Sergei Bobrovsky Has Another New Mask

Photos of Philadelphia Flyers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky’s new mask.

Penn States road to Indianapolis begins Saturday in Indiana

The Nittany Lions open up Big Ten play on the road against the Indiana Hoosiers with eyes now focused on a return trip to the state in December for the inaugural Big Ten championship game.

Welcome to Doctober

Roy Halladay pitches for the Phillies tonight in the NLDS.

Photo Gallery: Phillies Prep for NLDS

The Phillies and Cardinals both got in workouts on Friday afternoon. The news of the day seemed to be LaRussa’s decision to go with Chris Carpenter in game 2, Joe Blanton making the Phillies roster, and Roy Halladay reading classic literature. Click above for a photo gallery of the day.

Herndon Out, Blanton In; Carpenter to Start Sunday

The Phillies have told David Herndon that he is not on the 2011 NLDS roster. Cardinals Manager Tony LaRussa also threw a changeup by telling us that Chris Carpenter will be their game 2 starter.

Temple to Host Injured, Angry Toledo Rockets

The Temple University Owls 3-1, 1-0 will play host to the Toledo Rockets 1-3, 0-0 this Saturday at noon. Game preview and information on Temple’s 5 ticket promotion can be found inside.

Halladay, Manuel Ready for the Cardinals

—From Citizens Bank Park

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UPDATE, 3:30 pm: Reports have Joe Blanton on the NLDS roster instead of David Herndon. He appeared in five games since returning from the DL late in the season, mostly out of the bullpen. The Phillies are likely to take 11 pitchers, according to Charlie Manuel.

UPDATE, 3:10 pm: Tony LaRussa has decided to pitch Chris Carpenter on three days rest; he will now start Game 2 of the series instead of Game 3. Jaime Garcia has been moved up as well, and there has not been a starter announced for Game 4.

When asked how anxious the team was to get things going, Roy Halladay said matter-of-factly, “We were anxious in Spring Training really.” That short quote speaks volumes about what the Phillies think of themselves. Clearly, they think quite highly of their abilities and have since the last pitch they saw in the 2010 NLCS. The hunger hasn’t subsided, the drive is still constant, and was even through an eight-game losing streak.

St. Louis beat the Phillies in three out of four in September and six of nine overall, but Halladay mentioned that there was really no rhyme or reason for it. “Sometimes you just lose games…I don’t necessarily see the scaled being titled one way or the other. I don’t think there’s necessarily one thing that led to it.”

Halladay was also very frank when it came down to hoisting a World Series trophy. “We want to win. We all want to win, and believe me, we want to win bad. But if it doesn’t happen, we know how to handle it. But we sure hope it does.”

He also quoted Shakespeare when it came down to giving the Cardinals respect. “I heard a quote a long time ago, ‘I came to bury Caesar, not praise him.’ I think it’s true. We’re all well aware of how good the [Cardinals] team is. We obviously have a respect for what they’ve done and how they’ve played, but you have you be confident going in that you’re going to be able to beat them.”

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Charlie Manuel Manuel spoke highly of the Cardinals offense, which ranked first in the National League in runs scored during the regular season. “They’ve got contact hitters, they’ve got guys that can hit the ball out of the yard.” He thinks their consistency is what helped them finally get into the postseason. “Every one of them, if you look, they’re hitting anywhere from .280 to .300. That’s a sign of a good, consistent offense.”

He knows his troops are well rested, but a few of his guys are still dealing with various ailments. “I think when you say well rested I think in baseball sometimes I think it’s a repetitious sport and you have routines, and I think it’s better sometimes to stay in your routine and don’t get out,” said Manuel.

“I think we’ve definitely got enough rest, but I also think right now that we’re ready to start the playoffs. I think we’re ready to go, and I’m looking forward to it, and I know our players are.”

That sounds like a man who can’t wait for Game 1 to begin at 5:07 on Saturday.

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Roy Halladay Came Here to Bury the Cardinals

In the best moment from Friday afternoon’s press conference, Roy Halladay quoted William Shakespeare’s ‘Julius Caesar’

Amazing: The Philly Sports Power Hour Video

With a huge weekend of Philly sports about to get underway, it’s hard to get more excited than we already are. Then we received this video from John T. Gallagher, which is one of the greatest Philly sports compilations we’ve ever seen, if not the absolute best. Doesn’t hurt that it also doubles as a power hour drinking game, with built in cues of “High Hopes” when it’s time to drink.

