“30 Teams, 30 Posts” (2016): A running commentary on the first Spring Training Game of the Year

In 30 Teams, 30 Posts, I write a post (of varying amounts of seriousness) about every MLB team in some way in the lead-up to the beginning of the 2016 season. Earlier installments can be found here. Today, I watch the Phillies play their first Spring Training game of the year because I’m a glutton for punishment.

1:07- Severino Gonzalez is pitching for the Phillies. He had a 7.92 ERA last year. Even going with the fact that it was only in 30 innings, that is what is known as “not good”.

1:08- The first pitch in the Philadelphia Phillies march to the World Series is a ball inside and BWAHAAHAHA I actually implied they might make the World Series, my bad.


1:12- Ryan Howard shows that defense and throws Pompey out at second. Because, y’know, Spring Training. Who cares.



1:15- Chris Colabello is up. Meanwhile, at Twins’ camp, this is happening.

1:16- Chris Colabello hits a infield single that dies in just the right place. Phillies announcers already considering that Gonzalez won’t go his two assigned innings. Phillies Phever: Catch It!

1:18- As the Phillies announcers mention that this could be their opening day outfield, MLB Network’s volume inexplicably increases, as if screaming in terror. Although, to be fair, it does look like a good OF defensively.

1:19- Severino Gonzalez hits a guy. Bases loaded. Darwin Barney is up. So that’s where he ended up.

1:21- Darwin Barney has a 2-RBI double. I’m really regretting doing this with the Phillies.

1:23- The inning is over and I’m making myself lunch.

1:24- Oh dear god, it’s back and I haven’t had an opportunity to eat lunch.

1:29- Marcus Stroman 1-2-3s the Phillies and strikes out one. There was a discussion on how to pronounce the “Franco” in Maikel Franco. Help.

1:33- The required run-down of coaching changes. It happens every spring.

1:36- Gonzalez sends the Blue Jays down 1-2-3. What does this mean? Who the hell knows!

1:38- They just showed the Phanatic welcoming Phillies fans at the airport. I wish the Phanatic welcomed me at airports.

1:45- I get back from lunch just in time to see Carlos Ruiz hit a game-tying 2-run single. Clearly, the Phillies are in good shape this year if I’m eating lunch most of the time.

1:47- Bob McClure, Phillies pitching coach, likens Spring Training to a auto race. Weird. Gregory Infante pitching now for Philly.

1:55- Two-run double again from Darwin Barney. Darwin Barney MVP. Mark it down.



1:58- For those of you scoring at home… don’t.

2:02- Another Spring Training tradition is hawking the future promotions. Like a hat that gives you Phanatic hair. I want one.

2:06- Full disclosure: I’m ending this live-blog at 2:30 because I have other stuff to do.

2:08- HAHA, Freddy Galvis’ car got hit by a BP homer by Maikel Franco.

2:12- Another Spring Training position- gratuitous shots of beaches.

2:16- “The Darwin Barney Show”. Words actually just said.

2:17- Andy McPhail is on TV now, and has a hat that looks more suited to touring Jurassic Park.

2:18- J.P. Arencibia, who apparently is a Phillie now, goes deep to make it 4-3. Our first dinger of Spring Training on TV.

2:30- Well, it’s 2:30 and nothing interesting is happening. So I’m out. Later, everyone.

30 Teams, 30 Posts (2015): The Philadelphia Phillies are a pit of doom and despair

In 30 Teams, 30 Posts, I write a post about every MLB team in some way in the lead-up to the beginning of the 2015 season. This is the first post of the series.

Let’s start this off with the most depressing of all Major League Baseball teams: The Philadelphia Phillies. After all, there is nothing more depressing than seeing something that was once great, only to have fallen into horrible disrepair and general despair.

And, man, that totally fits the Phillies. It was less than seven years ago that the Phillies won the World Series, less than six years since they lost to the Yankees in the World Series, and less than four years since the grand rotation of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Roy Oswalt and Joe Blanton were knocked out in the first round of the playoffs by the Cardinals, with Ryan Howard injuring himself on the final play of the series.

