The Crack of the Bat

As the wind chill makes it feel like the 20s and below, it’s the glow of sunshine that reminds me of a sign of spring: pitchers Clearwater3and catchers report to Clearwater, Florida. The 2013 season rises anew with hopes of good health and lots of ‘Ws’ to cheer about.

Baseball is a fickle game; success comes down to the health of your best pitcher or slugger. Every team balances that hope against the odds. During the Phillies best year in decades, 2008, I went to spring training on vacation; my son got to be bat boy for a day; I got to announce the pre-game show and line up on Mother’s Day and then the amazing season that followed happened mainly because – nearly every key player was healthy. It was a dream come true. Boys and girls, including my Clearwater_20080325_47son,  grew up knowing the Phillies only as winners. It seems the struggles began after the last of the confetti was cleaned up from the World Series parade in 2008.

This year, the roster includes the key – but aging- players we’ve come to depend on: Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Carlos Ruiz. Already, we know Chooch is out for 25 games for the Adderall suspension. That leaves the team depending on Eric Kratz.

We know there are questions surrounding the health of Howard, Utley and Roy Halladay’s shoulder – not to mention Michael Stutes and his shoulder. While the warmth of Clearwater can be therapeutic, all that can be a waste when it comes to playing baseball in  Philadelphia in April.

Almost like a marriage, I am a Phillies fan in good times and bad. Just like a marriage, you enjoy the game more when things are going your way – but it’s a joy to see the boys of summer back in action. Spring is coming here in the cold north – but summer begins today in Clearwater. Go Phils!

So Little Time

Do you wonder every day where the time goes? You look forward to days off, vacations, family & friend events. You celebrate every occasion and holiday. You hug friends and family. But is it ever really enough? Do we ever really have enough time to appreciate our lives and what we have?

While I have not worked at KYW Newsradio since the end of 2000, I have remained friends with many of my former colleagues. We talk, have a lunch, share an email and from a distance, I have appreciated the people who I spent 15 years of my life with. In the past year, sadness has struck that newsroom in a profound way. I cannot imagine what it has been like to cover news on a day-to-day basis and experience behind the scenes what has been going on in that news family. Two former colleagues lost their spouses. One of those colleagues also lost her mother within a day of losing her husband; the other had recently lost his brother before his wife died. Another former colleague died of cancer. Then this week, two former Newsradio colleagues died in the same week. Karin Phillips at the age of 53 and last night, Jack O’Rourke at the age of 80.

The death of Jack has sealed in me a sadness that is one of those defining moments: I am getting older. Yes, Jack was 80, but he had no intention of retiring. He loved the Phillies. He covered them with a reporter’s enthusiasm. Jack did the stories straight, but you can’t cover a sport for as long as Jack has without loving the game. I was at a game in late June. Our seats in the Hall of Fame Club led us to walk just under the press box that night. I looked up at the box and saw Jack. I yelled to him. He popped right over to the open area and leaned down to grab my hand. We held hands for a bit while we talked about how we were doing. He was glad to see me with my husband. When Jack would ask, “How are you doing?” – he really wanted to know. Jack cared about people. There have always been stories from Jack about his children and grandchildren. He has great-grandchildren now. How they will miss their pop-pop.

Jack was a consummate professional. He hated it when people used foul language. Frankly, a news room can be a room filled with toilet mouths. Jack would toss a disapproving look toward people who used foul language. He was always a class act.

Last night in my section 134 seats at the ball park, a foul ball floated up toward the press box. My eye left the ball because I spotted Jack at his post. He was standing at that particular moment. I thought at the time how I admired him for loving his job – and the game – so much to be sticking with his job for so long.

I remember asking him that June night if he’d be working down at spring training one more season. He shrugged. I know he’ll be in that Field of Dreams – reporting on the balls and strikes; the wins and losses. We have lost a great soul – If that Field of Dreams in Iowa is heaven – I know Jack is there.

Field of Dreams

Adam enjoys opening day vs. Astros

There are little baseball lovers out there who know nothing of the pain and suffering of long-time Phillies fans. These 10 and under children see our boys of summer as champions. They have scratched and clawed; won a World Series and NL East titles. They’ve been going to the ballgames with their parents and grandparents only since Citizens Bank Park has been around. They never had the joy of climbing into  the 63,000-seat Veterans Stadium with maybe 20,000 fans echoing off the concrete that molded the stadium.

No, these young ones are so incredibly lucky. They sit in an outstanding ballpark with their families and friends. They cheer every player – the starting rotation; the “big guy;” Raaauuulll; Chooch; and now even the fill ins for Utley – Valdez and Martinez. The ballpark food is terrific (if

Opening day F-15 flyover using biodiesel fuel

still too expensive). There are healthy choices so you don’t leave the ballpark feeling as though you need to de-tox. (I enjoyed a tasty turkey burger on whole-grain bun with salsa & guacamole.)