Mixed Feelings: De Fratus Expresses Himself

href="" onblur="try {parent.deselectBloggerImageGracefully();} catch(e) {}"> id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5658034032765180994" style="float: right; margin: 0pt 0pt 10px 10px; cursor: pointer; width: 186px; height: 320px;" src="" border="0" alt="" />It was a wild and frenzied finish for several teams as the regular season wound down. While some clubs faltered, seeing their seasons come to an end, others triumphed and advanced to the playoffs. Whether it was a collapse or a significant comeback, countless states of mind resulted from the memorable final weeks of the season. Exhilaration, disappointment, confusion, hysteria and disgust could all be used to detail how players and fans all around baseball felt.

For one young player, that list of feelings varies a bit but is likely just as long when describing his big league debut and the subsequent two weeks. /> style="font-weight: bold;"> /> EXCITEMENT

Rookie hurler href="" >Justin De Fratus, who just two years ago was a member of the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws South Atlantic League championship team, pitched a scoreless 12th inning to not only notch his very first big league victory, but to put his name in the history books, as the Phillies won their franchise record 102nd game.

De Fratus found himself the pitcher of record and an inevitable trivia answer on Wednesday night, thanks in part to some good luck. According to the 6-foot-4-inch 220-pounder, the achievement was something that he long hoped to accomplish, but he can hardly comprehend it now that it has occurred.

“The timing of everything that’s happened for me, it’s been unbelievable,” De Fratus said. “Especially, my first day in the big leagues we clinched the NL East and then my first win happens to be this historic win. I just can’t believe the timing of everything that’s happened to me. It’s just crazy. I feel lucky.” id="more-25040">

style="font-weight: bold;">FRUSTRATION href="">


href="">Ranked by The Reading Eagle as the Phillies’ number 7 prospect, De Fratus helped lead Lehigh Valley into the Governor’s Cup Finals in International League. After losing in the championship round to the Columbus Clippers, De Fratus received word that he was being promoted to the big league Phillies. Before he could make the call that he had long dreamed of making, delivering the tremendous news to his father Terry, word of the promotion had been posted to Twitter by members of the media. The right-hander was truly heartbroken over the fact that he wasn’t able to phone home with the news, on his own, and would ideally like to see teams give players an opportunity to have that information well before the media gets a hold of it.

“To be completely honest I was (very upset) about it,” De Fratus exclaimed. “You would figure…I know people have news to break and all that, but you would think that they would at least give you the common courtesy to hold onto that news for a little bit and let the players– this is something that we dream about for our whole lives. That goes through our minds, ‘How am I going to break this to my parents when this actually happens? What kind of words am I going to use to express what just happened?’ And then, all of a sudden, I call my dad and he already knows.

“To me, I thought it was a lack of courtesy. And I don’t think that anyone did it maliciously. I understand they have a story to put out, but it would have been nice for me to be the one to tell my parents.”

style="font-weight: bold;">GRATEFUL

Despite the levels of annoyance, De Fratus bounced back quickly, being joined by four IronPigs teammates as Phillies September call ups and celebrating the team’s fifth consecutive division title one night later. The 23-year-old asserted that making the trip to Philadelphia with Triple-A standouts href="" >Erik Kratz, href="" >Brandon Moss, href="" >Joe Savery, href="" >Domonic Brown and manager Ryne Sandberg made the move more special.

“We all had high hopes. You’re just hoping for it, and when the dream actually does come true, you just look at everyone’s face and see the genuine joy. It was a good situation to be in and everybody deserved it and they’re all good people.”

De Fratus, a California native, was excellent in the minors this season. Combined at two levels for the Double-A Reading Phillies and the Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs, De Fratus posted a 6-3 record with 15 saves and a 2.99 ERA while striking out 99 batters in 75 1/3 innings pitched.

style="font-weight: bold;">PRIDE

During his brief stint with the Phillies, De Fratus was assigned the distinction of sporting the famed pink bullpen backpack. Typically a task given to the youngest or newest member of a team’s relief corps, the girls’ bag contains snacks for the entire bullpen, but must be transported there for each game, so a rookie generally does so, as part of a ribbing.

