An oasis in Reading, PA

When Reading, PA Is Your Home

Look, here’s the deal. I worked in Reading, PA for four years. Every day, for four years, I made the trek from Delaware County, PA to downtown Reading, a drive of well over 60 miles and 70 minutes each direction. I did this for one reason and one reason only.

I did not want to live in Reading, Pennsylvania.

I was born and raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia. Granted, Delaware County is not exactly 90210 (I’ll get into my Delaware County beefs some other time), but compared to Reading, it was safer, cleaner, safer, more entertaining, and safer.

Did I mention that Reading, PA is not safe?

While the latest figures seem to indicate that Reading has gotten a little less violent in the last year or two, figures from 2009 show it to be a haven of crime and violence. The city violent crime rate for Reading in 2009 was higher than the national rate by almost 122%. The city property crime rate in Reading was 56% higher than the national rate. And the city violent crime rate for Reading was a mind-boggling 150% higher than the violent crime rate in Pennsylvania.

Reading was once a place where people from surrounding counties flocked to go shopping at outlet malls. But those malls are all gone. The city is full of blight. Gangs and drugs litter the streets in the downtrodden metropolis. The citizens are unhappy. It’s just not a very nice place to be most of the time.

Which makes the Reading Phillies and First Energy Stadium an oasis for the wonderful people of that hard scrabble town. It’s a marvelous place to watch a ballgame, the best place to go on a summer evening in Reading, if you want to watch some exciting baseball, eat some good food and just have a nice, safe time.

And by the way, to the people I worked with who still live and work there, it’s your home. And I don’t like bashing anyone’s home. I’d sure hate it if someone pooped all over my home. In fact, people poop on Philadelphia all the time, and I don’t respond very well to it. So, for the previous few paragraphs, I apologize. But I’m all about keepin’ it real, and unfortunately, I was keepin’ it real there (yes, I know it’s no longer 1997).

What I wonder is, where do the Reading Phillies players live? Do they have apartments in the city? Or do they find places to live in the Berks County suburbs (most of which are very rural, but also very nice and quiet). It’s hard for me to imagine professional baseball players (even if they’re lowly-paid AA players) partying and enjoying the non-existent nightlife of Reading and Berks County.

I guess that’s what makes Reading “Baseballtown.” I mean, “Murdertown” just wouldn’t look very good on the promotional brochures.

Anyway, the reason for this soliloquy is to highlight the finalized roster for the 2012 Reading Phillies. Four of the organization’s top 10 prospects will start the year in “Baseballtown.” Top prospect Trevor May, and two other members of the ridiculously nicknamed “Baby Aces” (Jonathan Pettibone and Julio Rodriguez) will be the top three starters in the Reading rotation.

Catching prospect Sebastian (Don’t Call Me Frankie) Valle will be the starting receiver for the R-Phils. He’ll look to continue his development behind the dish, working with many of the same pitchers he had in Clearwater last year. And in the outfield, two other highly-touted prospects, Jiwan James and Tyson Gillies, will see lots of playing time as well. James is rated as the 9th best prospect by Baseball America and is a speed demon, hitting nine triples last year while stealing 31 bases. Getting on base consistently is the name of the game for James, while staying healthy is the main goal for Gillies this year.

One other prospect note, right-handed reliever Justin De Fratus, who was expected to start the season at LeHigh Valley, will instead start the year on the disabled list. He’s working his way back from elbow problems, and while he didn’t pitch in any Grapefruit League games, he did throw a pair of bullpen sessions last week.

And with that, onto the week that was in Twitterland. See, I can create my own “Lands” too!

I’m worried I may have offended Trevor May with my opening paragraphs about Reading. Because the city seems to remind Trevor May of his hometown…

You gotta love Trevor May. Always says the right things, seems genuine… I’ll bet he calls his mom every night. This tweet seems pretty self explanatory…

C’mon, Trevor! We need more info! What kind of dessert? Banana splits? Coffee cake? Baked Alaska? Fruit pie? My mom makes a killer Jewish apple cake. I can give you the recipe.

Staying on the food theme, Justin De Fratus and I have a difference of opinion on a very serious subject…

KFC? Seriously? They’re the driest biscuits in the business, holmes! Have you never tried the buttery, flaky, completely wonderful goodness that is a Popeye’s biscuit? For shame! However, Justin gets points for using the phrase “the bee’s knees.” Classic.

On another note, it’s always nice when boys become men…

Justin, this is a very special time in your life. See, your body is changing and pretty soon…

A couple of things about this next tweet from Jiwan James…

Let’s begin with Hooters. Hooters. I’ve never been to a Hooters, and while I wouldn’t consider myself a food snob (although the tweets this week do have a decidedly culinary edge to them) Hooters just isn’t a place I’d like to find myself dining. Also, you DO look like Dom Brown. I never noticed that before, but it’s true.

And finally, a word from the Philadelphia Phillies starting 2B, Freddy Galvis…

I have no idea what any of that means. If anyone can translate it for me, I’d be much obliged.

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