About three months ago, Phoenix Suns guard Eric Bledsoe made some waves when he said in a Sirius XM Radio interview that the Kentucky Wildcats men’s basketball team could probably beat the then 0-11 Philadelphia 76ers. Most pundits and analysts agreed that the odds of a team full of college kids actually being able to defeat a roster made up of professional ball players were pretty slim.
Enter the Philadelphia Phillies.
On Sunday, the Phillies lost their exhibition season opener to the NCAA Division II University of Tampa Spartans 6-2.
And yes, adding insult to injury they aren’t even a Division I team.
It should be noted that Chase Utley, Carlos Ruiz, Cody Asche, Ryan Howard and a host of other Phillies veterans didn’t play and that, yes, this is only Spring Training and doesn’t count toward anything in the grand scheme of the 2015 season.
But for a team made up of professional baseball players to lose to a team of amateurs regardless of the circumstances is humiliating and really says something about the state of this Phillies franchise right now.
The Phillies managed an early 2-0 lead and didn’t allow a hit until the fifth inning. Tampa finally got on the board when Phillippe Aumont gave up three hits in the sixth including an RBI single. In a cruel twist of fate, the Spartans tied the game in the seventh inning on a bases-loaded, two-out, nine-pitch walk against Phillies right-hander Nefi Ogando that made the score 2-2 . The player responsible? None other than Andrew Amaro, the nephew of GM Ruben Amaro Jr. Tampa then blew the game wide open when shortstop Giovanny Alfonzo hit a grand slam off new pitcher Hector Neris.
For the Phillies part, they are taking the loss in stride and not hitting the panic button, at least not yet. Tampa is a very good team, ranked No. 1 with a record of 13-1 and they played some great baseball while the Phillies… did not.
When asked about what the loss means, Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg told Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly.com
“Well, you know, it kind of shows where we’re at as far as seeing players and workouts and seeing the work that needs to be done. I think it just emphasizes that. On the offensive side of things, we stress staying on top of the ball and creating some balls on the ground. We had too many fly ball outs. On the pitching side of things, we’re trying to establish the strike zone down in the zone and work ahead in the counts. In those two departments we have a lot of work to do.”
A lot of work to do indeed.
The Phillies next face the New York Yankees on Tuesday in the Grapefruit League opener.