Posts Tagged ‘Phillies’

El Pescadito Returns to Pennsylvania

February 28, 2011

Last week, the Philadelphia Union signed 31 year-old Guatemalan international forward Carlos Ruiz, a.k.a. “El Pescadito” (“the little fish” in Spanish), throwing a confusing curveball to Philadelphia sports fans. My guess is we’ll be hearing the nickname more around here, since the Phillies already have a Central American player named Carlos Ruiz on their roster (he’s their catcher, hails from Panama, and is nicknamed “Chooch,” which I’m guessing we’ll be hearing a lot more around here now as well).

The Philadelphia Union logo.While the Guatemalan, soccer-playing Ruiz has competed all over the world and is well known in his homeland as the country’s all-time leading goal scorer in international competition and is well known among Major League Soccer fans in this country from his days with the L.A. Galaxy and FC Dallas, what people might not know is that he’s played in Pennsylvania before — in central Pa., particularly.

Way back in 2000, when he was a promising 20 year-old playing professionally for Municipal in Guatemala and a member of the country’s U-23 national team, the North American qualifying tournament for the Summer Olympics was held, bizarrely, in Hershey, Pennsylvania, of all places.

Unlike the World Cup, the Olympics are contested by countries’ U-23 teams, rather than the full national teams. I was actually lucky enough to have met Ruiz back then, as each of the colleges and universities near Hershey basically adopted one of the national teams and hosted all of their training sessions. I was in charge of athletic communications for the school that got Guatemala, and I got to work with them quite a bit in coordinating local media coverage.

HersheyPark Stadium

The scene of the 2000 Olympic qualifiers.

That wasn’t an easy task, as the head coach was a little more than slightly paranoid about anyone from the other teams turning on the local TV news and seeing anything that might potentially give away the tiniest detail about their training sessions and game strategies. For the first day or two, they were more like the Brigadoon national team, as they would mysteriously vanish when cameras approached, and then magically reappear when they retreated. Eventually, we got things sorted out.

On the whole, though, it was a great experience, especially since at the time I was still in my first year out of college and was the same age as nearly all of the players on the team. Carlos Ruiz certainly stood out back then, but I never would have guessed that in another two years he would jump from Municipal to the Los Angeles Galaxy and end up as the MLS Most Valuable Player his first year in the league, nor would I have guessed at the time that he would eventually become Guatemala’s all-time leading scorer in international competition.

His signing now is definitely a good pickup for the Union. After an offseason largely spent finding ways to plug up the obvious defensive holes from their inaugural season, bringing in Ruiz fills another big need, which is taking some opposing defensive pressure off Sebastien Le Toux and Danny Mwanga. Even if he isn’t quite at the same level as a goal scorer he was when he played for L.A., he’ll be a helpful presence in relieving pressure. Also, having Le Toux take corner kicks, which seemed kind of strange for much of last year when he was the team’s only reliable scorer, would make more sense now with Ruiz on the field at the same time and Mwanga with a year of pro experience under his belt.

Besides, I’m of the opinion that he still has quite a few productive years left. While he struggled to score in the first half of the 2010-11 Greek Super League season for Aris Thessaloniki, somebody doesn’t score three goals in a handful of Europa League games over that same span by being washed up. Context is certainly going to be key for Ruiz’s scoring opportunities, and potentially having Le Toux and Mwanga on the field at the same time will definitely create opportunities for him.


Philly Sports Fans Behaving Badly

April 28, 2010

I’m not sure how on Earth I missed this one from nearly two weeks ago, but here’s an incident at a Philadelphia Phillies game that’s bad even by our standards:

Cops: Man Purposely Vomited on Girl at Phils Game

Apparently an off-duty cop from Easton, Pa. took his kid to a Phillies game. He said this: “When I say disgusting, there was not only insults and vulgarities directed at us, but also beer was thrown at us . . .  I actually heard the individual behind me say, ‘I’m gonna get sick’, then I couldn’t believe what I saw. He actually had his fingers down his mouth and into his throat to make himself vomit. He vomited and lurched forward and it was hitting my daughter.”