It’s been all downhill from there. And now, they are, without question, the most hopeless of all teams in Major League Baseball. Some teams like the Twins may well end up being worse than the Phillies in the standings, but they have better prospects for the future and better people at the helm. The Phillies, meanwhile, have… Ruben Amaro Jr.

Ruben Amaro has become something of a bogey-man in baseball internet circles. It is a scary place to be in, where Dusty Baker stalks young pitchers by night attempting to ruin their arms and Joe West purposely gets calls wrong just to piss us all off.

The internet’s characterization of Amaro can perhaps best be described as seeing him as Nero, fiddling while Rome burns. And, to a certain extent, there is some truth to that. The results of the Phillies have to a certain extent gotten worse with every passing season since he took over after the 2008 season, and the playoff appearances early in Amaro’s tenure can more be drawn up to the after-effects of Pat Gillick‘s work. He was the one who gave Ryan Howard a 5-year extension that was recently named the 7th-worst in baseball, and they remain one of the few- perhaps the only– team to not hold statistical analysis in a high regard (perhaps that is why he is known to overvalue the players he does have). Last year, I attended a Moneyball screening with a post-show discussion on statistics by FanGraphs editor/writer Dave Cameron. He said that the Phillies have one statistical analyst, and that Major League Baseball more-or-less may have forced them to take it.

I think he was only half-joking.

And so, as a result of all of this, the Phillies enter this spring training as one of the few teams that can truly be said to not have any chance. Jimmy Rollins is now gone to Los Angeles, and Amaro is still probably trying (perhaps in vain, given how much he wants for them) to get rid of Hamels and Howard. Oh, and did I mention that Amaro has literally said that the team would be better off without Howard? Because he totally did.

No wonder some are saying this might be one of the most awkward spring trainings in the team’s history.

Now, to be fair, it isn’t all bad for Philadelphia. They do still have some prospects left, including young SS J.P. Crawford, who is MLB.com’s 21st best prospect, #37 prospect Aaron Nola, a RHP who made it as high as AA last season, and #55 prospect Maikel Franco, a power-hitting corner-infielder who made his debut in the bigs as a September call-up.

They won’t nearly be enough to turn around the Phillies anytime soon however (Keith Law recently named the Phillies the 25th best farm system in baseball), and so, the team that only a few years ago was a perpetual contender for the World Series crown is currently in a holding pattern of horribleness, filled with has-beens, never-will-bes, and players who may just be a year or two away from falling into one of those categories. It somewhat reminds me of the Orioles of the mid-to-late 1990s, who went from two straight ALCS in 1996 and 1997 to a team not unlike the Phillies of today.

The Orioles didn’t return to the playoffs until 2012. It’s not that out of the realm of possibility that the Phillies could be facing a similar wait.

Famous for Something Else: Larry Colton would go on to be nominated for a Pulitzer Prize

I was watching the documentary The Battered Bastards of Baseball last night. It’s a documentary on the Portland Mavericks of the Northwest League in the 1970s. Owned by actor Bing Russell (Kurt‘s father), it was a truly independent minor league team in affiliated baseball. A good documentary, and you should check it out if you have Netflix.

But anyway, among the players for the Mavericks was a pitcher named Larry Colton, who had played in one game with the Phillies back in 1968. After retiring from baseball, he’d become a writer, and his book Counting Coup, about a girls’ basketball team in Montana, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.

Here’s Colton’s MLB stats:

1968 26 PHI NL 0 0 4.50 1 0 0 0 0 0 2.0 3 1 1 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 9 84 0.38 1.500 13.5 0.0 0.0 9.0
1 Yr 0 0 4.50 1 0 0 0 0 0 2.0 3 1 1 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 9 84 0.38 1.500 13.5 0.0 0.0 9.0
162 Game Avg. 0 0 4.50 68 0 0 0 0 0 136 204 68 68 0 0 0 136 0 0 0 612 84 0.38 1.500 13.5 0.0 0.0 9.0
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 9/21/2014.