There’s no way De Fratus was go id="formatbar_Buttons" style="display: block;"> id="formatbar_CreateLink" class=" down" style="display: block;" title="Link" onmousedown="CheckFormatting(event);FormatbarButton('richeditorframe', this, 8);ButtonMouseDown(this);" onmouseover="ButtonHoverOn(this);" onmouseout="ButtonHoverOff(this);"> class="gl_link" src="" border="0" alt="Link" />ing to be embarrassed by something like that though. In fact, it was the complete opposite.

“It means you’re there. It’s an initiation type of thing,” De Fratus explained. “It’s just like href="">dressing up on one of the road trips like we had to do. It’s almost- you don’t want to call it this- but it’s almost like a frat. It’s a baseball brotherhood and you have to go through some stuff to be accepted. So, I took that backpack and I was proud to wear it. I don’t find it embarrassing at all. People can say what they want, I’m in the Major Leagues!”

style="font-weight: bold;">APPRECIATIVE style="font-weight: bold;">& EQUIPPED

With the postseason ready to get rolling, the Phils had to trim their active roster to 25 players once again. De Fratus is among a trio of players (Joe Savery and Domonic Brown are the others) that have been sent to the Fall Instructional League to stay sharp in case the big league club finds itself in need of a replacement for any reason.

De Fratus, who pitched extensively last year, spending time with Team USA at the Pan-Am qualifiers and pitching in the Arizona Fall League, feels like the lengthy 2010 campaign helped stretch him out a bit and kept him fresh for a long season this year. The 11th round pick from the 2007 draft says he’s ready to go, if needed, and takes it as a great compliment to be held in high enough regard to get such an assignment, while the Phillies head into the playoffs.

“I still feel that I’m strong right now,” De Fratus stated. “I don’t feel my body is worn down any more than normal and I feel that last year, the length of my season, played a big part in that.

“Hopefully, I stay (in Clearwater) for the whole playoffs and that nobody gets hurt. I never want to wish an injury on anybody. But that’s what I’m here for, it’s sort of a little insurance policy. You know, I’m honored to be a guy that (the Phillies) look at like that- somebody that if one of their guys isn’t able to stay healthy that I’m a guy that they can bring up to get the job done.”

With the openness to share his multitude of emotions, De Fratus is easily one of the most interesting players in the Philadelphia organization. Here’s hoping the list of mental and physical statuses continues to grow while he dons red pinstripes.


Jay Floyd is PhilliesNation’s minor league insider.  You can read more from Jay by visiting his site, href="">

Watch: Jaromir Jagr’s Stick-Breakingly Good Powerplay Goal

The Flyers won again last night, taking their mostly meaningless but nonetheless enjoyable preseason record to 4-1-1. More important than the win, their powerplay unit was clicking again, scoring both of their goals en route to the 2-1 victory over the Devils.

Les Bowen and Jeff McLane Twitter Fight Gets Taiwanese Animation Treatment

Yes, the Les Bowen vs. Jeff McLane Twitter spat has now received the Taiwanese animation treatment. It’s pretty spot on too, although I’ve never actually seen Les wear a Daily News logo on his shirt.

Everybody Has a Fresh Slate Today

The 2011 MLB Playoffs begin today with the ALDS. The Phillies won’t start their second season until tomorrow at 5:07 p.m. but they’ll be down at Citizens Bank Park this afternoon to get in a workout after having a much-deserved off day on Thursday.

Dr. Strangeglove: On Getting Everything You Want

class="alignleft" src="" alt="" width="300" height="400" />We all have expectations as sports fans, and as Phillies fans, I think our expectations were, by and large, rather similar going into 2011: don’t give up many runs, win the division, and go into the playoffs positioned to win another title.

As I said href="">the other day, I don’t think we could have expected much more from La Furia Roja this season. And that leaves me in a curious emotional place going into the playoffs. For the first time I can remember, I’m nervous about the upcoming postseason.

I grew up in a time, as I’m sure many of you did, when the Phillies were awful. Really, unless you lived out ages 8-18 between 1975 and 1984, or between 2002 and 2011, the Phillies were most likely awful when you were growing up too. The idea that they’d win five straight division titles, or reel off 10 winning seasons and an 80-81 season in 11 years, or become the de facto Yankees of the National League–to say nothing of a certain World Series title–was up there with the ability to teleport on the list of things I’d love to see but had written off as impossible.


