Posts Tagged ‘Ryan Howard’

Hump Day Report: Phillies Optimism Tempered

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

Hump Day LogoRants and raves about burning topics that have caught my attention midweek, be it greedy corporate shenanigans, frustration or joy in regards to the Philly sports teams, a movie, show or DVD that has fired up my imagination, an intriguing personality, or what’s happening in the region. — Lori Hoffman, Associate Editor, Atlantic City Weekly.

February is a magical month for devoted baseball fans as spring training begins and daydreams about World Series victories begin in earnest. Last year my daydreams seemed pretty darn concrete since my beloved Philadelphia Phillies had re-obtained the services of Cliff Lee, making the Phils the team with the four aces.

However, despite a second straight year in which the Phillies posted the most regular season wins in the Majors (102), the team again failed to make it to the World Series.

Ever since the Phillies unexpectedly won it all in 2008, expectations have increased and the results have gotten worse every year. First we made it to the World Series and lost to the Yankees in 2009, followed by a National League Championship series loss to the Giants in 2010 and last year, a division series loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. That all these teams ended up being the World Series Champions did not lessen the sting.

Ryan Howard

Ryan Howard

And while I understand that being a Mets’ fan would be much more painful, my expectations have been tempered this season by the reality that the best team does not always win that final game in October. It is the hottest team and the Cardinals were that team last year. My Phillies were the hottest team in 2008, not the best team. Even the most devoted Phillies fans will admit we were lucky to be facing Tampa Bay that year rather than Boston.

But lets get back to this year. The Phillies are still the team earning the most pre-season acclaim. The current Vegas odds have the Phillies leading the pack via SportBet Sportsbook:

Philadelphia Phillies 4.85 to 1
Detroit Tigers 5 to 1
New York Yankees 5.75 to 1
Los Angeles Angels 6.50 to 1
Boston Red Sox 8.50 to 1
Texas Rangers 9.50 to 1

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Hump Day Report: Phillies Stretch Run

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

Hump Day LogoRants and raves about burning topics that have caught my attention midweek, be it greedy corporate shenanigans, frustration or joy in regards to the Philly sports teams, a movie, show or DVD that has fired up my imagination, an intriguing personality, or what’s happening in the region. — Lori Hoffman, Associate Editor, Atlantic City Weekly.

The Phillies are hot and are at home for their longest stretch of the season, with two more games against the Giants, three games against Washington and four games against Houston. Add in the return of Chase Utley, and the expected return of Ryan Howard later this week, and the Fightins should be in first place soon — at least on paper. Problem is, the games aren’t played on paper.

Roy Oswalt (Photos by: Tom Briglia / PhotoGraphics Photography)

Roy Oswalt (Photos by: Tom Briglia / PhotoGraphics Photography)

During what looks like a soft stretch for the Phils, excluding the two games with the Giants, Atlanta is not exactly facing murder’s row themselves. They have two more games at home against Washington (where they are 43-16, the best home record in the majors), followed by a road trip against the fading Cubs and three against Colorado, ten games back in the west.

Both the Phillies and the Braves have great starting pitching and have done well despite major injuries (Chipper Jones is lost for the season). The Braves have the better bullpen but the Phillies have a much better offense.

When the Phillies still had their best players on the field, they had a horrible stretch beginning in late May. The entire team went in a slump that could really not be explained. Three shutout losses to the Mets was the nadir of that stretch.

In the same way, the Phillies going 19-5 while Utley was out, Placido Polanco was just getting back and both Shane Victorino and Howard landed on the DL cannot be explained either.

Sure, Raul Ibanez and Jayson Werth got hot, Carlos Ruiz delivered key hits, GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. got Roy Oswalt, and the back end of the bullpen started pitching like it was 2008 again, but Jimmy Rollins was still popping up on the first pitch and the middle relief was no relief at all.

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Road Warriors

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009
Ryan Howard had a key hit last night.

Ryan Howard had a key hit last night.

The Phillies ability to win on the road and not at home is one of those wacky baseball statistics that a roomful of shrinks couldn’t figure out no matter how many sessions they had with J-Roll, Chase and the big fella. After hearing Ryan Howard complain that he is tired of hearing about it (losing at home), let me tell you Ryan, the fans are tired of watching it. Stop losing and you’ll stop hearing about it.
Seeing the Phils go out and pummel Tampa Bay, their World Series foes last year, 10-1 last night on the road, got me to thinking. Phillies fans have got to go out to the home games and make the players feel like they are on the road. Let’s boo J-Roll like he is in New York and wear Mets jerseys. Let’s do the Atlanta Braves tomahawk chop when the opposing team is mounting a rally. Let’s groan when Brad Lidge comes out to nail down a win (assuming the team can get to the ninth inning with a lead). Let’s boo when our pitchers throw to first to hold a runner on.
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