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Can the 2018 Eagles do what the 2009 Phillies could not?

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Despite Utley’s heroics the Phillies fell just short in repeat world title attempt

Tonight is the 2018 NFL season opener between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Atlanta Falcons. That would be the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles, by the way. Those words still look and sound so glorious, do they not?

The Birds and their fans will celebrate their title one final time with the raising of the first-ever Super Bowl banner at Lincoln Financial Field this evening. But after that, the game will begin. The football calendar will officially turn to a new season.
In that new 2018 season the Eagles will be defending an NFL championship for the fourth time in franchise history. It marks just the second time in the last 35 years that a Philadelphia major pro sports team will attempt to repeat as a champion.
Philly fans remember well the last time it happened Just nine years ago the Philadelphia Phillies played the 2009 season as defending champions of Major League Baseball.
The long playoff run and Fall Classic triumph had been punctuated by a Halloween parade around City Hall and down Broad Street to Citizens Bank Park.
The Eagles experienced pretty much the same thing. A long playoff run, early February Super Bowl, parade this time up Broad Street from the stadium area and out the Ben Franklin Parkway to the Art Museum.
There was a shorter than normal off-season as the Phillies did the banquet and awards circuit that winter and then returned to Clearwater for spring training in February 2009. The Eagles had a month shorter off-season as well. While the Birds and their coaching staff were prepping for the Patriots, the rest of the NFL was already getting a jump on 2018 preparations.
As far as personnel were concerned, the 2009 Phillies returned largely the same cast of lead characters who had won the crown. The only change among starting position players came with Raul Ibanez replacing Pat Burrell as the left fielder.
On the mound, the biggest change at the start was that young lefty J.A. Happ stepped into the starting rotation in place of the Kyle Kendrick and Adam Eaton combination from the previous year.
cliff-lee-catches-popup-world-series-game-1-4fb7b002d3ee4cbc_medium.jpg

Lee arrived at the July 2009 trade deadline to provide a needed shot in the arm.
Those Phillies had to make a big injury adjustment when Brett Myers hit the DL for three months in late May. You probably won’t recall that they gave Antonio Bastardo five June starts, or that they signed Rodrigo Lopez and plugged him in for five July starts. But you will recall that they traded for Cliff Lee and signed Pedro Martinez in July, bolstering the rotation for August and beyond.
There was a World Series hangover at the beginning of the season. Six weeks in, the Phillies went through a stretch in which they lost six of eight games. On Friday, May 15, the 2009 Phillies woke up with a 16-16 record. And then it all changed.
Following that mid-May rough stretch, the Phillies went on a five-game winning streak. It began a stretch that saw the club capture 19 of their next 26, moving them to a season-best twelve games over the .500 mark and to a four-game lead in the NL East.
And then the bottom seemed to again drop out. A loss on Friday, June 12 began a horrendous stretch in which the club dropped 11 of 13 games. Despite falling to just three games over .500 they remained atop the division, but barely. With just a half-game lead, they once again turned things around.
From June 27 to the MLB All-Star Game break the Phillies went 11-4, hitting the break with their lead back up to four games. They didn’t let up when play resumed, winning their first five. It kicked off a 10-2 run that pushed their record overall to 58-40 and stretched their division lead out to seven games.

Though the team would drop eight of the next 11 contests, Lee had arrived to inject some life – not to mention a stopper to the rotation. He got the win in two of the three victories during that rough stretch.
The rest of the way, those 2009 Phillies were never seriously challenged within the division. Charlie Manuel‘s squad clinched a third straight NL East crown with a 10-3 romp over the Houston Astros at Citizens Bank Park on September 30 and then coasted through the final four games.
In the NLDS the Phillies faced a real challenge from the Colorado Rockies but fought them off in four tough games. Then for a second straight season, the club overcame the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLCS in five games.
For the first time in history the Phillies returned to the World Series for a second consecutive year. That is exactly what the Eagles will be trying to accomplish. It’s a tough road. There were ups and downs along the way. But the Phillies had the best team in the NL, and they proved it over the course of the long season and two tough playoff series.
The 2018 Philadelphia Eagles look very similar. The Birds are again one of the strongest teams in football, but there will be challenges along the way. They will take some hard shots. They might even go into a losing stretch of games.
But given health from most of the key players, there is no reason that in the end their talent cannot take them back for a shot at a repeat. The Phillies had that shot and came up just short.
In that 2009 World Series the Phillies ran into a talented and experienced New York Yankees squad. They even handed the Yanks a 6-1 thrashing in the opener at Yankee Stadium.
But New York got a gutsy performance from A.J. Burnett in Game Two to even the series, then out-slugged the Phillies to take two of three at Citizens Bank Park. Up by three games to two, the Yankees put the series away with a convincing 7-3 victory in Game Six back in the Bronx.
Thinking back on it, that World Series defeat was disheartening. The Phillies were no longer the world champions. But they were still a strong ball club. They would get a couple more serious shots at another ring. Though they came up short, it was a magnificent run.
This is what looms ahead for these Philadelphia Eagles. They are the champions, but there are other talented teams out there. The Eagles look right now to be the best team in the NFC East. Get into the playoffs, have Carson Wentz and most of the supporting cast healthy, and anything can happen.
The 2009 Philadelphia Phillies showed that repeating as a champion is not an easy task, even for a supremely talented team. But just because those Phillies came up short doesn’t mean this Eagles team will. It’s about fighting through a long season and earning a shot in the playoffs.
That’s all these Birds and the fans should be looking at right now. The game in front of them. The season ahead of them. Get that playoff spot and take a shot in January at the repeat. Fly Eagles, fly!

