Archive for January, 2009

Two Weeks to Go, Ruiz Update

Saturday, January 31st, 2009

It’s hard to fathom since we’ve had snow on the ground this week, but Phillies pitchers and catchers report to Clearwater in just two weeks, February 14th. If it seems like the World Series ended just a few minutes ago, think of it this way: the Phillies off-season this year, because of their October run, will be about 15.5 weeks. The NFL regular season runs 17 weeks.

Nonetheless, it’s exciting that the bats and cleats will be dusted off in just a couple of weeks.

Most of the spots on the Phillies roster are set, but keep an eye on a few former BlueClaws (JA Happ, Kyle Kendrick, Carlos Carrasco) as they battle with Chan-Ho Park for the fifth starter spot in the Phils rotation. Besides Ryan Howard’s upcoming arbitration case, it’s pretty quiet on the Phillies front; nobody has written any controversial books.

Also, former BlueClaws catcher Carlos Ruiz has changed his mind, and will play for Panama in the upcoming World Baseball Classic.

“The reason is that Carlos, as Spring Training was starting to approach, was really focused on bringing another championship to Philadelphia, and he felt like the best way to do that was to be with the Phillies [this spring],” said Ruiz’s agent Marc Kligman, who has already notified Phillies GM Ruben Amaro about his client’s choice. “But since he made his decision, he had subsequent meetings with officials from Panama, and he reconsidered his decision. He felt it was important to the citizens of Panama that he’s ready to play for them.”

Ruiz joins former BlueClaws Brad Harman, Joel Naughton, Drew Naylor (Australia), Carlos Carrasco (Venezuela) and Mike Spidale (Italy) on the provisional rosters for the upcoming WBC.

70 in 70: Number 68

Saturday, January 31st, 2009

Our countdown rolls on. Today we are 68 days away from Opening Day, so let’s play with the numbers. 6/8 and 8/6. June 8th and August 6th are the nights the ZOOperstars will be in town, as you can see here. Hilarious kids entertainers, the ZOOperstars model their characters off of famous athletes.

These include the likes of Shaquille O’Seal, Mackerel Jordan, Pee Wee Geese, Bobby Orrangutang, and more. Sit back and enjoy the ZOOperstars on America’s Got Talent, of all places.

By the way, I’m nominating Colligator Hamels and Rhinosaurus Howard.

So we’ll see you at the park for the ZOOperstars on 6/8 and 8/6. And we’ll be back here tomorrow with more 70 in 70.

70 in 70: Number 69

Friday, January 30th, 2009

Yesterday we introduced you to 70 in 70, our BlueClaws Blog countdown to Opening Day. 69 days to go, O-69, Baseball Bingo.

Senior Day TuesdayPlayed every Tuesday at FirstEnergy Park (10 games in 2009), our fans will play Baseball Bingo, basically regular bingo but instead of the Bingo-master pulling numbers out of a drum, the numbers correspond to the plays that occur during that day’s BlueClaws game. When you connect five spots in a row, yell Bingo and come up to get a prize. Simple. Fun. Free.

Don’t forget, seniors eat free every Tuesday, thanks to TD Bank. So it’s really a great night. Hope to see you out at the ballpark for Baseball Bingo. Tomorrow, #68, and it’s quite creative if I may say so myself. See you then.

Measuring Success

Friday, January 30th, 2009

Former Phillies OF, and Teaneck, NJ native, Doug Glanville has been writing guest op-ed columns for the New York Times lately, and he does a really nice job. He wrote one on the experience of Winter Baseball in Puerto Rico, and his latest column talks about various measures of success, both in baseball and in life (may need free registration to read column). Some snippets below…

  • “Even personal success is hard to define without input from the masses. Baseball has a love affair with numbers…But there are a few universally accepted measuring sticks that no one can escape. A World Series ring is one of them.”
  • “So what is success…Maybe you played drug free and left it to nature despite what some players were choosing to do. Or you could be like my minor-league teammate, Scott Weiss, who walked away from the game to explore the power of his Stanford economics degree because a promise of advance wasn’t kept. Or it could be someone like Amaury Telemaco, who grew up in the Dominican Republic without running water and a need to help take care of his siblings; he made it to the top as a pitcher and was one of the most honorable people I met in the game.”
  • “I will venture to say that gaining awards and accomplishments doesn’t always mean you will sleep well at night. The players with the most internal peace are those who know who they are and, as a result, have found personal success more accessible than the players who chase the illusions of the quantifiable.”

Introducing: 70 in 70

Thursday, January 29th, 2009

70 in 70Today, Janurary 29th, marks the 70th day before the season opener at FirstEnergy Park on April 9th. In honor of the 70 days until the first game and the 70 home games that will be played here at FirstEnergy Park, BlueClaws Blog will feature something new every day in the form of a 70-part Countdown to Opening Day. We’ll call it 70 in 70.

