Tagged: Ryan Howard

Bucs own Phils on a Halladay Weekend


halladay.jpgI owe that pun to my good friend Eric. Not only was it a Holiday weekend with the 4th of July celebrations heating up all weekend but the Philies were in town.

Now it was a four game series, a series in which I attended two games, but Roy Halladay did not even pitch. Still funny nonetheless, thanks Eric for the blog title.

I helped PNC Park open the series on Thursday with some of my favorite guys; Eric, my brother Zach and my dad.

zachericmatt.jpgWe had just amazing seats located just two rows back from the field.

We got there right as the gates opened in hopes of autographs and balls thrown from batting practice.

ryansigns.jpgRyan Howard was one of the players signing before the game. Actually just one of two players who we saw signing. The other was pitcher Jose Contreras. Howard was only out for about 30 seconds so neither of us had the chance to get something signed.

This would come back to haunt Howard as he struck out twice, much thanks to Eric, Zach and my chants of “Quiznos, Quiznos, Quiznos” in reference to his sponsorship deal with Subway. To tell you the truth I enjoy Subway more than Quiznos anyway.

The rest of warmups were fun as the players were animated with their stretches.

raulibanez.jpgRaul Ibanez tied his shoes with the Pirate Parrot. The Parrot would also steal the batting gloves and balls from the Philies as they were warming up. I don’t think theres a question that he is the best mascot in all of baseball.

Philies fans easily outnumbered Pirate fans in the crowd of 27,000. A very nice crowd in Pittsburgh especially on a Thursday so I do have to extend a thanks you to the Philies fans who helped pack the yard.

kruk.jpgExcept this chick in the John Kruk jersey. Now I’m all fro Krukky, I am a big fan, love his personality and he is from West Virginia believe it or not, but she was one annoying brat. Everything out of her mouth was delusional and downright stupid. I don’t want to say typical Philly fan but ehhhh. Compliments on the jersey girl!

The Pirates held on to a 3-2 victory.

The Bucs won on Friday, 2-0, thanks to masterful pitching from Ross Ohlendorf.


I made my PNC Park debut of my Pedro Alvarez t-shirt on Saturday. It brought about much fanfare as Alvarez belted his first major league home run. It was an opposite field blast over the right field wall. Ryan Church would also add a homer but it wasn’t nearly enough as the Philies rolled the Pirates 12-4. The worst part was being serenaded with “Let’s Go Philies” leaving the ballpark. Citizens Bank Park West was what it was like.

However the greatest feeling in the world is being at a baseball game, enjoying a beer and hotdog (in my case a big helping of Quaker Steak and Lube wings) and fireworks.





Thumbnail image for fireworks.jpgThere is no place in this great country better for fireworks than Pittsburgh, Pa. Put to a grand score of American tunes the post-game firework show was awe-inspiring leaving the sellout crowd breathless.

This weekend brought over 120,000 people to the North Shore. It was much like a playoff atmosphere and the best feeling I have had at a game all season, aside from opening day. It seemed that the whole crowd hinged on every pitch as players and fans alike treated the games as a budding rivalry for state bragging rights.

I only hope I can feel this some October in the near future.



Predictions from Pittsburgh

Well technically I am not in Pittsburgh but rather in Morgantown, West Virginia. I’ve had many arguments with buddies because I say that Morgantown is a suburb of Pittsburgh. Considering it is an hour away and the citizens here are big Pittsburgh professional sports team fans. But in my eyes the Pittsburgh metropolitan area is encompassed by Morgantown. Actually come to think of it, Youngstown, OH, my summer home too is a Pittsburgh suburb. The tri-city area which I call my home is considered “Pittsburgh” in my eyes.

You see how close the states are? Plus Pittsburgh is the heart of it all. From Morgantown to Youngstown it is only a two hour drive. Pittsburgh is the halfway meeting point between the two cities and a great meeting point at that.

Now back to what really matters here, the NLCS and ALCS.

Tonight it gets going. LA vs Philly. 

Here at WVU there are many students from Eastern, PA, big Phillies fans at that. The Fever is catching and turning Morgantown into the City of Brotherly Cheesesteaks. It really upsets me. I don’t like seeing the other MLB team in Pennsylvania getting all the pub. Not that the Pirates deserve any, it just gets under my skin that my team has never been here in quite some time. Nothing would please me more than to see the Dodgers pick apart the Phillies.


He is 21 years old, a few months older than me but yet he is being called upon to notch a victory for the Dodgers. People are saying that Clayton Kershaw may be too young to make theimpact the Dodgers expect. I disagree. Kershaw has been lights out all season and his age is not a factor. 21 year olds are tough people and in the prime of their lives. Experience will not play a factor becuase talent will ultimately prevail.




The Philies have a high potent offense lead by Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez. I said before that experience really shouldn’t be a factor but these Philies have been here before and will be hungry for a repeat.

They are equally matched on the opposing side with the Dodgers.

Matt Kemp, James Loney and Andre Either make up the best lineup in my opinion. Supporting actors Rafeal Furcal, Casey Blake and Manny Ramirez add to the balanced aggressive attack.

These two teams are rather carbon copies of each other and it will be great to watch.

I give the nod to the Dodgers in six games. With decent pitching on either sides of the squads the offense will be the key. I see LA breaking out and scoring more runs.

