The summer of my eighth year was a big one. I’d just learned that chocolate syrup worked on chocolate ice cream. Some neighborhood toughs had started teaching me swear words. And my parents had shown me how to check the baseball standings in the paper, so I’d stop asking them what place the Phillies were in amidst a troubling string of misused vulgarities.
One evening I wandered into the kitchen, leaving a trail of Intelligencer Journal pages behind me. “Look ma,” I explained, as her head jolted upward from the sink, apparently under the impression that she’d found just one moment of silent relaxation. “The Phillies are only 14 games behind. That means they just need to win 14 times and the Braves lose 14 times and they’ll be in first place.”
She crooked her head and said nothing. It was her way of allowing my childhood ignorance to keep me sane for… as long as it could. It wouldn’t be much further down the line that I would inherit the adorable mannerisms that eventually mark all of the males in my family; yelling at the TV, being told to go outside until we can stop yelling at the TV, and yelling at the TV through one of the first floor windows like a lunatic. We love sports! Also, yelling.
It’s been a while since that mindset returned to me. If nothing else, these 2012 Phillies were a nostalgic trip back to my childhood; when the Phillies were boring crap that no one liked. And yet I watched, my days colored by the fresh whites, deep reds, and Sunday day-blues of a Philadelphia summer. Was it nice to once more touch those feelings of childhood bliss I thought were gone? Sure, a little. Am I looking forward to doing it again in 2013?
You bet your shit-ass-boobs I’m not.
All of those neighborhood toughs went on to die in a meth lab explosion.
Yeah but wasn’t it great watching Chooch? Bringing the Panamanian thunder down on whoever dared pitch him inside.
Most would hand this to Cole and call it a day, but if you’re going the pitching route, why not Cliff Lee? He’s got the same WAR as Cole, and a lot of the same numbers in strikeouts, innings pitched, and earned runs–with almost half the walks.
However, my official pick is Juan Pierre, a guy who ended the season with a batting average over .300 and an age over 33. Sure, he’s got all the outfield assists of a double amputee, but nobody expected him to be much of anything; in fact, nobody really expected him to do better than Scott Podsednik. But he came two shy of his career high in home runs (1), and led the league in sacrifice hits for the third time. He got on base, he knocked in runs; in essence, he was everything nobody else really was for long stretches of time.
Most “2012 Phillies” Moment of the Year
June 27, Pirates vs. Phils
It’s only late June; plenty of time for things to turn around. All we need is a powerful catalyst to serve as the turning point. And what could be better than Chase Utley’s return from a knee whatever injury?
The sun was setting gloriously over the Philadelphia skyline, making it appear as though the city were in fact burning to the ground. Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir” queued up for the first time all year and we all went batshit as Chase strolled to the box, worked a 2-2 count off James McDonald, and then powerhoused a statement to the NL to right center: We’re back.
We were a little excited.
— Justin Klugh (@TBOHblog) June 27, 2012
So, our World Series hopes back on track, Chooch drove the point home by blasting a welcome-back dinger of his own to left. That’s it. We win everything.
Sadly, the next inning it became clear that we would need more than two runs to win the season, let alone the game. Which we lost. By a lot, I think.
Big Offseason Move the Phillies Should Make
Well, until a second ago, I thought we were doing the whole “Chase Utley’s a third baseman now” thing, and I’d convinced myself that that was okay because apparently Freddy Galvis playing third is a big horrible thing. In that world, we had already filled the third base hole and could concentrate our money-cannon on a centerfielder, who I think should be B.J. Upton.
Now, yes; I have visions of Upton arguing with Evan Longoria in the dugout during his Tampa tenure. And if he’s arguing with Evan–Chase Utley if he smiled more and did commercials for hats–he might not gel with this core. But if that’s my biggest concern, then, depending on his price tag, I think he’d be a great addition with the speed and hitting to lead off. At least we wouldn’t spend another year hearing people act like they’re shocking the world by saying Jimmy Rollins is not a leadoff hitter.
But now Chase is back at second and god only knows how all that third base stuff is gonna work itself out. And while John pushes for Angel Pagan and Ethan and I push for not Michael Bourn, there sits B.J. Upton, waiting for his new deal, with an opening in one hell of a northeastern market.
“But Justin! What about Shane Victorino!” Well, Shane didn’t exactly rip the universe in half with his offensive prowess this season, and if he does wind up pursued by the Phillies, it will probably be because Ruben couldn’t get it done with any of the other upper tier outfield free agents, of which there are many.
“No I meant what about your obsession with Shane Victorino.”
Ha ha ha. I mean, a guy travels across the country with a Victorino shirsey, buys seats in left field for a Dodgers game, then is sure to take a picture of himself wearing the shirsey with Shane in the bacgkround and post it on every form of social media, including the banner of his Twitter account, and that’s how we’re defining “obsession?”
Why don’t you gus grow up a little. Geeze.
Big Offseason Move They Should NOT Make For the Love of God
I don’t want to see another 30+ veteran eating up roster money and sweet, sweet cash, even if it is Michael Bourn. Believe me, the thought is tempting… like Jose Reyes and Dee Gordon, Bourn has always felt like one of those guys who only needs first base to be an automatic run. I want a guy like that on this team so badly I can taste the dirt in my mouth from being in the front row when he slides safely head first into third.
But this team has its own aging core, thank you very much. The part we should be adding to is the vibrant next generation of Galvis’ and Ruf’s and Brown’s. This team and its liberal contract-giving policies to players as they enter their twilight years has made be skiddish of old signing guys close to or over 30 and old people in general and well just everything really.
Projected 2013 Opening Day Lineup
- B.J. Upton, CF
- Chase Utley, 2B
- Dom Brown, RF
- Ryan Howard, 1B
- Carlos Ruiz, C
- Darin Ruf, LF
- Jimmy Rollins, SS
- Freddy Galvis, 3B
That’s right. Darin Ruf. Yes. I’m part of the problem.
What appeals to me about this lineup is that everybody but Upton is an organically grown talent. Would Jimmy hit seventh? Yes. Would he hate every second of it? Oh my god yes.
And yes, Galvis is at third base. I had to get him in there somewhere and I think he’s Infielder Jesus so don’t act like it’s impossible. Some might argue that a back fracture would affect his play. And to those people I say, “Well, sorry, but I keep forgetting that that happened.”
–Justin Klugh (@TBOHblog)