Back to Baseball: Morning Run-down; Plus more Kalas details

Joe Blanton will take the mound in Washington tonight as the Phillies play for the first time since Monday. (David Maialetti/Staff file photo)

Good morning, live from the club lounge at the Marriott Rennaissance on K-Street. The only thing I hate about Rennaissance hotels is that I can't spell them. It's just one of those words that, no matter how many times I type, I will never get right on the first time. Go ahead, insert your Dave-you-always-make-typos-on-your-blog-so-we-are-used-to-it joke here.

Really, you guys are precious.

First and foremost, the Phillies have announced additional details for the Kalas tribute on Saturday. Fans will be able to pay their respects in front of his casket. Complete details at the bottom of this post.

I like D.C. A lot. It is one of those city's where everyone you walk past seems important. I walked in to the hotel restaurant this morning to eat breakfast and I was the only one not wearing a suit, females included. Half of them are probably just grad students at Catholic University who work part-time at Starbucks for benefits, but they dress in power suits and talk about stories they just read in Congressional Quarterly and look at me like I have eight eyeballs because I dare to wear a pair of Jordan shorts and Air Shocks to breakfast, so they seem pretty damn important.

Anyway, now that we've gotten my daily morning insecurities out into the open, let's talk some baseball. It seems like forever since I've had a chance to write a blog post simply out baseball. And while it hasn't been forever, it has been three days, which is pretty much like forever, at least when you are talking about a season in which the only back-to-back days without games are over the All-Star break.

The story hasn't been baseball since Sunday, for obvious reasons. In fact, more often than not, it feels as if the story hasn't been baseball since last season. What a strange, strange start to the first season in 28 years in which the Phillies are defending champs. First there was the Opening Day ceremony and unveiling of the World Series banner, then the ring ceremony, then the passing of Harry Kalas. Mix in a little rain and some Jackie Robinson pageantry and it really feels like baseball season hasn't even started yet.

So, from now on, we are going to talk about baseball. You remember what that is, don't you? Bat, ball, plate, base -- for the past two-plus years the Phillies have been pretty good at it. And with all that has happened over the past few days -- and rightfully so; I am in no way diminishing Harry Kalas -- it is easy to overlook the fact that they have now won three straight games for the first time since the 2008 World Series.

Here are some things that have piqued my interest this morning:

1) Ian Kinsler went 6-for-6 last night and hit for the cycle in the Rangers' win over the Orioles. I point this out because I like Ian Kinsler a lot, and anybody who watched him destroy Phillies pitching last July should like him too. You remember that series, don't you? It was Brett Myers' last road trip with the Phillies before he went down to the minors. Kinsler went 9-for-15 in the series with two doubles, a triple, a home run, five runs scores, two RBI, a stolen base, and two walks. Yes, that's right: He only reached base in 73 percent of his plate appearances. If it was High School geometry, he would have received a C-. But, again, it's baseball. And he was incredible.

2) Joe Blanton will pitch tonight, and catcher Lou Marson will catch tonight. If you remember, I predicted over the weekend that Marson would get the start on Monday against the Nationals. Well, I was wrong. But Charlie Manuel did say yesterday that he was considering throwing Marson behind the plate to catch Jamie Moyer. But after Moyer and Marson sat down and spent a lot of time going over his unique set of signals, Manuel decided to wait and give Marson is second big league start with Blanton on the mound. I'm anxious to see Sweet Lou. The big question involves his defense, which is to be expected out of a young catcher. Manuel essentially said yesterday: Hey, we'll throw him out there and see how he does.

3) On the catching front, Carlos Ruiz is still awhile away from being ready to play. He is eligible to come off the disabled list on April 26, and he could very well be ready by that time, but Manuel said yesterday it is going to take Ruiz at least two weeks, maybe more, to get back on the field.

4) A poll question on SNY during the Mets-Padres broadcast last night asked viewers to choose which New York starter other than Johan Santana would win the most games this season. The runaway winner with 37 percent of the vote was Livan Hernandez. Now, this tells me one of two things: either Mets fans are not exactly overwhelmed with the quality of their rotation, or they have an unhealthy amount of faith in Livan Hernandez.

5) Speaking of the Metskies, the Phillies enter today 4-3, a half game ahead of New York, a half game behind Atlanta (5-3), and 2.5 games behind the Marlins.

6) Today's shameless attempt at sparking discussion in the comments section: How many wins will the Washington Nationals end up with this season? (Note: although the Nats are 0-7, that is not a "yes" or "no" question).

7) Fun with early season numbers (Who are you and what have you done with Chase Utley edition): Ryan Howard is on pace to hit .345 with 23 home runs and 139 strikeouts.

8) Fun with early season numbers (Who are you and what have you done with Ted Williams edition): Chase Utley is on pace to hit .400 with 23 home runs, 69 strikeouts, 115 walks, 23 home runs, 46 steals and 162 runs scored.

9) Cole Hamels will start tomorrow. But try to get some sleep tonight. 


Kalas details, courtesy of the Phillies:


The Kalas family and the Phillies have announced the following details for Saturday’s Harry Kalas tribute to be held at Citizens Bank Park:

 Beginning at 8:00 a.m., on a first come, first served basis, fans will have the opportunity to pay their respects on the field as they pass by Harry’s casket which will be located behind home plate. To accommodate as many fans as possible, the starting time of the memorial tribute program has been moved back to 1:30 p.m.

 Fans will pass by the casket until approximately 12:45 p.m. at which time all persons in attendance will be directed to seats. Beginning at approximately 1:00 p.m., current and former players -- some of whom are travelling great distances to be here to pay their final respects -- broadcasters, front office employees, and friends and family members will pay their final respects before the on-field tribute begins at 1:30 p.m.

 Fans will be directed to enter Citizens Bank Park through the Third Base Gate at Pattison Avenue and Citizens Bank Way and will be asked to leave the ballpark through the First Base Gate. Although fans are not being asked to bring flowers or other mementos, if they choose to do so such items should be left in the area of the Mike Schmidt statue prior to entry at the Third Base Gate.

 Parking will be free. Fans are encouraged to park in the lots on the west side of the ballpark, located on the site of the former Veterans Stadium.  Limited concession stands will be open.

 All fans in attendance will receive a commemorative program, an 8”x10” photograph of Harry and a poem written by him in 2002 as a fan tribute.