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Old 01-09-2010, 11:25 AM   #441 (permalink)
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wow..it's been a while since I check up on Big Z. Got sidetracked with WoW for a few years (ugh) and then a new computer and lost my bookmarks to this thread. AZ...you still on the forums? Glad to see this going for a while at least. We don't get to see how his contract plays out? Looks like the Steve Victory site is down...bummer.
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Old 01-10-2010, 03:10 PM   #442 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Ragin Cajun View Post
wow..it's been a while since I check up on Big Z. Got sidetracked with WoW for a few years (ugh) and then a new computer and lost my bookmarks to this thread. AZ...you still on the forums? Glad to see this going for a while at least. We don't get to see how his contract plays out? Looks like the Steve Victory site is down...bummer.
Hey Ragun, I'm still here and the Big Z is as well ... But alas, the past 4-5 months have been pretty crazy (starting a business, still working the old job, two little ones at home, etc.) and I haven't had much time to post anything ... I actually played OOTP quite a bit over the holidays, just haven't posted ... I'm two seasons ahead in the Zarzour story as far as playing. I just have to take some time and get everyone here caught up...

One idea I may try: Zarzour and the Phillies are getting ready to play the 2010 season. I've thought about doing it in "real time" to coincide with the real-life 2010 MLB season coming up. That way I can go more in-depth with the day-to-day happenings of Zarzour and the Phils. Then again, that may be more than I can bite off considering my schedule craziness ... I think a real-time dynasty would be cool to try though...I've got to do something to get my OOTP fix!
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Old 01-11-2010, 05:29 PM   #443 (permalink)
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Glad to see you're still around. Long live Steve Victory and Big Z..lol. Looking forward to any updates you deem us worthy of.
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Old 02-05-2010, 09:52 PM   #444 (permalink)
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And now back to the story... at last...

It’s an early February morning in 2010, and Andrew Zarzour can’t resist looking out the window of his new western North Carolina home. His log-cabin type house sits on top of a mountain, and the giant glass panoramic windows afford an amazing view of the snow-covered Blue Ridge mountains around and below.

Zarzour, his mouth wide open, spends several minutes soaking in the wintry picture before him.

“Pretty amazing, isn’t it?” a sweet voice behind him says.

“Absolutely,” Zarzour replies, turning to face the beautiful woman walking in to bring him a mug of frothy hot chocolate. “And the Asheville Citizen newspaper says we could have more snow on the way this weekend, and possibly another round early next week as well.”

“I guess we’ll be stuck here for days,” the young lady in her mid-20s says, a seductive smile spreading across her face.

“Guess so,” Zarzour replies, pretending to roll his eyes. “Life sure is tough sometimes. But I think we‘ll manage.”

“It’s hard to believe, with all this snow on the ground, that baseball season starts in a few weeks,” the young woman says. “We might as well enjoy these quiet days while we can, eh? Spring training will be here before you know it, and then the madness will begin.”

“Pitchers and catchers report on Feb. 17. That’s less than two weeks away,” Zarzour says. “And our winter retreat will seem like a million miles away once we get down to Florida. But of course, I’m looking forward to the season as well. It's always a magical time when a new year of baseball begins. I'm just so glad we'll be together for this one. I am definitely the most blessed man on the planet. Thanks for saying yes…”
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Old 02-05-2010, 09:56 PM   #445 (permalink)
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Yes, folks, a lot has changed for ol’ Andrew Zarzour since we last checked in with him (sorry it has been so long since I‘ve posted any updates). Big Z, now 29 years old, has a bride for one thing. And a younger brother getting ready to join the Yankees organization. And quite a few more baseball experiences under his belt as well. Some good and some not so good.

Even though I haven’t posted in a long time, I have been playing this dynasty when I get the chance. I’ve actually caught up to “real time” and will jump into the 2010 season in Zarzour’s world right as the real-life 2010 season cranks up.