On behalf of Pennsylvanians everywhere, I’d like to take this moment to point out that the alleged perpetrator was from Cherry Hill, New Jersey. New Jersey is, as we all know, now most famous for being the home of exemplary individuals like “Snooki” and “The Situation” and, perhaps soon, this guy.

And it wasn’t even ten-cent beer night in Cleveland.

Jim Bunning: Now Worse than Michael Vick in Philly Sports History

February 28, 2010

It’s time to revisit the unique nexus of baseball, politics, senility and weirdness that is Kentucky Senator Jim Bunning. Over the last several days, an old post on this site from way back in 2008 called, “Whither Jim Bunning?” suddenly started getting a bunch of hits — far too many for it to be a coincidental spike.

A closer look revealed that the most common search term bringing people here was, “Jim Bunning asshole.”

“Oh, jeez,” I thought, “What the heck did he do now?”

It didn’t take long to figure out that he did this. Yes, Jim Bunning is the reason that 1.2 million laid-off Americans will lose their unemployment benefits. He single-handedly filibustered an unemployment extension. The Republican caucus, to its credit, had nothing to do with it and didn’t go along with his filibuster.

Bunning clearly suffered greatly for his efforts, having complained at one point during his filibuster of having to miss a basketball game.

I never thought it possible for someone to rank below Michael Vick and Pete Rose on the Philadelphia sports history All-Jackass Team, but “Senator” Bunning has done it. Throwing a perfect game for the Phillies does not make you any less of a worthless excuse for a human being, sir.

And that, folks, is the unique nexus of baseball, politics, senility, weirdness, and douchebaggery that is Kentucky Senator Jim Bunning.

It’s the End of the World as We Know It

October 23, 2009

I’m still trying to wrap my mind around this without my head exploding as a result.

Back-to-Back NL Champions. The universe has lost its marbles.

Back-to-Back NL Champions. The universe has lost its marbles.

The Philadelphia Phillies won the National League title a grand total of five times in 125 seasons from 1883 to 2007. In fact, they only did it twice in 97 seasons from 1883 to 1979. They have lost more games than any other professional sports team in American history. Rooting for the Phillies, I grew up accustomed to long stretches of futility occasionally punctuated one randomly good year and quickly followed by more futility.

The other night, they won the National League title for the second year in a row, making the Phillies only the eighth team to win back-to-back NL pennants since the beginning of the 20th century. I keep having to pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming, and then I have to push against my ears to keep my brain from oozing out of my head if I think about it.

“That Ball Is Outta Here!”

April 13, 2009

I know I haven’t updated this in a long time. I swear I will get better at doing that again. In the meantime, there’s some sad news out of Washington, D.C.

I just flipped on the TV in a rare moment when both kids were sleeping simultaneously to find a moment of silence for baseball broadcasting legend Harry Kalas going on in Washington prior to the start of the Nationals-Phillies game this afternoon. I was surprised, because I just watched yesterday’s Phillies 7-5 road win over Colorado, and he was calling that game yesterday.

Checking the news, it appears Kalas was found passed out in the broadcast booth in D.C. at around 12:30 today and was just prononced dead at 1:20 p.m. The game is going on as scheduled.

I don’t know what else to say apart from always believing that if a baseball could talk, it would sound like Harry Kalas.

Holy S#$&!!!!!!

October 30, 2008
We are the champions! We are the champions! No time for losers, cause we are the champions, of the world! (Not counting Japan)

"We are the champions! We are the champions! No time for losers, 'cause we are the champions, of the world!" ("World" apparently does not include Japan.)

For those of you who believe in sports curses, the curse of the City Hall William Penn statue is now clearly broken.

The Phillies have won the World Series!!!! I’m still having a hard time believing it’s true. For those of you keeping track, this is the team’s second championship in 126 years of playing and its first in 28 years. It is also the city of Philadelphia’s first title in any major sport since 1983 (totaling 100 seasons spread between baseball, basketball, American football, and ice hockey). It was the longest title drought of any city with teams in MLB, the NBA, the NFL and the NHL, and now it’s gone.