And here are his Minor League stats (first pitching, then hitting, as he also played as a position player):

1965 23 1.1 Eugene NORW A PHI 12 10 .545 2.89 26 26 193.0 172 80 62 8 63 1.218 8.0 0.4 2.9
1966 24 0.7 Macon SOUL AA PHI 11 8 .579 3.77 27 26 186.0 179 94 78 11 73 125 1.355 8.7 0.5 3.5 6.0 1.71
1967 25 -0.6 San Diego PCL AAA PHI 14 14 .500 3.09 31 31 12 1 201.0 207 84 69 9 50 2 106 2 0 7 1.279 9.3 0.4 2.2 4.7 2.12
1968 26 -0.1 San Diego PCL AAA PHI 5 7 .417 3.45 15 14 5 1 99.0 99 45 38 4 24 2 52 0 0 2 1.242 9.0 0.4 2.2 4.7 2.17
1969 27 1.1 Eugene PCL AAA PHI 11 9 .550 4.18 26 25 8 1 0 155.0 150 81 72 12 54 4 79 0 1 6 1.316 8.7 0.7 3.1 4.6 1.46
1970 28 2.6 Tacoma PCL AAA CHC 12 14 .462 4.24 32 28 12 2 1 221.0 226 116 104 24 76 7 118 2 2 17 1.367 9.2 1.0 3.1 4.8 1.55
1975 33 11.7 Portland NORW A- 0 2 .000 10.64 3 3 1 0 0 11.0 18 16 13 3 5 0 2 0 0 0 2.091 14.7 2.5 4.1 1.6 0.40
7 Seasons 65 64 .504 3.68 160 153 38 5 1 1066.0 1051 516 436 71 345 15 482 4 3 32 1.310 8.9 0.6 2.9 4.1 1.40
A- (1 season) A- 0 2 .000 10.64 3 3 1 0 0 11.0 18 16 13 3 5 0 2 0 0 0 2.091 14.7 2.5 4.1 1.6 0.40
A (1 season) A 12 10 .545 2.89 26 26 193.0 172 80 62 8 63 1.218 8.0 0.4 2.9
AA (1 season) AA 11 8 .579 3.77 27 26 186.0 179 94 78 11 73 125 1.355 8.7 0.5 3.5 6.0 1.71
AAA (4 seasons) AAA 42 44 .488 3.77 104 98 37 5 1 676.0 682 326 283 49 204 15 355 4 3 32 1.311 9.1 0.7 2.7 4.7 1.74
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 9/21/2014.
1965 23 0.8 Eugene NORW A PHI 34 73 24 3 0 0 .329 .370 27
1966 24 0.3 Macon SOUL AA PHI 36 76 69 6 15 2 0 0 7 0 0 7 28 .217 .289 .246 .536 17
1967 25 -1.6 2 Teams 2 Lgs AAA-WRk PHI 34 79 5 18 4 0 0 8 0 0 4 31 .228 .278 22 0 5 0
1967 25 Phillies FLIL WRk PHI
1967 25 -1.6 San Diego PCL AAA PHI 34 88 79 5 18 4 0 0 8 0 0 4 31 .228 .265 .278 .544 22 0 5 0
1968 26 -0.4 2 Teams 2 Lgs AAA-WRk PHI 17 39 2 10 2 1 0 3 1 0 1 13 .256 .359 14 0 0 0
1968 26 Phillies FLIL WRk PHI
1968 26 -0.4 San Diego PCL AAA PHI 17 40 39 2 10 2 1 0 3 1 0 1 13 .256 .275 .359 .634 14 0 0 0
1969 27 1.4 Eugene PCL AAA PHI 27 63 52 7 15 2 0 2 5 0 0 8 17 .288 .383 .442 .826 23 0 3 0
1970 28 2.9 Tacoma PCL AAA CHC 32 82 70 7 12 2 1 1 10 0 0 7 21 .171 .247 .271 .518 19 0 5 0
1975 33 12.1 Portland NORW A- 11 24 20 2 6 3 0 1 7 0 0 3 3 .300 .375 .600 .975 12 0 0 1
7 Seasons 191 446 402 29 100 18 2 4 40 1 0 30 113 .249 .300 .333 .634 134 0 13 1
WRk (2 seasons) WRk
A- (1 season) A- 11 24 20 2 6 3 0 1 7 0 0 3 3 .300 .375 .600 .975 12 0 0 1
A (1 season) A 34 73 73 24 3 0 0 .329 .329 .370 .699 27
AA (1 season) AA 36 76 69 6 15 2 0 0 7 0 0 7 28 .217 .289 .246 .536 17
AAA (4 seasons) AAA 110 273 240 21 55 10 2 3 26 1 0 20 82 .229 .288 .325 .613 78 0 13 0
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 9/21/2014.