Phillies try to hold off two tough rivals as August unfolds

2018 Phillies hope to hang another flag in South Philly
A glance at the calendar reveals this to be the first weekend of August. That means we have now entered the normally steaming hot ‘dog days’ of summer.
Down in South Philly at Citizens Bank Park, the Philadelphia Phillies are taking on the division rival Miami Marlins in a four-game series. During this particular weekend, the Phillies are glancing back at their past.
The annual Alumni Weekend began with last night’s tribute to Shane Victorino. Tonight will feature the induction of two key figures in recent Phillies history to the franchise Wall of Fame. The general manager of the 2008 World Series champions, Hall of Famer Pat Gillick, will be honored. Also enshrined will be the late, great Roy Halladay.
On Sunday it will be the first full-blown reunion of that 2008 World Series championship team. Gillick and Victorino will be back for that 10th anniversary celebration along with two more Wall of Famers in Pat Burrell and manager Charlie Manuel. Numerous other players from that team will be present as well, including Brett MyersRyan HowardJimmy RollinsCarlos RuizJayson Werth, and many more.
For the first time in six years, honoring the past will not be the only source of excitement for Phillies fans. After a frustratingly long rebuilding program, the present-day Phillies are once again contenders.
The 2018 Phillies team enters tonight’s contest in first place in the National League East Division. Their 61-48 record comes out to a .560 winning percentage. The second place Atlanta Braves are 59-47, a half-game behind the Phillies with a .557 winning percentage.
But as you can see from the records of the two teams, the Braves actually have fewer losses than the Phillies. They have played three fewer games to this point in the schedule. Those games will be made up over the next three weeks as Atlanta will get little rest during the month.
Vince Velasquez pitched the Phillies past the Marlins on Friday night. As quoted by Todd Zolecki of MLB.com, Velasquez is enjoying this weekend’s celebrations of the team’s championship past, as well as the fan reactions.

“The whole excitement and hype going around the stadium generates the momentum that we thrive to have. It drove me to come out on top today and pitch a little better. My whole mentality was to attack hitters. But the fact that we saw fans get on their feet the way they do is a solid inspiration of what we’ll be having the next couple weeks, few months. It’s something I can’t wait for it to happen.”




The Braves will enjoy an off-day on Monday. But that will be followed by a Tuesday doubleheader at Washington as the Phillies two closest current division rivals square off in a huge four-game series. This begins a stretch of 22 games over 20 days before finally, on August 27, the Braves will get their next scheduled day off.
The Nationals have won four of the last six NL East crowns and are currently in third place. Due largely to injuries, the Nats have underachieved for much of the season.
While it has been a frustrating season in our nation’s capital, the Nationals have showed some signs of late that they may finally be getting healthy. With victories in six of their last eight games, they appeared to finally be pulling it together.