But the best part of all? The fact that the Phillies fans at Citizens Bank Park still had the presence of mind, despite delirious happiness, to boo MLB commissioner Bud Selig when he was awarding the championship trophy.

This was, after all, Philadelphia, where we are even willing to boo Santa Claus, and this was, after all, the man at the helm of baseball’s staggering ineptitude throughout the 1994-95 labor dispute, the tied All-Star game, the willful ignoring of the steroid problem until it became way too late, and a host of other bumbling miscues — including a terribly mishandled World Series Game 5 that took three days to play and should probably have never begun on Monday night.

If there was ever anyone who deserved that stereotypical Philly reception, it was Selig. A perceptive Boston Red Sox fan on the Major League Baseball message boards said it best early this morning:

I LOVED how they booed Selig . . .  In fact, I think all of baseball fandom owes the Phillies fans a hearty “Thank You!” for that resounding chorus of boos. Awesome. Just awesome!

The Hundredth Time’s A Charm

October 22, 2008
Team of Destiny?

Team of Destiny?

Thank you, author of ESPN’s bottom-screen crawling ticker, for pointing out that between Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League, and the National Football League, Philadelphia has gone exactly 100 seasons since its last championship in anything.

Mouldering Quote of the Day (World Series Edition)

October 20, 2008

“It’s like he’s the godfather, and we’re all a bunch of thugs.”

Larry Andersen, on 1993 Philadelphia Phillies teammate and metaphysical surrealist Darren Daulton

Tangentially related politics note: Who wants to bet we’ll be seeing more presidential campaign ads than we ever thought possible on TV throughout the duration of the Phillies/Rays World Series?

Boooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!! Dodgers.

October 9, 2008

In honor of the about to commence Philadelphia Phillies—Los Angeles Dodgers National League Championship Series, I would like to point out that Tommy Lasorda, Mr. Dodger himself, hates the Phillie Phanatic, the Phillies’ loveable mascot. All because the Phanatic ran him over in effigy with an ATV once. Or twice. Or a whole bunch of times.

Here’s the rub, though: Lasorda’s own players routinely gave the Phanatic replicas of Lasorda’s jersey so that he could be run over in effigy, because they thought it was funny. So quit whining, Lasorda. Frankly, we Philadelphia fans needed that kind of sideshow during games because the team stank so badly for so long. That, and it’s a little sad to have a personal vendetta against a silly mascot which which you share a place in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Elsewhere on the Internets, the Dodgers’ celebrity blogger laureate, Alyssa Milano, in looking ahead to the NLCS (and sort of looking past it to the World Series, too — always bad mojo in sports), seems to believe that although the Phillies look to her like potentially a stronger team on paper than L.A., “the stats don’t cover heart and chemistry.”

Oh, Milano. The Phillies have a lot of heart and chemistry, too. And while they may not have a lot of fancy-shmancy Hollywood celebrity fans, they do have legions of fans who boo everything loudly, occasionally turn violent, and consider Cheez Whiz a food group. So, the Phillies know they’d better have loads of heart and chemistry, because people might start chucking batteries at them à la J.D. Drew.

Personally, I’d rather have a buch of angrily passionate overweight guys on my side in a street fight than a bunch of scrawny Hollywood dilettantes who regularly fail to show up for games until about the third inning or so only to leave early to beat the traffic, but that’s neither here nor there.

In Sports News . . .

September 28, 2008
The Philadelphia Phillies Logo

The Losingest Baseball Team of All Time, Seriously.

Put on those platform shoes and shake your booty on the orange and avocado shag carpet to the sonorous strains of Disco Duck, because the Philadelphia Phillies have won the National League East Division title for the second year in a row!

The last time they managed to do that in back-to-back years was 1977-1978 — thirty years ago.

I was one year old then.

In 125 years, they’ve won a grand total of one World Series title, and that was in 1980.

I was three years old then.

Not that anybody’s keeping track and getting their heart ripped out and served to them a la Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom on an annual basis or anything.

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