Philadelphia Phillies Philes Vol 1.1: Welcome to hittin’ season

(Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
(Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images) /

In the premiere of “Phillies Philes,” we’ll examine Bryce Harper’s impact, shoot hoops, touch on the stock market, and oh yeah, talk Philadelphia Phillies.

Welcome one and all to “Phillies Philes,” the inaugural Philadelphia Phillies weekly blog covering all the latest news, hot topics, and trends involving your favorite baseball team. Be sure to check in every single Sunday throughout the baseball season to gauge the pulse of your Fightin’ Phils.

In today’s debut issue, we’ll explore the Phillies season-opening series against the division rival Atlanta Braves (well, the first two games of it, at least), while introducing you to several features we’ll highlight each week.

So, looks like the tarp is off; let’s … “Play ball!”

Leading off.

In an offseason filled with one thrill after another, it was only fitting that the first free agent acquisition in the first at-bat of the Phillies season, on the first swing of the year, sent a fastball soaring into the stands.

Andrew McCutchen‘s leadoff homer against the Braves’ Julio Teheran got the rowdy Citizens Bank Park crowd off to an even more rockin’ start. It’s not often that an outcome matches the hype, but for McCutchen and the Phils, Thursday far exceeded.

Did that ball land yet?

Talk about first impressions, wow! Bryce Harper‘s first hit as a Phillie is probably in orbit circling Uzbekistan right about now. Go big or go home, right?

INJURY UPDATE: Nick Williams‘ bat has been placed on the 10-day DL with concussion-like symptoms.

Franco is rolling.

If hitting from the eight spot is a demotion, Maikel Franco sure seems to be taking it well. The Phillies’ leading hitter in 2017, Franco has connected on two decisive bullets to start the year, already tallying three hits, two HRs, six RBIs, and a .500 BA.

Now in his sixth year, Franco has been one of the most consistent hitters throughout his Phillies tenure. Averaging a slash line of .253/.304/.436, the numbers are more than respectable. No longer tasked with being one of the primary power threats in the lineup, Franco may be the most productive beneficiary of Harper’s intimidating presence.

Inner Balance.

Perhaps the most impressive thing about the Phillies lineup after two games is its complete balance. Up and down, inside out, there’s no apparent weakness. As we’ve seen in this extremely small sample size, the bats that shined in game one mostly fell silent in game two, and vice versa (Maikel Franco aside), yet the team shined.

Opposing pitchers are going to have a tough time picking their spots. Usually, when the season gets underway, hitters are still trying to catch up to the pitching. As Charlie Manuel would say, when the temperature heats up, “It’s hittin’ season.”

We’re only in March, and the Phillies have already set a record for most home runs through the team’s first two games (6). It’s scary to think of what’s to come.

Well, at least for the opposing pitchers it is.

Man of Style.

Bryce Harper may have been signed to bring the power, but one overlooked quality is also the fashion sense he’ll provide. Whether wearing a novelty parody movie tee-shirt or bright green Phillie Phanatic cleats, expect kids and young adults throughout the tri-state region to begin dressing the part.

On a separate note, replacement razor blade stock is down while the market has seen a sudden boost in beard balm and beard grooming accessories.

Bringin’ da noise.

Phillies fans have shown up! After two games, Citizens Bank Park has once again been rockin’! We forget just how incredible of a baseball town Philadelphia is. Based on the electricity and vibes of the offseason and now the first two games, it sure seems like we’re in store for a fun summer!

Anticipation like this hasn’t been around since the Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee days of 2011 and earlier. It just so happens that the last time the Phillies opened the season with two wins was 2011. Hopefully, this Phillies edition writes a better ending.

Look at that Euro-step.

According to Bryce Harper, after every Phillies win the outfielder’s celebration will be a mini-game of hoops. Whichever player had the hot hand – as in best game among the three – gets the rock. Or should I say glove?

After two games played, Harper and McCutchen share the leader board, averaging 1.0 PPG and a spotless 100.0 FG%.

