Crash Bag, Vol. 3: Niners vs. Logicians

I’m not even going to bother with an intro this week, because we’re leading right off with what is unquestionably the best question anyone’s asked in three weeks of the Crash Bag.

@Wzeiders: “How closely does this Phillies team resemble the Deep Space Niners?”

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Deep Space Niners, it’s the baseball team made up of the crew of the eponymous space station in the seventh season of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. That episode, “Take Me Out to the Holosuite,” was unbelievably silly, perhaps a necessary diversion from the throes of the Dominion War, one of the darkest storylines of the darkest Star Trek series. Anyway, Captain Sisko, commander of the station and a huge baseball fan, is challenged to a game by Captain Solok, a Vuclan Starfleet academy classmate of Sisko’s who disdains humans in general and Sisko in particular.

Solok figures that if he and his Vulcan crew can beat Sisko’s team at Sisko’s own game, he’ll prove his superiority once and for all. Hijinks ensue, as do a bunch of interesting bits of trivia about the episode.

But to answer William’s question, yes. A lot. For starters, the strength of the Phillies’ team is its starting pitching, and the Niners’ pitcher, Sisko’s son Jake (played in the show by Kenny Lofton‘s nephew, as it happens), was by far the best player on the team. One can make parallels between the intensity of Worf and the intensity of Roy Halladay, and between the size, agility, and acrobatic defensive play of Ezri Dax and Freddy Galvis. Dr. Bashir, who comes in to play second halfway through the game, is a genetically enhanced superman, and one could make the argument that Chase Utley, who–we hope–will come in halfway through the season to play second base, is also superhuman.

But most of all, they remind me of the Phillies because we’ve seen a lot of this:

./Star Trek: Deep Space Nine/season7/baseball1.gif

So if you’re looking for a reason to hope for a team that’s long on pitching and has a lineup full of people who can’t really hit, don’t think of the 2010 Giants–think of the 2375 Deep Space Niners.

@SoMuchForPathos: “If you were tasked with writing a bildungsroman about any Phillie or IronPig, who would it be and what would happen?”

(googles “bildungsroman”)

Oh, a coming-of-age story. That I can do.

I’m pretty sure I’m going to try to write a book about Domonic Brown at some point. But for now, I think I’d do one of those semi-messianic science fiction stories in the vein of Harry Potter, Star Wars, Ender’s Game, and I think you could make the argument that Dune was a coming-of-age story of sorts, though I’ll admit it’s probably been 10 years since I’ve read the book. And I tried to watch the movie a while back, and it was unspeakably horrible. My now-fiancee loves Dune and I was all up to watch Jose Ferrer, Patrick Stewart, and Kyle McLachlan, but I had never seen a David Lynch movie before, and Lord Child, was it tedious.

Anyway, I think in my bildungsroman, Carlos Ruiz is the youngest son of a spaceship mechanic who is thrust into the midst of an interstellar war between the humans and a hostile alien race. When the aliens destroy the asteroid his family lives on, he volunteers to become a starship pilot, eventually rises to command his own ship, then goes on a suicide mission to rescue the president of Earth, succeeding and surviving in the process.

In this story, I think Brian Wilson would play the evil alien leader, with Yadier Molina as his underling, whose ugliness is matched only by the brutality of his men. Roy Halladay would be the president, who is betrayed and captured by a duplicitous alien envoy, played by Cody Ross. Ryan Howard is the commander-in-chief of the human starfleet, and Chase Utley is the grizzled starship commander who trains young Chooch but is heroically and heart-rendingly killed in battle.

Cliff Lee is the mouthy, emotional first officer of Utley’s ship, who ascends to command on Utley’s death and sends Chooch on the mission to rescue Halladay. Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence are the absentminded, hyperactive engineering savants who run the engine room, and Jimmy Rollins is the smooth-talking commander of the ship’s fighter squadron.

Jonathan Papelbon plays the smarmy space station commander with a heart of gold who sells Chooch the access codes to the alien defense network.

And David Wright is the beautiful alien woman Chooch falls for, but can never make his love known until the war is over.

Be right back–gotta go write a bildungsroman.

@agent_neon: “My roommate makes “meow” noises every time Ty Wigginton does anything at all on the field. He thinks ‘Ty Wigginton’ sounds like something you’d name a cute little kitten. So I guess this leads to two questions: 1) What is wrong with my roommate? 2) What animals would you associate with the Phillies players?”

1) He’s broaching the topic of getting a kitten in a non-threatening fashion. Buy him a kitten. But make sure it hunts mice. My cat doesn’t hunt mice, which makes her kind of like a bottle that doesn’t hold water–kind of useless.

