Phillies announce initiative to fight hunger

Phillies announce initiative to fight hunger

PHILADELPHIA — In the eyes of those who operate Philabundance, which as part of the Greater Philadelphia Food Bank is the Delaware Valley’s largest hunger relief organization, there can be no better partner than the Philadelphia Phillies.

“This is a fantastic boost in the arm for us,” said Philabundance president and executive director Bill Clark from the media room at Citizens Bank Park. “Many people don’t realize that the summertime is really our peak for need. Kids get out of school and there is an uptick in demand, and I think across the Delaware Valley, there is no organization that has more of the attention and the spirit of the community than the Phillies. For the Phillies and Citizens Bank to take the initiative and get behind us is a huge boost in helping us create awareness of the problem.”

On Thursday, just a few hours before the Phillies were set to take on the Red Sox in the final game of a three-game series at Citizens Bank Park, the Phils, along with Citizens Bank and several other corporate sponsors — including Toyota, Goya, Coca-Cola, Aramark, Hatfield and ShopRite — announced the Phans Feeding Families initiative. The main objective is to raise money and food for more than 900,000 people at the risk of hunger in the Delaware Valley.

At the same time, a coexisting objective is to raise awareness of a problem that, while it is known, many don’t understand the extent of the problem in the current economy.

“There’s just not enough awareness of hunger,” Citizens Bank president and CEO Daniel Fitzpatrick said. “We have wonderful city that has so many great things going on, but you can’t forget that there are 900,000 people that are hungry.

“We take the good citizenship part very seriously. What we do in the community is as important as anything we do. We all love Philadelphia and want to give back. Look, it’s the right thing to do, and let’s be honest, its good business. We are making sure that the citizens of this region are healthy, and that carries over on a much larger scale.”

The first step came from the Citizens Bank Foundation, which donated a check for $133,000 to hunger relief and nutrition assistance in eastern Pennsylvania, of which $50,000 was earmarked for Philabundance. Over the next month, Phans Feeding Families — backed by ace Roy Halladay and his Halladay Foundation — will seek to raise awareness, culminating on July 31, when the Phillies host the Pirates.

Halladay has already taped one public service announcement and will be featured on Sunday in a segment that will air on the team’s weekly show “Behind the Pinstripes,” in which he will talk about his motivation with Phillies broadcaster Tom McCarthy.

“That’s one of the special things about our ballclub,” Phillies president David Montgomery said. “We have so many players already active in the community that we allow them to be the driving force. When we talked with the Roy and his wife this past offseason, he talked about this foundation and his goals to eliminate hunger. It’s really a perfect fit.

“The reality is, you have to congratulate Citizens Bank and all our other partners, because they’re the driving force behind this. We’re just glad we can lend our support.”

Mike Radano is a contributor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB Trade Speculation: Could Michael Cuddyer Cure Phillies’ Offensive Woes?

As the All-Star break quickly approaches, and the midway point of the baseball season officially comes upon us, the focus of baseball operations for teams like the Philadelphia Phillies changes direction.

Now that teams have sorted through their organizational options, front offices around the game, be it as buyers or sellers, begin scouring the trade market to begin the rebuilding process or add pieces for the stretch run.

The Philadelphia Phillies will certainly be looking to add pieces for the stretch run as buyers. Entering play Tuesday, the Phils boasted the best record in baseball at 49-30, vying for their 50th win against their toughest challenge yet—the Boston Red Sox.

While players and management alike were unwilling to go so far as to call this series a potential World Series preview, those of us around the game with zero commitment to either side know that this could be a sampling of what’s to come when late October rolls around. The Phillies sit atop the National League with their monstrous pitching staff, and the Red Sox hold the second-best record in the American League with the game’s most devastating offense.

So while these two potential World Series combatants could meet again, this series will serve as more of a benchmark for the Phillies than anything. With the Red Sox rolling into Citizens Bank Park as their toughest foes yet, this series may force the Phils to make a move prior to the trade deadline.

Would you trade a top ten prospect to acquire Michael Cuddyer?

