An Interview With the Phillies Fan Who Threw Back Carlos Lee's Home Run at CBP

An Interview With the Phillies Fan Who Threw Back Carlos Lee's Home Run at CBP

Throwing an opposing team's home run ball back at Citizens Bank Park has been debated since the day the beautiful facility opened. Personally, I have always been against throwing the ball back on to the field, leaving that tradition to the bleacher bums at Wrigley. That said, I've never caught a home run, so I'm not 100% sure what I'd do. Peer pressure and all, ya'know?

Last night, before things got really crazy in extra innings, friend of the Level and the man behind trying to bring the Athletics back to Philadelphia, J T. Ramsay caught the ball Carlos Lee belted into the left field seats off of Cole Hamels to give the Astros the a 2-0 lead. He promptly tossed the ball back onto the field.

Following the game, we asked J T. about his cannon/experience.

[watch the home run here and look for J T. at the 18 second mark]

Enrico: Have you ever caught a ball before?

J T.: I've never caught a ball before. Not so much as a foul ball.

Sitting in left field has been pretty calm overall. Last homer that threatened Section 143 was a floater that Ben Francisco hit. Freaked me out because I had my infant son strapped to me. It landed harmlessly in the flower box.

Did you think before ever catching a HR ball that you'd keep it if it were to happen?

I've given this a lot of thought actually, since we're in row 10 in 143. It's always a possibility, but I stuck to the plan. Biggest fears about it? Not hitting the field and hitting a fan, or somehow beaning Raul if he had his back turned. Fortunately neither happened.

If a Phillie had hit it, and if I'd had my son with me, then, yeah, I would've kept it. But it was Carlos freakin' Lee and my son wasn't with me, so I threw it back. Felt pretty good, actually. Chances are that unless I suddenly learn a knuckleball, 45,000 people are never going to cheer me like that again in my lifetime.

Did you give in to the peer pressure or did you always want to throw it back?

Great question. Can I admit that I sort of think that it sucks that Philly adopted a pretty lame Cubs thing, which has become a trend around the league? And, really, if you're doing anything to emulate Cubs fans, you're probably forgetting the fact that they have a well-documented curse. We're past that. Doing this just seems silly to me.

All the same, it was cathartic. We never give Cole run support and a two-run bomb like that is just the sort of thing that makes lesser fans think he's a bum. I want to be on record that I think Cole has been amazing this year and that if our offense were anything like it has been, these homers would be harmless. Throwing it back felt like the only honest thing to do. Plus, it's the only time I'll probably ever throw a ball in a major league ballpark.
Peer pressure never really was a factor. Cheryl, one of the women who sits in front of me, just said, "Throw it back, J T." and I had to oblige her. We're family in Section 143.

Finally, how much did that game suck?

I have a controversial answer to this question! What if I said it didn't suck and that it exemplified what makes watching the Phillies at the ballpark such a pleasure? Seriously, the game was blazing along for a frustrating 9 innings, when suddenly J-Roll awakes from his torpor to tie it, which results in a marathon game that lasts nearly five and a half hours. When was the last time you saw Danys Baez come up big in a high leverage inning? NEVER!

Sure, the officiating was terrible. It has been often this season. MLB has noticed. But set that aside and consider the product on the field. The Phillies are frustrated. I wish they could fire Milt Thompson again. So do your readers, I bet. Howard has an awful night, gets taunted by the ump, blows a gasket and gets tossed.

What happens next will forever emblazon Roy Oswalt in Phillies folklore. This isn't LaRussa putting Lohse in left during that 20-inning disaster of a game. This is Roy Oswalt getting the Cliff Lee treatment for being a team player. Do you think there's any doubt in his mind he came to the right place now?

Will it suck if we miss the playoffs because we dropped two winnable games to the freakin' Astros? Absolutely. But games like this galvanize the Phillies faithful. You could've heard a pin drop in that place before Howard exploded. The crowd was going wild after 12 AM  on a school night! The loss hurts, but you can't beat the experience.

Enrico: So there you have it. Throw a ball back if you want, but you don't have to.

You can join J T.'s cause to bring the A's back to Philly here or read his blog here.

Eagles head coach Doug Pederson talks protesting anthem, Myke Tavarres doesn't

Eagles head coach Doug Pederson talks protesting anthem, Myke Tavarres doesn't

A day after flip-flopping on whether or not he planned to stand or sit during the national anthem, Myke Tavarres had nothing to say about this complex issue.

Tavarres, a rookie undrafted linebacker with the Eagles, told ESPN on Monday he planned to emulate 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and sit during the playing of the national anthem Thursday night prior to the Eagles’ preseason game against the Jets at The Linc.