But before we move forward, let’s look back at the last couple of seasons to see the adventures that Zarzour has faced. And who this mysterious woman is…
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Old 02-06-2010, 12:57 PM   #446 (permalink)
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When I lasted posted an update, Zarzour was on the golf course during Christmastime 2007. He had just learned that the Phillies were going to OK a mega-contract for him, paying him in the neighborhood of $15.6 million per year over five seasons. In short, that deal guaranteed that Zarzour could stay with his childhood favorite team during what should be the prime of his career. What could be better?

Well, things started off great for the Big Z. He was named the 2008 Opening Day starter for the Phillies, who were set to play the Dodgers in a special season opener in Beijing, China (more on China in a bit). Zarzour was masterful in that game, throwing an eight-inning, two-hitter (no runs given up), and helping the Phils to a 3-2 victory in front of an dazzled crowd of Chinese fans.

But Zarzour struggled once his team returned back to the States. He lost his next two starts, won another game and then the unthinkable, nightmare scenario unfolded. The richest player on the Phillies roster suffered a torn bicep muscle. Just like that, on April 22, Zarzour’s season was over.

Naturally, the fans howled at the club for giving an injury prone pitcher such a huge contract (and frustratingly Zarzour has been injury prone all through this dynasty story). Zarzour felt sick. He wanted to honor the faith his team put in him by guiding the Phillies to a world championship -- multiple world championships. But before the weather even warmed up much at all, he was done for the year.

But by May and June of 2008, Phillies fans had put the Zarzour injury pretty much behind them. A new and mighty left-hander emerged to guide the team to one of its best seasons in club history -- Joe Beimel…
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Old 02-06-2010, 11:15 PM   #447 (permalink)
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Never heard of Joe Beimel? You aren’t alone. Only baseball diehards really knew the name going into the 2008 season. The 30-year-old had languished in the minors for several seasons, spending five whole years with Philadelphia’s Triple A franchise.

Beimel earned a cup of coffee with the Big Club at the tail end of the 2007 campaign, and his performance then (4-2 record, 3.40 ERA) made him a prime candidate to take Zarzour’s spot in the rotation after the injury the following spring. Beimel made the most of it, moving from a No. 5 spot starter type into truly the team’s ace for 2008.

Beimel became almost a cult hero, posting an amazing 18-3 overall record, with an ERA of 3.30. Though he didn’t win the honor, he got a few Cy Young votes. He wasn’t that flashy or overpowering, he was just gutty and found ways to help the Phillies win. “I’ve waited for this my whole life,” Beimel said. “I knew once I got the opportunity to really prove myself up here, I could have a season like this. I just hope I haven’t expended so much of my arm this season that I won’t have anything left for future years…”

With Beimel and 2007 Cy Young winner Josh Johnson (14 wins) commanding the pitching staff and hitters like 1B Francisco Ramirez (.357 average, 49 HR’s, 163 RBI‘s), 3B Jorge Cantu (.345, 48 HR’s, 158 RBI’s) and CF Hunter Pence (..325, 31 HR’s, 94 RBI’s) pounding the ball all over the place, the Phillies won a whopping 104 games in 2008. They crushed everyone in the National League East and looked like the odds-on favorite to not only make the World Series but win it all (finally!).

But, Beimel, Johnson and the Phils never made it out of the divisional round of the playoffs. The wildcard Reds knocked them off in four games, before eventually losing to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in the World Series. (Yes, the Rays are quite good in Zarzour’s world, as are the Reds).

Zarzour felt even more sick after this. He rejoiced at Beimel’s great season and that his team had performed so well overall. But what if he had been able to come back from his injury in time for the playoffs? Maybe his veteran leadership and arm could have gotten the Phillies through the tricky divisional round? Maybe not, considering other injuries hit the team late in the year, including a very costly one to starting catcher Ramon Orellana. But Zarzour had a tough time getting over how the Phillies’ season ended, especially as the fans howled about the underachieving nature of the club.

