We’ve had a lot of laughs here the past few days. At least, I have; self-guffawing at my subtle brand of “making shit up,” while spewing Triscuit fragments deep, deep into the unreachable chasms of my keyboard.
But the skeleton under these thick, fleshy slabs of humor should be addressed as well. Our competitors are knocking the acquisition side of baseball “out of the park,” as they say at meetings of the Association for the Usage of Sports Cliches.
Name after name, role after role, we are witnessing the growing arsenals of our enemies. We turn to Ruben, as is often the case during the winter, to explain the plan of how we intend to keep up. This season marks a departure from the hysterical laughter of big name trades and steals, and has instead offered little more than a morose breed of shallow fantasies.
What? Why yes, I am slowly and methodically loading a pistol as I type this.By now, you’re sick of the name “Dennys Reyes” because its what every Phillies beat writer has snarkily uttered as the Phillies’ lone blip of activity throughout the Winter Meetings.
Reyes is a guy who is such a journeyman that no one has updated his Wikipedia page yet to acknowledge his deal with the Phillies, assuming that he will just be somehow playing for another team by the time dinner is ready. They call him “The Big Sweat.” He weighs 250 pounds. He is fat.
All he has to do is perform marginally well and we will gladly come up with a collection of fat guys to be his own personal cheering section. Vicente Padilla had one. Paul Byrd had one. It doesn’t take a ton of baditude to win over a small contingency of fans–we want to dress up in costumes and root for a guy thematically. Just give us barely a reason and we’ll do it.
Long and short of it is, Reyes is a lefthanded, affordable reliever. That’s what we were looking for, and that’s what we got. In that vein, he was a success. We are not going to know the full nature of this signing until he’s preventing/more or less stopping/allowing so many runs when the season starts.
Ruben claims a relaxed acceptance of the current roster. “We really didn’t have as many holes as some of these clubs, as many needs,” he said, with the trademark patronizing smugness we’ve come to know and be kind of sickened by.
But he’s right.
Years of spoiled acquisitions have whittled us into perfectionists. Ruben could have tricked somebody into coming here, in fact, he claims to have tried, laying open bear traps all about the common areas of the Dolphin Hotel. We could have had a big, gawky, plastic signing for Christmas, and would it have been worth it? To cash in even further for the sake of boosting one of our weaknesses past the necessary level, giving us a surplus of skill just because we’re addicted to that sweet, sweet nectar of a big name acquisition?
OF COURSE IT IS. OUR WORK IS NOT COMPLETE UNTIL WE HAVE CONSUMED THE VERY SOULS OF OUR ENEMIES AND CRUSHED ALL SHREDS OF HOPE UNDER THE HEEL OF OUR BOOTSsorry. Wow. Whoa.
Look, I don’t know if you remember, but we lost the NLCS this year. Its sort of burned into my dreamscape, so I get to re-live it most nights. Sometimes, Ryan swings, and sends that last pitch over the right field wall, and then Brian Wilson dies of a broken heart. ‘Sgreat.
My point is, we aren’t really a bad baseball team because bad baseball teams don’t get to try to win the pennant. We’re just accustomed to getting better. Granted, we don’t really know how good we are until we’re playing baseball and can see whose declining or whose having an off year or whose injured in some… stupid… way.
So, I don’t know. I’m not saying we shouldn’t be preparing/stockpiling/already using “Dennys Reyes is fat” jokes. The opposite, in fact. Maybe we could have done more. But the chances were slimmer than ever, based on how much we’ve spent on doing so in the past.
Also, the off season isn’t over. Ruben’s ability to claim ignorance of any weirdness and then seconds later pull a stegosaurus out of his back pocket is simply stunning.