How ABC’s The Goldbergs Recreated the Vet

SEAN GIAMBRONEABC’s “The Goldbergs” is a sitcom set in 1980’s suburban Philadelphia. This Wednesday’s episode at 8:30 p.m. ET centers on young Adam Goldberg getting lost at a Phillies game at Veterans Stadium.

The show recreated the stands, the concourses, the concession stands, the bathrooms, etc. But the show almost never happened.

Goldberg spoke with MLB.com recently about the episode, being a Phillies fan and more.

Click here to read the story, which includes a couple clips from Wednesday’s episode.

Q: So why did you want to have a Phillies/Vet episode?
A: The Goldbergs is completely autobiographical about my life growing up in the ‘80s in Philadelphia. Every day in the writers’ room, we just talk about stories from our childhood and things that mattered to us. I grew up in a sports family. As you see in the show, I wasn’t athletic. But my brother was. My dad was an athlete. I was the black sheep. But that didn’t stop me from being dragged to Phillies games, Eagles games. We had Flyers season tickets. So sports are a big part of my family and growing up. Some of my best memories were going to Phillies games with my dad, going to Veterans Stadium. There was one particular instance where we got separated, and in the ‘80s when you got separated from somebody in a big place without a cell phone there was no way to find them. So I was telling this story about how I went with my dad to a Phillies game and we got separated. And there was this panic you felt because Veterans Stadium was so big and so scary. It was terrifying. It’s really an episode about Adam’s transition into manhood as he learns to survive in Veterans Stadium by himself only to be reunited with his dad at the end.

Q: But I remember seeing on Twitter you couldn’t get script approval.
A: The show is a love letter to the ‘80s, but it’s also a love letter to Philadelphia and a love letter to the sports that I grew up with. So it’s a love letter to all the Philly teams. I’ve done a lot of Flyers stuff. The NHL is really cooperative. Baseball, everybody knows, they’re just tougher. So the interesting thing was, when we approached them they had concerns about the scripts as any franchise would. Be it sports or even when we try to get an ‘80s movie cleared. Everyone wants their property to be portrayed in the right way and they have concerns. And the way it happened was I tweeted my frustrations and the Phillies saw that fans wanted Veterans Stadium to be resurrected so badly. So MLB has been awesome because they’ve decided to stay out of it and leave it in the hands of the Phillies. So now I’m working with the Phillies, which is so cool, to really come up with something that I’m happy with comedically and they’re happy that represents the Phillies in the best way. The other thing that’s amazing that is that it is a comedy and the Phillies were able to have a really good sense of humor about what Veterans Stadium was. So that’s been really cool. I think there’s concerns that naturally, we don’t want the fans to be portrayed in a certain way. So what was explained back that this isn’t about the fans. This is about Veterans Stadium, what that meant to the city and yes it was rough around the edges, but it was a place that people loved. So we’re recreating the stands and the bleachers. We’re recreating the bathrooms. There’s a lot of people from Philly on my show. And those bathrooms. Those giant troughs that you had to pee in with the drunk fans. You’re so crowded in. I remember having stage fright for the first time, having to go so bad, but being so freaked out by the experience I couldn’t go. There was so much. It was so ripe for material. This episode came out so easily because we all have so many experiences going to Phillies games with going to Veterans Stadium.

(more…)

Billingsley to Pitch in Minors on Thursday

Chad BillingsleyChad Billingsley hopes to clear another hurdle in his recovery Thursday.

He is scheduled to pitch a Minor League game at Carpenter Complex. Billingsley, 30, is recovering from a pair of surgeries on his right elbow, which have limited him to just 12 innings in the big leagues the previous two seasons.

Billingsley is expected to throw 30 to 35 pitches, about two innings of work.

“Then do it again,” Billingsley said.

The Phillies have indicated Billingsley could make a Grapefruit League appearance before the team heads to Philadelphia on April 2, but he said he is not focused on that.

“I’m not thinking that far ahead,” he said. “When you’ve been going through two years of rehab, you don’t look beyond the next week or the next start or the next whatever. You just kind of approach it one start at a time and put all your focus on doing your rehab and your treatment to get to the next step. I’m just getting ready for Thursday.”

Billingsley’s successful return to the big leagues is worth following. First, the Phillies need starting pitching help. Second, if Billingsley comes back and pitches successfully he could be a valuable trade chip come July.

Brown Out, Achilles Acting Up

Domonic BrownDomonic Brown sounded deflated tonight at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

He left a Grapefruit League game against the Yankees in the third inning because of soreness in his left Achilles. He said in the visitors’ clubhouse the Achilles had been bothering him for a couple weeks.

“They’re saying tendinitis,” Brown said.

Brown said he will have a team doctor examine him tomorrow.

