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Charlie Manuel Wants Fans to Toughen Up on the Phillies

It’s like some sort of Twilight Zone in Philly. Philly fans have carved out a reputation as some of the least-forgiving in the country, being notoriously known for booing Santa Claus. But with the Phillies pulling in a World Series title last year, the fans have much less about which they should be bitter. Much less. And apparently that is becoming a problem for manager Charlie Manuel who’s unhappy with the team’s 9-14 home record:

“I notice sometimes if fans are near our dugout and talking to our players, they always want to talk about last year, and that’s good; I want them to keep coming to the games,” Manuel said. “But I want the fans to start telling them they want to win this year, too. Of course they love us and everything, but maybe they should get on them a little bit.”

This reminds me all too much of the Rachel Phelps line from Major League: “Maybe the problem is we’re coddling these guys too much, yeah.” It’s like Manuel’s living in some sort of alternate universe here dealing with Philly fans actually being happy. Now I’m not sure if it’s the fans who are responsible for the effect, but the Phils could just be falling victim to the trend of complacency that inflicts championship teams; it’s really hard to repeat as champions because players don’t always work as hard the following year once they’ve reached the top. You could point to the team’s excellent road record to negate that argument, which I guess would come back to Manuel’s comments. Who knows, maybe there is something to what he’s saying.

(via Sports by Brooks)

How Long Before Ryan Howard Leaves Philly?

The big news of the day in the world of baseball — outside of the surprise that Jonathan Papelbon didn’t take the Red Sox to arbitration — was Ryan Howard’s submitted salary for the arbitration process. Howard has asked for an $18 million salary for the upcoming season while the club has offered 14 mil. He’ll receive one or the other, not something in between. Last year Howard won his arbitration hearing with the club, receiving $10 million rather than seven. That was his first year of arbitration eligibility given his status as a super-two player (most major leaguers need three years of service to be eligible for arbitration, Howard had played two and a half). My point is that Ryan Howard has already experienced the ugly side of the game once and will now have to sit through another round of his team arguing against him.

Players are humans too and there’s only so much criticism and negative sentament one can take. After his second year of arbitration with the club, particularly one after winning a World Series, he probably won’t have much love left for the organization and its front office. Imagine if Howard loses his arbitration case and is reminded how crappy his defense is and how many strikeouts he amassed? What will he think? Sitting behind Jim Thome in the minors all those years, Howard will be 29 this season and in his early 30s when he’s eligible to become a free agent and bolt town. He’s already seen the team extend Cole Hamels in order to avoid arbitration and no doubt can’t be happy about that. Now that he’s won the World Series, if the guy loses arbitration, I could imagine him asking for a trade. Keep your eyes on this case, because I don’t see Ryan Howard sticking with the Phillies any longer than he has to, the 2012 season being the earliest.

Video: Chase Utley Drops F-Bomb in Victory Parade Speech

For anyone who heard Chase Utley drop an f-bomb on the baseball fans that booed him in the All-Star game at Yankee Stadium, the speech he delivered Friday in Philadelphia would not be surprising. For those who did miss that window into his personality, the following video is probably pretty astounding. This is All-Star second baseman and World Series champion Chase Utley addressing thousands of Phillies fans in person, and several more thousand on live TV. Warning: the language by Utley and the fans is strong.

OK, a few things. I’m not sure who has the balls (stupidity?) to say something like that in front of all the kids at the stadium, not to mention all those watching on TV. Secondly, judging by the way Jayson Werth jumped up behind him, it seemed as if Utley had won a bet with his teammates by saying the F-word. Lastly, is there anything more emblematic of Utley and Philly fans than those three words? I think not. The fans sure ate it up!

Vegas Getting its Wish: Phillies Won

One of the really interesting aspects of the World Series comes from the Wise Guy angle. With several futures tickets outstanding for daring soles who bravely bet money on the Rays to win the World Series at 200-1 before the season started, there’s no secret who Las Vegas and other online casinos want to win the Fall Classic: the Phillies. They opened the line with the Rays as the favorites even though the teams seem to be pretty evenly matched, so that they could try to spark betting interest on the Phils to help them hedge. What kind of impact could it have on sports books in Vegas if the Rays win?

“It’s a significant number for a futures book, but it’s nothing that’s going to shut down the book or anything,” Kornegay told The Associated Press. “It might dim the lights.”

