Changing of the Guard in Philadelphia: Charlie Manuel Out

It was announced today that Charlie Manuel is out as the manager of the Phillies.

It was announced today that Charlie Manuel is out as the manager of the Phillies.

Charlie Manuel is out as the manager of the Philadelphia Phillies. Manuel managed almost nine seasons in Philadelphia and set a franchise record for wins. He coached the team to five consecutive division titles and two World Series appearances with one win.

Manuel and General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr are characterizing this as an understanding from both sides.

Regardless of the circumstances, Manuel will never again wear his #41 Phillies jersey at Citizen’s Bank Park.

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Phillies Ink Chase Utley to a Two-Year Extension

Chase Utley is batting .277 this season for the Phillies.

Chase Utley is batting .277 this season for the Phillies.

When the July trade deadline rolled around for Major League Baseball, Chase Utley was one of the many names people expected the Phillies to dangle. Those speculations did not come to fruition as General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. characterized Utley as a “Phillie for life.”

CSNPhilly first reported that the two sides had agreed to a contract extension last night during the Phillies lost to the Cubs. Utley did not start in that game. Reportedly the two sides agreed upon a two year extension worth around $27 million with at least one option.

The move shows the organization’s commitment to Utley, but it undoubtedly comes with some risks.

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Papelbon ‘Didn’t Come Here for This’

Could Jonathan Papelbon's second season in Philadelphia be his last?

Could Jonathan Papelbon’s second season in Philadelphia be his last?

On Sunday before the Phillies 12-4 loss to the Detroit Tigers, closer Jonathan Papelbon sat down Todd Zolecki of MLB.com. Papelbon is undeniably one of Philadelphia’s more outspoken athletes and despite his short time with the team, he does not seem shy about making his opinions known.

Papelbon told Zolecki that he “definitely didn’t come here for this,” in response to the team’s recent play.

The comments come as the team is in the midst of an  8-game losing streak that may signal the end of the team’s postseason hopes for 2013.

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Hold or Fold for the Phillies?

Can Ruben Amaro Jr. swing a deal to get the Phillies in contention?

Can Ruben Amaro Jr. swing a deal to get the Phillies in contention?

It is just under three weeks until the MLB non-waiver trade deadline and rumors are swirling all around the Phillies’ clubhouse. With the team currently sitting at 45-47, it is hard to definitively peg them as buyers or sellers at this point.

Should a team that appears to have a quickly closing window blow things up now, or try to search for the missing piece(s) that could give them one more run at a World Series title?

That question will soon be answered because it is safe to say that after July 31, this Phillies roster should look somewhat different.

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Weekend Wrap-Up: 6/21-6/23

Cole Hamels has fallen to 2-11 on the season.

Cole Hamels has fallen to 2-11 on the season.

The Phillies had yet another dismal weekend going 1-2 against the lowly New York Mets. The situation for the Phils is looking more and more dire as the team approaches July. One Eagles star took his talents to the diamond to raise money for a very worthy cause. The future of the Flyers’ top netminder is still in question as the team has yet to make his fate known. A potentially historical trade is up for league approval and could change the outlook of the Atlantic Division or the 76ers.

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Weekend Wrap-Up: 6/14-6/16

Justin Rose won his first US Open at +1 at Merion Golf Club.

Justin Rose won his first US Open at +1 at Merion Golf Club.

The US Open at Merion proved to be quite the test for a number of the world’s premier golfers but one player certainly ‘Rose’ to the occasion. The Phillies squandered an opportunity to pick up some ground against a weak opponent but once again came up short. DeSean Jackson spent Father’s Day unveiling a documentary that highlights his rise to the NFL and his relationship with his father. Several reports are speculating that the Flyers may be close to buying out goalie Ilya Bryzgalov. The Sixers worked out a crop of prospects on Saturday that included local Big Five star, Khalif Wyatt.

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Weekend Wrap-Up: 6/7-6/9

NBA TV will debut "The Doctor" tonight at 9pm.

NBA TV will debut “The Doctor” tonight at 9pm.

The Phillies returned to their losing ways over the weekend as they followed up a solid five game winning streak with a three game skid. The Eagles have wrapped up OTA’s and minicamp and will reconvene in late July for Training Camp. In the meantime, the team has unveiled some new renovation plans for Lincoln Financial Field that carry quite a hefty price tag. All signs are pointing to the 2013-2014 season being the final year for Flyer’s defenseman Kimmo Timonen. Two names have surfaced in connection to the Sixers head coaching search. Also, an all-time Sixers legend will be the subject of a brand new NBA TV documentary to debut this evening.

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Weekend Wrap-Up: 5/31-6/2

Domonic Brown recorded three homeruns and six hits over the weekend against the Brewers.

Domonic Brown recorded three homeruns and six hits over the weekend against the Brewers.

The Phillies went 1-2 over the weekend as they took on the Brewers. Domonic Brown continued his stellar play and his hot month landed him some more hardware. The Eagles wrapped up OTA’s on Friday and there is still no leader in the quarterback competition. However, the Eagles may have given a bit of a clue on Friday. The Sixers are still without a head coach but a former 76er may be available to speak with. The Flyers added two new prospects to the fold, including a coveted winger.

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Debate of the “Face”: Why Jimmy Rollins is the “PHace” of the Phillies

J-Roll is clearly the "PHace" of this team.

So I got caught up in a debate with my good friend and fellow BLS writer Mark Whited (all the result of a facebook post). We were discussing Jimmy Rollins tweet about the fans not being loud enough in Game 2. I was pro J-roll and he was con. He argued that Chase Utley is the “face” of the Phils while I argued that it was Jimmy. He posted his argument on BLS, and here is mine. Check them out, and let us know who wins.