Brown struck out twice in his only two plate appearances tonight. He is hitting .241 (7-for-29) with one double, two RBIs, five walks and five strikeouts in 11 games. The Phillies are hoping for a big bounce back season from Brown, who struggled as one of the least productive outfielders in baseball in 2014.

“I want to be in there, Spring Training or not,” Brown said. “I feel pretty good at the plate. I don’t want to miss any time, but this is part of the game, also. I’m definitely frustrated for sure. It seemed like we were going in the right direction, it was getting a little bit better.

“As soon as Chase Headley hit the home run (in the second inning), I took off and started feeling it then. Once I got to the on-deck circle … I could definitely feel it. Not pulling but grabbing a little bit.”

Brown missed a game earlier this week because of dehydration. He said he had been doubling up on anti-inflammatories, which might have keyed the dehydration.

So Who Exactly Is Healthy In Phillies Rotation?

Jerome WilliamsPerhaps Roy Halladay could give the Phillies a few innings.

The Phillies scratched right-hander Jerome Williams from today’s start against the Rays at Bright House Field after “tweaking” his right hamstring earlier this week. The Phillies said he is considered day to day.

That leaves just two healthy starting pitchers in camp with previous experience in the Phillies rotation: Cole Hamels and David Buchanan, who started today.

Cliff Lee’s season and career is essentially finished, despite the fact he said he will try to rehabilitate a torn tendon in his left elbow a third time. Aaron Harang has missed two of his first three Grapefruit League starts because of back issues. He is scheduled to pitch Thursday.

The remaining healthy starters in camp include right-hander Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, who converted to a reliever last season because of questions about his durability as a starter; left-hander Joely Rodriguez; who has never pitched above Double-A; right-hander Kevin Slowey, who is a non-roster invitee; and Paul Clemens, who is a non-roster invitee.

Right-hander Chad Billingsley could be a candidate at some point, but he is recovering from a pair of elbow surgeries and is not expected to be ready until late April.

Lee’s Career on Life Support

Cliff LeeCliff Lee’s triumphant return to Philadelphia in December 2010 preceded a memorable press conference two months later at Bright House Field, where the Phillies introduced the Four Aces to a national audience.

Lee spoke that afternoon about multiple World Series championships.

He spoke in that same room this afternoon about the miracle he needs to save his career, and a five-year, $120 million contract that will end without the championship he wanted. Lee has been placed on the 60-day disabled list following a second failed attempt to rehabilitate from a torn common flexor tendon in his left elbow.

Despite the fact a handful of doctors have recommended surgery Lee will try to rehab a third time.

It is the longest of long shots.

“It’s fairly likely that it will remain the same,” Lee conceded.

Surgery would require six-to-eight months of rehab, which would end his season. Lee indicated he has little interest in surgery or rehabbing from it, and he cannot be forced to have it because doctors recommended it. But Lee also has $37.5 million remaining on his contract, including a $25 million salary this season and a $12.5 million buyout on a 2016 club option.

Lee, 36, cannot simply walk away. He cannot retire without forfeiting his contract.

There is no chance that will happen. Lee must show intent to pitch again.

The Phillies at least have insurance on Lee’s contract, although how much is unknown. But they will recoup some of his salary because it is the same injury as the one that forced him to the 60-day disabled list last July.

That should soften the blow financially, but Lee’s injury is crippling to the organization because they hoped he could return healthy and eventually trade him to a contender for a prospect or two to speed up their rebuilding process.

Those hopes are gone.

(more…)

BREAKING: Halladay Fan Still a Mystery

halladay tshirtRoy Halladay dropped into Phillies camp today, and I really wanted to ask him one question:

Did the guy in the Halladay t-shirt ever come forward?

Some background: Halladay on Jan. 11 tweeted a photo of himself at Busch Gardens, smiling and giving the thumbs up while standing behind a man in a red Halladay t-shirt. The man didn’t recognize him, so Halladay tweeted, “Oopps you missed me! Walked right by me! Hope he gets to see his pic with me on Twitter, he doesn’t know we took this.”

“Never showed up,” Halladay said. “The guy walked right by me. He stopped up at the rail and so I went up and my wife took the picture. I walked right in front of him and he had no clue, no clue.”

Halladay then mentioned a photo John Stamos posted recently on Instagram. Stamos stood in front of the “Full House” house with oblivious fans in the background.

“My wife is going, ‘Look what we started!” Halladay said with a smile.

Harang Improves, Expects to Start Thursday

Aaron HarangCliff Lee’s season and possibly career is in serious jeopardy, which makes Aaron Harang’s health an important issue.

He already has been scratched twice from starts because of back issues, but he threw a bullpen session this morning at Bright House Field and said he expects to start in a Grapefruit League game Thursday night against the Yankees in Tampa. Harang said he is confident he will have enough time to get ready for the2015 season.

