EDIT: There was a typographical error in the original post. This post has been edited to reflect the correct information.
After Kelly Johnson stole second base in the top of the third inning during tonight’s game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, I got the feeling that the Phillies haven’t been throwing out base-stealers all that often. I took a stroll over to Baseball Reference and found out that, unfortunately, is the case. Base-stealers are 18-for-22 running on the Phillies, a success rate of 82 percent. The league average stolen base success rate hovers in the 70-75 percent area.
Carlos Ruiz has been known as a solid defensive catcher, but that mostly comes from his great ability to block pitches in the dirt. Brian Schneider used to be quite good at catching runners, but given his age and significantly reduced playing time, his 21 percent caught stealing rate last year pales in comparison to his 37 percent career average.
The Phillies are run-averse at the moment, as they have failed to score more than four runs in every game since April 9 against the Atlanta Braves. The cold streak culminated in a disappointing 4-0 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks last night. Ian Kennedy threw a complete game shut-out, an accomplishment that not even Roy Halladay has achieved yet.
The Phillies players were downtrodden last night, but the coaches were irate. Greg Gross threw a tantrum in the clubhouse and gave one of the most compelling speeches in the franchise’s history. I was the only journalist granted access to the clubhouse during this debacle. Below is the transcription. There is some salty language, so please don’t read if you are easily offended.
. . .
Greg Gross: You’re talking about what? You’re talking about — bitching about that pitch you missed, some son of a bitch fielder got lucky, some pitch you’re trying to corkscrew, so forth. Let’s talk about something important. They all here?
Charlie Manuel: All but one.
Greg Gross: I’m going anyway. Let’s talk about something important. Put. That coffee. Down. Coffee’s for hitters only. You think I’m fucking with you? I am not fucking with you. I’m here from downtown. I’m here from Amaro and Montgomery. And I’m here on a mission of mercy. Your name’s Ibanez? You call yourself a hitter, you son of a bitch?
Raul Ibanez: I don’t gotta sit here and listen to this shit.
Greg Gross: You certainly don’t pal, ’cause the good news is you’re fired. The bad news is you’ve got, all of you’ve got just one week to regain your jobs starting with tonight. Starting with tonight’s game. Oh? Have I got your attention now? Good. “Cause we’re adding a little something to this month’s hitting contest. As you all know first prize is the Phillie Phanatic hot dog gun. Anyone wanna see second prize? Second prize is a set of batting gloves. Third prize is you’re fired. Get the picture? You laughing now? You got scouting reports. Amaro and Montgomery paid good money, get their names to hit them. You can’t hit the pitchers you’re given, you can’t hit shit. You ARE shit. Hit the bricks pal, and beat it ’cause you are going OUT.
Greg Gross: The scouting reports are weak? Fucking scouting reports are weak. You’re weak. I’ve been in this business 15 years…
Raul Ibanez: What’s your name?
Greg Gross: Fuck you. That’s my name. You know why, mister? You drove a Hyundai to get here. I drove the Phillie Phanatic’s eighty-thousand dollar go-kart. THAT’S my name. And your name is you’re wanting. You can’t play in the man’s game, you can’t hit them – go home and tell your wife your troubles. Because only one thing counts in this game: Circle the bases which are lined. You hear me, you fucking scrubs? A-B-C. A-Always, B-Be, C-Connecting. Always be connecting. ALWAYS BE CONNECTING. A-I-D-A. Attention, Interest, Decision, Action. Attention – Am you paying attention? Interest – Are you interested in scoring runs? I know you are, because it’s hit or walk. You hit or you hit the bricks. Decision – Have you made your decision to swing or take? And Action. A-I-D-A. Get out there – you got the pitches coming in. You think they came in to get out of the rain? A guy don’t throw a pitch over the plate lest he wants you to hit it. They’re sitting out there waiting to give you the runs. Are you gonna take it? Are you man enough to take it? What’s the problem, pal?
Raul Ibanez: You – Gross. You’re such a hero, you’re so successful, how come you’re coming down here wasting your time with such a bunch of bums?
Greg Gross: You see this bat? You see this bat?
Raul Ibanez: Yeah.
Greg Gross: That bat made it to first base more than you. I had a .372 on-base percentage in my career. How often’d you get on base? You see pal, that’s who I am, and you’re nothing. Nice guy? I don’t give a shit. Good father? Fuck you! Go home and play with your kids. You wanna work here? Hit! You think this is abuse? You think this is abuse, you cocksucker? You can’t take this, how can you take the abuse you get in an at-bat? You don’t like it, leave. I can go out there tomorrow with the materials you’ve got and go 2-for-3 with a walk. Tomorrow! In two hours! Can you? Can YOU? Go and do likewise. A-I-D-A. Get mad you sons of bitches. Get mad. You want to know what it takes to win games? It takes brass balls to win baseball games. Go and do likewise, gents. Runs are out there. You pick them up, it’s yours. You don’t, I got no sympathy for you. You wanna go out in that game tonight and hit, HIT. It’s yours. If not, you’re gonna be shining my shoes. And you know what you’ll be saying – a bunch of losers sittin’ around in a bar. ‘Oh yeah. I used to be in the Majors. It’s a tough racket.’ These are the new scouting reports. These are the Greg Gross scouting reports. And to you they’re gold, and you don’t get them. Why? Because to give them to you is just throwing them away. They’re for hitters. I’d wish you good luck but you wouldn’t know what to do with it if you got it. And to answer your question, pal, why am I here? I came here because Amaro and Montgomery asked me to. They asked me for a favor. I said the real favor, follow my advice and fire your fucking ass because a loser is a loser.