Cutch’s Euro step is a thing of beauty:

Most Valuable Phillie Power Rankings – Top 15 (through 3/30/2019):

  1. Maikel Franco (3B) – Previous Rank: N/A (↔)
  2. Rhys Hoskins (1B) – Previous Rank: N/A (↔)
  3. Cesar Hernandez (2B) – Previous Rank: N/A (↔)
  4. Aaron Nola (SP) – Previous Rank: N/A (↔)
  5. Jean Segura (SS) – Previous Rank: N/A (↔)
  6. Pat Neshek (RP) – Previous Rank: N/A (↔)
  7. J.T. Realmuto (C) – Previous Rank: N/A (↔)
  8. Bryce Harper (OF) – Previous Rank: N/A (↔)
  9. Seranthony Dominguez (RP) – Previous Rank: N/A (↔)
  10. Andrew McCutchen (OF) – Previous Rank: N/A (↔)
  11. Odubel Herrera (OF) – Previous Rank: N/A (↔)
  12. Juan Nicasio (RP) – Previous Rank: N/A (↔)
  13. David Robertson (RP) – Previous Rank: N/A (↔)
  14. Nick Pivetta (SP) – Previous Rank: N/A (↔)
  15. Adam Morgan (RP) – Previous Rank: N/A (↔)

“Ring the Bell” Award Winner of the Week.

This weekly honor will be awarded to one most deserving of recognition for their excellent achievement in Phillies success. It can be anybody; from player to coach, opposing player, mascot, umpire, the weather…pretty much anything conceivable that deserves special praise. 

For the inaugural “Bell Ringer” award, the honor goes to Phillies owner John Middleton and GM Matt Klentak for their busy offseason of player wheelings and dealings. From signing Bryce Harper to trading for Jean Segura and J.T. Realmuto, the Phillies front office had an eventful couple of months that helped generate a fanatical frenzy of excitement for Phillies faithful everywhere, the likes of which have not been felt since the 2011 season.

Phillie “Pholly” of the Week.

This dubious distinction will be given to one who received attention for all the wrong reasons throughout the week. Whether it be a bonehead play, foolish comment, or irritating fan base, you don’t want to end up here.

The debut “Pholly” goes to Philadelphia’s own Questlove, a.k.a. Ahmir Thompson, drummer/co-founder of The Roots, and also of The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon fame.

Questlove was tasked with throwing out the first pitch before the Phillies season opener on Thursday afternoon, and well – as you can see from the Phanatic’s reaction and the spattering of boos – it didn’t quite go as planned. Maybe next time.

Gabe Kapler Nickname Report.

Aside from manager Gabe Kapler‘s relentlessly positive attitude last season, another glaring highlight from all his press conferences throughout the year was catching all the nicknames he’d flow through when discussing his players. There was “Mikey” Franco, Aaron “Noles,” Zach “Eff”-lin, and Roman “Quinny.”

Isn’t it odd then that following Thursday’s win, Kapler repeatedly referenced “Andrew” for Andrew McCutchen? Perhaps no player on the Phillies has as easy and widely referenced nickname than “Cutch.”

C’mon now, Kap. We expect better! I guess it’s still early.

Phillies Phlashback.

Thursday marked the sixth time in the 137-year history of the Philadelphia Phillies where they opened the season in March. After Thursday’s win, their opening day March record now stands at a cool 3-3.

  • 3/31/1998 at NYM (L, 1-0)
  • 3/31/2003 at FLA (W, 8-5)
  • 3/31/2008 vs. WAS (L, 6-11)
  • 3/31/2014 at TEX (W, 14-10)
  • 3/29/2018 at ATL (L, 8-5)
  • 3/28/2019 vs. ATL (W, 10-4)

On Deck.

Next. Maikel Franco has finally found his spot. dark

It should be an interesting next two games for the Phillies as the team travels down to Washington to play the rival Nationals. Oh yeah, and that Bryce Harper guy will be making some kind of a return, so I hear. Wonder how that reception will go?? Afterwards, the team returns home to host the Minnesota Twins for a weekend series.