Larry Bowa On the First Game Post 911

Larry Bowa On the First Game Post 911

I don't have many of my own personal memories of the first Phillies game at the Vet following the September 11th tragedies. I was living in an apartment with five other guys right outside of Boston in Brighton, Mass. just starting my junior year at B.C. Those were the days before Slingbox and sports blogs. You couldn't even stream 610 WIP on the Internet back then. I remember this because I used to email them begging them to throw a stream up on the 'net. So keeping in touch with the Philly sports world was extra challenging (and eventually some of my motivation for starting this here website). So all of my knowledge of the emotional day at the Vet when baseball returned comes second hand.

The one image that's imprinted in my mind is former Phillies Manager Larry Bowa tearing up during the pregame festivities. I remember thinking, "That's Larry Friggin' Bowa crying up there."

By all accounts it was an incredibly emotional day. And as we all saw this season at Citizens Bank Park after Osama bin Laden was killed, Philly can be quite the patriotic city.

The MLB Network is airing a number of vignettes over the weekend about baseball returning to the field post 9/11. One of them features Larry Bowa sharing his feelings on that day at the Vet. Here's an excerpt:

Larry Bowa: In Philadelphia, there were a lot of mixed emotions. Guys didn’t know
whether they should play and I was one of those guys. I said, “How do we
know when the time is right?” How do you know that you [can] say,
“Okay, let’s try to start this healing process.” It’s easy for us to say
that because a lot of us weren’t involved in what happened here in New
York. What about the people that lost their mom, their dads? You know, I
didn’t know if it was the right time. As a manager, I didn’t care if we
won or lost that night, but the fact that we would start a healing
process with something that you say, “Maybe that might help out.”

As the game unfolded, people started to get involved a little bit. I remember Scott Rolen
hitting two home runs that game. [The] second one, the fans were going
crazy and Scottie is very professional, he does not like to show up the
other team. I said, “Scottie this is a special moment, I think you got
to go out and tip your hat and he did.” After the game, he said, “That
was a very special time.” I said all along that the biggest moment of my
life was winning the World Series, but that night to me was the
ultimate because I do think that we eased the pain a little bit. We
didn’t take it away, but I do know that I saw a lot of happy faces for
two hours and that’s something you never forget.

Feel free to share any memories you have from that day at the Vet if you were there. We'd love to hear them.

Phillies sign OF Daniel Nava, LHP Sean Burnett to minor-league contracts

Phillies sign OF Daniel Nava, LHP Sean Burnett to minor-league contracts

The Phillies made a couple quiet additions as the winter meetings ended, signing veteran outfielder Daniel Nava and lefty reliever Sean Burnett to minor-league contracts.

Nava, 34 in February, is a left-handed hitter who can play the outfield corners and first base. He came up with the Red Sox and became a fan favorite in Boston in 2010 as a 27-year-old rookie. Some Phillies fans will remember him for hitting a grand slam off Joe Blanton in his first major-league plate appearance.

Nava had a few decent years in Boston, the best of which was 2013, when he had 536 plate appearances and hit .303/.385/.445 with 29 doubles, 12 homers and 66 RBIs. 

Nava's numbers and opportunities have dropped every year since. He was designated for assignment by Boston in 2015, latched on with the Rays, signed the next year with the Angels and was traded late in the season to the Royals.

Over the last two seasons, Nava has hit just .208, albeit with an on-base percentage 99 points higher because of his 30 walks and 10 hit by pitches.

Burnett, 34, has spent five of the last seven seasons in the Nationals' bullpen. He had a 2.85 ERA in 283 appearances from 2009-12 and parlayed that success into a two-year, $7.25 million contract with the Angels. However, he barely pitched in 2013 and 2014 for the Halos because of an elbow tear. He returned to the Nats last season and allowed two runs in 5⅔ innings.

Burnett, perhaps more so than Nava, has a chance to fill a role with the Phillies if he can stay healthy. He's shown he can get outs at the highest level, posting a 2.38 ERA in 2012 with 9.1 strikeouts per nine innings and a 2.14 ERA with 8.9 K/9 in 2010. That was a long time ago now, and Burnett's fastball has dipped from averaging 90-91 mph to 88.

According to Sportsnet's Ben Nicholson-Smith, Burnett will receive a $1.25 million salary if he makes the team and can earn another $1.75 million in incentives based on his number of appearances.

Burnett has an opt-out date of March 26, meaning he can become a free agent a week before the regular season begins if it looks to him like he isn't in the Phils' plans.

Nava's chances at cracking the opening-day roster seem longer because the Phillies are expected to make more depth signings between now and the start of camp. They've prioritized finding some offense in the corner outfield and that could come in the form of more minor-league deals, a guaranteed contract or trade. One potential fit I examined last week was Mariners outfielder Seth Smith, a hitter more proven than Nava (see story).

These minor-league deals were commonplace for Phillies general manager Matt Klentak last offseason, when the only free agent he signed to a major-league deal was reliever David Hernandez. 

Last season, three players who were signed to minor-league deals with invites to spring training made the team on opening day: outfielder Cedric Hunter, utilityman Emmanuel Burriss and reliever James Russell.

Others, such as former closers Edward Mujica, Ernesto Frieri and Andrew Bailey, failed to make the team out of camp. Bailey eventually earned a call-up; the other two didn't.

Former Sixer Lou Williams lighting it up with Lakers off the bench

Former Sixer Lou Williams lighting it up with Lakers off the bench

Former Sixers point guard and Meek Mill collaborator Lou Williams is enjoying quite the run off the bench for the Lakers recently.

Over Los Angeles' last four games, Williams has posted totals of 40, 38, 24, and 35 points. 

The six-man is averaging 34.5 points per game over the stretch, and his 137 points are the most off the bench in a four-game span by any player since 1970-71, when stats were first recorded, per Elias Sports Bureau, via ESPN. Williams is now averaging 19.3 points this season, which is 4.4 more than his highest average with the Sixers.

Williams isn’t the only player who used to play for the Sixers that is playing well for the Lakers this year. Nick “Swaggy P” Young, who also comes off the bench, is averaging 13.3 points per game. Just a few weeks ago, Swaggy P stole a pass intended for Lou Williams, and then proceeded to hit a game winner against the Thunder. Swaggy P, however, is currently sidelined with a right calf strain, but is getting closer to a return.

"Lou Will" was also talked about last April during Kobe Bryant’s final NBA game, when he was beefing on Twitter with another former Philadelphia athlete, LeSean McCoy.