    Would you trade a top ten prospect to acquire Michael Cuddyer?
  • Yes 55.7%
  • No 44.3%
  • Total votes: 463

While it’s no secret that Charlie Manuel would like to add a bat to balance his lineup a bit, finding playing time for said hitter could be a problem. The only logical destination for an imported bat would be a corner outfield spot, and even then, with the ever-improving Domonic Brown manning right field and the veteran Raul Ibanez in left, those options are limited.

While benching Ibanez and the remainder of his hefty $11 million salary is an easy decision for the fans, for Manuel and his staff, benching the proverbial “good guy” isn’t as simple. In any case, getting the left fielder going and keeping him going is a vital task for the health of this offense. Leaving him out of the lineup all together for the rest of the season isn’t going to do either part any favors.

With every position on the diamond filled with a regular, at a glance, making a trade for an impact bat doesn’t seem logical, but upon further review, there may be just one guy who fits. With Ibanez’s struggles and the worrisome health of aging veterans like Chase Utley and Placido Polanco, finding a player with a lot of defensive versatility may be wise.

Prior to the season, Phils fans dreamt of Michael Young filling that role with the club, but now that he’s having one of his best seasons in recent memory and his Texas Rangers sit atop the AL West, a trade for him is even less of a possibility now than it was in March.

But finding someone similar to Young may be the key for the Phillies, and a quick glance at this season’s potential sellers reveals an interesting name—Michael Cuddyer of the Minnesota Twins.

Easily one of the season’s biggest disappointments, the Twins, who were expected to contend for the AL Central division, currently reside in last place, behind the likes of the surprising Cleveland Indians and Kansas City Royals. They’re 10 games out of first place on June 28, and an unbiased review of their roster reveals that they probably don’t have the pieces to make a run.

A lot of executives around the game believe trading some of their players in the final year of their contracts is a good idea, as moving guys like Cuddyer, Jim Thome, Joe Nathan and Matt Capps could bring in some nice prospects for the team moving forward.

If any team was going to have interest in Cuddyer, it would be the Phillies. With a current slash line of .290/.356/.461 and 10 home runs, he’s the solid right-handed bat that the Phils are desperately in need of, but much more than that.

While he won’t be winning any Gold Gloves anytime soon, Cuddyer has played all over the diamond with the Twins, particularly for the 2011 season when they asked him to move into more of a super-utility role. He’s spent the most time this season in right field, but has also played first and second base. As recently as the 2010 season, he has played third base and all of the outfield positions.

His versatility is something that the Phils could desperately use. If used correctly, Manuel could siphon him into the lineup daily, finding plenty of playing time for the 32-year-old Virginia native, be it as a regular in left field, moving Ibanez into a more limited role or playing him at various other positions on the diamond to give veterans like Utley and Polanco a breather.

The biggest obstacle in landing Cuddyer for the Phillies would be his salary. As Jim Salisbury of CSNphilly.com reported yesterday, the Phillies are hovering dangerously close to MLB’s luxury tax, with about $3 million to work with. If they were to wait until the trade deadline to acquire Cuddyer, roughly $5.25 million of his $10.5 million salary for the 2011 season would remain.

Obviously, that gives Ruben Amaro Jr. and the Phils little leverage in orchestrating a deal for the Twins’ super-utility man. In order to acquire Cuddyer, the front office would be forced to overpay for him in terms of prospects so that the Twins would pay some of his salary. Whereas in a normal situation, a guy like Cuddyer may only cost a couple of fringe prospects, now, the Phils may be forced to dangle a top-10 prospect in order to get the Twins to bite.

All in all, however, Cuddyer may be a worthwhile investment for the Phillies, as he fills a number of needs and glaring holes on the current roster. First and foremost, he brings a much better offensive arsenal to the plate than Raul Ibanez. Currently mired in another slump, the Phils’ interim left fielder’s days as a regular may be numbered.

Secondly, he gives the team a more reliable option off the bench. Let’s face it—this team isn’t getting any younger. With Chase Utley’s chronic medical condition and the overall age of this roster, a guy like Cuddyer becomes more valuable. At present, the only viable options for the Phils in the infield in place of Utley and Polanco are Wilson Valdez and Michael Martinez, who boast OPS’s of .589 and .462 respectively.

They say you have to give something to get something, and Michael Cuddyer may be well worth a top-10 prospect as the Phils gear up for another run at a World Series title.