Here’s the thing: While the Phils pulled out a 9th inning win in game one over Houston, then two decisive wins to sweep the opening series, we are going to have some tough days; NO doubt about it. Will we see the sports writers and sports-talk loudmouths go into their see- I-told-you-they’d-screw-up mode or will cooler heads prevail realizing that 162 games ebbs and flows; injuries happen, then heal; players are traded and managers sometimes mess up?

Stretching before the first pitch

For me, going to the ballpark is a vacation. This is my field of dreams – the place where  the day’s work and frustrations, the trials and tribulations of life, are set aside. I cheer the great plays; watch the scores from the other games underway; marvel in that new jumbotron; wonder HOW the umpire couldn’t call that slider a strike – then cheer a great call on a Jimmy Rollins steal to second.

It would be great to see more loyal fans than those fair-weather fans who seem to enjoy pouncing on the Phils when they’re down. It would be wonderful to get through a season without more injuries that are already sidelining Chase Utley, Brad Lidge and Domonic Brown. But oh, what we have to look forward to: 159 more games – yes, some losses, yes, some nail-biters, yes, some winning and losing streaks. But, stick with them; revel in the sport that starts on a snowy, cold day and ends in the cool of autumn. Whether you are watching from the comfort of your favorite chair, listening to the radio while you wash the car or are lucky enough to be sitting with 45,000 other fans, this is our game, our team our pride.

Go Phils!

The Crack of the Bat


The sound of the bat connecting with a home run ball is like no other. The POP is clear and definitive; the ball is saying, “You did the work, now I’m flying OUTTA HERE!” Ryan Howard connected for a two run blast to the opposite field during the exhibition game opening the 2010 season at Citizens Bank Park. The ball sailed high and long landing well into the crowd in section 144.

Up until that home run, we saw Placido Polanco (welcome back!) slam a double to center. Jimmy Rollins started the game with a double. Later, Kyle Kendrick (getting his chance to start during the season) slammed a double to left shocking Pittsburgh.  Oh my, it’s time for Phillies baseball. Our section buddies in 134, Janet, Roger, John, Betsy and a few others were all like kids at their very first game. Being back at the ballpark after such a rough winter with snow up to our ears, is so rejuvenating. My son and I cheered every hit, reveled in strikeouts, got mildly annoyed when Cole Hamels lost his mojo for a moment and gave up three runs on five hits. No matter – it’s a 162 game season – 81 games at home; I’ll be there for about 15 of them and watching or listening to most of the other games.

After the last two seasons, Phillies baseball has brought out the best in the sport when it comes to family and friends. Seeing dads and young sons sitting together with their gloves ready to catch that wayward foul and moms dressing their new babies in teeny-tiny Phillies outfits and watching the seniors who’ve been coming to games since before Veterans Stadium, 43,000 + people will gather for 81 games at the ballpark; we’ll win – we’ll lose. But just like that unmistakable sound that home run ball makes coming off the bat, people will revel in another Phillies season.

“Field of Dreams” –

Ray, people will come, Ray… They’ll find they have reserved seats somewhere along one of the baselines, where they sat when they were children and cheered their heroes. And they’ll watch the game, and it’ll be as if they’d dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick, they’ll have to brush them away from their faces..The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It’s been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good, and it could be again. Ohhhhhhhh, people will come, Ray. People will most definitely come.


You have to believe in networking. A long-planned meeting with the executive director of Sustainable Cherry Hill took place today at a local eatery. We got tons done in under 90 minutes. As we sat there at the table by the window, a woman who I’ve admired professionally for years walked by. She was coming in with her husband for some lunch. I approached the two of them and let her know I’d love to do work with her and her organization. She seemed enthusiastic about being in touch on that.

Just when you think no one is listening, I get a LinkedIn message from someone who I hoped to do business with. Film at 11.

I still have these ideas I need to formulate about connecting my business communications class and/or creating a new class.. to sustainable programs between Rutgers-Camden students and non-profits trying to make inroads in the city of Camden. More ideas forumlate each day. I’m starting to write them down.

Meantime, our Phillies ballpark seat buddies are connecting with us for dinner in Philly in February. It’ll be totally strange to see them in something other than a Phillies shirt, not to mention seeing them in winter.

OK, so this was a stream of conscience kind of writing day, but there’s lots to be done. Sleep is needed.

Good night.

View from Section 108 – WS Game 3

By a tremendous amount of skill, luck and strategy, the Phillies are in their second World Series in a row. This is an accomplishment for any true fan to be outrageously proud of. The Phillies have achieved this height, not from bragging or demeaning other ball clubs or players, but praising their work ethic; humbly saying they are just part of an incredible team and paying homage to the loyal fans.