“We have learned our lesson that we don’t open these teams at 500-1 until the season starts and we realize what they have and what kind of team they have,” Kornegay said. “This year, I’m going to guess it’s probably in the millions range if you accumulate all the liability across the state.”

They must be breathing quite a sigh of relief after seeing the Phils take a Game 1 lead. Could you just imagine a room of FOX execs and sports book managers huddled together hoping for the Rays to lose in the ALDS or the ALCS so they don’t lose too much money? Could there be any other team in there that people would be more unhappy to see? At least they’re getting their way so far. Wonder if the wise guys can somehow create a few artificial rainouts to get Hamels an extra start or two — they wouldn’t even have to sweat in that case.

Phillies Shilling for the Environment

You may have noticed the Philadelphia Phillies wearing green caps on Wednesday (which at least was better than Rick Pitino wearing his white suit). No, it was not some belated St. Patrick’s Day celebration. And I’d like to say that it wasn’t some ploy to market new gear to the fans, but I’d probably be wrong. I am certain however, that is was a nod to the Phillies becoming the first MLB team to join the EPA’s Green Power Partnership program. As part of the program, the Phillies have purchased 20 million hours of reusable energy or something like that. They are revamping their recycling program within the stadium, reusing everything from frying oil to fluorescent lamps. And good luck trying to bring some ketchup packets to your seat for those fries and the dog — they’re switching over to more eco-friendly dispensers instead.

That’s cool and all if this becomes the new trend in MLB considering how much energy is used up to power those ballparks. Maybe the Phillies can look into whether or not they can start recycling players, you know? Perhaps they can get back Adam Eaton pre-surgery, and maybe like Scott Rolen, too. OK, I’ll stop making fun because I want the world to be as nice of a place for the future generations as it is for me. And while we’re on the subject of improving Citizens Bank Ballpark, how about moving those fences back a few feet? I love Chase Utley and all, but come on, how many 338 feet pop ups do I have to see turn into home runs for Pat Burrell and Ryan Howard? If you can find away to reuse 20 million hours of energy, you can certainly afford to move back the fences a few feet, right?

(photo courtesy AP/H. Rumph Jr.)

When Tarps Take on Minds of Their Own, Phillies Assist

I saw the highlights of this yesterday, but luckily for us, FanIQ has video of the entire thing. I’ve truly never seen anything like this. Absolutely nuts. Just hang tight for about a minute, and brace yourself. You’ll see the tarp start to make motions like it’s a freaking tidal wave. Crazy. Adam Eaton said one guy flew like 10 feet in the air. No joke. So what did the Phillies do of course? They stepped in to help out. Check it:

The Phillies Are a Sad Story

First manager Charlie Manuel challenges radio talk show host Howard Eskin to a fight, then Brett Myers gets moved to the bullpen, and now it appears as if last year’s NL MVP, Ryan Howard, might be hurt.

Let me put aside the obvious problems with Manuel losing his emotional cool and getting outraged at a radio talk show host. The team decided that they could get better use from their best starter of the past few years, even if he’s an alleged wife beater, out of the bullpen, where he won’t even be the closer as long as Tom Gordon’s healthy. Right, because 65 innings out of your top pitcher is much more valuable to the club then 200 innings. I see.

Now, forget about the fact that Ryan Howard has been in a slump since Spring Training. We all know that Ryan Howard is capable of blasting 58 home runs in a season, all the while carrying a club to the playoff doorstep. So when news comes out that he’ll need an MRI, it doesn’t bode well for the club. And check out the comments from Shane Victorino following Wednesday night’s loss to the Nationals (5-10 Nationals!)

“Everything is bitter around here … Sometimes you’d rather just walk out there and lose by 15 and walk off the field in the ninth. It’s so frustrating. We’re one hit away, we’re one pitch away. It seems like we’re one thing away from doing what we need to do, and it’s just not falling into place.”

Everything is bitter around here — such is the sports world in Philly — so I’m told. Look, the Phillies aren’t 3-10 bad. They really aren’t that bad in general. But they’re certainly not a playoff team, especially with Myers in the bullpen, and Ryan Howard on the DL. Still, one last time, how can you move your best starter to the bullpen and expect to get better? What kind of sense does that make?

(thanks to The 700 Level for the pic)

UPDATE: Must see DC Sports Bog for more Manuel madness.