be getting back to something that I had set aside, writing on political and social issues. Anything that I write will be linked at my social media feeds.

This blog is sorted into topics at the above tool bar. There is an opportunity to search the blog with a search box at the right of that tool bar. At the bottom of each piece are “Tags” which link to other pieces containing that subject matter.

Nothing ever written here at my blog has been deleted, hidden or blocked. While I might not phrase something today as I did back in 2009, neither am I ashamed or embarrassed or afraid of anything that I have ever written.

Feel free to search for and read any that you want. You will find my opinion, my viewpoint. What I challenge you to find is hate, or calls for violence.

Just as importantly, feel free to not read. Or simply choose what to read or not read. If you like my baseball or sports writing but disagree with my political or social views, stick to reading my baseball or sports pieces. If those don’t interest you, but you do like my other topical writing, enjoy that instead. Your choice. No one forcing you to read or care about what I write.

Looking forward to the freedom and liberation to get back to writing about those broader topics once again. So again, a hearty “thank you” to the lefty doxers and anyone else who helped nudge me back in this direction. God bless America.