Ryan Howard: 'Let's Go Celebrate with the People!'

Ryan Howard: 'Let's Go Celebrate with the People!'

CITIZENS BANK PARK -- The Phillies clubhouse was a naturally chaotic place after they clinched their fifth straight NL East crown on Saturday night.

Michael Martinez was running around spraying everyone in sight. Beat writers were dodging champagne as best they could while trying to get that one great quote. Jimmy Rollins was sneak-attacking Ben Francisco who was minding his own business quietly away from the action. Photographers were jumping into the thick of it to get the perfect shot. Clubhouse attendants were asking Cliff Lee to pose for a photo. New guy Justin De Fratus was saying "I just got here today," seemingly in awe of his first day with the big league club.

Amid the madness there seems to be a routine that develops among the players. Guys spray the hell out of each other, wincing every time at the ice-cold liquid covering their heads and soaking their brand new NL East Champions t-shirts.

But once the two players get each other real good and they're both dripping wet, they hug it out and congratulate each other on the big accomplishment that they both worked incredibly hard to achieve.

There are some real genuine moments amongst the mayhem.

My favorite of the night was after Ryan Howard finished explaining to reporters that he's done this celebration thing once or twice so he knows the regular swimming goggles won't cut it. The Big Piece "came correct" last night and was donning ski goggles that provide much more coverage, he says.

Howard finished his brief chat with reporters and shouted to nobody in particular, "Let's go celebrate with the people!"

He repeated it multiple times until he got the attention of catcher Brian Schneider and closer Ryan Madson who followed him down the tunnel, leading the way towards the field. But not before Howard stockpiled some ammo by fitting a couple of Bud Light Pounders in his pockets for the trip back out to the diamond. Big Piece has big pockets.

I followed him and his teammates out of the clubhouse and onto the field, where they were greeted with great applause from the fans who stayed long after the game was over just to share in the moment.

As you can hear in the video, Schneider says to Madson, "Hey, should we shoot the fans?" before unloading the bubbly on those above the Phillies dugout. And as you can see, my camera took a direct hit.

It was worth it, of course, and seeing Howard want to share the achievement with the people that pack Citizens Bank Park every night was a nice touch.

Ryan Howard photo by pompomflipflop

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

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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.