2014 SEASON PREVIEW (PART 7): Best Case/Worst Case for… the NL EAST (with Getty Images)

We reach our last installment of Best Case/Worst Case… with, of course, sometimes irrelevant images from Getty.

Here we go:

Atlanta Braves:

Embed from Getty Images

Best-Case Scenario: World Series. I mean, look at that pitching staff! Look at the young hitters! They should at least make the playoffs, right.

Worst-Case Scenario: Well, unless their pitching gets hurt. If that happens, there could be big trouble.

Worst-Case Scenario That Could Actually Happen: Whoops. It’s already happened.

Washington Nationals

Embed from Getty Images

Best-Case Scenario: The World Series comes to Washington for the first times since the 1930s, while Bryce Harper makes a great leap forward into near-Trout levels of awesomeness, bro.

Worst-Case Scenario: Stephen Strasburg’s arm spontaneously combusts during a game.

Worst-Case Scenario That Could Actually Happen: Harper stagnates, Strasburg and Friends get hurt, Matt Williams is not a good manager, etc.

New York Mets

Embed from Getty Images

Best Case Scenario: Everybody stays healthy and they don’t embarrass themselves too much before Matt Harvey returns next season from Tommy John. Maybe some of the prospects, like Noah Syndergaard, make their first appearances.

Worst Case Scenario: This is the Mets, so you should imagine your worst case scenario for them then multiply it by 500.

Worst Case Scenario That Could Actually Happen: This is the Mets, so you should imagine your worst case scenario for them then multiply it by… 499.

Philadelphia Phillies

Embed from Getty Images

Best Case Scenario: The Fountain Of Youth hits the Phillies and they do one last run.

Worst Case Scenario: They are a bunch of old guys who play like it, and Ruben Amaro still acts like it’s the last years of the previous decade.

Worst Case Scenario That Could Actually Happen: See above.

Miami Marlins
Embed from Getty Images

Best Case Scenario: Giancarlo Stanton hits lots of dingers, Jose Fernandez is awesome.

Worst Case Scenario: The above doesn’t happen….

Worst Case Scenario That Might Actually Happen: See above.


Next Time: The Previews Continue…

Baseball Card Haiku Project #11: Curt Schilling Upper Deck 1994

In which I write Haiku-style poetry about a potpourri of baseball cards I found in a value pack. Because, well, it’s my blog.

Curt Schilling Upper Deck 1994

94UpperDeckSchillingNineties Curt Schilling

Back when he was a Phillie

Pitch coming at me now

Michael Young leaves the Rangers, removing another career-with-one-team man

Michael Young wasn’t drafted by the Texas Rangers- he came as a Minor Leaguer in a trade with the Blue Jays- but he has for years been Mr. Ranger. But now, he is headed to Philadelphia, waiving his no-trade clause in order to be traded to the Phillies. He has, barring a possible mostly-ceremonial return at the end of his career, hit his final hit and played his final game as a Ranger- he held the record in both categories for the team.

But what it also does is eliminate the chance that Young would join the list of players- increasingly endangered- who have played their entire career with one team.

In fact, as far as I can tell, these are the only active players left who have spent their entire career of 10+ seasons with the same club:

Derek Jeter

Mariano Rivera

Todd Helton

Jimmy Rollins

Brian Roberts

Now, admittedly, there are a bunch of players who are only a season or two away from joining this list: Joe Mauer, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, David Wright, Cole Hamels, etc. But as “Mr. Ranger” leaves Texas, it’s interesting to know this in order to truly appreciate just how rare it is now for a player to spend their entire career with one team… and how Michael Young won’t be one of those players.