Zarzour pledged to once again re-double his efforts and help the Phils reach the World Series -- and win it -- in 2009. But behind closed doors, team doctors were wondering if the 7-foot-1 left-hander would ever get back to the form he had before his injury. Some doubted it. This particular injury wasn’t the kind that players recovered easily from. No one told Zarzour this of course…
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Old 02-08-2010, 01:31 AM   #448 (permalink)
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Now, getting back the China trip that started the Phillies’ 2008 season for a moment. While most players and coaches hated the idea of breaking up their spring training with an overseas venture (for what basically amounted to an MLB marketing campaign), Andrew Zarzour had the time of his life. His aunt and uncle had lived in China for a few years, teaching English to students at universities. Andrew had wanted to see where they lived. His aunt and uncle had wanted to see him pitch in the big leagues, so this was a perfect match.

The whole Zarzour clan made the trip, and Timmy Zarzour spent much of it with big brother, hob-nobbing with Phillies players and just enjoying being around professional baseball players. During a pitchers-catchers camp the Phillies offered to some of the Chinese clubs, Timmy even befriended some of the players from the team in Shanghai (the city where his aunt and uncle were currently living).


One thing led to another, and Timmy (above) found himself signing a contract to join Shanghai’s team in the China Baseball League for the 2008 season. Andrew’s little brother ended up serving as the backup catcher for the Shanghai Eagles, appearing in 32 of 60 games. He earned 52 at bats and stroked 12 hits for a .231 average and two RBIs. Best of all, the Eagles asked him to come back in 2009!


Andrew became fast friends with one China’s premiere players during that trip as well. His name was Xiang-ling Zhao and he pitched for the Tianjin Lions. The American players called Zhao “Flinch” because he had a little hitch in his delivery that seemed to throw batters’ timing off. Zarzour thought Zhao was the real deal (another Big Z!) and wondered if in a year or two he might try to be the Yao Ming of baseball, coming to the United States to play in the Majors.

Zhao’s 2008 season in the China Baseball League included a pretty nice stat line -- 10-3 record, 1.64 ERA -- and winning the Chinese equivalent of the Cy Young award.

Of course, Andrew will forever remember his time in China as the place where he first met his bride-to-be… The funny part about it is, had Andrew not had a bit of a rebellious streak in him, he may never have crossed her path…
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Old 02-08-2010, 04:33 PM   #449 (permalink)
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It's great to see this one back, AZ. I hope you'll entertain us with more of Big Z's exploits soon, as time permits. I know all about being busy.
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Old 02-08-2010, 10:22 PM   #450 (permalink)
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It's great to see this one back, AZ. I hope you'll entertain us with more of Big Z's exploits soon, as time permits. I know all about being busy.
That's the plan, Lord willing ... Thanks for hanging with me ...
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Old 02-09-2010, 01:46 AM   #451 (permalink)
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While the Chinese were honored to have two teams of American professional baseball guests in their capital city -- and treated them like royalty from the moment they arrived -- they were a bit skittish whenever players wanted to “go against the schedule” and venture out on their own.

Anytime any of the players tried to leave the hotel on their own, appointed “guides” would tag along with them. It became a game after awhile for the players to see how quickly they could shake their guides and be truly on their own (with Andrew, ironically, as one of the ringleaders during these times). But the guides were a determined bunch, sometimes even trying to get physical, if that were possible, to keep the players from going down certain streets, etc.

On one brisk afternoon, Zarzour and a few of his buddies decided to head out for a bite to eat “on the town.” The exhibition games were over and the season opener was just a few days away. There was time to kill and everyone was feeling loose and looking for a little fun. Zarzour’s group, after dropping their guide, happened upon a neat street full of cafes, shops and little restaurants, buzzing with activity and mostly young people. Andrew looked up at set of tables near a popular rice-noodle stand and was amazed by what he saw -- something he certainly did not expect to see on a side street in Beijing, China.

Someone was wearing a North Carolina Tar Heels windbreaker. The richness of the sky blue jacket stood out immediately against the mostly drab colors that everyone else was wearing. And the interlocking “NC” on the jacket was unmistakable for his hometown team.

But the person wearing the jacket wasn’t Chinese. She was most definitely an American, in her mid-20s, with curly light brown hair, with a hint of red intertwined. She had bright green eyes, fair skin, a hint of freckles beside her nose and an infectious smile. Someone at her table must have said something funny, because her whole face lit up and she let out a joyous laugh, again quite a contrast to the rather subdued environment around her.