The ALCS tells the same story.

a-rod.jpgEveryone in New York is smiling along with you Alex. He is breaking out here in the playoffs and showing power when it needs to be there. He along with Tex, Jet and Godzilla may actually see their way to the trophy for the first time in quite some time. The Evil Empire has been in a drought and this year they have shown that the wait has paid off. The team is better this year with an improved pitching staff. The threesome of C.C. A.J. and Andy-the Yankees have a full team, something we haven’t seen since the days of Boomer Wells and Bern baby Bern Williams.






toriihunter.jpgTorii Hunter says don’t count me out yet.

Hunter wants this playoff series more than anybody. He is a vocal leader and his passion for the game is unmatched. The entire Anaheim club wants to win in honor of #34, Nick Adenhart. The team ahs come together since the very beginning to honor their fallen rookie. Nothing will prove more fitting than an Angels World Series. They manhandles the Red Sox and are ready for the Yanks.

This series too is evenly matched. It’ll be tight all the way and I’d say at least two games will go to extra innings. In seven games the Yankees will be propelled back into the limelight to face the Dodgers in the World Series.

In Aaron Boone type fashion I can see a walkoff in game 7 by a New York player.



This postseason looks to shape up to be one that will forever go down in history. There are familiar faces and new stars to be made. What will 2009 bring to the baseball world? We’ll have to wait and see.



My Home Run Derby Predictions

Probably my second favorite day of the baseball season happens today, the Home Run Derby. I’ve always loved the contest from I was a young boy. I remember the ’97 derby at Jacobs Field, the ’98 derby at Coors Field and the ’99 derby at Fenway. Thsoe were the glory days for baseball in my lifetime. I loved seeing a young Griffey drive the ball deep and the B-list players entering the contest. Players such as John Jaha, Brady Anderson and Jeromy Burnitz. They are just afterthoughts in today’s minds but I welcomed them with open arms back in the day.

More recently I’ve followed the derby closely and embraced a new era of players. In 2005 I was overjoyed when Jason Bay was selected to be a derby participant.


jay bay.jpgYou can see from the grimace of on his face that he was pretty dissapointed. Bay did not hit a single ball over the fence at Detroit’s Comerica Park. He was booed off the field, but remained in good spirits. This was back when Jason was coming off his Rookie of the Year campaign.  He was fresh on the scene and a young face. It is amazing how far he has come. WIth all the talks on his multi year and multi million dollar contracts forthcoming, I’m proud to say I was there form the start. When he was booed at the derby in 2005 I was still proud. Seeing one of my guys with the gold P, in the national spotlight. It was touching.

While seeing a single player in the spotlight is cool it was even better to see the city of Pittsburgh and PNC Park living in the limelight. In 2006 the All Star festivities came to the Steel City. With everything on display for the entire baseball world to see, the city surely did not dissapoint….and neither did Ryan Howard in the 2006 Home Run derby.

Thumbnail image for howard_trophy.jpg

Howard too was fairly new to the baseball world back then. He was a big body filling in the shoes of Jim Thome out there in Philly. He used his big wood to amaze the sold out crowd at PNC Park. I was lucky enough to be in attendance at this derby and let me tell you, it was the best live baseball moment I have ever seen. Howard, along with other sluggers David Ortiz, David Wright, Miquel Cabrera and Miquel Tejada dazzled the world with their powerful swings. Many balls landed in the Allegheny River and boats and kayaks went crazy trying to recover the commemorative balls. The best jaw dropping scene came when Howard hit a “HIT IT HERE” sign out in left field. If you’ve ever seen the derby you will see  a smattering of these banners around teh stadium. They are sponsered by Mastercard and if a player hits it somebody in the crowd wins a bunch of money. Howard nailed the banner to win the derby. You couldn’t have asked for a better finish to cap off a homerun derby. It was fantastic. As much as I dislike the Philies I was so happy for Howard and myself for seeing such an amazing feat live and in person.

With the derby just hours away I can’t help but feel a little sad. I will be working late for the second year in a row missing the Home Run Derby. Last season I was working and recieved a wave of texts from friends telling me a play by play. I heard all about Josh Hamilton going bonkers and how he ended up losing it. This year I’ve informed my buds not to tell me what is going on. I will have it taped for my enjoyment when I am home and showered up.

Here is the lineup for this year’s HR Derby.

Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins
Brandon Inge, Detroit Tigers

Nelson Cruz, Texas Rangers

Carlos Pena, Tampa Bay Rays

Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals

Prince Fielder, Milwaukee Brewers
Adrian Gonzalez, San Diego Padres
Ryan Howard, Philadelphia Phillies

The National League guys look stacked. It was unique seeing all members of the NL being first basemen. They are the best candidates for the derby and will be sure to put on a show. With Albert Pujols batting in front of his hometown fans, I’m sure he’ll be loaded with an advanatge. He knows the park and knows the atmosphere, however I do not think he will win it.

The American League is the lesser of the two of two in terms of power. Cruz, Pena, Inge and Mauer are doing well at the plate and earn the spot but compared to Pujols, Fielder, Gonzalez and Howard the first basemen blow them out of the water.

When the dust settles I beleiev an underdog will come out victorious in this derby.



Thats right Adriiiiiiiiian! Not Rocky’s wife, Adrian Gonzalez of the Padres. He’s a cool guy. Playing on a well below average team but he sticks out. He has 24 homers in the first half and has been swinging the bat very well. I remember a game earlier in the year when Gonzo nailed 2 dingers in a game.

I’m very excited for what is to come in this derby. Just make sure nobody texts me the results between the hours of 8 and 10.