Tag Archives: Citizen’s Bank Park

Ken Griffey Jr. is Living Proof That Nice Guys Finish First

15 Jan

By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

If a sportswriter or columnist like myself said that he or she didn’t have athletes they really liked to talk to or really disliked talking to throughout their careers, they’d be lying to you.

While as a journalist you’re not supposed to let your personal admiration or dislike for an athlete cloud how you cover their accomplishments on the field, we are human. We just have to work harder in those cases.

But sometimes, there’s an athlete so universally respected that you find yourself pulling for them…and you don’t care who knows it.

Ken Griffey Jr., one of the newest members of Major League Baseball’s Hall of Fame is one of those guys. The former Seattle Mariners/Cincinnati Reds centerfielder was just three votes shy of being an unanimous selection for the Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writers of America, breaking New York Mets pitcher Tom Seaver’s record. Los Angeles Dodgers/New York Mets catcher Mike Piazza will be joining him in the Hall’s Class of 2016.

Not only did Griffey deserve that honor, he is living proof that you can be a great player without being a self-centered jerk. As a player, Griffey was one of the game’s best center fielders and played with the outfield with the ferocity of a Frank Robinson, Roberto Clemente and a Pete Rose.

And I’m not ashamed to say that I genuinely liked him.

For a “nice guy”, Griffey put up some fierce numbers on the field. In a 22-year career, he hit 630 career home runs, ranking sixth on the all-time list. He ranks 15th all-time in runs batted in with 1,836 and had a .284 lifetime batting average. Defensively, Griffey was a 10-time Gold Glove winner who could run down any ball hit in the outfield even if it meant crashing into an outfield wall which he did on numerous occasions.

Unfortunately, it was those injuries from crashing into outfield walls that probably kept Griffey from threatening the all-time home-run record the way that Barry Bonds did.

From 1993 to 2000, Griffey averaged 43 home runs per year. But from 2001 to 2007, he spent a considerable amount on the disabled list with injuries. Had he been healthy and was hitting home runs at the same pace he did from 1993-2000, he would have easily surpassed both Barry Bonds and Hank Aaron. ‘

Had Griffey been the one to surpass Aaron, I believe that we’d have a completely different view of the home run record. A combination of Griffey’s “nice guy” persona and the absence of the cloud of steroid suspicion that still follows Bonds would have made his pursuit of the Home Run record a cause for celebration instead of consternation.

Back in 2008, when he was playing with the Cincinnati Reds, I caught up with Griffey at Citizens Bank Park and spoke to him about his career shortly before he reached the 600-home run milestone. He was nice enough to give me about 10 or 15 minutes of his time for a one-on-one after a game in the Reds clubhouse, something that rarely happens.

I asked him about his thoughts about hitting 600 home runs and he seemed almost embarrassed to talk about it. He was at peace with himself about his career and had no regrets about his injuries keeping him from being a part of the all-time home run race.

“Everything I did, I did for the good of the team,” Griffey said. “I went out there and played as hard as I could and that’s the most important thing. I can go in there and look at myself in the mirror and go, ‘you got hurt, but that’s part of the game.’

“If I did it jump roping, then you can say something. Everything I did, I did in front of people doing the thing that I love.”

I still can hear the standing ovation he received when he came out to pinch hit during that series at Citizens Bank Park. It’s rare that a player not wearing a Phillies uniform gets that kind of love from Philly sports fans.

At the time, Griffey said he wanted to be remembered for his defense and giving his best every time he stepped on the field. which is why he will have a statue in Cooperstown.

“That’s the one thing I try to teach my kids, don’t be a what-if,” Griffey said. “I can care less if you win or lose at that age; as long as you give me the effort. I know you’re going to give me that effort whether it’s on the field or off the field.”

At a time where ball playing knuckleheads and their antics rule the headlines, it’s a good to see a nice guy like Ken Griffey Jr. get his accolades.

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Papelbon’s Blown Save and Fallout from Obscene Gesture Typifies Phillies Miserable Season

15 Sep

By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun.

Jonathan Papelbon said he was adjusting his equipment and this was not an obscene gesture.

Jonathan Papelbon said he was adjusting his equipment and this was not an obscene gesture.

PHILADELPHIA—If you’re looking for signs that the Phillies miserable 2014 season can’t end soon enough, the bizarre ending to Sunday’s game certainly provided evidence of that.

For the eight innings, it looked like the Phillies were on their way to a three-game sweep of the Florida Marlins. They came into the ninth inning with a 4-1 lead and closer Jonathan Papelbon on the mound to put the game on ice. He had converted 14 straight save opportunities since July 24.

But the disaster struck Papelbon and the Phillies in the ninth inning as the Marlins scored four runs to steal away a 5-4 win over the Phils, who head on their final road trip of the season by losing a game they should have won.

It was typical of a year where the Phillies can’t seem to get things right on a regular basis and the way this game is just another example of why the Phils are at the bottom of the National League East standings.

Papelbon’s exit from the game after the Phillies surrendered the lead in the ninth inning became the theatre of the absurd.

Umpire Joe West and Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon engage in a heated argument after the Phils pitcher is ejected from the game.

Umpire Joe West and Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon engage in a heated argument after the Phils pitcher is ejected from the game.

As he was coming off the field, Papelbon was being booed loudly by the 30, 201 fans gathered at Citizen’s Bank Park. Before leaving the field, Papelbon grabbed his crouch, making what could be interpreted as an obscene gesture to the fans.

That prompted second-base umpire Joe West to eject Papelbon from the game.

“That’s what I saw and so did the plate umpire,” West said. “You can’t do things like that. The whole thing started because the fans booed him and he made an obscene gesture. He had no business doing that. He’s got be more professional than that.”

