Today is when families get together and force spotlights on each other while seated at a table, demanding that people explain what they’re thankful for, no matter how deep of an awkward phase they may be currently stuck in. TBOH’s writers put together some thoughts that hopefully sound better than the resentful muttering of teenagers.
I thought this was going to be difficult. Like when your family decides to go around the table and say what they’re thankful for in real life, and you have to go after your cousin who just had all of her acne removed and right before your other cousin who just saved a child from a fire, only to realize it was his long lost son. And you’re rolling your eyes at the cliche of the whole thing, when really you’re just sitting between trying to think of something better than “I finally got through the prologue to Dead Space 2 without voiding my bowels.”
But as I was sitting here at the computer, doing some other, unrelated thing, I just happened to be thinking about glad I am that Cole Hamels got his extension, and he’ll be extending himself in the blood red hues of Phillies baseball.
I had just started college in 2006, so my young adult/actual adult life seemed to grow right alongside this current Phillie core. Having an affinity for fast, frantic, tornado-esque players, I grew an immediate attachment to Shane Victorino. Then when Hunter Pence got here and started falling down all the time–and still being in the throes of the novelty of his newness, not afterward when he wasn’t hitting and still falling over and everybody was mad–he reminded me of what I would be like if I were a Major League Baseball player; a charming fellow who ran weird and swung weird and slid into third without really having a reason to. But it turned out that that wasn’t the kind of guy the Phillies needed anymore, somehow.
What I’m trying to say, other than apparently I would describe myself as “charming,” is that the recent, rather foreign concept of a mid season fire sale put a sizable dent in my shirsey collection. It made it clear that anybody could go. And yet still, we got to keep Cole; our homegrown, usually abused, California-dreamin’ lefty whose relationship with this town borders on hilarious, for many, many years; so many years that people will certainly be complaining about how long the extension is in a few years.
So take that, hero firefighter cousin.
What’s that, Aunt Meredith? The adoption papers went through?
Maybe you haven’t seen Cole Hamels’ 2011 numbers. Here, let me bring up BR….
What I am most thankful for, as far as the Phillies are concerned, is very simple, especially at this time of year:
For years and years, the Phillies were a team that claimed they had no money. So, they spent no money. They generated no revenue. And as a result, the rosters often times resembled a collection of ham and egger-type pseudo “prospects” that wouldn’t have been good enough to play for most AAA teams.
That’s right Jeff Stone. I’m looking directly at you.
**Jeff Stone pushes mashed potatoes around on his plate awkwardly, refuses eye contact**
Before Jim Thome’s arrival ahead of the 2003 season, the Winter Meetings and free agency were a complete waste of time for Phils fans. Every year, it was painfully obvious the Phillies front office was not willing to spend the kind of money to lure big name free agents to the team, and it was even more obvious that no free agent worth having would ever want to come here.
The one time the Phillies did splurge, before the ’87 season on Lance Parrish, it blew up in their faces.
Sure, the Phils made the occasional move that got people a little excited, like signing Gregg Jefferies or trading for Andy Ashby. But always, without fail, those moves backfired and made the team even more reluctant to spend the next time.
**Gregg Jefferies and Andy Ashby walk in late, just in time to overhear this comment. Their smiles fade and they silently backpedal out the front door.**
Playing at Veterans Stadium simply meant the team could generate no revenue. And what revenue they did generate often went into making sure the stadium didn’t collapse in on itself.
But the promise of a new stadium dawned the start of a new era. In ’03, the Phils got the most coveted free agent on the market in Jim Thome. It was easily their biggest signing since Pete Rose in ’79, and it signaled a sea change within the organization.
The Phillies were convinced a new stadium would mean more people coming to the ballpark, generating more revenue. And subsequently, the Phils did the right thing.
They spent that expected revenue on players, in an attempt to try and build a winning team.
Today, the Phillies have a very good local cable deal with Comcast SportsNet that is ready to explode with cash when the two sides negotiate a new contract for 2015. Fans keep flooding the gates and their merchandise sales remain among the strongest in baseball.
Money allows a team to have perpetual hope. And while signing big name free agents or making trades to acquire high salaried players doesn’t always equate to winning championships, the money in the bank always makes your team relevant. It always allows for the opportunity to improve.
Even if the Phillies are on a downward swing with their franchise, with Howard, Utley, Rollins, Halladay and Lee all getting older, having cash on hand to improve the roster will continue to allow the Phils to stay relevant and competitive.
So what I am most thankful for this Thanksgiving is the fact the Phillies are big spenders. Money has turned a once moribund franchise into one of the titans of Major League Baseball.
Money isn’t the root of all evil after all!
With the disappointment of 2012 behind us, it’s time let go of the negativity and reflect on what we, as Phillies fans, are thankful for.
The one thing (or person) I’m most thankful for is Jimmy Rollins.
Jimmy Rollins won’t be winning any more league MVP’s, but he is still the heart and soul of this Phillies squad. We’ve been blessed with 12 seasons of watching J-Roll make diving plays at shortstop, swipe second and third on a regular basis, and hit homers from the leadoff spot at an unprecedented rate. 2007 was the jewel of Rollin’s tenure in pinstripes. He clubbed 30 home runs, stole 41 bases, all while winning a gold glove (1 of 4).
Alas, 2007 is but a distant memory, and Rollin’s game has regressed with father time. His critics are plentiful, especially of late. His average has steadily declined, along with his on base percentage. He’s never been the prototypical leadoff hitter, but he has looked even more out of place there the past few years (.316 OBP in 2012). Maybe Rollins’ days of hitting first in the order should come to an end, but that’s a decision for Charlie to make. What Rollins has no defense for is the occasional lollygagging on the bases.
His failure to leg out grounders and pop ups not only made fans (including yours truly) irate, but also Charlie. He received a suspension and learned his lesson, apologizing to the team shortly there after.
What Rollins will never apologize for is what makes him so valuable to the Phils — his arrogance. His bold (if not crazy) prediction that the Phillies would win the NL East in 2007 was laughed at around the league. It also infected the locker room, and provided that young team with the confidence it needed to capture it’s first of five straight division titles.
In case you missed it, Rollins is up to his old tricks again. Earlier this week when asked about the Phillies being dethroned by the Nationals he said
“It still runs through Philly.”
Simple, direct, maybe a little foolhardy, but I would call it something else — SWAG. J-Roll’s swagger is undeniable, never more important than during moments when his bravado doesn’t make any sense. Last year was miserable for the team and the fans, and Washington doesn’t look likes it’s going anywhere. Does that phase Rollins? Hell No!
No matter what changes the team makes for 2013, my eyes will be on Rollins. As long as he brings that insufferable swagger back to Philadelphia, the Phils will have all the confidence they need to get back into the driver’s seat in the division.
So on this day that we remember when William Penn gave the Indians (line through the word Indians) Native Americans diseased blankets and some shiny coins for the land that Citizens Bark Park now stands on I’m thankful for Jimmy Rollins, and for his unadulterated SWAG.