Phillies

The final game at Veterans Stadium was The Best Game I Ever Saw Live

The final game at Veterans Stadium was The Best Game I Ever Saw Live

September 28, 2003.

It was the final game of the regular season. It would be the 10th consecutive season the Phillies would not have a Red October. The Braves beat the Phillies 5-2. None of that mattered. 

For me and 58,000-plus other fans in attendance, it was one final time walking up those winding ramps at Veterans Stadium sporting our Phillies gear. It would be the last time at the Vet I would hear a vendor yell "Hey! Hot dog here!"  

So much nostalgia for me on that day. Memories of my parents taking me to Sunday home games and sitting in the 500 level on a hot steamy summer day. We got wiser as years went on and sat in the shade down in the 300 level.  

As I got older, I remember taking the free ticket coupons from the Phillies' franks packages to the ticket window so I could sit in the 700 level for a weeknight game against the Expos.

It was so surreal on that cloudy fall Sunday in 2003 as ceremony after ceremony went on throughout the game. From then-manager Larry Bowa, along with 1980 World Champion manager Dallas Green, bringing out the lineup card, to seeing Harry Kalas change the Vet countdown on the outfield wall from one to zero, and then the walk down memory lane seeing the likes of Schmidt, Carlton and McGraw make one last trek on that infamous Vet turf.  

However, there is a moment that stands out to me that had nothing to do with the festivities on the field. It was late in the game. Most fans were just hanging around waiting for the postgame ceremony. Then all of the sudden, a roar erupts inside Veterans Stadium. You see, the Phillies game was played on an Eagles Sunday and a large percentage of fans, me included, were locked in on their walkmans listening to Eagles radio broadcasting legend Merrill Reese call the action. I remember vividly Merrill in typical Merrill fashion screaming, "20, 10, 5, touchdown" as Brian Westbrook ripped off a 62-yard touchdown with just over 2 minutes left in the 4th quarter to help seal a 23-13 victory in Buffalo. Fans are hugging and high fiving each other. 

The roar was so loud the play on the field briefly paused as the players on the field looked up to see what was causing the commotion. Chants of E-A-G-L-E-S rang throughout the bowl.  

It isn't at all the greatest game in Philadelphia sports. It was just one of those moments that's always stuck with me. The Phillies and Eagles called the Vet home. And on this final day of baseball, they made one more Vet memory for me.

Subscribe and rate Phillies Talk:
Apple Podcasts / Google Play / Spotify / Stitcher / Art19 / YouTube

More on the Phillies

Only 3 teams gained more value than Phillies from 2019 to 2020

Only 3 teams gained more value than Phillies from 2019 to 2020

The valuation of the Phillies franchise is up to $2 billion, according to Forbes. It’s an 8 percent increase from last year.

The only teams in the majors to experience a higher percentage year-over-year increase than the Phillies are the Yankees, the World Champion Nationals and the Orioles. Seven teams saw no gain or lost value: the Marlins, Pirates, Royals, Athletics, Indians, Tigers and Diamondbacks.

The Yankees are valued at $5 billion, leading the league for the 22nd straight year.

At $2 billion, the Phils’ valuation is eighth-highest in the majors. They are behind, respectively, the Yankees, Dodgers, Red Sox, Cubs, Giants, Mets and Cardinals.

The only team with a current valuation below $1 billion is the Marlins at $980 million. Miami was the only team to lose money in 2019, according to Forbes.

MLB’s total revenue in 2019 was $10.5 billion. More than 30 percent of that was from gate receipts, which baseball would not have in 2020 if games are played in empty stadiums. That was the largest chunk, followed by national TV deals, local TV deals and sponsorships.

The Phillies’ 13-year investment in Bryce Harper and the resulting increase in attendance and merchandise sales played an obvious role in the increase but the terms of rights deals are one of the biggest drivers of organizational values.

League-wide, profits have never been higher, which puts MLB in a position to at least withstand the pain of a shortened 2020 season. Forbes estimates that coronavirus concerns will cost U.S. pro sports leagues $5 billion.

