Phillies 2015: A Year With the Fightins
By Matt Veasey
The last calendar year proved one of change for the Philadelphia Phillies, and for coverage here at TBOH.
During the summer of 2014, I applied for a position on the writing staff here at “That Balls Outta Here“, and was happy to be accepted. Over the next few months, I set aside writing at my own former blog, something that I had been doing for over a decade, and began putting all of my writing efforts into TBOH.
Sometime during the month of November, it became apparent that the former editorial staff was going to be leaving, and I was asked if I would be interested in taking over the position as Editor for the site.
Flattered as I was, with just a few months on board at that point, I had concerns. The actual writing staff had dwindled to less than a handful. The parent organization, the growing entertainment and sports entity known as “Fansided“, had minimum production requirements that would be a challenge for me when considered along with my home life and my full-time profession.
It wasn’t an easy decision, but I accepted. I thought of it as a great challenge, a great experience, and a great opportunity. I would give it my best, and if it turned out that either I couldn’t fulfill the obligations of the position, or if my home or work life were suffering because of it, then I would thank the folks running the show, and move along.
What has unfolded over the last year has exceeded my own expectations. While it has been a challenge to meet those minimum obligations each month, I’ve made it work. A lot of credit for that has to go to the staff here at TBOH, which has changed during the course of the year. Those folks will be thanked in a moment.
There was another challenge over this past year – the team itself. As any fan knows, the 2015 season was not kind to our Philadelphia Phillies. The ball club finished in last place in the NL East for a 2nd consecutive season. In fact, they finished with the worst record in all of Major League Baseball.
Team president Pat Gillick, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr, and manager Ryne Sandberg did not survive the season in those roles for various reasons and under a variety of circumstances.
Iconic players Jimmy Rollins, Cole Hamels, and Chase Utley were all traded away during the last year, marking the official end of that glorious championship era from the previous decade.
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Meanwhile, the fans drifted away. Every season from 2007 through 2013, the Phillies drew more than three million fans annually to Citizens Bank Park, including a National League-record 257-game “sellout” streak at one point.
However, as the losing began with no hope of a quick turnaround, the team lost more than a half-million fans in 2014, and then dropped to just over 1.8 million this season, the lowest in the history of the ballpark.
So the challenges were many in taking over the Editor role. Write even more myself. Assemble a stable, reliable staff. Expand the site’s social media presence. Gain more followers for the TBOH website, Facebook page, and Twitter feed.
Oh, and do it all while the team was sinking to the very bottom of baseball, when fan interest would be at its lowest possible point. Good luck to me.
But somehow, the job got done. Well, not somehow, but instead with a lot of hard work inspired simply by a love of the game and the team. Despite the negatives, there were highlights such as the excitement of the Franco and Nola full debuts, the unexpected emergence of Odubel Herrera, and of course, the Hamels no-hitter.
Creatively there were many highlights, but three of those were certainly the one-on-one interviews that I was able to conduct with former Phillies star Mitch Williams, future Phillies star J.P. Crawford, and Phillies Spanish language broadcaster Angel Ibo Castillo. You can catch those here: TBOH Williams Interview, TBOH Crawford Interview, TBOH Castillo Interview.
Since December 1st, 2014, which was the date that I officially took over editorial responsibilities, until this very article that you are now reading, my staff and I have presented our readers 744 original pieces of writing.
Those pieces have included game coverage, trade evaluations, draft analysis, team history, interviews, and much more. We have presented facts, and we have given our opinions, and we have done so as fans.
There are some in the journalistic community, and thankfully they are the minority, who scoff at our ability and our product. They have referred to us as untrained bloggers, cranking out articles in our underwear in our parents’ basements. I can assure you, I own my home, do indeed have both professional experience and a college degree, and rarely write in my underwear.
In addition to our original writing pieces, the social media coverage has been greatly expanded at both Facebook and Twitter. We try to post all of our original articles and a bunch of other items of interest to the Facebook page regularly. Visit us there under our full site name of “That Balls Outta Here“, friend us, and share us with your fellow Phillies fans.
On Twitter we are active from a site standpoint at the @FS_TBOH feed, and I am very active myself under my own @MatthewVeasey feed. Please follow at both, and feel free to interact with me at any time.
We usually simply present the information, articles, history, trivia, and more at the TBOH site Twitter feed, while you are much more likely to get feedback from myself or the other staffers, whose own Twitter handles are always referenced with their pieces at the site feed once published.
That staff needs to be recognized for their hard work. One person in particular needs his own recognition, because he is the one person who was here when I took over, and who has remained to the present day. He also happens to be our most prolific staffer besides myself.
That man would be Ethan Witte (@ethan_witte), our resident staff stats and analytics guru. Ethan and his wife had a baby this past year, and despite family and work responsibilities he still manages to provide TBOH readers with roughly a half-dozen pieces each month.
Our current staff works hard, despite each having home, work, and school responsibilities. David Mosemann (@FightinsFeed) has been with us since February, and during the regular season he provided most of the series previews. With school limiting him during the off-season, David is now presenting a regular feature looking at potential 2016 bullpen candidates.
Tyler DiSalle (@TyDiSalle13) joined the staff in March, and during the heart of the season from June through September he provided readers with more pieces than any writer aside from myself. Ryan Gerstel (@TheRyanGerstel) joined us in June, and provided readers a couple of pieces each week during July and August.
Our newest staffer is our lone female at this time, Alexis Girardo (@lexgirardo), who came on as the season was ending in September. Alexis is presenting a regular feature in which she introduces the college and high school prospects whom the Phillies will be considering as they prepare to make the top overall selection in the 2016 MLB Amateur Draft.
There were others who contributed significantly at various times during the year, and had to leave us for various reasons. Aaron McGlohn did a semi-regular fantasy baseball feature between February and July. Gail Dull as ‘Baseball Betsy‘ provided solid minor league coverage between February and May.
Contributing for short periods were Alex Cheremeteff, Michael Stern, Jim Tierney, David Mullen, Matt Hopkins, and our Brit writer Oliver Fisher. Thanks to all of these individuals for their efforts and their time.
Moving into the future, I am expecting to hang around for the immediate future, as long as Fansided will have me. I plan on continuing to put out great info for you at the www.thatballsouttahere.com website and our Twitter feed, and representative content at Facebook as well.
A big part of making TBOH even better into the future would be, frankly, your increased participation. If you enjoy our content, please share us, retweet us, and recommend that your friends follow us regularly. Comment constructively on our pieces, share your own opinions with me on social media.
And there is one other thing that you can do to help make my 2nd year as Editor, and the entire future of TBOH even better. Join us. If you feel like you can write a little, and genuinely enjoy the game and the team, drop me an email (email@example.com) and I will get you started with the Fansided application process. We’d love to have you with our team.
In the next couple of years, I fully expect that the new ownership/management team of John Middleton, Andy MacPhail, Matt Klentak, and Pete Mackanin will put together another Phillies winner.
Young players like Aaron Nola, Ken Giles, Maikel Franco, J.P. Crawford, Jake Thompson, Nick Williams and more will show up at Citizens Bank Park to lure back the fan base.
We’ll be here at “That Balls Outta Here” bringing it all to you: the continued rebuild, the emergence of the team back to contention, and all the excitement once the Phillies are back where we all want them again, as a winner and regular contender.