Ah, the ignorant bliss of fifth grade. Noticing girls, noticing you’re being ignored by girls, and noticing that girls can notice when you somehow strike out in kickball. It’s an age I recall fondly, thanks to the magic of mentally blocking out all kickball games before prior to my perfectly normal 24-inch growth spurt that one month.
It’s a point when childlike ignorance allows everything to appear okay, except if the head trainer of a professional sports team bursts in and forces you and all your classmates through a regiment of exercises he imposes only on adult men.
Samuel M. Ridgway Middle School played host to the Phillies’ Scott Sheridan, who did that exact situation I just mentioned. Sure, as a fifth grader, I would have hyperventilated knowing that someone who often spoke full words to Mark Whiten was standing in our classroom.
Mark fucking Whiten.
So, Scott went in and whipped a bunch of kids into shape, through a frenzy of ladder drills, medicine balls and relay races, working through the years of fat cells developed by Mountain Dew and Call of Duty. It probably looked like a social service and a neat experience for a bunch of middle schoolers.
But this was a very clear extension of the Phillies’ Local Youth Harvest program, in which our aging roster is primed for the future by training unwitting children in area schools. Why do you think the Phillies prefer to draft locally? Some other reason?
Yes, while their thoughts drift to their Pokemon and their yo-yos and their various other current, trendy toys, they have no idea that they are being conditioned for the 2035 World Series. And that’s before they are even grafted any robot arms.
The next set of gently polished glass doors Scott Sheridan walks through may appear to lead him to a cafegymatorium full of enthusiastic grade schoolers, but could very well house the future infield of the Philadelphia Phillies. They just happen to be spinning around in circles or talking about Star Wars Cards or being unable for some reason to negotiate the motion of kicking a ball being slowly rolled toward them.