Zarzour couldn’t keep his eyes off of this woman wearing a jacket from the college he nearly attended on a basketball scholarship. She was … well, if Zarzour was being completely honest with himself, the most beautiful woman he had ever seen in his life…
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Old 02-09-2010, 01:51 AM   #452 (permalink)
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What followed next could have won Zarzour the $10,000 prize in America’s Funniest Home videos, if only someone had a camera. Zarzour couldn’t keep his eyes of this beautiful woman, instinctively moving closer to her while pondering some sort of line he could use to introduce himself. What he missed while plotting his intro was the little teen-age boy scurrying around cleaning up all the tables in front of him.

With a loud crash, the 7-foot-1 Zarzour collided with the 5-foot-1 busboy. The young man’s tub full of plates, bowls, chopsticks and glasses went flying everywhere, with a half-eaten bowl of rice noodles landing squarely on Zarzour’s shirt as the giant pitcher tumbled to the concrete.

Andrew’s teammates burst out laughing, and then in fine fashion left their embarrassed friend to fend for himself. The young woman had noticed Andrew now and came over to make sure he and the busboy were alright.

It was truly love at first sight, at least for Andrew, despite the embarrassment of taking a not-so-graceful tumble.

“Hey, I really like your jacket,” the goofy Zarzour said. “My name is Andrew. I‘m a Carolina fan too.”

“Thanks,” the beautiful young lady said, that one word even causing Zarzour‘s heart to skip a beat. “My name is Gretchen. I’m glad to see you’re OK. What happened anyway? How did you fall?”
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Old 02-09-2010, 01:58 AM   #453 (permalink)
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The rest, as they say, is history -- and a lot of boring, mushy-gushy love stuff that we won‘t go into details about here.

The two stayed at the café all afternoon, so long that Zarzour actually missed an important team meeting before dinner. He didn’t care.

Gretchen, he discovered, was from North Carolina as well, growing up in a small town much like Bunn, but located in the Western part of the state. She played volleyball and softball, and cheered during basketball season for her high school. She could have played small college volleyball somewhere but wanted to go to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she majored in international studies and minored in Chinese language study.

She loved China, though she admitted to being homesick at times. She had agreed to a two-year term as a teacher at prominent university in Beijing. This was the second semester of her first year, so she still had a ways to go yet before coming home for good.

Andrew boldly invited Gretchen to the Phillies’ season opener against the Dodgers, which might explain why he pitched so well that night. Gretchen didn‘t mind a bit meeting the entire Zarzour clan right off the bat, and hit it off immediately with his mom. Even Andrew‘s dad was impressed (“She‘s with you? Wow! You've outdone yourself.”).

It was tough parting when the Phillies finally left China to come back to the States. But the two agreed to write and email often, which Zarzour did faithfully at least a couple of times per week. Andrew even went back to China over the summer (after his injury) and got to see his brother playing pro ball and his new sweetheart during that trip. His love for Gretchen grew all the more, and she was pretty smitten with him as well.

One thing led to another, and Andrew and Gretchen eventually got married after she returned to the states. Their log cabin in the Western North Carolina mountains was a wedding present to his new bride, something she had always dreamed about and wanted…
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Old 02-09-2010, 12:07 PM   #454 (permalink)
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I'm with BigSix - great to see this running again. KUTGW
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Old 03-04-2010, 11:09 AM   #455 (permalink)
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I'm eager to get going with the 2010 season, so here's a quick recap of the 2009 season in Zarzour's world:

Andrew Zarzour began his 2009 season where he left off in 2008 -- on the disabled list. This time, a tweaked knee in Spring Training slowed him down. He ended up missing the first four or five weeks of the season. Arrgg!! Can a player be any more injury prone? Good grief.