The Cincinnati Reds slowed the Nationals down a bit with a 7-1 thumping in this afternoon’s first game of a split-doubleheader. Those two will meet again on Saturday night in Washington and then once more on Sunday afternoon before the Braves arrive in D.C. on Tuesday.
Those Braves have been on the warpath of late. Their 2-1 victory at Citi Field on Friday night against the hapless New York Mets gave Atlanta five wins in a row. The Braves have made up two games on their deficit to the Phillies during this current winning streak.
After this weekend’s games and festivities are over, the Phillies will head west on a six-game road trip to Arizona and San Diego. While their rivals duel one another next week, the Phillies do battle with the Dbacks, currently tied for first place in the NL West Division.
So, to recap, entering Saturday night, Atlanta is a half-game back. They are a game better in the all-important loss column, and on a winning streak. The Nationals are a full six games back, appear to be getting healthy, and will try to make a move when they go head-to-head with the Braves in four games at home next week.
A look down the road shows that the Phillies still have nine contests remaining with Washington. Those all come during a three-week stretch beginning August 21. Six of the games will be at Citizens Bank Park.
Meanwhile, the Phillies and Braves don’t meet again until September 20. But then they will face-off seven times over their final 11 games.
It all begins with a four-game series at Sun Trust Park in Atlanta. Then the regular season is due to end with a three-game showdown between the two clubs at Citizens Bank Park from September 28-30.
There is a lot of baseball still to play between now and those late September games. The calendar doesn’t officially turn to Fall until that series in Atlanta ends on September 23.
With a pair of talented division rivals apparently not willing to let up, the Phillies performance during these “dog days” of summer in the month of August will go a long way towards determining just how important those final games become.

2008 Phillies first World Series reunion will take place without Chase Utley

Chase will be back for future 2008 reunions
Just a little more than a week from now the Philadelphia Phillies will return from a six-game road trip to Cincinnati and Boston. 
When they get back, the club has a big party weekend planned for the organization and its fans.
During a four-game long weekend series with the Miami Marlins from Thursday, August 2 through Sunday, August 5 the Phillies will hold their annual “Alumni Weekend“, paying homage to a number of heroes from the franchise’ past.
Those honors begin with the Friday night game during which the Phillies will fete former all-star Shane Victorino, who recently announced his formal retirement from Major League Baseball.
“The Flyin’ Hawaiian” spent eight of his dozen big league seasons in a Phillies uniform, including as the starting center fielder for the 2008 World Series champions. Victorino produced 998 hits, won three Gold Gloves, and was a two-time all-star during his time with the Phillies.
On Saturday night, the Phillies will induct two men to their Wall of Fame. The general manager of those 2008 world champions, Pat Gillick, will be inducted that night along with the late Roy Halladay.
The weekend concludes on Sunday with a 10th anniversary reunion of the memorable 2008 World Series championship Phillies team.
Returning for that day’s festivities will be a pair of Wall of Famers in manager Charlie Manuel and outfielder Pat Burrell. Also expected to return are players such as Jimmy RollinsRyan HowardJayson WerthBrett MyersBrad Lidge, and more.
One vitally important piece of that title-winning team who won’t be present is Chase Utley. He is now playing out his 16th and final season with the Los Angeles Dodgers, who will be hosting the current world champion Houston Astros that weekend.
I am disappointed I am not going to be able to be here with all the guys,” said Utley per Evan Macy of The Philly Voice. “I’ve seen a handful of guys more recently and more guys I haven’t seen since that year. I look forward to sitting down and talking to them and seeing what they’re doing with their life.
Utley, who is in town this week with the Dodgers for his final regular season visit to Citizens Bank Park, still keeps in close contact with Rollins, Werth, Howard, and others from his time with the Phillies according to Macy.
This will only be the first of what are sure to be numerous reunions of that unforgettable 2008 World Series championship team over the coming decade. At some point within these next few years there will be ceremonies honoring at least a handful more of those players as they are each added to that Wall of Fame.
One of those ceremonies will surely be for Utley himself, who over parts of thirteen years left an indelible mark on the team and in the hearts of its fans. 
Those fans will show up in droves to heap some more love on “The Man” on that night and will continue to visit his Wall of Fame plaque for decades to come.
Originally published at Phillies Nation as “Chase Utley disappointed he won’t be at 2008 Phillies reunion

And then there were four

Jayson Werth raises 2008 World Series trophy

On Wednesday night, October 29, 2008 at Citizens Bank Park, the Philadelphia Phillies and Tampa Bay Rays took to the field to resume Game Five of the World Series.

The Phillies had fought their way to a 3-1 lead in the Fall Classic, and needed just one more victory to secure only the second world championship in franchise history.

Game Five had originally begun two nights earlier, on Monday, October 27. However, rain began to fall early on that night, and grew to torrential proportions by the middle innings.

After the Rays tied the game up at 2-2 in the top of the 6th inning, Major League Baseball finally stepped in, and the game was suspended.

After two days of rains, the two clubs finally re-took the field in South Philadelphia. Geoff Jenkins got the home crowd stoked immediately, bombing a double to center field off of Rays reliever Grant Balfour. Jimmy Rollins then bunted him over to third base.