Something terrible happened when the Yankees defeated the Angels to get to the World Series for the 40th time. I do believe the NY media started it: displaying a front-page, photo-shopped picture of Shane Victorino in a cheerleading outfit and calling the Phils, The Frillies. The snowball effect from that point on has been a combination of media frenzy and uncouth, uncool, ridiculously classless people becoming unglued at the prospect of two talented teams making it to the fall classic.

WSGame3_20091031_01The view from section 108 last night was utterly depressing. What should have been throngs of Phillies fans and a smattering of Yankees fans gathered in unbridled enthusiasm to see game three and cheer their guys, turned out for me, to be a horrendous and vulgar display of bullying, cursing and downright unfriendliness. Sure, you could say the heckling of the Yankees fans was all in good fun. But, don’t invite me to THAT party again. The dropping of the “F” bomb by Phillies fans around us made Chase Utley’s “F” bombs seem like a bedtime story. The loud, rude, disgusting taunting of the Yankees fans made me embarrassed to be from this area. Waving double-birds in the face of a Yankees fan does exactly…what???  I think the Yankee fan who was the victim of this display deserves a great amount of credit for sitting quietly in his seat and not lowering himself to the bird-waver’s level. Everything was made worse by an 80-minute rain delay which pumped the fans with more beer and loathing.

The bright spots of the game were fans (not the bird-waving, drunk, “f-bomb” dropping, lowlifes) WSGame3_20091031_04applauding and high-fiving members of the military who had participated in the huge flag display at the start of the game, as they headed up the steps of section 109. It was a nice and respectful show of support that my 15-year-old son appreciated. One other bright spot was Jason Werth acknowledging the cheers from the right-field area sections after his first round-tripper. The guy always shows class and appreciation in front of the fans.

WSGame3_20091031_09This is America’s game. The Boys of Summer make it to the fall classic. Two teams battle to get there every season. The best of fans are with their team until the bitter end. The purest of fans are with their team, win or lose. All season long, through the more than 17 regular season games I attended and the four post-season games, this one game sunk my heart when it comes to sticking up for Phillies fans who always seem to get a bad rap. At this game, I experienced why the fans are pounded on so much. This goes beyond disdain for the other team or individual players. It’s ugly, hateful and completely insane. Who EVER thought we’d be cheering Pedro Martinez in a Phillies uniform? For the love of the game, you cheer your team through awesome achievements and the depths of bitter losses.

If the Phillies get into a post-season face-off with a New York team again, I won’t be there. It brings out the worst in some people. I can enjoy the Phillies in the comfort of my home or perhaps at a neighborhood bar without the obnoxious big-mouths who call themselves fans. They’re just plain ugly.


Another year, another ball game

This time about a year ago, the Phillies were clinching the NL East Championship and heading to the playoffs. While we were ready to believe 2008 was the year, the tension at every game in the playoffs all the way to the World Series was intense. People were constantly asking, “Do you think they’re going to do it?” I never gave an answer. I felt the jinx would be on if we exuded too much confidence. It was indeed a beautiful thing to see the Phils knock out the Brewers then the Dodgers. But the rain that delayed game 3 until a 9:45 start because of constant rain was worse than the pain of a root canal.

We finally make our way into the park for WS Game 3, 2008

We finally make our way into the park for WS Game 3, 2008

There was no anticipation greater than game 5 which took three days to complete because of more rain. Then we reveled in the Halloween day victory parade bringing millions to the streets of center city Philadelphia and the victory celebration inside that gorgeous ballpark which was just so surreal. OK folks: BEEN THERE; DONE THAT.

Now, the sports fear in me is deep. I have not allowed myself (until now) to think about the post season. I received my tickets this past week. I noted the seat locations; marked my calendar and put them away. I have little doubt the Phils will be at least division champions. But this is a much different season. The mastery of skipper Charlie Manuel getting through the many pitching dilemmas and matching up middle relievers with possible set-up guys and closers has to have been part of the reason Charlie dropped major pounds this season. The Brad Lidge dilemma is trying. There is so much in a closer’s head, I can’t even fathom the psychiatry behind it. One day you’re a hero, the next day you’re a bum. While there’s no doubt the pitching staff has given us fans more gray hairs, we are still cheering. PhilliesJuly_20090722_09Even now, while I begin to look at baseball in October and be sure I have my calendar clear to go the games I have tickets for or watch on television, I am afraid. Mostly I’m afraid that if the Phils don’t repeat, the criticism by those fly-by-night fans who only cheer for the Phils when they’re winning, will think they knew best. I always fear for the players who will not return. I never like change, but to see players go off to another team or worse yet released, pains me. I’m a loyal Phillies fan. I will cheer until the final out this season, whenever that happens. Let’s give them some of that Phanatic karma and know that every season, these guys under Charlie Manuel, have been playing their hearts out most days and that is why we believe in the 2008 champions.