Lockout impact: NFL’s labor unrest is a harsh reality for fantasy football companies

LAS VEGAS – The NFL lockout has led Bruce Taylor to take some painful steps: He has scrapped publication of a fantasy football magazine that sold 161,000 copies last year, laid off an employee and took out a home equity loan.

Although players and owners are still trying to figure out how to divide $9.3 billion in revenue and save the regular season, it’s already too late for some of those who make their living from the widely popular fantasy football industry.

Usually by now, thousands of the estimated 24 million people who play fantasy football each year have already begun preparing for their leagues of made-up teams, with fortunes resting on real-life individual performances of their favorite NFL stars.

But as NFL franchises and players skip offseason workouts and free agents go unsigned amid the labor unrest, companies that depend on fans poring over statistics and incremental personnel moves to form their fantasy teams have had to cope with the reality of lost revenue.

The fantasy football industry brings in about $800 million a year. While everyone involved hopes that most of that money will still be there if the NFL resolves its labor dispute, some — including magazines that help fantasy players select their teams — are already declaring 2011 a lost year.

"We’ll be lucky if we make one-third of what we make in a normal year," said Taylor, the 46-year-old co-owner of Seattle-based Fantasy Index Magazine, Inc., which is not publishing its Fantasy Football Index magazine for the first time in 25 years.

"It’s tough because we’ve had to lay somebody off — I’ve got another employee that I should lay off but I don’t have the heart. We’re a small company," Taylor told The Associated Press. "I try and be philosophical about it because when you hitch your wagon to somebody else’s horse, you’re going to take your lumps."

"It’s a lot of money — they should fight over it — but I wish they’d fight over it faster," he said.

About 32 million people in the United States and Canada play fantasy sports each year, a number that has grown 60 percent in the last four years, according to an Ipsos Public Affairs poll commissioned by the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, the industry’s largest trade group.

In fantasy sports, participants assemble teams made up of real players and gauge success on how well those players perform in actual games, sometimes putting money on the line against their opponents. Football is by far the most popular fantasy sport, though players participate in leagues year-round for many sports.

The pastime’s popularity has become far more visible recently, with high profile players like Maurice Jones-Drew bragging about drafting themselves, a cable sitcom called "The League" that follows friends playing together, and an entire pregame show on ESPN dedicated to fantasy roster decisions.

Paul Charchian, the trade group’s president, said companies aren’t as jittery now as they will be in August without a resolution (although the NFL and its players are working this week to come to an agreement). Even now, Charchian says, they are already starting to see lost business.

"It’s still June, but normally right now, revenue is already starting for the football season," he said. "Once hockey and basketball end, a lot of people start turning their attention to football."

Charchian said his company, LeagueSafe, which lets fantasy owners pay league fees online, has seen less than half the revenue so far this year than it had collected at the same point last year.

Taylor said his company is down to the equivalent of four full-time employees from six last year, with one layoff and another unfilled vacancy.

To keep Fantasy Index operating, Taylor and his business partner took out home equity loans a few weeks ago, he said.

"If we crash the ship into the rocks, we can at least have lines of credit to get it afloat again," Taylor said.

Charchian said the industry has about 150 companies, including 15 publishers printing 25 magazines. Most are not printing this year, including those run by larger companies, including ESPN, he said.

CBSSports.com, an online arm of the CBS television network, has begun offering fans partial or full refunds depending on how many games are played this season.

One possible result of the lockout is that the NFL could play a shortened season. That would throw off fantasy leagues, which usually schedule playoffs that coincide with the final games of the NFL’s regular season.

The offer from CBS Sports promises players a prorated refund of league fees if games go unplayed, with a full refund if more than half the season is lost. A spokesman for CBS Sports declined comment.

Charchian said nearly all fantasy sports companies have been adjusting to try to keep players from hesitating to organize leagues.

"Companies don’t necessarily want to say, ‘Were not taking any money right now,’" Charchian said. "They’d rather take the money and then offer a refund."

Philadelphia Phillies: Antonio Bastardo and Michael Stutes All-Star Worthy?

The Philadelphia Phillies have taken the first two games from the Boston Red Sox and have improved upon the best record in MLB.

A masterpiece from Cliff Lee was almost expected after the dominance he has displayed the entire month of June, but a one-run effort from Vance Worley, Michael Stutes and Antonio Bastardo against the Red Sox was inspiring.