Zarzour ended up staying healthy the rest of the season thankfully and posted a respectable 14-9 overall record, serving most of the season as the No. 3 or No. 4 guy in the rotation. The record is a bit deceiving. Zarzour benefited from a prolific offense behind him. His ERA was up from recent years (4.08), his strikeouts were down (127) and his walks were up (57). It will be interesting to see if Zarzour, who will 29 on Opening Day 2010, is beginning his twilight career fade or if he’ll have a bounce-back in his late 20s and early 30s. He did break into the Bigs as an 18-year-old remember. Frankly I‘m concerned his best days may be behind him…

The Phillies were an interesting team in 2009. Their offense was among the best in Majors. Their bullpen was pretty sharp. But they had problems getting consistency from their starters.

Joe Beimel, the star pitcher who came out nowhere to win 18 games in 2008, wasn’t able to come anywhere close to that in '09. He went 8-13 with a 5.09 ERA, getting bumped down the rotation and eventually out of it altogether. Josh Johnson, who won the Cy Young in 2007, spent most of the year in Minors, posting an awful 3-10 record. Amazingly, though, he got called up in September and went 4-0 for the Big Club, torching foes with an ERA of 1.23. He struck out 29 in four games and only had two walks. Baffling indeed.

The most consistent and effective hurler for the season ended up being lefty Odell Jones, who posted an 18-7 record with a 3.49 ERA. The Phils traded with the White Sox for Jim Pittsley in July and he was solid (7-2), though not overpowering (4.52 ERA).

Philadelphia won the NL East again with a record of 98-64, but most agreed the Cincinnati Reds (101-61) were the team to beat in the National League overall. The Reds had the Phillies number during the season, beating up on them pretty good at times…
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Old 03-04-2010, 11:12 AM   #456 (permalink)
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The Phillies managed to earn a meeting with the Reds in the National League Championship Series courtesy of a 3-1 divisional series win over the Brewers (Zarzour was dreadful in his Game 3 start, giving up seven runs for the team‘s only loss … Josh Johnson started Game 1 and gave up three runs in a no decision for him).

But most thought Philly was toast after falling behind Cincinnati 3-1 (Zarzour lasted all of a third of an inning in Game 4, getting pulled after giving up four quick runs against one out).

All the Reds needed to do was win one game, and they were in the World Series. But Philadelphia won the next two to make it interesting, including a 12-8 thriller in Game 6 in Cincy.

All the chips were stacked against the Phillies going into Game 7. Cincinnati, playing at home, was throwing one of its aces, Joe Blanton (13-6, 2.86 ERA). Philly only had starter Jim Pittsley available -- the same Pittsley who had given up six runs to the Reds earlier in the series -- and virtually no one rested in the bullpen.

Amazingly, the Phillies put together one of their best playoff wins in years, beating the Reds on their home field 7-0 in Game 7. The contest was tense for awhile, with Philadelphia holding a 1-0 lead through six frames. The Phils exploded for six runs in the seventh frame to pull away.

Pittsley was brilliant, giving up only six hits and no runs through 8.2 innings. Managers felt comfortable enough with Zarzour to bring him in with a seven-run lead, and the 7-footer only needed two pitches to secure the final out that put the team into the World Series. Whew!!

Andrew Zarzour would get to suit up in his second career World Series, after winning a title with the Dodgers. But would he ever see the mound this time, since he was struggling so badly in the post-season?
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Old 03-04-2010, 11:14 AM   #457 (permalink)
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Alas, Philadelphia couldn’t duplicate its NLCS magic in the World Series. The team just seemed snakebit, losing four straight to the Cinderella story of the season, the Oakland A’s. The Athletics won the opener 9-7, then took the next three games by one run each (4-3, 6-5 and 3-2).

Andrew Zarzour was the goat in Game 3. He gave up all six runs -- all earned -- over 3.2 innings. Now you can see why I’m worried about the Big Fella. His post-season stats for 2009 -- 0-3 with a 17.66 ERA. Egads… Of course, starters Odell Jones, Josh Johnson and Jim Pittsley couldn't get it done either...

The Phils are getting closer to their dream of a World Championship. Maybe these stinging defeats will drive them to get all the way over the hump in 2010...