We’ve lined up something for each day leading up to the big opener, in addition to the great stories and features we put up here all the time. To kick things off, Number 70:

70 BlueClaws home games, so how about 70 great ways to use BlueClaws season tickets? They include…

  • 2. Take a loyal customer on their birthday
  • 26. Put a smile on the face of a stressed out employee
  • 43. Pack them in a product to promote sales
  • 59. Offer them to someone who has offered you helpful business advice
  • 69. Take someone you mentor out to a ballgame

There are plenty more. Throw in all the benefits, from value pricing to on-field batting practice to early entry into the ballpark, it’s quite the investment in fun. Click here for more information or give us a ring at 732-901-7000 and press option 3.

Tomorrow…70 in 70: #69. Can’t wait.

Q&A: Jason Donald (Part 3)

Thursday, January 29th, 2009

Here’s part three of our Q&A with 2007 BlueClaws shortstop Jason Donald. Click to find parts one and two.

Q: How valuable is being able to play multiple positions?

JD: The more valuable you are, the quicker your shot will come. I played shortstop my whole life but I understand that sometimes you need to switch. However I can get to the big leagues, I will do that, and explore every option. I’m fortunate enough now to play a few spots, and I’ll see where that takes me.

Q: Goals for 2009?

JD: I try to keep goals simple. I try not to really change who I am as a player. Obviously the goal is to get better. Consistency is the mani thing for me and keep a consistent approach. Just work to get better. I think it’s tough to put expectations to everything, like hit more home runs, or drive in mor eruns. If you have a good approach and foundation, the stuff will take care of itself.

Q: What did you like most about your time in Lakewood?

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Feature: Minor League Memories

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

A new feature here at BlueClaws Blog, every Monday and Wednesday, beginning today, we’ll be putting out a new blog series entitled Minor League Memories. We’ve gone around the office and surveyed staffers, and we want you to share your favorite memories here with us. Here is part one.

CelebrationAs we went around the office asking folks about their favorite BlueClaws memory, the runaway winner was September 15, 2006…the BlueClaws winning their first South Atlantic League title. 

Lakewood took a two-games-to-one lead over Augusta into game four at FirstEnergy Park, and they had one of their three aces, Matt Maloney, on the hill. The BlueClaws scored two runs in the first inning, and after Maloney still hadn’t allowed a run through three, Director of Marketing Mike Ryan made a promise. 

“I’m sitting in a stool up in the production room,” he recalled. “After the second inning, we had the lead. I vowed right there that I was not going to move until we gave up a run. I sat there the entire game.” 

Maloney pitched a shutout and the BlueClaws won 5-0 to clinch the SAL title.  But it was more than just one night. This built up over the last few months of the year; the BlueClaws went 47-23 in the second-half, and the fans caught on quickly.  “The promotion each night was basically this great team and this great pitching staff,” said BlueClaws Director of Promotions Hal Hansen. “It made our jobs much easier.” 

For several, including BlueClaws Director of Community Relations Jim DeAngelis, then in his ninth year of baseball, the SAL title was special for other reasons. “Until then I had never been with a winning team. To win a championship was very exciting.” 

“I was here when this was a pile of dirt with a sign that said ‘Future Home of Lakewood Professional Baseball,’” said Ryan, who has an original construction helmet behind his desk. 

“It made all the 14-hour days we work all summer totally worth it,” added Director of Group Sales Jim McNamara. “I slept underneath my desk that night.”  

Trophy presentation

 

 

 

 

January 27th Notes

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

Here are a few notes surrounding baseball and today’s date, January 27th.

Gavin Floyd2002 BlueClaws pitcher Gavin Floyd celebrates his 26th birthday today. Floyd, a 2001 first-round pick of the Phillies, went 11-10 with the 2002 BlueClaws, but had a 2.77 ERA. The lack of run support he received was never more clear than on July 14th, 2002, when Floyd threw a nine-inning no-hitter but the BlueClaws lost 1-0 to Lexington. Traded for Freddy Garcia in December, 2006, Floyd went 17-8 for the White Sox last year.

Mike Zagurski2006 BlueClaws pitcher Mike Zagurski also celebrates his 26th birthday today. Zagurski, a BlueClaw in 2006, moved from Hi-A Clearwater all the way to Philadelphia by Memorial Day in 2007, the fastest surge up the system for a former BlueClaw. He missed 2008 with an injury, and might not be ready for Opening Day. Read our Q&A with Zagurski from December.

Also, I thought this was interesting. This date in 1956, the New York Giants (football) moved their home games from the Polo Grounds to Yankee Stadium, which fueled speculation that the baseball Giants might be leaving. Of course, this speculation proved correct. Both the Giants and Dodgers played their last games in New York in 1957.

It’s BAAAACCCK!

Monday, January 26th, 2009

The World Series trophy, that is. Opening Day. April 9th. FirstEnergy Park. First pitch at 6:35 pm.