Papelbon said told reporters after the game he was adjusting his equipment and was not making an obscene gesture to the crowd.

“By no means was I directing anything at any fans,” Papelbon said. “I have a four-year and a five-year-old son and a daughter. I am not out here doing inappropriate things. Come on this is baseball. I think Joe (West) just took something to a whole new level that didn’t need to go there. It is unfortunate that he took it there because by no means did it mean to be like that.”

Having played baseball myself, I can see it where he might have been adjusting his protective cup. However, I think he should have waited until he got in the dugout. Quite frankly, I think he did it on purpose out of the emotion of blowing a save and getting booed by the crowd.

Things became even more intense when Papelbon and West got into heated argument after Papelbon was ejected. West grabbed Papelbon’s jersey and tossed him out of the way before first base umpire Marty Foster broke the two up.

“Joe had no right to grab me by any means so I will file a complaint for that for sure,” Papelbon said.
West said the altercation between he and Papelbon started when he came to the Phillies dugout to toss him out of the game.

“I told him ‘you’ve got to go,’ “ West said. “And then he charged out of the dugout and his bumped into my hat and I grabbed him and I said, ‘Get off of me.’”

Throughout this season, the Phillies have had games where one aspect of their game was going strong while others have broken down to cause them to lose.

On Sunday, the Phillies scored enough runs to win the game. They took a 1-0 lead in the third inning on an RBI single by third baseman Maikel Franco. Miami tied the game in the fourth on a solo homer by second baseman Kiki Hernandez.

The Phils took the lead in the fourth inning when left fielder Domonic Brown hit into a double play with the bases loaded to drive in one run. Catcher Carlos Ruiz had an RBI single in the same inning to give his team a 3-1 lead.

The Phillies got an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth when centerfielder Ben Revere scored on a fielder’s choice by second baseman Chase Utley.

Meanwhile, Phillies starting pitcher David Buchanan had a solid outing, allowing just one run on five hits in six and a third innings. He had strike outs and one walk. He threw 89 pitches.

The Phillies set up men in the bullpen—Antonio Bastardo and Justin De Fratus did their part in stopping the Marlins offense and held them no runs and no hits.

But just when it looked like the Phillies were clicking on all cylinders in this game, they shot themselves in the foot again with a bad outing by a closer who had problems leaving the ball across the middle of the plate.

It’s been that kind of a year.

Brown’s Fielding Miscue and Lack of Offense Doom Phillies in Loss to Miami

26 Jun

By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Domonic Brown has been struggling at the plate and in the field. His misplay of a fly ball cost the Phillies in Wednesday's loss to the Miami Marlins. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Domonic Brown has been struggling at the plate and in the field. His misplay of a fly ball cost the Phillies in Wednesday’s loss to the Miami Marlins. Photo by Webster Riddick.

PHILADELPHIA—It was one of those nights where the Phillies (35-42) could point to doing really well in couple of facets of their game, but found themselves faltering in others.

They got solid effort from their starting pitcher  and a solid effort from their bullpen. The usual suspects of not enough hitting and a bad mistake in the field sealed their doom in a 3-2 loss to the Miami Marlins in front of 23, 360 fans at Citizen’s Bank Park.

Starting pitcher A.J. Burnett didn’t have a bad night at all. He had eight strikeouts while allowing just five hits and three runs. But he had one bad inning that wasn’t exactly his fault.

With two on and two outs in the fourth inning, Miami leftfielder Marcel Ozuna hit should have been an easy fly ball to Domonic Brown in left. But the Phils outfielder over ran it and the ball ended up going to the left field wall to score Giancarlo Stanton from second.

That led Burnett giving up a two-run double to Jarrod Saltalamacchia to give the Marlins a 3-0 lead they had no business having in the first place.

To his credit, Brown didn’t hide from reporters in the training room or in the showers after the game, he took full responsibility for his blunder in the field.

“That’s a play I gotta make for my team,” Brown said. “That changed the whole game. I told A.J. I was sorry about it. But that play has to be made. It was a hard-hit line drive. I made a break in and that was definitely a big mistake. It was a low liner, I took a step in, but it was too late.”

Takeaway Brown’s blunder in the field, the Phillies might have come away with a 2-0 shutout, but that’s the maddening luck of a mediocre team that just can’t seem to get it together.

“If that ball’s caught right there, there’s no runs up on the board, it’s the third out,” said Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. “A .J had enough stuff to throw a shutout the rest of the game.”

Meanwhile in a solid display of backing up your teammate when stuff hits the fan, Burnett said there was no need for Brown to apologize to him. He said he should have gotten Saltalamacchia, who was 1-for-15 against him with nine strikeouts before that at-bat.

“I felt like I should have picked (Brown) up the next at bat. That’s what we do. You pick each other up,” Burnett said. “If the pitch is a little bit low to (Saltalamachhia) and you pick (Brown) up. He plays hard, he comes in everyday and prepares and goes about his business. It’s not like he’s trying to miss balls out there. Plays like that happen you gotta pick your teammates up.”

On the offensive side, the Phillies had their shots. In the second inning, they had men on second and third with just one out, but could not score. With the bases loaded and one out, the Phillies could only get a sacrifice fly from Chase Utley that scored Ben Revere.

An RBI single by Brown scoring Marlon Byrd in the bottom of the sixth to cut the Marlins lead to 3-2. That’s as close as they would come.

Miami starting right-handed pitcher Henderson Alvarez wasn’t necessarily the second-coming of Cy Young or Walter Johnson, but he did well enough to keep the Phillies bats at bay. He allowed just two runs (one earned) on seven hits with three strikeouts and a pair of walks.