Amazingly, the Athletics had to win their last eight games in the regular season just to overtake the Angels in the division and make the playoffs. They beat Seattle and the Angels lost to the Rangers on the final day. That gave Oakland a one-game edge for the AL West title. They only won 87 games in the regular season, the lowest number of wins among any of the playoff teams… Go figure…

OK, now on to 2010!! I have some ideas for how I want to treat this season … stay tuned…
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Old 03-19-2010, 01:24 PM   #458 (permalink)
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OK, one of my ideas has turned into a second, complimentary dynasty thread focused on the 2010 season with Zarzour and the Phillies. My goal is to play out this season in "real time" using the second thread to go more in-depth on the Phillies' day-to-day actions. I'll continue posting here as well, more focused on the story telling aspects of Zarzour's world. Hope that makes sense.

Here is a link to thread #2: More Tall Tales! Andrew Zarzour and the 2010 Philadelphia Phillies
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Old 03-19-2010, 01:26 PM   #459 (permalink)
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Elizabeth Zarzour tried to sit in the bleachers on this perfect spring afternoon in Florida, but she was just too antsy.

“Why did they have to schedule this dumb game?” she asked her husband, Phillip. “This is killing me.”

“Relax hon. It’s just Spring Training,” Phillip responded with a smile.

“Yeah, but no one else in this crowd has to watch their sons compete against each other,” Elizabeth continued. “This is gut-wrenching. What do I do? Who do I cheer for? They were always on the same team in Little League or competed in different divisions. Now this. I wasn‘t even sure what to wear today. Hmmph.”

“Just relax, Liz. Your have boys wearing Yankee pinstripes and Phillies’ colors. Most moms and dads in the world would die to be able to say that. Plus, again it‘s only Spring Training. And Andrew will probably only face Timmy once or twice before they pull him out. Let‘s root for them both to do their best, just like Little League.”

AUTHOR’S NOTE: I couldn’t resist. When I saw the Phillies and Yankees both had the same day off in Spring Training scheduling, I had to add a game between the two teams so big brother Andrew could have at least one chance to pitch to little brother Timmy in their careers.

I’ll have to intervene a bit to make sure Timmy plays in the game but hey, it is Spring Training … Wonder if Timmy can get a hit off his big brother? Stay tuned.
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Old 04-13-2010, 04:36 PM   #460 (permalink)
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A good day for both Zarzours
Andrew pitches well in start, Timothy gets first hit of spring

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The battle between the brothers in the Phillies-Yankees Spring Training game yesterday ended up as a draw.

Yankees catcher Timothy Zarzour ended up going 1-for-2 against big brother Andrew Zarzour, yesterday’s starter for the Phillies. It was Timothy Zarzour’s first career hit with the Yankees organization this spring. He went 1-for-4 in the game, scoring a run after getting aboard in the third inning.

“He just got lucky,” Andrew Zarzour said afterwards, a big grin on his face. “Even us pitchers get a hit every once in awhile. Seriously, he was pretty determined and I’ll tip my cap to him on that at-bat.”

Even though Timothy Zarzour will likely begin the regular season in Single A, Yankees managers put the 26-year-old military veteran turned catcher at No. 3 in the batting order. Timothy nearly got a hit in his first at-bat in the opening inning, but a looping liner was caught in left field.

The young Zarzour came up again in the top of the third, with his Yankees trailing by three runs. This time, Timothy wouldn’t be denied. He stroked a single which bolted through the middle of the infield, clapping his hands and looking in his brother’s direction as he arrived at first.

“That felt good,” Timothy said. “Hey, I’ve been catching him since we were little. I’ve learned to track his throws a little bit over that time. I’m just hoping it gets me started. I’d love to be wearing these pinstripes full-time sometime soon.”

Timothy Zarzour moved to second on a ground-out, then came wheeling home after a single from former Phillie Justin Leone to make the game 3-1.

“I didn’t know molasses flowed that fast,” Andrew said. “He surprised me with his burst of speed, but he’ll probably need a few days to recover after that.”

Andrew Zarzour had a solid outing overall, giving up three hits over four innings to get the win. He walked one and struck out four. This spring, Zarzour is 2-0 with a 4.50 ERA. But one of his hits and runs surrendered involved little brother, Timmy, something that is surely to be a source of conversation at the Zarzour family vacation for years.

Philadelphia won the game 8-3.
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