Be there. 

Click here for an interview done at the Winter Tour stop in Lakewood on January 13th with Craig Solomon, who serves as the keeper of the trophy.

Q&A: Jason Donald (Part 2)

Monday, January 26th, 2009

Former BlueClaws shortstop Jason Donald took a few minutes last week to talk with BlueClaws Blog about his 2008 season and his future with the organization. Part one of the interview can be found here.  

Q: How was the experience in the Arizona Fall League?

JD: It was tremendous. Our coaching staff was great. Ryne Sandberg was our hitting ugy. Getting to work with him on an everyday basis was great. I tried to pick his brain as much as I could, especially since I was trying to learn a few new positions. He went through kind of the same thing, learning to play some third and some second.

Q: What was your reaction to the Utley injury? Do you think you have a shot to make the Opening Day roster because of it?

JD: It is what it is. You can’t replace him, really. He’s one of the best players in the game. My thought is I have no control over what the Phillies want to do. The only thing I can control is how I prepare myself for the upcoming season, so really it never crossed my mind and never changed the way I prepared myself. The only thing I can control is how I prepare.

Q: What it’s like to have your name thrown around in trade talks?

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Funny Stuff

Sunday, January 25th, 2009

Just back from the New Jersey Sports Writers Association annual banquet, and I wanted to pass along a few of the funny remarks from the honorees.

Bronze: This goes to Mets 3B, and Norfok, VA native David Wright…”I was texting with my father all morning, and he said ‘I don’t care about you’re award, but you better not come back home without Joe Theismann’s autograph.”

Silver: Joe Theismann himself takes the silver. “Going into the 1970 season, the Notre Dame sports information director calls me into the office and says ‘Joe, how do you pronounce your last name?’ I said (Thees-man). He said ‘I think it’s Theismann.’ So I called my father. I said ‘Dad, how do you pronounce our family name?’ He said, ‘Son, you’re 22 years old and go to the University of Notre Dame. You don’t know how to pronounce our family name? It’s Theesman.’

Anyway, they changed the pronunciation that year to Theismann (rhymes with Heisman) as a promotional tool to get Theismann the prestigious award. As it turned out, Theismann finished second that year to Stanford’s Jim Plunkett. So five years later, Theismann is having dinner with his parents. And he says “Dad, how do we pronounce our family name?”

“Joey,” his father responded. “That’s easy. Theismann.” (rhymes with Heisman)

Gold: A no-brainer. Former New Jersey Governor Brendan Byrne, who had three gems.

  • “I remember Preparation A.”
  • “My social security number is in Roman numerals.”  
  • “Hi, I’m Brendan Byrne. I used to be an arena.”

Video of the Week

Saturday, January 24th, 2009

Help fight chair neglect.

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Q&A: Jason Donald (Part 1)

Saturday, January 24th, 2009

Jason Donald, BlueClaws shortstop in 2007, made a big rise up the prospect lists after a tremendous 2008 season. He hit .307 for Double-A Reading, while adding 14 home runs. He also shined in the Arizona Fall League, and when it was all said and done, Baseball America placed Donald 4th on their Phillies prospect list, after he was outside the top ten a year ago. Donald took a few minutes to talk with BlueClaws Blog last week. Here is part one of our interview.  

Question: You obviously took a big step forward in 2008. What was the thing you worked hardest on leading up to last season?

Jason Donald: I don’t think there was one specific thing. I try to work on all facets of my game. I’m never satisfied with what I do offensively or defensively or mentally. Each year the goal is to become more consistent and be a better player than you were the year before. The big thing is working on consistency on an everyday basis, having a solid approach and sticking with that gameplan.

Q: Were you pleased with your season?

JD: Yes. I was thrilled with some of the opportunities I got. It really was the best baseball year of my life. I got to experience so many neat things, like Yankee Stadium, the Olympics, everything. There wasn’t one thing that wasn’t special to me. It was such a fun year.

Q: What was the Olympic experience like?

JD: Well, it was an honor to even be considered. I felt lucky, but to go, it’s something I never expected my whole entire life. Even as a kid, going to the Olympics never crossed my mind. It was something special to me and meant a whole lot to me because so few people get the opportunity. You have to see the Olympics in person to really appreciate it.

Q: What stood out about the Olympics?

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Carlos Ruiz

Friday, January 23rd, 2009

First of all, Happy Belated Birthday to Carlos Ruiz, who turned 30 yesterday.

Other Ruiz news came out today…The 2001 BlueClaw and current Phillies catcher will not play for his native Panama in the World Baseball Classic. He’s passing up the opportunity, which he took advantage of in 2006, because he doesn’t want to miss any spring training.

Phillies pitchers and catchers report on February 14th.

To see a list of past BlueClaws that have been named to World Baseball Classic rosters, click here.