Bastardo and Stutes have had nothing short of spectacular seasons to this point, and they both deserve an all-star nod for their efforts.

Bastardo has been dazzling since the season started and he has posted a ridiculous 0.93 ERA and 0.83 WHIP. He is 3-for-3 in save opportunities and has a 3-0 record.

The young lefty has proved that he is fearless and is capable of pitching in any capacity and doing quite well. Left-handed hitters are hitting a minuscule .118 against Bastardo on the season, but he is no left-handed specialist.

Right-handed hitters are struggling against him as well at only .121.

His fastball seems to explode out of his hands and can consistently reach the mid-90s. He has finally seemed to control his devastating slider, and hopefully he can remain healthy and keep his dominance rolling.

Antonio Bastardo is clearly worthy of an all-star nod, but will he get any love from the NL coaches? Charlie Manuel surely knows how important Bastardo has been to the Phillies and you can bet he will be pushing hard for the Phightins’ unsung hero.

Then there is Michael Stutes. He endeared himself to Phillies Nation with his fearless demeanor and wild and crazy hair. The fact that he openly answers fans’ tweets doesn’t hurt either.

The 24-year-old out of Oregon State has consistently been put in crucial situations against some of the best teams in the league, and he has passed more times than not with flying colors.

Stutes is 3-0 with a 2.81 ERA and 1.17 WHIP in 2011. Incredibly, he has only allowed 15 hits in more than 25 innings pitched thus far. His fastball is electric (like Bastardo’s) and he has drastically improved his secondary pitches.

Lefty hitters are only hitting .222 against Stutes, but that looks terrific considering right-handed batters are hitting just .146.

Both young pitchers keep the ball in the park and have steadied what many considered to be a weakness heading into the season.

It is time that Michael Stutes and Antonio Bastardo are given credit, because credit is surely due to this point.

Antonio Bastardo and Michael Stutes should be representing the National League in the 2011 All-Star Game.

MLB Standings Update: Braves Hanging Around In NL East

The Philadelphia Phillies have led the NL East from day one and still find themselves atop the division with the best record in baseball at 51-30. That’s four games better than any other team in the league and five better than any other NL team. They’ve grown that best record lead even further this week with two wins over the Red Sox, who previously held the second best record in the majors.

But as the Phillies roll on, the Atlanta Braves have managed to keep pace and currently sit 4.5 games back. They’ve been winning in much the same way as the Phils have, with really good pitching and not so much offense. Whether or not the Braves ever catch Phils may end up being somewhat of a moot point, since Atlanta is firmly in control of the NL Wildcard.

The Mets currently sit at third in the division and their solid run in June has lifted them over the ,500 mark. They’ve won 7 of their 10, but still remain 9.5 games back in the division. Nationals had a bit of a celebration when they finally got themselves over the .500 mark over the weekend, but in true Nats style, the team quickly crushed the optimism with four straight losses sending them back below .500. They sit 11 games back in the division.

As for the Marlins… Well, it’s been a rough month to say the least. The Fish have been almost historically bad this month, their manager simply gave up and they went from just a game back of the Phils at the start of the month to 15.5 games back in cellar of the NL East.

Post Oak Little League 13s take District 16 – Your Houston News:

The Post Oak Little League 13s all-star team has won the TexasEast District 16 championship in Bear Creek Park.

The POLL team won four consecutive games to win the District 16banner, knocking off West University 8-3 in the finals Mondaynight. Going into the game, the Post Oak squad needed just one winto finish off the WULL all-stars, who needed to beat Post Oak twicefor the championship.

The Post Oak squad won three consecutive games to reach thefinals and will now have a few days off before they advance to theSub-Section 13-year-old tournament hosted by District 14 startingFriday, June 24 in Santa Fe.

Post Oak began the District 16 tournament Thursday night ingrand fashion, belting Bear Creek 15-8 and then squeezed past WestUniversity, 4-3, to send the team wearing the green into theloser’s bracket.

The West U 13s had a first-round bye in the seven-teamtournament and drew the winner of the Memorial-Ashford-KatyNational game in the second round and that was Memorial-Ashfordafter their 13s took a thrilling 9-8 victory over the same KatyNational team that was alive and in the loser’s bracket finals.

