The off season is crammed full of moves, like Ruben Amaro’s head full of secrets. Even when blockbuster trades aren’t flowing across the headlines of mainstream news outlets, tiny little growth spurts and rostergasms are occurring under the radar.
But here’s one you probably won’t hear about, even if you regularly tunnel into the Phillies’ minutest of minutiae.
I’ve watched enough “Survivorman” to know that Alaska is a rock hard wasteland, frigid with ice demons, sun-kissed midnights, and the bears… bears… bears! But I haven’t been to enough Alaska to realize that there are people living there. Like, yearbook-looking people, not harpoon-toting dogsledders; their parkas splashed with penguin blood.
That is the land of Tim Kissener, a man who sits and smiles and folds his hands and wears his World Series ring like a normal person. What less normal about him is that he is currently paying more attention to the Cubs than the Phillies.
Tim is a man who knows a good opportunity when he sees one, however, because the promotion he’s receiving from Phillies Pacific Rim Coordinator to the Cubs West Coast Scouting director. With the increased territory and responsibility, as well as the fertile prospect landscape that in SoCal, Tim’s got his long nights cut out for him. But he probably won’t notice, after spending 100+ days scouting the hell out of Asia this past year. It’ll probably just be nice to consistently speak to his family from the same time zone.
For those of you already throwing your arms in the air and cursing about how baseball can’t be played in Alaska because everybody lives 20,000 miles from the next available life form and baseballs would just freeze solid and explode into ice crystals upon contact with a bat, relax. None of that is true. Alaska is home to more and more young players of interest each year, with a variety of leagues keeping the sport alive and well in the Hindsight-is-20/20 State [EDITOR'S NOTE: Good one, but it's actually called "The Last Frontier State"].
In fact, the Anchorage Glacier Pilots reside there, with famous, sexy former players Mark McGwire, Randy Johnson, and Tim Kissener himself in 1991. But it was in 1998, when nobody but the bravest, ballsiest baseball people were willing to bet on the Phillies, that Tim signed on to scout for us from his home in Seattle. Then he left for the Indians. But then, in some sort of mind-blowing reverse-Cliff Lee maneuver, he came back in 2000, explaining in an interview in the Juneau Empire, ““I believed in the direction we were going.”
Well, we got here. I certainly feel successful. And I don’t even work for the Phillies, I just suck the glory out of their memories and spit it back out on this blog.
After 11 years, the man’s ready for a change, and more than willing to accept a promotion. You can’t blame him for that, and you certainly won’t see him doing it, because this is the sort of off season move that’s quite primed for the Hot Stove. But without him, the ball doesn’t start rolling for prospects like Trevor May and Matt Way, whom Tim scouted, and got their careers headed in a more Major League direction.
Anything you want to say, Tim?
“The Phillies are such a great organization…”
In appreciation of Tim’s efforts, let’s allow the raucous, nonsensical gibberish of Juneau-Douglas High School’s (Tim’s alma mater) fight song echo off our hallowed pages.
Half-past an alligator
Boom, boom, boom-a-gator
Chick a wah cha.
Juneau-Douglas rah, rah, rah!!”