Random Video of the Undetermined Amount of Time: The Start of the 1983 World Series

On Youtube, you can find almost anything. For example, the start of the 1983 World Series between the Orioles and Phillies, Live (back then) from Memorial Stadium. ABC had the game, and had Al Michaels, Howard Cosell and Earl Weaver in the booth. It’s a little cut up (we only catch the end of a interview with a young Cal Ripken, and they don’t have the National Anthem), but it still is neat.

It’s interesting to me to see how this is different from how the World Series is broadcast these days, partially due to technology, as well as just some general differences and observations:

  • The graphics are extremely low tech, popping up very quickly in yellow and white to tell us that we are looking at “Claude Osteen, Pitching Coach”. Oh, but the managers? Their names flash in a strobe of technicolors, which no doubt gave some people seizures back in the day.
  • And we see the entire teams getting announced before pre-game, like it was the All-Star Game. I vaguely remember that this was done at least earlier in my lifetime, but I can’t remember FOX ever doing it.
  • All of the guys in the booth have bright gold-yellow jackets, as back then apparently network announcers had to have coordinated uniforms, much like the people on the field.
  • Oh, and one of the biggest differences between now and then: Nowadays, that players wouldn’t so clearly and openly be using chewing tobacco (check their cheeks). Oh, they are still using it, but not as many.
  • Orioles fans remembered Kiko Garcia.
  • I like how the Phillies brought the Phanatic along on the road. I don’t seem to recall them doing that during their more recent World Series appearances.
  • Joe Morgan, Pete Rose and Mike Schmidt were the first three in the starting lineup for the Phillies. They’d also make a good first three guy in the lineup for a 1970s National League All-Star Team. Sadly for the Phillies, it was 1983 and the two members of the Big Red Machine were on the downside of their careers. Also, apologies to Sixto Lezcano, but I honestly have to say I had to look that name up on Baseball Reference.
  • Trivia factoid: Jim Palmer is the only man to win a World Series game in three different decades.
  • Ballplayers in the 1980s had way more awesome hair. Behold the impressive Afro of Eddie Murray when he tips his hat to the crowd.
  • Notice how Scott McGregor is said to be in the “ninth position” of the lineup. This is because, from 1976 to 1985, the DH was in effect FOR ALL GAMES REGARDLESS OF VENUE in even years for the World Series, but not odd years. And that, in my opinion, is a weird and often forgotten fact.

Blast from the past: How my predictions look so far

Back in April, I wrote my predictions of what would happen in the 2012 season as part of my column for the Cardinal Courier. I’m going to return to those predictions now and in the future to see how I’m doing. Predictions are in BOLD, followed by how I’m doing so far.

Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder will do fine in their new cities (Anaheim and Detroit, respectively).

Well, Prince is doing fine. So chalk that up this prediction as being half-right as of right now.

Justin Verlander will win the AL Cy Young again, but won’t win the MVP again. Instead, Albert Pujols will. He tends to do that.

Too early to tell if Verlander will win the Cy Young again, but I think it’s safe to say that, barring an utterly unbelievable season from here on out, Pujols isn’t winning MVP. Again, half-right as of right now.

The new addition of a extra wild card will make the post-season race more entertaining most years, but this year it will feel underwhelming, since last season’s playoff race was so historic.

Too early to tell.

The Marlins will be the most entertaining ballclub in years, and the second season of The Franchise will be one of the most hilarious documentary series ever created, if only because it will have raw, uncensored, Ozzie Guillen rants.

The first episode (a preview episode, really) of The Franchise was, indeed, quite hilarious with it’s uncensored Ozzie. Problem is, the situation that Ozzie got himself in (the Castro comments) wasn’t. So I guess it is too early to tell.

The Nationals and Royals will be the “surprise” teams of 2012.

Nationals are doing well on this so far. Royals… not so much.

The Mets will stink.

They’ve done surprisingly well so far, but there is still a lot of season left.

This will be the last season for Chipper Jones (who’s confirmed as much), Mariano Rivera (who has hinted as much), Jim Thome, Todd Helton, Roy Oswalt (if he even signs anywhere), Johnny Damon (if he even signs anywhere) and Arthur Rhodes (did you even know he was still in the league?)

Chipper is a yes. Mariano apparently will try to come back from his injury. Oswalt still hasn’t signed. Damon is now with the Indians. Arthur Rhodes has yet to say.