In a way, I loved the Phillies because they were miserable. It set me apart, I thought, from the kids for whom football season started in August and not the morning after the last game of the World Series, as it did for me. Baseball was this mythical thing to me, an arcane, pastoral, boring, game that I loved so much that I’d rather watch the team I loved play it badly rather than submit to the all-glowing, modern, and otherwise cool rule of the Eagles. I had fallen in love with the depth of the statistics and the magic (because there’s no more accurate word) of the mythology, history, and narrative of the game so much that I loved its biggest moments, even when they involved the Indians and Marlins.

Being a voracious reader and an avid baseball fan at age ten is like living in a C.S. Lewis novel. There’s always more to explore, more to learn. More history, more strategy, more mythology. And when that history–so often dominated by a handful of teams–intersected with the Phillies, I felt a special sense of pride. Ken Burns’ iconic Baseball documentary ran during the strike when I was seven years old, and my dad taped it and saved it. I could not tell you how many times I watched those tapes, and I can still recite certain lines from memory, but I always looked forward to the moment when they mentioned, for all of 15 seconds, that href="" >Pete Rose signed as a free agent with the Phillies and helped them to their only World Series title. It was the only time in the entire 18 1/2 hours that the Phillies were mentioned, by name, in a positive light. When the Phillies got on national TV, or were mentioned in the national media, I cherished the moment similarly. I still remember a Baseball Weekly cover in 2001, when the Phillies got hot out of the gate, that featured href="" >Travis Lee and Omar Daal.

Well, since 2005 or so, those rare moments have become commonplace. National media outlets discuss the Phillies repeatedly, and in glowing terms. My Lenny Dykstra shirsey isn’t the only piece of Phillies apparel you can see on the street anymore. There’s a new, expensive stadium, populated by cheering fans and some of the best ballplayers money can buy. And most importantly, I don’t have to pick a team, more or less at random, to root for in the postseason, the way I did once. My surrogate Orioles/Red Sox fandom is over. We are a part of baseball history every day, Ken Burns-style, and if you had told a certain thirteen-year-old boy who had watched his team lose 97 games and fire Terry Francona that all of this would come to pass, he would scarcely have believed you. From a baseball perspective, I’ve got everything I’ve ever wanted.

*** id="more-25030">

Before 2008, there was either no postseason or no optimism for the post season. It had been so long, in our institutional memory, since the last title, that we had neither a reason to expect one nor any conception of what it feel like if it happened. There are people drinking legally at tailgates outside Citizens Bank Park who were born after MOVE, who don’t know who Frank Rizzo was, or Rich Kotite, who were too young to see any of the first five Rocky movies in the theater. They can’t remember ever seeing a Flyers game at the Spectrum, even on television, and local politics started with the first election of Mayor John Street.

This is our institutional memory, and given those constraints, it’s understandable that postseason baseball should still feel a little weird to us. Over five seasons, I’ve come to expect it, almost as if it were a birthright, and yet something about a Phillies hat with a playoff patch on it just seems strange to me. This is what getting what you want feels like. It’s a feeling of the dog that caught the car.


class="alignleft" src="" alt="" width="216" height="167" />This is Braves Kid. Those of you watching href="" >Craig Kimbrel walk the world on Wednesday night might remember seeing this screen shot live. I talked to my dad about the madness that took place Wednesday night the next morning, and the first thing he mentioned was Braves Kid.

What a wonderful picture this is–it’s the “ href="">Migrant Mother” of the 2011 baseball season. It touches you on so many levels. It’s the agony of defeat, captured on the face of an innocent child too young to remember any of the 14 consecutive division titles. It’s a reminder that, even though we drew great pleasure from the misery of the Atlanta Braves and their legion of war-chanting, sweet-tea-drinking, game-not-attending fans, href="">schadenfreude takes its toll on someone. I want to buy that kid an ice cream cone and tell him it’s just a game, and it doesn’t matter. And not tell him that, when the Phillies were eliminated from the 2007 NLDS, I (at age 20) threw the television remote across the room, shouted “That’s what I get for believing!” and wept like a child for nearly half an hour.

I remember vividly watching Game 6 of the 1993 World Series. I was six years old, and I remember Henderson and Molitor being on base when Joe Carter hit it out. I remember the running joke that I had with my mom well into the next season, that whenever I said “Mitch Williams,” she’d scream. (In hindsight, I probably abused this joke to the point where my poor mother was ready to tear my arms off whenever I said “Mitch Williams.” We ran that gag what must have been a thousand times, and it never occurred to me that I might find it funnier than she did. Because I was six. And six-year-olds are self-centered and love repetition.) I remember thinking how bizarre it seemed to me that the Blue Jays set off fireworks in the Sky Dome when it was all over. Who sets off fireworks indoors?