After that win, however, Memorial fell 25-2 to West Universityand then was eliminated from the tournament by that same KatyNational team 16-8.

West University could not maintain its momentum after that bigwin over M-A falling to Post Oak in its next game to drop into theone-game-winner-take-all situation against Katy National Sunday forthe chance to play in the finall.

The POLL team will enter next week’s tournament one of thehottests teams around after last week’s showing at the districttourney.

Jake Boihem, Paolo Cannatella, Carter Cochrane, Aaron Cranfield,Julian Cranfield, Charles Dorfman, Elliott Eyering, DanielGartrell, Rowdy Hinckley, Andrew Hoffman, John Lilly, and GinoMasini are the players on the West U 13s All-District squad.

Cape Bell is the manager and Trey Burke, Matt Hudlow, and AdamZornes are the 13s coaches.

Crowded Carter Lake

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The Missouri is off limits, Zorinsky is still dry, and so more people are headed to Carter Lake. The concern is for safety the fear is overcrowding.

With the time and space he needs in Carter Lake Aaron Schock is testing the limits of himself and his new toy.

Aaron Schock says, “I definitely wish I had gotten one a long time ago.”

Schock admits that he is no expert on his personal watercraft but he is getting the hang of it and improving each time out. He suggests anyone starting out on a jet ski take some precautions.

Aaron Schock says, “If you’re a first timer come out today when there is no one on the lake because you have the whole lake to yourself. You kind of know what you can do with it, how you can maneuver it, how quick it turns.”

That may be difficult advice to follow. Authorities have banned recreational boats from the Missouri and Zorinsky is still dry, that means a lot of boaters will be headed to Carter Lake.

Steve Podany says many of the Missouri River boaters were at the lake this past weekend and there were no problems, still he favors a tightening of restrictions on Carter Lake.

Steve Podany says, “Sure as long as everybody is having a good time and slows down. If it gets crowded you want everybody to slow down and be a little bit safer but there was no problem with the bigger boats out here they kind of stayed down at the no wake zone tied up together there really wasn’t any speed involved with the bigger boats.”

That sounds good to Schock but if too many boaters put in at Carter Lake he may not bring his jet ski back for a while. He trusts his own skills but overcrowded is overcrowded.

Aaron Schock says, “I would be concerned because these things are like lightening on the water and if people aren’t paying attention especially if there is alcohol out here it would be very dangerous.”

Many of the boaters we talked to said that as Carter Lake starts to fill with boats and jet skis that people really do slow down and look out for each other.

All of the people we spoke to said that a slower speed especially when the lake gets crowded is something that they would support.

Aaron Carter – Aaron Carter: Michael Jackson Gave Me Cocaine

Aaron Carter has claimed his mother called the police to report Michael Jackson for giving him cocaine and alcohol when he was just 15.

Aaron Carter has claimed Michael Jackson gave him cocaine and alcohol when he was 15.

The ‘Crazy Little Party Girl’ hitmaker – who spent a month in rehab earlier this year for “emotional and spiritual” issues – was friends with the now deceased King of Pop but admitted he became so “uncomfortable” with how Michael acted towards him, his mother eventually called the police.

Speaking to Australia’s OK! magazine, Aaron, now 23, said: “I never talked about it… This is the first time. I do … I miss Michael … I have spent such incredible times with him. I did things with him that nobody else did … But I was also troubled about what he did to me.

“Yes, he gave me wine. I mean, I could have refused, but I was 15.

“He gave me cocaine. I felt weird about that and other stuff … We spoke afterwards, hours and hours, on the phone. I admired Michael, but his behaviour bothered me a lot. Then my mother called the police…”

Aaron – whose brother is Backstreet Boys star Nick Carter – is currently working on a new album in the hope of re-launching his music career and his manager Johnny Wright believes his time in rehab will help him succeed.

Johnny said: “Several months ago Aaron came to me to help him return to music and to restart his career. He has been in Orlando working on a new album and perfecting his live show and his physical body. Aaron, understanding the challenges and hard work it would take to get himself back to the top, requested to take some time before we started to heal some emotional and spiritual issues he was dealing with.