Subscribe and rate the Phillies Talk podcast:

Apple Podcasts / Google Play / Spotify / Stitcher / Art19 / YouTube



Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Phillies

What must Scott Kingery do to make the next leap Phillies need?

What must Scott Kingery do to make the next leap Phillies need?

Scott Kingery hit his first major-league home run two years ago today, a solo shot to left-center at Citizens Bank Park against Reds left-hander Cody Reed.

Kingery's first two weeks in the majors went well but his rookie season was a slog after that. He expanded the strike zone a ton, struck out more than you'd like and barely got on base when the hits weren't falling.

Kingery took a big step forward last season at age 25. He missed a month between April 19 and May 19 with a hamstring injury but hit .347 from opening day through June 1. 

In the month of June, he was an extra-base hit machine with nine doubles, a triple and seven home runs in 114 plate appearances.

August was another productive month for Kingery. He hit .287 with 13 extra-base hits and an .825 OPS. 

All told, it was a solid second season from Kingery. His .788 OPS was exactly the league average, and his extra-base hit total increased from 33 to 57 in just 16 additional plate appearances. When you factor in the strong defense he has played at six different positions, the value is easy to see.

Kingery has started games at second base, third base, shortstop and all three outfield spots. No major-leaguer since 1958 has amassed as many plate appearances in his first two seasons (984) while playing all those positions. That's not just a random fact — it illustrates the rarity of a player being not just a super-utility player but a super-utility starter, and how doubly rare it is for a player to begin his career in that role. 

In 2020, whenever the season begins, Kingery will likely be at second base for the majority of the season. Things can change quickly, though. If Jean Segura suffers an injury, Kingery could shift to third base. If Didi Gregorius gets hurt, Kingery or Segura would slide over to short. If there are injuries in center field, Kingery would likely be the next man up after Roman Quinn and Adam Haseley.

Kingery's versatility is a good thing, not a bad thing, though it probably cost him some offensive effectiveness over his first two seasons. Kingery remarked this offseason that by preparing for so many different positions, there have been many nights in his first two big-league seasons that he felt spent by game time.

His biggest issue at the plate is his constant expansion of the strike zone. Kingery knows it. It's a goal of his to be better at laying off of pitches he has no chance of making good contact with.

Through two seasons, Kingery's strikeout-to-walk ratio is ugly. He's whiffed 273 times and taken 58 walks. No Phillie has struck out that many times in his first two seasons since Pat Burrell in 2001 — but Burrell also walked 75 more times than Kingery has.

Last season, 24% of the pitches Kingery saw were low and away off the plate. He swung at those low-and-away pitches nearly 30% of the time and hit just .127. Obviously, that is a zone a hitter would rather leave alone. 

Kingery's selectivity must improve for him to reach a higher offensive level. There are 118 players with as many plate appearances as him the last two seasons and Kingery ranks 108th in walks.

The Phillies are not relying on Kingery to be their offensive centerpiece or even their sixth-best hitter. However, they'd be so much stronger as a lineup if Kingery could maneuver his way closer to the top of the order and produce. If Kingery could provide consistency in the 2-hole, it would allow someone like J.T. Realmuto or Didi Gregorius to move into more of a run-producing role. And even if Kingery does stay in the 7-spot in the lineup for most of the season, he has a chance to lengthen the Phillies' lineup and turn it into one of the NL's best if he can build on his sophomore season.

Kingery had a .315 on-base percentage last season. The league average was .323. Had he reached base just 10 more times in his 500 plate appearances, he'd have been at .334, which is the same as Realmuto's OBP the last three seasons.

It's a realistic target for Kingery, who does not need to become the next Chase Utley to be valuable or to live up to the $24 million contract he signed before ever playing a major-league game.

Subscribe and rate the Phillies Talk podcast:
Apple Podcasts / Google Play / Spotify / Stitcher / Art19 / YouTube

More on the Phillies