If Twins first-baseman Justin Morneau suffers concussion symptoms again, he will retire for medical reasons. He will go down as one of the great “what might have beens” in sports history.

Hasn’t had concussion symptoms. Thankfully.

Yu Darvish and Yoennis Cespedes, the two big imported players this season (Darvish from Japan, Cespedes defected from Cuba), will do fine, although Darvish is the one more likely to win AL “Rookie” of the Year.

More or less correct.

Bryce Harper will arrive by mid-summer and will become one of the most polarizing athletes this side of Tim Tebow.

Arrived earlier than expected, and has really only served to make Cole Hamels polarizing.

Matt Kemp will win NL MVP, but won’t have a 50-50 season, like he said he is aiming for.

Doubtful on the 50-50. Depends on how well he returns from the DL for the MVP.

Roy “Doc” Halladay will be the NL Cy Young winner. This is, of course, hardly a bold prediction.

He hasn’t been having the best of seasons, by his standards.

Alex Rodriguez will tie Lou Gehrig’s record for career grand slams.

Not yet.

Bryan Stow, the Giants fan who was savagely beaten outside of Dodger Stadium last opening day, will be throwing a ceremonial first pitch out at AT&T Park by the end of the season. And everyone will cry.

He appeared in a video message on opening day but isn’t yet healthy enough to do a first pitch.

Young Royals slugger Eric Hosmer will win the Home Run Derby, fittingly held in Kansas City.

Hosmer has been having a sophomore slump, so it’s unlikely that he will be an all-star.

The NL will win the All-Star Game.

Too early to tell, and a crapshoot to predict anyway.

At least one Cy Young candidate will have his season ended early when he requires Tommy John Surgery.

Depends on if you count Brian Wilson. I don’t think he was a Cy Young contender.

Every home run hit by Ryan Braun will be scrutinized.

Not so much.

The Astros will spend their last year in the National League by being so irrelevant everybody will forget they are in any league.

Actually, they are doing relatively well so far.

Joe Mauer will drop his good manners for a few minutes and ask that the walls at Target Field be moved in.

Not yet, but you know he’s thought about it.

The Cubs and White Sox will both stink, to the point where fans will be chanting for the Bears by late June.

The Cubs do stink, and the White Sox are under .500 so far.

Andy Pettitte’s comeback won’t go as well as he and the Yankees are hoping.

Too early to tell.

Giancarlo Stanton will be referred to as Mike Stanton many times, which isn’t surprising, as he was going by Mike Stanton until this offseason before beginning to use his real first name.

He has.

Buster Posey will be back and will be an All-Star.

He probably will be.

Ichiro will continue his downward slide, but still will probably be the best hitter on the Mariners.

As of this morning, he was hitting a hideous-for-him .288. That’s the highest BA, but not the highest OPS, on the Seattle roster.

The Cardinals and Reds will have a bench-clearing brawl.

Not yet, thankfully.

The Reds will, shockingly, have the best record in the National League, as their pitchers return from their injury-prone 2011 season and they’ve added the better-than-his-win-loss-record-suggests Mat Latos. Oh, and they are in the same division as the Cubs, Pirates and Astros, a great way to inflate a win total.

They aren’t doing bad, but they aren’t the best record in the NL. They merely are at a 19-17 record.

The Orioles will remain three-to-five years away from a return to glory, just like they have been every year since 1997.

I’ll let you know in a few months.

AL Division winners: Yankees, Tigers and Angels (best record).

NL Division winners: Phillies, Reds (the surprise best record in the NL) and Diamondbacks.

The AL Wild Cards will be the Rays and the Rangers. The Rays will win the game.

The NL Wild Cards will be the Giants and the Marlins. The Giants will win the game.

The ALDSes will see the Angels beat the Rays and the Tigers beat the Yankees.

The NLDSes will see the Phillies beat the Diamondbacks and the Giants defeat the Reds.

The Tigers will beat the Angels in the ALCS

The Phillies will outlast the Giants in the NLCS.

The Phillies will defeat the Tigers in the World Series.

Still early, but I’m starting to think my predictions are going to be off…

But, hey, you never know.