With the go-ahead run just 90 feet away from home plate, Jayson Werth stepped into the box. On a 2-2 pitch, the Phillies right fielder looped a base hit into center field, scoring Jenkins to put the Phils back on top 3-2.

The two clubs would trade runs in the final frames, and the Phillies would memorably mob closer Brad Lidge on the mound after the final out.

Just yesterday, while playing in the minor leagues of the Washington Nationals organization, Werth revealed that he was retiring from professional baseball.

This brings to the end a career that saw him appear with the Toronto Blue Jays (2002-03), Los Angeles Dodgers (2004-05), Phillies (2007-10) and the Nationals (2011-17) over parts of 15 seasons.

During his four seasons with the Phillies, Werth produced a strong .282/.380/.506 slash line. He slammed 95 homers, drove in 300 runs, scored 320 times, and stole 60 bases.

Compare those numbers to those produced by Jim Thome in his four seasons here in Philadelphia, and you will find that Werth is certainly worthy of consideration to be enshrined on the Phillies Wall of Fame at some point in the future.

However, he is going to have to wait a bit. Most of those 2008 World Series champions are now gone from the game. A number of them are going to be honored before Werth can be considered.

Left fielder Pat Burrell is already on the Wall of Fame. ‘Pat the Bat’ played his final season with the San Francisco Giants in 2011.

Third baseman Pedro Feliz last appeared in the big leagues with the Saint Louis Cardinals in 2010. He bounced around the minors, winter leagues, and independent leagues for a couple of years, and has not played at all since 2014.

The center fielder, Shane Victorino, won another World Series with the Boston Red Sox in 2013. ‘The Flyin’ Hawaiian’ last played for the Los Angeles Dodgers back in 2015.

It was a mid-season 2016 career finale with the Chicago White Sox for Jimmy Rollins. The heart and soul of the Phillies for a decade and a half and the franchise’ all-time Hits leader, ‘JRoll’ could make an intriguing candidate for the Baseball Hall of Fame one day.

Ryan Howard never wore another uniform in a regular season MLB game other than that of the Philadelphia Phillies, finishing up his career here with the 2016 season.

He tried a comeback last year with both the Atlanta Braves and Colorado Rockies, but ‘The Big Piece’ couldn’t get out of either minor league system. While not officially retired, he is not getting back to the big leagues.

Carlos Ruiz was with the Phillies into the 2016 season, during which he was dealt to the Los Angeles Dodgers. ‘Chooch’ played in 53 games last year with the Seattle Mariners, but at age 39 has been unable to catch (pun intended) on with any club here in the 2018 campaign. His career also appears to be over.

The key bench players, Jenkins, Chris Coste, Eric Bruntlett, Matt Stairs, and Greg Dobbs are all long gone from the playing field. Dobbs was the last, playing with the Nationals and Miami Marlins during the 2014 campaign.

On the mound, the ‘Ancient Mariner’, local hero Jamie Moyer, finally aged out of the game after hanging around into his age 49 season with the Colorado Rockies in 2012.

Brett Myers had a few successful years with the Houston Astros. His career ended after four appearances with the Cleveland Indians in the 2014 season. He has now transitioned into a country music recording career.

A home run hero in that World Series, Joe Blanton was able to transition into a successful reliever for a few teams, including a pivotal role with an LA Dodgers team that reached the NLCS in 2016. He finished up with the Nats a year ago, and is now into wine production in northern California.

Two men pitched at the back end of the Phillies rotation that season, Kyle Kendrick and Adam Eaton. Kendrick got back to the bigs last year with the Boston Red Sox, but has not been able to catch on anywhere this year. He appears done at just age 33. Eaton last pitched in the 2009 season with the Colorado Rockies.

Lidge stayed with the Phillies through the 2011 season, then had one more year with the Nationals in 2012. Chad Durbin and J.C. Ramirez of the ‘Bridge to Lidge’ bullpen finished up in 2013 and 2012 respectively. Durbin wrapped his career with 16 final ineffective innings with the Phillies.

Clay Condrey and Scott Eyre were two more key members of that bullpen. Each retired following the 2009 return to the World Series with the Phillies.

So if you are wondering if anyone is left, the answer would be that there are now just four active players in Major League Baseball who played with those 2008 World Series champion Phillies.

Cole Hamels is still with the Texas Rangers after being dealt for a big package of prospects in late July 2015. He is actually now once again considered a trade candidate, and at age 34 could even return to the Phillies.

