July 11, 2012; Reading, PA USA; General view of FirstEnergy Stadium during the 2012 Eastern League AA All-Star game. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Phillies to Pit Two Minor League Affiliates Against Each Other, Laugh

The Phillies’ minor league affiliates have had offseasons of their own.

Bending to the will of the mother ship, they are forced to shuffle and realign to suit the Phillies’ needs, seeing beloved players sucked out by promotions or trades and managers stolen to fill holes in the coaching staff.

Sure, they re-branded in Reading, to separate themselves from the big club after forging their own distinct identity, but what did they call themselves?  The Fightins; a word in the English language that is only ever used when accompanied by another – “Phils.”  Or I guess “Irish.”  But don’t let them fool you.  They’re the Phillies’ puppet, just like ALL THE REST OF THESE CLOWNS.

**Turns dramatically and points at giant map of the eastern seaboard you didn’t notice before.  All towns with Phillies affiliates are marked with an ‘X’**

You know they all thought I was crazy when I spent the last 17 years making this map.  But now we can look at something and instantly know the route the Phillies’ farm system takes up the east coast.

**Points, again dramatically, as the highway leading from Allentown to Reading.**

222!  This wicked twist of a U.S. highway route may go from Conowingo to Dorneyville, but we all know that for one night this summer, the only stretch that’s gonna matter is the one from Baseballtown to the Peanut City.

It’s a historical road.  I as a teenager once disposed of some empty Mike’s Hard Lemonade bottles while driving my parents’ mini van home from a [remember to look up something cool teenagers do].  Also, many other things have occurred there.  And April 2, it will be the site of the ’222 Classic’ as the Double-A Reading Fightins are hosted by the Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs.  The part where people travel up it to get somewhere else, I mean.

See, darin? It all turns out okay. Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The ‘Pigs have taken three out of five of the last incarnations of the event, but Reading pulled it out last year, 7-6.  Darin Ruf, a Reading Phillie at the time, made sweet, sweet bacon that day, going 3-for-4 at the plate with a home run and three RBI.  He would eventually go on to an illustrious, 12-season career with the Phillies as a championship caliber slugger and barely serviceable defender.

History is made every year with event.  Find your local stretch of 222 and ride it to the promised land.

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Tags: Darin Ruf Lehigh Valley IronPigs Philadelphia Phillies Reading Fightins