Live updates: Red Sox at Phillies – Extra Bases – Red Sox blog

Bottom 7th: Red Sox 3, Phillies 0

The Phils threatened here with two on and one out against Lester. With one out, Howard singled and Victorino walked, but Lester retired Francisco and Ibanez.

Top 7th: Red Sox 3, Phillies 0

Phillies fans don’t hold grudges or anything. When J.D. Drew came up to pinch-hit for Darnell McDonald, he got a huge ovation of boos. That was back in 1997 folks, when Drew didn’t sign as a No. 1 pick with the Phillies.

Bottom 6th: Red Sox 3, Phillies 0

Six, one-hit innings for Lester. The Red Sox really needed to beat the Phillies at their own game.

Top 6th: Red Sox 3, Phillies 0

Don’t know how the Red Sox are doing it with this lineup (Well Ok, we do know – Cole Hamels had to leave the game with a hand injury), but they hold the three-run lead. Jason Varitek hit a 3-2 fastball into the rightfield bleachers, his fourth, on a ball that kept drifting into the stands.

Top 5th: Red Sox 2, Phillies 0

Cole Hamels has left the game with a right hand contusion after he caught Gonzalez’ linedrive in the fourth. Big break for the Red Sox. X-rays were negative and Hamels is day to day.

Sox rallied for a run against reliever Dave Herndon. Reddick tripled into the rightfield corner. Drew Sutton knocked him in with a single to right. Scutaro and Sutton worked a nice hit and run, poking a single through the hole between first and second. After Lester struck out, Ellsbury stroked a single to left scoring the second run.

Top 4th: Red Sox 0, Phillies 0

Hamels nearly has his head taken off by an Adrian Gonzalez liner. Checked out by trainer. He’s fine.

Bottom 3rd: Red Sox 0, Phillies 0

Just got word from Mike Cameron that he’s probably not going to discuss today’s roster move in which he was designated for assignment, but he said he will address it in the upcoming days.

Lester had his way with the bottom of the Phils lineup, striking out Carlos Ruiz and Hamels and then retiring leadoff man Rollins on a grounder to third.

Top 3rd: Red Sox 0, Phillies 0

Sox go down in order against Hamels, who has allowed a pair of hits, a first-inning infield hit by Ellsbury and a single in the second to Josh Reddick.

Bottom 1st: Red Sox 0, Phillies 0

Easy does it for Jon Lester. Retires the Phillies in order. He’s got a lineup behind him today minus David Ortiz, Kevin Youkilis. He’d better be good.

Top 1st: Red Sox 0, Phillies 0

Nice afternoon in the City of Brotherly Love. Obviously, lots of action with Mike Cameron designated for assignment. One classy man.

Jacoby Ellsbury singled vs. Cole Hamels but the Sox couldn’t muster much else. Another funky lineup with Darnell McDonald hitting second.

Carson Daly – Javier Colon Wins The Voice

Javier Colon was crowned the winner of ‘The Voice’ last night (29.06.11), beating Dia Frampton to the record contract prize.

Javier Colon has been crowned the winner of ‘The Voice’.

The singer burst into tears when his name was read out by host Carson Daly, beating runner-up Dia Frampton by just two per cent of the vote.

The other finalists were Vicci Martinez and Beverly McClellan.

He said: “Thank you. I want to thank everybody at home who believed in me and voted for me.”

Javier will now receive a recording contract with Universal Republic Studios as well as a $100,000 cash prize.

The father of two sang a sensational duet of ‘Landslide’ with Fleetwood Mac legend Stevie Nicks which moved his coach, Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine, to tears.

Javier was an instant favourite to win the competition in the blind rounds when he sang a version of Cyndi Lauper’s ‘Time After Time’.

All four coaches turned their chairs but Javier chose ‘Maroon 5′ singer Adam Levine to be his coach instead of Cee Lo Green, Christina Aguilera and Blake Shelton.

Adam believes that Javier won because his voice is so “powerful and special”.

He said: “It’s his voice. That’s all you need the name of the show is ‘The Voice’. I just like the fact that the winner really reflects what the show is all about.”

Javier has revealed he plans to record with his coach on his debut album.

He said: “Me and Adam are definitely going to get into the studio and do some things. Even Cee-Lo and I talked about doing some stuff as well.”

Season two of ‘The Voice’ will air on US network NBC in the winter.