It was 2001. This Phillies franchise that we all know and love today was mired in a state of mediocre baseball. Winning was an oddity. Fans were nowhere to be found. Mentioning winning and the Phillies in the same sentence was like mentioning Andy Reid and smart coaching in the same sentence today…pointless. The only good thing about that time was the Phillies found their “PHACE”.

Enter James Calvin Rollins. 2001 was the shortstops rookie season. He was called up to the big club known for his stellar defense and his hot bat. He did not dissapoint. In 2001, he finished third in rookie of the year voting while swiping a league leading 46 bases. And by the way, he was an All Star. The only Phillie to make it.

Rollins followed up in 2002 by making a second consecutive All Star team as the starting shortstop. In 2004, Rollins recorded his third career quadruple double. For you non baseball statisticians, thats double digits in homers, doubles, triples, and stolen bags.

He followed up in the next season with another quadruple double and a 36 game hitting streak. In 2006 he set the team record for homeruns by a SS with 25.

I can sit here and pad my debate with stats (I’ll probably get back to that later), but let’s talk about why J-Roll is the “PHace” of the Phillies.

“The Mets had a chance to win the World Series last year. Last year is over. I think we are the team to beat in the NL East, finally.” -Jimmy Rollins, 2007

There were hints for a few seasons that the Phils were getting close. But this was different. Someone stepped up and said it. Jimmy Rollins’ statement did not come off as cocky. Oh no, it was confidence. And on that day four years ago, the mentality of the Phillies changed. They were reborn. Since he made that statement, they have undeniably been not only the team to beat in the NL East, but in all of Major League Baseball.

Anyone can make a prediction right? I can sit here and predict that the Eagles will never win a Super Bowl under Andy Reid. Just because you say it, doesn’t mean it will happen. (Although, that probably will).

Anyway, Rollins backed up his prediction by leading the Phillies to the 2007 NL East championship while also winning the NL MVP Award. That’s leadership. And the five consecutive crowns that have followed have been because Rollins is the face of this team. Plug another SS in his spot. Reyes, Ramirez, Jeter, doesn’t matter. None of them would connect with this team like him.

Sure, he’s had his battles with the fans, but the fans love that. The fans want that fiery connection. What relationship doesn’t have bumps in the road? If it exists I sure haven’t found it yet. Ummm, sorry, I’m getting a little off topic here. Let’s get back. He calls the fans out when he sees that they need it. We may get angered when he does it but who doesn’t get upset when they get called out. I know I do.

The major reason that Rollins is the face of this franchise is simple. He takes the criticism and the spotlight and a “PHace” has to do that. For everything that Utley brings on the field, he does not connect with the fans…good or bad. Rollins is visible and that means hearing the good when the Phils succeed and the bad when they don’t. Rollins may come across as attention grabbing but that’s because he is on a team with players like Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Chase Utley who do not like attention. Rollins is doing them a service. Part of being the “PHace” of the best team in baseball is taking attention off your teammates to let them perform. I love Utley’s game but there is a reason why he received a demotion in the lineup. His scrappy play is hurting him…bad.

Haha, “PHaces” of franchises have commercials like this…classic.

Last but not least. I want to thank Mark for coming up with the idea for this debate. I think I speak for both of us when I say one of the joys of doing what we do is debating sports with people who REALLY know what they’re talking about.

Debate of the “Face”: Why Chase Utley is the “Face” of the Phillies

Career Stats: .290 AVG, 188 HR, 694 RBI

Yesterday, while watching the Phillies beat the Cardinals, a debate started between myself and fellow BLS writer Ray Boyd. We were arguing our case for who we thought was the “face” of the Philadelphia Phillies. Ray believes that Jimmy Rollins is the face of the franchise, and Ray makes a good case for Rollins. But, that is for tomorrow. Today, I will be making my case for Chase Utley; the “face” of the Philadelphia Phillies.

Chase Utley, the 15th overall pick in the 2000 amature draft, made his Major League debut on April 3, 2003. He didn’t have a hit that day, striking out as a pitch-hitter. His first hit, however, was a big one; a grandslam. By 2005, at age 26, Utley was the Phillies starting second baseman.

Since Utley became a part of the everyday line-up, the Phillies have won five NL East titles, two NL Championships, and one World Series. As for his personal accolades, he is a five-time All-Star. But, why does this make him the “face” of the franchise?

First off, I have to give my definition of what it means to hold this title. In my opinion, the player has to have been a part of the team for at least 5 years. The player also has to be instrimental in the teams sucess. Also included in my definition, the player has to be feared by the rest of the league; resented by the rival team’s fans. This is not for the reason you hate the player. You just wish that player were a part of your team because of what he brings, and the fact that he is part of the other team makes you cringe in fear. Players like Albert Pujols, Ryan Braun, David Wright, and Miguel Cabrera bring about that effect; players like Chase Utley.

Yes Mac, he is a power-hitting second baseman and for the NL, that is rare.

A commonality between all of the players listed above is that they hit for average and power, Utley included. Though, the past 2 years, Utley hasn’t been the same hitter. He has, however, been the same player. He will still take a pitch to the body, dive for a grounder, bolt down to first after hitting a routine-grounder; the definition of a true baseball player. As I write this article, Chase Utley just knocked-in a run, stretching what would have been a double for anyone else into a triple. If I had to give an example of his style of play, well, there you go.

His style of play has made him a leader. Since his addition to the line-up, the Phillies have played a different style of baseball; winning baseball. He has had many clutch hits, as well as many clutch plays. Coined “the Man” by Harry Kalas, Utley has been just that for 9 years and counting.