Tavarres said he wanted to draw attention to racial inequality and social injustice with the demonstration.

"We’ve got an issue in this country in this day and age, and I feel like somebody needs to step up and we all need to step up,” Tavares  told ESPN.

But within a couple hours, Tavarres had changed his mind.

“Myke plans on standing for the national anthem,” his agent said in a statement. “Myke does not want to be a distraction to the Philadelphia Eagles organization. Mike’s goal is and will always be to make the Eagles’ 53-man roster and help the team win a Super Bowl.”

Kaepernick, who four years ago led the 49ers to the Super Bowl, spoke for 18½ minutes about his decision to sit during the Star-Spangled Banner.

Tavarres said at his locker after practice Tuesday he had nothing more to say.

“I made a statement through my agent last night,” he said. “If you have any other questions, please talk to him.”

Head coach Doug Pederson said he did not talk individually to Tavarres, a fringe prospect who is unlikely to survive this weekend’s roster cuts.

But he did discuss the broader issue in a meeting with the full team and said he believes his players should stand during the anthem.

“Listen, I can appreciate everybody's opinions and I respect everybody's opinions,” Pederson said.

“But at the same time, I feel that [the national anthem] is important and it's obviously out of respect for the men and women of our country that sacrifice in order for us to coach and play this great game.

“So I get it. I understand it. But at the same time, I encourage everybody to stand.”

If not yet suspended, Lane Johnson would start at RT in opener

If not yet suspended, Lane Johnson would start at RT in opener

The Eagles are just 12 days away from the season opener against the Browns. 

And Lane Johnson still isn't suspended. 

The Eagles' starting right tackle is facing a 10-game PED suspension once the B sample returns and shows the same peptide from an amino acid that his A sample did. Johnson expects it to, but it hasn't happened yet. On Aug. 13, after news broke about the looming suspension, Johnson said he thought the results from the B sample would come back in two to three weeks, although there's no set timetable.  

... Nothing yet. 

So, at what point do the Eagles, who shifted the offensive line in anticipation of the suspension, have to plan for Johnson to be active for the opener? 

"[That’s] a great question, and this is something that we wrestle with every day," head coach Doug Pederson said. "The conversations are such that we've got to have — especially offensively — just have a plan ready to go. 

"I'll tell you this: If he's ready to go, then he's our guy." 

Since news of the impending suspension broke, Johnson has been working with the second team at right tackle. To replace him, the Eagles moved Allen Barbre from left guard to right tackle and inserted rookie Isaac Seumalo at left guard. Seumalo stayed there until an injury forced Stefen Wisniewski into the lineup. 

If there's no suspension and Johnson is able to play in the opener, things would then shift back. Johnson would take his job at right tackle, and Barbre would go back to left guard, sending Seumalo and/or Wisniewski to the bench. 

"I think he had a tremendous camp and tremendous offseason at left guard, and you kind of put the pieces back in place," Pederson said of Barbre. "We've seen enough from the Isaacs and Wisniewskis, and Allen over there at right tackle that we know we've got the combination of guys — and ‘Big V’ (tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai) got plenty of reps — to sustain this thing through the duration."

For now, though, the Eagles aren't treating Johnson like a starter. The veteran will be playing on Thursday in the preseason finale against the Jets. It might be his last game until Nov. 28 against the Packers. Or not. 

The waiting game continues.

Tonight's lineup: Ryan Howard starts despite awful numbers vs. Max Scherzer

Tonight's lineup: Ryan Howard starts despite awful numbers vs. Max Scherzer

Despite having awful career numbers against Max Scherzer, Ryan Howard is in the Phillies' lineup against him Tuesday night.

Howard, 1 for 18 with 11 strikeouts against the Nationals' ace, bats fourth. 

Howard seems to be coming back to Earth. He hit .357 with seven home runs, four doubles and 16 RBIs in his first 20 games out of the All-Star break, but has gone 2 for 16 with two singles and eight strikeouts since.

Jimmy Paredes gets another start in left field. Peter Bourjos is out of the lineup for a fourth straight game.

The rest of the lineup is standard. Odubel Herrera, who bats second, is 6 for 19 with five walks in his career against Scherzer (see game notes).

1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Odubel Herrera, CF
3. Maikel Franco, 3B
4. Ryan Howard, 1B
5. Cameron Rupp, C
6. Aaron Altherr, RF
7. Jimmy Paredes, LF
8. Freddy Galvis, SS
9. Jerad Eickhoff, P