Red Goes Green and Phillies fare

There’s nothing better than rooting for the Phillies. For many that’s true when the Fightins’ are winning. For others, including myself, I’ll be cheering whether they’re world champions as they are right now or when they hit a slump. The 2009 season at Citizens Bank Park (CBP) is already underway in my mind. On this damp, dreary, late March day, I ventured to the ballpark to experience the club’s offerings off the field for the new (and champion) season.

This will be the Phillies first full season for the Red Goes Green initiative. The Phillies rolled out the first public efforts to reduce the team and stadium’s carbon footprint last May. This season, fans can more actively take part in the efforts. Around the ballpark concourses are 35 three-stream collectors with an 80-gallon capacity. Global Spectrum General Manager Bram Reynolds says once fans understood the rectangular containers were NOT ad panels for Waste Management, containers that ask for bottles, cans, cardboard and other litter started filling up quickly during games. Staffers work to empty the collectors for more recycling “donations.” Reynolds says when you factor in the post-game cleanup by staff plus what was deposited during a game, depending on attendance from 1 1/2 to 2 tons of cans, bottles and plastic are recycled. Three tons of cardboard is collected and compacted from the average game-day crowd. Factor in the other litter, an average game generates 12 tons of trash. Fans could also find themselves being followed around by “Phil the Can,” and his pal George Colli or one of the other Phanstormers. The Phillies red pinstriped waste can reminds fans to deposit their waste and not leave it behind.
The Phillies are also stepping up a volunteer idea that began last season: giving groups of between 30 and 100 a chance to help the Red Goes Green effort while catching some of the game at the same time. Now, you don’t get a seat at the game. You do get free parking and a meal ticket. Your group fans out, (children under 16 have to be chaperoned by an adult) and you walk up and down the section steps and around the concourses during the game through the 7th inning collecting recyclable plastic and aluminum. Your volunteer group is recognized during the pre-game events. There’s more information on the Phillies site and you can ask for information by emailing
CBP food and merchandise concessionaire Aramark is taking a few more steps to offer more recyclable paper and plastic goods. Director of Concessions at the ballpark, David Lippman says all food containers are bio-degradable or compostable including every plastic cup dispensed at the park. Fry-oil is recycled. He stresses there is no Styrofoam used at the park. Lippman said his wife gave him grief about Styrofoam, so he is likely happy at home and at work.
Those condiment packets that seemed to be stuck to the ground everywhere at the ballpark are long gone. They disappeared last season in place of the condiment dispensers. While the onion dispenser tends to get clogged up and some people are perfect slobs when it comes to tending to the messes they make, the dispensers are a much better alternative than those foil packets.
In the CBP shops, there are 100% organic items for sale including the World Champion Phillies shopping bag and a “onesie” for the tiniest of Phillies fans. Phils spokeswoman Leigh Tobin is a big fan of the organic items, though her baby is probably too big now for the “onesie.”

The Phillies continue to work behind the scenes with their partners in the recycling effort. Everything from office paper to printer cartridges, light ballasts and batteries are deposited in the offices for recycling. “Green” cleaning products are used throughout the park. The club has also committed to purchasing 100% renewable energy this year.
Beyond Red Goes Green efforts, Aramark has tweaked the food offerings with a few more vegetarian and vegan items. Campo’s is now the chicken and steak purveyor at the park and also serving up a tasty vegan “steak” with spicy peppers. Yes, it DID taste like chicken, but extremely flavorful, served in a fresh roll. Planet Hoagie is again serving its vegetable hoagie and is offering chicken and tuna salad hoagies on a healthy wheat roll. The new Alley Grill is featuring selections from Harry the K’s restaurant as well as a southwestern veggie burger. Bull’s BBQ, with former Phillie great Greg Luzinski hosting, is also serving now a “kid’s” platter with a chicken slider, gooey mac and cheese and apple sauce.

While food prices at the ballpark can be a budget-buster in these tight economic times, the Phils allow you to bring in food. While you might want to “brown-bag-it” for your game-day main course, buying and sharing a snack as your treat will save you a bundle. Or, you could enjoy a slice of Seasons pizza from Neighborhood Pizza and take in peanuts you bought at the grocery store.

While the Phillies capitalize on the 2008 World Series victory, it remains to be seen whether the recession will affect the ballpark. The place may be “greener” with the recycling efforts, but it remains to be seen whether the million-plus fans at the park spend any more “green” while they cheer the Fightin Phils.