“It’s frustrating, but it’s not as frustrating as if this was later in camp,” he said afterward. “I don’t view this as any type of setback. I can progress through and catch up with my innings pretty easily. It’s not that hard. I know exactly what I need to do.”

Harang missed his first start this spring because of “lower back discomfort.” Harang missed Saturday’s start in Lakeland, Fla., because of a spasm around the middle of his back.

“This was just muscular,” he said. “I woke up the other morning and just kind of moved around and grabbed on me for a second. It’s being precautious. There’s no reason to push this because you don’t want it to linger.”

Phillies Make Roster Moves

Jesse BiddleThe Phillies made their first round of roster moves this morning at Bright House Field.

There were no surprises.

They optioned left-hander Jesse Biddle, right-hander Adam Morgan, right-hander Ethan Martin and outfielder Aaron Altherr to Minor League camp. They reassigned right-hander Sean O’Sullivan and catcher John Hester to Minor League camp.

They released outfielder Xavier Paul.

Biddle, Morgan, Martin and Altherr need to pitch or play on a regular basis and getting limited work in big-league camp served them little benefit. The Phillies hope each can contribute at the big-league level in the near future.

The Phillies plan Biddle and Morgan to be in the rotation at some point. Martin is a bullpen candidate, although the Phillies have been preparing him to start this spring. Phillies director of player development Joe Jordan said over the winter that Altherr “is as good of an outfielder as we have in our system, and possibly in the Major Leagues as well.”

The rebuilding Phillies could use some young outfielders.

Altherr hit .286 with five doubles, two triples, four home runs, 27 RBIs and an .878 OPS in 105 at-bats with Aguilas de Zulia in the Venezuelan Winter League. It is a marked improvement from a disappointing season with Double-A Reading, where he hit .236 with 27 doubles, two triples, 14 home runs, 57 RBIs and a .686 OPS in 492 plate appearances.

“I just went out and had fun,” Altherr said, explaining his impressive play in Winter Ball. “I really didn’t think too much. Sometimes I just put too much pressure on myself during the (Minor League) season. I didn’t worry about anything in Winter Ball.”

O’Sullivan provides the organization starting pitching depth. Hester is recovering from knee surgery.

Paul no simply longer fit in the Phillies’ plans.

Lee, Harang Issues Leave Rotation in Flux

cliff lee magic eight ballCole Hamels will pitch tomorrow against the Orioles at Bright House Field, which puts him on a five-day schedule to start Opening Day.

Hamels as the Opening Day starter is a no-brainer.

But what about the other spots? Some remain up in the air because of health issues. Cliff Lee is trying beat the odds and pitch with a torn common flexor tendon in his left elbow. He did not throw today, but at this point, even if he can pitch with an injured elbow, it is highly unlikely he could be ready by early April.

“He said his arm felt pretty good,” Phillies pitching coach Bob McClure said. “He just doesn’t want to push it. That’s what he told me.”

Aaron Harang has been scratched twice this month because of “lower back discomfort,” but is scheduled to throw a bullpen session tomorrow. If that goes well, McClure said Harang will pitch Thursday against the Yankees.

“He said he can catch up,” McClure said.

Chad Billingsley threw a successful bullpen session today. He is recovering from a pair of elbow surgeries. The Phillies said he could be ready to join the rotation before the end of April.

“Exceptional,” McClure said about Billingsley’s bullpen. “You would never know he was hurt. It’s quality stuff. It really is.”

McClure said after two or three more live batting practice sessions Billingsley could pitch in a game.

Utley’s Ankle Is Better, But Not 100 Percent

Chase UtleyThe Phillies hope today  represented just another step in Chase Utley’s chances to be in the Opening Day lineup.

He played in his first Grapefruit League game today in a 2-1 victory over the Rays at Bright House Field. Utley has been slowly recovering from a sprained right ankle, which he suffered in January when he stepped on a baseball.

“It feels pretty good,” Utley said about the ankle. “Still making a little progress on it. It’s not perfect yet, but we’re moving in the right direction.”

Utley was a designated hitter for four innings, striking out swinging in the first inning and singling to right-center field in the fourth. Aaron Altherr pinch-ran for Utley, and Altherr scored on Ryan Howard’s two-run home run.

“It felt good to get out there in front of the crowd, get some at-bats off an opposing pitcher,” Utley said. “It was nice.”

“I thought Chase looked great,” Ryne Sandberg said. “I thought he laid off some pitches. His swing was good, with the base hit, and ran well.”

Of course, the next step is playing in the field. Sandberg and Utley offered no timetable for that.

“I think we have to talk about it,” Utley said. “I think there might be another DH in there, but yeah, I’d like to play the field soon.”

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 325 other followers