Phillies Getting Phingered

* Before you say it, I totally realize and agree that replacing the letter f with ph stopped being cool back in 1991. But I needed an easy way to allude to that Tom Green movie. It’s all about the title, bro.

The Phillies are slated to begin their quest for a repeat World Series championship in, oh, a couple hours. Yes, it’s noontime here in Philadelphia and with those two hours to kill, let’s be pedantic. Let’s whine about some stuff.

First order of business, per The Fightins per NBC Miami: Little girl steals from Ryan Howard via legal system.

Ryan Howard hit his 200th home run in Florida in a game against the Marlins back on July 16 against Chris Volstad. A girl — presumably it’s the one you see in the video — ended up with the baseball. As baseball players are wont to do, Ryan Howard asked for his milestone home run ball back and in exchange, he would give the girl an autographed baseball. Fair deal, it seems, no? The girl took the deal.

Apparently, she told her family about it and this induced outrage. Dollar signs started floating down and liquidating down a drain appeared before her parents’ eyes. They did what most rational people do when they realize that their 12-year-old daughter did a good deed for another person: they called a lawyer, who, according to NBC Miami, “then filed a lawsuit to get the ball back, claiming it was Valdivia’s ball and that Howard took advantage of the little girl”.

If you’re Ryan Howard in this situation, what do you do? Do you give up a memento of all the hard work and success you’ve earned throughout your baseball career? Or do you publicly war with a 12-year-old girl over a baseball? It’s a no-win situation for Big Brown, so he just gave the ball back to the girl’s family and left it at that.

When the mainstream media goes through its ritual bashing of Philadelphia fans, keep this fiasco on the front burner. Philly fans may be passionate and may consume seven too many adult beverages at Citizens Bank Park, but I’d be hard-pressed to believe that anyone, from a city built on the concept of hard work and delayed gratification, would be petty enough to hire a lawyer for the sole purposes of acquiring a baseball that may sell for a few hundred dollars on eBay.

At any rate, kudos to Ryan for taking the high road, even if it meant parting with a nice memento.

The other piece of whine-worthy news comes via Scott Lauber.

Cole Hamels doesn’t like the 2:37 PM EST start time for the NLDS games in Philadelphia.

I don’t think it’s fair. I definitely don’t think it’s fair for the fans because this is all about home-field advantage or just baseball in general. I understand TV ratings, but I think, at the end of the day, most players would rather play when they’re both comfortable, and that’s kind of what we’re trained at, either 1 o’clock or 7 o’clock, and I think that’s more fair for us than the TV ratings because, truly, I don’t think we mind as much for TV ratings.

Aside from entering into the World’s Longest Run-On Sentence contest, Cole has a point. Most people reading this blog will be doing so after they get home from work at 5 o’clock. Many people will be unable to watch most or all of the first two games of the NLDS due to work or other obligations.

Additionally, if it is true that “most players would rather play when they’re both comfortable” — in other words, that most players perform better at ritual times — then that is something MLB should strive to avoid. Hamels’ claim certainly could be backed up by science.

So, we have two problems here:

  • By having these early start times, MLB is effectively alienating a good portion of its viewing audience.
  • Players, supposedly, play better when the start time is common, i.e. 1:00-ish or 7:00-ish.

While MLB is certainly beholden to its broadcasters (FOX, TBS, etc.), it is also beholden to its extremely large consumer base and the last thing they want to do is alienate them by preventing them from seeing the games due to early start times, or by putting out a sub-par product since players aren’t used to the start times. Hamels’ comments at first glance seem like a prima donna athlete whining again, but they actually have merit. MLB should take those comments into consideration when they think about how they can improve next year’s post-season presentation.

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