PhilsWeek! – No rain, no gain


Apr 29, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; An overall view of the stadium during a rain delay before the start of the game between the Philadelphia Phillies and the New York Mets at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to PhilsWeek! – a fun* look back at the week that was and all the exciting happenings surrounding everyone’s favorite major league baseball team: The Philadelphia Phillies!

*Note: Amount of fun experienced may vary.

Super big Phillies issue of the week: It rained. A lot.

I’m not sure how much we can take away from last week. The Phillies had two scheduled off days, one game cancelled due to rain, and two of the four games they did manage to play were interrupted by rain delays.

There was a bright side to all the down time. Unlike the previous week when the Phillies were on the West Coast, Phillies fans didn’t have to stay up late to watch the team. Fans were free to stay up late, but if they wanted to watch the Phillies while doing so, they’d have to utilize a DVR.

Speaking of the DVR, without the Phillies on TV, I actually made a sizable dent in my accumulated stored recordings. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as binge watching American Dad! (Underrated show in my opinion)

When the Phillies actually did manage to play, they got a surprisingly awful start from Cole Hamels, and a surprisingly spectacular start from Roberto Hernandez.

There’s a very good chance that the above sentence will never again be written.

The awfulness that is F.P. Santangelo

F.P. Santangelo. Image Credit: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

For Phillies fans like myself who live outside the Philadelphia area, it’s a treat when the Phillies play our local team. The game is broadcast on local television, and I don’t have to utilize the internet to watch the action.

Living in the Washington, DC metro area, I was able to see all of this past weekend’s games on the Nationals’ MASN station. The only problem is that I had to endure listening to Nats’ color man F.P. Santangelo.

Santangelo reminds me of a guy I used to go to school with. He’d often make awful jokes, laugh at himself, and then look back at the rest of the class waiting for them to join in laughing as well. Most of us just wanted to punch him.

Not only does Santangelo make plenty of unfunny jokes, he also seems to feel that any break that goes against the Nationals is a travesty. He loves the “pitch track” technology which theoretically maps whether any given pitch was a ball or a strike. If the umpire’s call doesn’t favor the Nationals and doesn’t match up with the pitch track results, you can be assured that you’ll hear about it in length.

Another Santangelo trope is bringing up every negative Philadelphia stereotype. You could easily put together a “F.P. Bingo” card together with the usual lazy stereotypes  like “throwing snowballs” and “booing Santa Claus.”

I’ve asked Nats fans what they think about him. I wondered if he’s kind of like their version of Chris Wheeler, where his awfulness is such an institution that it gives them a warm, comforting feeling. The consensus among the Nats faithful seems to be: Yes, he’s a complete tool. But he’s our tool.

I’m just thankful I don’t have to watch MASN all that often.

Pennant year song of the week

Winning the National League pennant isn’t something the Phillies do all that often; it’s only happened seven times in team history. Each week, I’ll take a song from one of those years that somehow ties into the events of the past week.

Rain – Madonna, 1993

I’m sure she still sells a decent share of records, but has Madonna released a memorable song since 1990? If a casual fan was going to start naming Madonna songs, how many would they get through before they came up with one from the past twenty years?

Right player, wrong uniform

There are some players who played their entire careers with a single team, and it’s impossible to imagine them in a different uniform: Mike Schmidt with the Phillies,Cal Ripken with the Orioles, and Derek Jeter with the Yankees are prime examples. On the other hand, there are some players who you might associate with a certain team…but they also had a forgettable stint (or two) with another team. You might not remember their time with those other teams, but the internet never forgets!

Dante Bichette started his career as a mediocre hitter with the Angels and Brewers. Then, he went to the expansion Colorado Rockies, and found that the thin air agreed with him.

Out of nowhere, Bichette became one of the best hitters in the league. He led the National League with 40 home runs in 1995, and remained dangerous for the rest of his time there.

In the year 2000, the Cincinnati Reds decided that they really wanted to upgrade their outfield. They famously signed Ken Griffey, Jr, and although I had no memory of this, they also signed Bichette.

Not unsurprisingly, Bichette’s numbers weren’t quite as good as they had been in Colorado. He wasn’t awful, but with the Reds out of contention, they traded him to Boston. He remained there for another season before hanging it up.

Final Take

Unlike last week, there are no scheduled off days. They’ll be facing the Blue Jays in an odd “home-and-home” series that will see two games played in Philly and two games in Toronto. It’s almost as good as having the Flyers still be in the playoffs, right?