Phillies

How Marc Zumoff’s unique World Series moment was born

How Marc Zumoff’s unique World Series moment was born

Unlike the other Phillies fans who were at Citizens Bank Park on the night of Oct. 29, I wasn’t going to get caught up in the moment. I wasn’t going to allow myself to be swept into the delirium of a World Series Championship or monstrous cheer at the moment of Game 5’s final out.  

No, I had a selfish little plan. I was going to remember this piece of Philly sports history a different way.

I did obsess over two days with everyone else when Game 5 of the 2008 World Series was suspended on Oct. 27 due to rain, only to be resumed Oct. 29. 

But I was obsessing for a different reason. Oct. 29 was the 76ers home and season opener across the street at the then-Wachovia Center against the Toronto Raptors. I had to reconcile that little conflict.  

It took a little pre-planning on my part, and a little help from the NBA, so that I could be in the ballpark to hatch my narcissistic scheme for the game’s final inning. Thankfully, the NBA would allow a small concession for those who wanted to experience both events: a 6 p.m. tip-off instead of the usual 7 p.m.  Sure, I’d still miss some of the World Series, but if I planned ahead, I could minimize how much I missed.  

And so the 76ers game tipped off on Comcast SportsNet a little past 6 p.m. with yours truly at the mic and an announced crowd of 15,750 at the then-Wachovia Center. The Sixers played like they had one eye on the World Series, shooting 34.5 percent in a 95-84 drubbing at the hands of Chris Bosh and the Toronto Raptors. And seconds after my broadcast duties were over, I began the sprint to Citizens Bank Park to see a game that had already started.

Sitting neatly on my desk at the arena were my clothes for the game, including the requisite thermal underwear and sweats to guard against the frigid night, along with my Ryan Howard Phillies jersey that would go on top. I arrived as the score was tied 4-4, just as Chase Utley was faking a throw to first and nailing someone at the plate. I did get to see Pat Burrell’s double that would lead to the Series-clinching run.  

And as the game got to the ninth inning, I went about remembering the night in my own unique way.

The first in the two-part plan was a timely photo before the start of the fateful ninth. I had a fan take a picture of me and two of my besties, Rob Grossman and Chuck Meyers, with me holding up three fingers to indicate how many outs remained in order to win the World Series.  

Then, with two outs and Erick Hinske representing the Rays’ last chance against reliever Brad Lidge … and an 0-2 count on the batter … and everyone in the place standing … wildly anticipating a moment that would be etched in their memories forever … and as Lidge prepared to go “lights out”….

I closed my eyes, and just listened … 

Reds name former Phillies third baseman David Bell manager

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Reds name former Phillies third baseman David Bell manager

A former Phillies third baseman has landed his first MLB managing job in Cincinnati, and no, it's not Scott Rolen.

The Reds on Sunday morning named David Bell their next manager and will introduce the former Phillie on Monday afternoon. It's a three-year contract with a club option for a fourth.

Bell was the Giants' vice president of player development in 2018 and previously managed the Reds' minor-league system. He managed Cincinnati's Double A affiliate, the Carolina Mudcats, from 2009-11 and then its Triple Affiliate, the Louisville Bats, in 2011. Bell, a Cincinnati native, was reportedly up for the  Blue Jays and Rangers manager jobs.

Phillies fans will remember Bell from his four-year, $17 million contract he signed with the team in the winter of 2002. Bell never duplicated the success he had with San Francisco here. He had an abysmal first season here, hitting just .195 in 85 games. He bounced back the next year for a respectable .291/.363/.458 slash line with 18 homers and 77 RBIs, but that was as good as it got.

The Phillies were able to move on from Bell in 2006, trading the third baseman to the Brewers.

But now the 46-year-old has worked his way up the coaching ranks and has a chance to manage the team he grew up rooting for. That doesn't happen too often.

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The 12 best free-agent hitters after Manny Machado and Bryce Harper

The 12 best free-agent hitters after Manny Machado and Bryce Harper

You know who the top two free-agent position players will be this offseason: Bryce Harper, Manny Machado.

What about the rest of the class? Let's take a look at the dozen next-best bats out there after those two. 

Catchers — Wilson Ramos, Yasmani Grandal

It's these two and little else behind the plate. Grandal seems likely to re-sign with the Dodgers, who have a ton of money and value his framing and work with the pitching staff. Grandal also has a .799 OPS the last three seasons with an average of 24 homers. He's one of the better all-around catchers in baseball, despite his ugly showing in the NLCS.

For the Phillies, Ramos is worth re-signing, and the Phils should have a key advantage on other teams because they know more about his health situation. If the Phils deem Ramos able to play 100-plus games in 2019, they should bring him back. He's one of the best hitters at any position in this free-agent class.

Infielders — Josh Donaldson, Daniel Murphy, Jed Lowrie, D.J. LeMahieu, Eduardo Escobar, Brian Dozier, Marwin Gonzalez

Donaldson offers the most "boom" among this group. He's three years removed from winning AL MVP as an impact power hitter and impact defender at 3B. From 2015-17, he hit .285/.387/.559 with an average of 37 homers and 100 RBI.

But a calf injury cost Donaldson most of 2018 and prevented the Blue Jays from getting much value for him in a trade with the Indians. Donaldson will be one of the most interesting free agents this winter. Will a team pay him for past performance? Will he sign a one-year, prove-it deal? The latter seems more likely.

Murphy should get something like two years, $18-20 million. Just tough to commit long-term to a 34-year-old who can't play defense and is one year removed from a devastating injury.

Gonzalez is worth keeping an eye on for Phillies fans. He can play every position on the diamond other than pitcher and catcher, and he can do more than just stand at that position. He's a decent fielder all over the place. A better hitter than Asdrubal Cabrera. A better utilityman than Pedro Florimon.

Outfielders — Michael Brantley, A.J. Pollock, Nick Markakis

Pollock and Brantley have been oft-injured in recent seasons and that will certainly impact their markets. Pollock has missed 249 games the last three seasons. Brantley has missed 242.

Non-Bryce Harper outfield help isn't among the Phillies' top needs, but there's no question Brantley or Markakis would make this a better, more well-rounded lineup because of their ability to hit for average and produce a ton of doubles. 

We'll delve deeper into the Phillies fit for many of these players in the days and weeks to come. But there's some talent out there even if the Phils strike out with that top tier.

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