Amazing Citizens Bank Park Sandcastle

Amazing Citizens Bank Park Sandcastle

Earlier in the week we saw a photo over at Zoo with Roy of an absolutely amazing sandcastle modeled after South Philly's own Citizens Bank Park. We wondered what kind of hardcore Philadelphia sports fan would make such a masterpiece so we emailed the creator, Alex Nakahara, to find out more about his castle on Long Beach Island, New Jersey.

Not surprisingly, Alex is a University of Pennsylvania alum who majored in mechanical engineering and is now a second year grad student studying aeronautics at MIT. He told us that when he's living in Philly he typically gets to about 10-15 games a year at the ballpark, but probably made it to only five or so this season due to living in Boston. So he's plenty familiar with the intricate details of the Phillies home.

So how long did the Citizens Bank Park sandcastle take to make, we wondered. [more photos below]

"The sandcastle took most of the day to build, so around 6 hours. My brother and dad helped me out with it," Alex said.

From looking at the size and detail of the CBP castle, I had the feeling this was not their first foray into sand sculptures.

the bullpen

"We usually make ancient cities (Roman, Greek, Egyptian) but we've also done the Titanic, the Jefferson Memorial, Minas Tirith (Lord of the Rings), the pyramids and Sphinx, and the Parthenon among other things," he said.

If you look closely at the photos, you'll notice seashells being used for the base paths and some of the chalk lines, but that wasn't the only extra detail in the CBP castle.

"I wanted to get the stands to be recognizable, although some things can't really be done in sand and I was working from memory," Alex told us. "I also tried to get the major landmarks in: the scoreboard porch (the jumbotron proved too challenging), the batters eye in center field, the bullpens, and Chickie and Pete's. I ran out of time to make Ashburn Alley completely, which was disappointing. Other than sand, we used some shells to do the base paths and some driftwood for the foul poles and scoreboard."

Using the remnants of a real crab to represent Chickie's and Pete's was a great touch. Sadly, ocean water doesn't really give that day-old beer smell, so they couldn't make the replica 100% accurate to a South Philly sports viewing experience.

Thanks to Alex for telling us about his amazing castle and ZWR for the find.

Alex's girlfriend Meg rocking her R2C2 shirt

Pete Mackanin on Odubel Herrera's slump: 'He needs to battle his way out'

Pete Mackanin on Odubel Herrera's slump: 'He needs to battle his way out'

After an 0-for-5 day at the plate, Odubel Herrera isn't heading to the bench a day later.

He's leading off. 

Pete Mackanin chose to move the slumping centerfielder atop the lineup card for Friday's series opener against the Reds despite Herrera's striking out in all five plate appearances Thursday.

"I think he's a .290-plus hitter as a leadoff man and I'm not going to sit him," Mackanin said pregame. "He needs to battle his way out. You figure you're the leadoff hitter once a game. After that, it's wide open."

While he hasn't batted leadoff this season, Herrera spent the majority of his time in that spot last season. In 76 games there, he batted .285 with a .359 OBP and .417 slugging percentage. 

The leadoff hitter this season has been Cesar Hernandez, who has a day off with a groin pull he's dealt with the last 10 days. Herrera primarily has been the No. 3 hitter this season and his average is down to .226 with 49 strikeouts to just 11 walks. 

Mackanin hopes the leadoff role can help change Herrera's approach at the plate.

"He was drawing a lot of walks at leadoff, so whether he has that mindset or not, I'm not sure," the manager said. "I just want to get him as many at-bats as possible. We need to get him going. We need him and [Maikel] Franco to get going."

May specifically has been tough on Herrera. He has four hits in his last 36 at-bats and has seven strikeouts in his last two games. He has just seven hits in 22 games this month. 

"I think he's at the point where he's grinding and sometimes when you grind, sometimes there's that feeling where you get lost," Mackanin said. "I've been in situations as a hitter where I've gone up to the plate saying, 'I don't care where it is. I'm going up there and just hacking.' Because you start thinking and that's not working.

"And you look for a pitch and then all of a sudden you say I'm going to take a pitch to get a look at and it's strike one. Then he throws you a nasty slider and that's strike two and your plan is out the window. So I've gone up to the plate myself saying, 'I'm just looking down the middle and swinging. I'm not thinking.'"

When asked, Mackanin said the team had not discussed demoting Herrera or Franco to the minors to take pressure off the duo.

While Herrera tries to hit his way back into a groove, Howie Kendrick is in the midst of working his way back to the majors. He was hit by pitch twice in a rehab appearance Thursday but is back in the lineup Friday in left field. 

Mackanin said Kendrick needed four days minimum in his rehab assignment and will therefore play Friday and Saturday before the team sees how he feels.

The manager also said the team would give more playing time to backup catcher Andrew Knapp. He started consecutive games for the first time on Tuesday and Wednesday. 

"I'm going to try and see him as much as possible and keep him as sharp as possible instead of once a week," Mackanin said. "That's tough to hit, once a week. It's tough to hit twice a week if you don't hit back-to-back. There's no ulterior motive."

Report: Brett Brown accuses longtime friend of defrauding him of $750,000

brett-brown.jpg

Report: Brett Brown accuses longtime friend of defrauding him of $750,000

Sixers head coach Brett Brown is in Australia this week, where he has accused longtime friend and former Australian men's national team assistant coach Shane Heal of defrauding him of $750,000, according to the Australian Associated Press.

Brown invested $250,000 into each of three companies for which Heal was the sole director. Brown wasn't given a legal title regarding the companies and didn't know the specifics of how the money would be used.

"I assumed that the money was going to be used for what Shane told me it was going to be used for," Brown said. "Because it was a friend that I had for 25 years."

Heal was charged last year by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission following an investigation relating to alleged misconduct in 2008, 2009 and 2010, according to the AAP.

The sides return to court in Brisbane on July 20.

Heal played in the NBA for the Minnesota Timberwolves in 1996-97 and was with the San Antonio Spurs in 2003.