A 25-year old at the time, J.A. Happ appeared in just eight games with those 2008 Phillies, making just four starts. He was dealt to the Houston Astros in 2010 as part of the Roy Oswalt trade, and has had a solid big league career. Happ is another valuable trade candidate now at age 35 with the Toronto Blue Jays.

The best story of this dwindling group belongs to relief pitcher Ryan Madson. Now 37 years old, Madson was passed over by the Phillies when he became a free agent following the 2011 season.

Madson signed with the Cincinnati Reds for $6 million. He would never pitch in Cincinnati, suffering a torn ligament in his right elbow during spring training of 2012. Missing the entire season and most of 2013, he was unable to get back to the big leagues. When no one signed him for 2014, Madson retired.

But that was not the end of his story. After three seasons away from MLB due to that elbow injury, Madson decided to give it one more try. He was signed by the Kansas City Royals, and incredibly made the team. Not only that, he became one of the most effective relievers in baseball once again, helping the Royals to win the World Series in 2015.

Madson has continued his late-career renaissance, earning himself $20 million worth of contracts over the last three seasons. He continues to pitch out of the Washington Nationals bullpen, and Phillies fans will likely get a chance to see him this weekend.

That leaves one man to cover, and he is ‘The Man’, Chase Utley. Now aged 39, the gray-haired Utley is still plugging away with the Los Angeles Dodgers out in his native California.

Long past the all-star days when he was the game’s top second baseman, Chase provides a veteran presence off the bench in his fourth season for a Dodgers team that hopes to contend.

Jayson Werth is retiring, and then there were four. Chase Utley, Cole Hamels, J.A. Happ, Ryan Madson. Who knows, we might even get to see one of them back in a Phillies uniform before they finally decide to hang it up for good. It won’t be long. Another two or three years, perhaps, and they will all be gone from the game for good.

But for Phillies fans, they will never be forgotten, and they will be feted at numerous reunions in the future. In fact, the first of those will officially take place on August 5 of this season. That night, the Phillies will honor the 10th anniversary with a formal reunion on Alumni weekend.

The odds just became greater that Werth will be able to join the others already scheduled to attend. But since it’s a Sunday, and all the MLB teams will be scheduled to play, you won’t see the other four. There own reunion is coming, certainly by the 20th anniversary in 2028.

Brett Myers: Backwoods Rebel

Brett Myers has released a 5-song country music EP
Fans of the Philadelphia Phillies remember Brett Myers as a key starting pitcher during the 2000’s, especially with the 2008 World Series champions, or as the closer for the 2007 NL East champions.
But most fans of the team have likely lost contact with the sometimes controversial righthander since he signed as a free agent with the Houston Astros following the 2009 season. 
Well, Brett Myers has resurfaced in recent days in a somewhat surprising role: country singer. Myers has released his debut EP “Backwoods Rebel“, a nickname which also happens to be a part of his Twitter handle @BackWoodRebel39.
In the 5-song set, Myers sings mostly about a pair of country classic topics: drinking and women. 
EVERY WEEKEND RAISIN’ HELL, OUT HERE CHASIN’ TAIL” ~ CHASING TAIL” LYRICS
I Need a Drink“, “Black Creek“, “Chasing Tail“, “Beer Hand Strong“, and his first single “Kegerator” pretty much sum up the selections in their titles alone.
While the topics are simplistic and foster the good ol’ boy stereotype, fact is that this is not a bad initial effort. If a recording career in the country genre is something that the now 34-year old ex-hurler is hoping to pursue, he may have something.
A native of Jacksonville, Florida, Myers has long fostered a countrified image. During the 2008 season, he and fellow rotation mate Joe Blanton were frequently spotted in the clubhouse wearing red “Redneck Wrecking Crew” t-shirts.
Brett Myers
For folks who already are fond of making fun of country music and it’s lifestyle, you’ll probably hear terms like “hillbilly“, “yokel“, and that same “redneck” tossed around in disparaging tones.
There may even be “wife beater” references to the ugly incident back in August of 2006 when Myers, a former boxer, allegedly beat his wife Kim on the streets of Boston while the Phils were there on a road trip.
Myers and his wife, who bailed him out and stood by him following that Boston incident, appear to have put the ugly past behind them, and continue to raise two young children together.
Brett and Kim Myers celebrated winning a World Series together. They have enjoyed a pro baseball lifestyle that earned him almost $60 million in total salary over 11 seasons. Whether they can survive his attempts at a music career remains to be seen.