Category Archives: Steve Jeltz

Opening Day Blues

Yesterday was my first proper Opening Day in Philly since 2006. It was also my son’s first ever Opening Day. The weather was gorgeous, 2015 Topps OD Phanaticbut as every Phillie fan who saw yesterday’s game knows, this year’s team reeks. I’d use the modifier “offensive” to describe the team’s performance, but that would require the Phillies to have an offense in the first place.

I know; that was a cheap shot

However, that doesn’t change the fact that this was easily the worst Opening Day I’ve experienced in all my years of following the Phillies. However, to be fair, it wasn’t as bad as the 1990 home opener (which was the team’s fourth game of the year) that I witnessed from the 700 level of The Vet, but that’s damning with faint praise.

Some additional thoughts that occurred to me while while watching the massacre and getting a slight sunburn in the 400 level seats of CBP:

  • During the game, I kept trying to recall the starting lineup of the ’97 Phillies in an effort to compare the two teams. At a superficial level, the two clubs are fairly similar. They’re both incredibly bad clubs surrounding an ace pitcher (Schilling/Hamels) and one legitimate All-Star caliber starter (Rolen/Utley). However, the ’97 Schilling-Rolen combo will almost certainly prove to be better than than the ’15 Hamels-Utley combo. I plan on taking a closer look at the ’97 squad to get a better idea of how they compare.
  • One position where 1988 Score JeltzI know the ’97 team exceeds the ’15 version: shortstop. Freddy Galvis may have a great glove, but Kevin Stocker was no slouch defensively. Furthermore, Stocker was actually competent with the bat. Galvis, on the other hand, appears to be the second coming of Steve Jeltz, sans the Jheri curl.
  • I am still stunned that this team gave two of its outfielder jobs to Grady Sizemore and Jeff Francoeur. (I’ll let you decide which one of them is the better analog to Danny Tartabull.) I’m willing to wager money that both of them will be flat-out released–not traded, there won’t be any takers–by no later than the All-Star break. Seriously, I’d rather the Phillies play any outfielder in Lehigh Valley or Reading over these two.
  • By picking Francoeur and Andres Blanco over Darin Ruf for pinch hitting opportunities, Ryne Sandberg seems intent on never giving Darin Ruf a chance to prove that he may be a late-bloomer in the Raul Ibanez mold. This is exactly the kind of squad that should be taking advantage of a situation like Ruf. Instead, we’re wasting at bats on those thirty-something impersonations of major leagers.
  • Why were the Phillies wearing their red pinstripes yesterday and not their standard day game alternate cream uniforms?
  • Did Odubel Herrera Scoreboard PicHerrera really anger someone in the Phillies front office or does he have the same problem as Chandler Bing when someone asks him to smile for a photo? In the profile picture displayed on the scoreboard while he’s at bat, he looks like he just smoked a massive amount of high-octane Guatemalan refer. While this is nowhere near as bad as the photo the team used on Dave Wehrmeister’s sole Phillies card, it still looks comically bad.
  • How long before Utley decides that waving his 5-10 rights is the only way to save his sanity and then marches into Amaro’s office to scream, “Uncle!”

I also purchased both the Phillies Team Issue set and the 2o15 Topps Phillies Team Set while at the game. Although I have opened them both and took a quick look at them, I haven’t looked at them very closely. Truth be told, after the four-hour drive back home to Northern Virginia, I really wasn’t much in a mood to check out the contents last night, and today I made getting this post online a higher priority. I’m off to do that now and hope that they provide a better value than the product on the field yesterday.

1986 CIGNA/Philadelphia Fire Department Phillies

Set Type: Primary
Card dimensions: 2⅝” x 4⅛”
Additional Information: Produced by Sportscards Presentations and sponsored by CIGNA, this set marks the second straight year the Phillies worked with local officials to distribute cards bearing public safety tips on the back. The design of the cards is identical to the set issued the year before, which was issued through the Philadelphia Police Department rather than the Fire Department. Beckett lists the set as “1986 Phillies CIGNA” while SCD designates it as “1986 Philadelphia Phillies Fire Safety.”

Juan Samuel
Don Carman
Von Hayes
Kent Tekulve
Greg Gross
Shane Rawley
Darren Daulton
Kevin Gross
Steve Jeltz
Mike Schmidt
Steve Bedrosian
Gary Redus
Charles Hudson
John Russell
Fred Toliver
Glenn Wilson

A Very Unlikely Phillies First

Featured Card: 1990 Donruss #133, Steve Jeltz

Yesterday, Jimmy Rollins became just the third player in Phillies history to hit home runs from each side of the plate in the same game. The feat is actually rarer than throwing a no-hitter or hitting for the cycle (I saw the numbers on this somewhere yesterday, but absent-mindedly forgot to save a link back to the page so that I could reference them again today), and Phillies franchise history follows the general trend. The most surprising thing, however, about the team’s history in regards to this particular feat is the name of the first player in team history to do this: Steve Jeltz.

There was nothing in Jeltz’s history to suggest that he could do this. In fact, just 18 days previous to the day he made Phillies history on June 8, 1989, he hit his first home run in over four years — 1844 plate appearances after his last one in September, 1984. As amazing as that was, the other details about that memorable night in June just make Jeltz’s achievement all the more mind-boggling. For starters, he didn’t even start the game; Jeltz replaced Tom Herr at 2B in the second inning (I haven’t found the reason for the extremely early substitution). As a result, a man with a career OBP of .306 entering the 1989 season was batting second in the lineup.* The oddness of his playing second was also rather striking. Despite being the starting shortstop the previous three full seasons, thanks to the acquisitions of Herr and SS Dickie Thon, Jeltz was now a reserve (understandable given his career numbers up to that point), and prior to 1989 Jeltz hadn’t played second since his September call-up back in 1983. Finally, and maybe even the most amazing detail, Jeltz’s homers come in consecutive at bats — a man who a little over two weeks earlier broke a home run drought that extended over four years and 1844 plate appearances managed to hit two consecutive home runs from opposite sides of the plate. It’s easily one of the most ridiculously unlikely days in baseball history.

Leave it to Donruss, however, to completely blunder the perspective when writing up that particular game on the back of his card the following year. They didn’t mention any of the details I’ve just conveyed. Here is the entire text of their mention of Jeltz’s amazing feat: “Had 5 RBI in 1 game 6/8/89 vs. Pirates.” That’s it. Yes, I understand those five RBI represented 20% of his season total that year, but in addition to all the other facts I’ve already tossed out, those two HRs represented 40% of his career total through the end of the 1989 season (and ultimately, his full career)… and that’s what Donruss chose to highlight?

This now marks two different extreme rarities to take place in just under two weeks. Combine that with Halladay’s historic no-hitters last year, the current run of postseason appearances and first-place finishes, and the fact that the Phillies’ record over their last 162 games is their best regular season run in franchise history (hat tip to The Good Phight for doing the math on that one), it’s easy to see that we are in the middle of the Golden Age of Phillies Baseball. I try my best to contain my enthusiasm and wait for something horrible to happen (years of lousy Phillies baseball made that particular state of fandom really easy to maintain for a long time), but I’m also thoroughly enjoying the run. It won’t last — all good teams finally see their eras end — but for now I feel incredibly fortunate to be a Phillies fan.

Current database progress: 7,739 entries (lines); last set information entered: 2009 Upper Deck Goodwin Champions.

* To be fair, his 1989 OBP going into the game was. 395, which made his presence in the two-hole slightly more acceptable.