by Fran Zimniuch
Okay, so, no.
You can’t write “The Best Pitching Staff Ever Assembled” on the front of a book about a rotation that only went live a week or so ago. Everybody; writers, fans, commenters, the pitchers themselves, tip-toed around the whole thing. As badly as we wanted to race to the streets and shout of our glory to the heavens, there was no defense against that nobody had pitched yet. And even though they’ve all made a few starts by now, its still too early to say anything of that magnitude.
But Fran Zimniuch does. On the front of the book. With arrows pointing at it. At the very top there.
Its the size of a coloring book and they couldn’t really decide if they wanted to include a “yellow caution tape” theme so they just kind of stuck it in there a few times without really thinking about it.
Almost 20 games into the season, it might be a little late to throw a “season preview” out there. In fact, this doesn’t really feel like one anyway. Its more like an excuse to put big, shiny pictures of the Phillies amidst small blocks of text for 128 pages. So at least it accepts what it is from the beginning.
A few games ago, I was watching the Phillies in a bar. It was the first game of the Nationals series where we made Livian Hernandez look like a genius and Joe Blanton wasn’t doing anything to help, serving up hittable pitches no matter how close to the television I yelled. Then they cut to a shot of the other four starters sitting together in the dugout and a quiet calm blanketed the room. I returned to my seat and somebody muttered, “I love when they do that.”
We do, too. Its ridiculous. Images of those four guys (and Joe, when he’s not meatballing the Nationals) makes us feel safe and warm. “Armed and Dangerous” takes advantage of this feeling many times over.
The photography’s not mind blowing, but some of the profile pictures (Most players are given one) stand out.
- Danys Baez: For some reason, Danys’ picture is much closer to his face than any of the others. And he looks genuinely confused about why it is happening.
- Ross Gload: I’ve never seen someone with a “sad clown” facial expression without actually wearing clown makeup.
- Wilson Valdez: I’m not saying the guy needs “smile lessons” but if they didn’t cost anything and he had the afternoon free I’d tell him he could skip BP.
- Charlie Manuel: Charlie’s first picture is fine. I think he’s signing an autograph. But for some reason after that they picked three or four straight images of him screaming in an umpire’s face. He looks like he habitually misunderstands most of the rules of baseball.
So when you’re going to lean that heavily on images, it would make sense to really take an extra step and bring something to the table that we haven’t seen or at least doesn’t make a player look like they just slowly escaped from a haunted carnival.
Yes, they cover more than just the rotation, even though the title would naturally lead you to believe the opposite is true. But the rotation gets the most of the attention, to the point that you wonder why they bothered to talk about anybody else. Probably to get the page count over 25.
But I guess that’s not the author’s fault. And the players can’t help what they look like. But this is halfway between a coffee table book featuring the Phillies and a weeks-late season preview. It does not go very far into depth regarding the players–you know most of this information and all of these stories. I’d say reach for the Maple Street Press Phillies Annual; that is, if you indeed still crave a preview by now.