But most of all, I remember thinking “We’ll get ‘em next year.” I had no concept of history, that the Phillies had won the pennant only once more in my parents’ lifetime than in my own, and only twice more in my grandparents’ lifetime, and only three times more in my great grandparents’ lifetime. I had no idea that I was witnessing what was literally a once-in-a-generation opportunity, and that it had passed us by.

That’s not what my father remembers. When Joe Carter hit that home run, he says, I was inconsolable. Watching Braves kid reminded him of me.


So what about 2009 and 2010? Well, in 2009, I think we were so bowled over by the excitement of the first title that there was nothing but eager anticipation for a second. Nothing could have been more exciting than that first title, the jumping and screaming. It was the most exciting, most cathartic ninety seconds of my life, from when Lidge struck out Hinske to when I finally sat back down. But 2009 was a rare moment of rationality for this fan base. Not in the “Crucify href="" >Cole Hamels” movement, a product of groupthink that still gets me into a shouting match with a stranger at a bar about once every two or three months, but in the approach to the postseason. The pitching staff was set up weirdly, href=",martin008ped,martipe02&utm_source=direct&utm_medium=linker&utm_campaign=Linker" >Pedro Martinez and href="" >Cliff Lee had just sort of appeared out of nowhere, and who in the Sam Hill is href="" >J.A. Happ anyway? But more than anything else, 2009′s trip to the World Series felt like a bonus. Don’t get me wrong, the defeat hurt–there were few more demoralizing moments in my life as a sports fan than Damon’s Steal, but it didn’t haunt us because the shine on the Commissioner’s Trophy hadn’t worn out.

2010? Not racked by worry, but fueled by anger. It all unraveled so quickly that it was over before there was time to be nervous. There wasn’t fear, but disbelief and the search for someone to blame that, as it turns out, came up with no suspects. Sure, there was that whole “ href=",howard002rya&utm_source=direct&utm_medium=linker&utm_campaign=Linker" >Ryan Howard should have swung” nonsense, but even that seemed halfhearted–the Phillies made a grand total of 108 outs in their four NLCS losses, in which they were outscored by all of six runs, and out of 108 outs, it seemed churlish to focus only on the last one, even for a fan base as choleric and hive-minded as Philadelphia’s. No reason to worry. No time to worry.


The reason I’m nervous about this postseason is that there’s a feeling of having something to lose.

It would be foolhardy to expect a championship in any season. I know in my head that the Phillies, while having a better chance than any other team to stage a parade, are not likely, even now, with home-field advantage and the best team, to do so. What I can’t reconcile is that I believe in my heart, that this team, with the season they’ve had, with all that we’ve been through, deserves a title.

If it happens, and a second World Series title falls into our laps, everything will have to go right. The umpires, the players, the weather, the coaches, the tiny subtleties of the fabric of space-time itself; they all have to work out just so in order for that parade to happen. And as much as I try to be rational about it, the possibility–hell, the likelihood–that they won’t terrifies me. I’ve been worried about this playoff series since Ryan Howard struck out to end last year’s NLCS.

I’ll let you in on a secret: I don’t have everything I want as a baseball fan. That 2008 title was celebrated more or less alone. I watched the last couple outs with href="!/phrontiersman">my buddy Paul on speakerphone, but most of Game Five Part Two was spent explaining to my roommate, who wouldn’t know a baseball from a spoon, why I was so excited. I ran around my apartment alone. I dragged my roommates out of bed to drink celebratory champagne because none of them gave a crap about baseball, or the Phillies, and the extent of their interest in sports that night was that we were playing Tennessee at home on Saturday.

I watched news clips and heard firsthand stories of the pandemonium that ensued after Lidge struck out Hinske, and so great was my joy about the title that I didn’t feel envy about having to celebrate the title alone until some years later. Now, that’s what I want more than anything else: a Phillies World Series title that I can enjoy in community with others, because isn’t that what fandom is all about?

I don’t know if any of what I just wrote is true. Isn’t that lame, as if I was somehow victimized by my team winning the World Series alone and therefore deserve to celebrate another title in Philadelphia?

That’s the thing about getting everything you ever wanted: it only makes you want more.

Friday Morning Fly By: What Will James van Riemsdyk’s Average Draft Position Be on Sunday?


Today’s open discussion thread, complete with your daily dose of Philadelphia Flyers news and notes…