2) Let’s just do this man-by-man:

  • Carlos Ruiz: Koala.
  • Ryan Howard: Bison. Bison are one of my favorite animals, and I think the Big Piece would make a great bison.
  • Chase Utley: Jack Russell terrier. Not all that big, but kind of nasty, even though everyone thinks he’s cute.
  • Jimmy Rollins: Sea lion. I’ve said this before, but if there were something that was to a sea lion what a dog is to a wolf, I’d have that pet and move to the beach. I want some sort of amphibious predator.
  • Placido Polanco: Beluga whale. Go ahead, try to argue.
  • Juan Pierre: Mouse
  • Shane Victorino: Woodpecker
  • Hunter Pence: Penguin
  • Roy Halladay: Chimera
  • Cliff Lee: Some sort of herding dog, I think. A collie, maybe?
  • Cole Hamels: Some sort of falcon
  • Joe Blanton: Slow loris
  • Kyle Kendrick: Echidna
  • Antonio Bastardo: Scorpion
  • Jonathan Papelbon: A bloodhound in an argyle sweater
  • Freddy Galvis: Ocelot
  • Ty Wigginton: He’s too big to be a regular housecat, no matter what his name might suggest about kittens. I could see him being a pillbug, maybe. Either way, I don’t think he’s particularly feline.

@AntsinIN: “For 2013-2016 which OF would you prefer: Brown/Pence/Vic or Brown/Hamilton/random AAAA guy? Assume similar cost.”

Oh, look at Mr. Serious with his serious question. Really I’d rather not have either. The similar cost thing might be a stretch, because once Pence hits free agency, I think he and Victorino will cost more together than Hamilton and the random quad-A dude. But assuming that, it depends on the quad-A guy. This scenario precludes the possibility of Tyson Gillies or some other minor league outfielder coming good, or the Phillies making a shrewd scrap heap pickup on the order of 2007 Jayson Werth. Though with the Phillies’ recent track record of not developing prospects or being shrewd, maybe we can safely assume that the quad-A guy will be replacement level.

All other things being equal, I think I’d rather have Pence and Victorino than Hamilton and a Laynce Nix type. I think we’re seeing the best of Hamilton right now, and while he’s in a conversation with A-Rod and Barry Bonds for most naturally gifted position player I’ve ever seen, he’ll be 32 at the start of next season, and I’d be inclined to stay away from a 32-year-old center fielder who has only once played more than 133 games in a season, no matter how well he’s hitting.

I was going to bring up this post about how Hamilton is swinging more or less indiscriminately right about now, and getting away with it because he’s hitting everything he sees. But that doesn’t have as much oomph as a criticism when the alternatives are Pence and Victorino. Anyway, it boils down to this: Hamilton would have to be better than both Pence and Victorino combined, and I don’t see that happening, due to aging and injury, over the next four years. Victorino and Pence each individually had a higher rWAR total than Hamilton last year. No matter what, I can see Pence and Victorino being serviceable regulars going forward, 2-3 WAR players. Given the Phillies’ organizational philosophy of paying 2-WAR players like 5-WAR players, it only makes sense that they’d remain here going forward.

The only way Hamilton/Joe Average is a better play is if Hamilton remains a 6-WAR player or so well into his late 30s, and I’d take the under on that line.

@DashTreyhorn: “Better name? Gauntlett Eldemire or Benedict Cumberbatch?”

Balthazar Getty.

@TheBridgerBowl: “If the 2012 phillies were going to have an ultimate showdown type fight, who would prevail?”

Let’s imagine a serious of one-on-one fights, not a melee, because in that case I could imagine everyone just sort of whaling on each other until everyone’s dead except the fastest guy, and I don’t think “Shane Victorino” is the answer we’re looking for.

Hand-to-hand, no weapons, this would be interesting, because to my knowledge, none of the Phillies have any advanced hand-to-hand combat training. If I’m wrong, let me know, but it’s not like Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who’s a 46th-degree black belt in something or other and once blindsided AC Milan teammate Rodney Strasser with a roundhouse kick in practice, is on the roster. Ibra also got into a fight with then-teammate Oguchi Onyewu at practice once. Ibrahimovic is listed 192 cm tall and 84 kg, which is 6-foot-4 and 185 pounds, though he looks even bigger. Onyewu, being American, is measured in feet and pounds, and stands 6-foot-4 and weighs in at 210. Both of them are soccer players, which means they’re quick and neither has an ounce of fat on him. No, really, you break that fight up. I’m right behind you.

Anyway, with that in mind, I’d be inclined to think brute strength and reach would be the qualities that do you best in a one-on-one match. Assuming everyone’s healthy, you have to like the biggest guys: that’s Ryan Howard (6-4, 240) and Roy Halladay (6-6, 230). Jose Contreras is 6-4, 255, but he’s too old and creaky to last long. I think he gets dismantled by a quick, scrappy counterpuncher like Utley or Cliff Lee. Ditto the younger, but still slow Chad Qualls. I think on the other end, John Mayberry has a unique blend of size and quickness–he’s got some foot speed and a long reach at 6-foot-6, and I think Hunter Pence, listed at 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, might be the best bet to knock off Howard or Halladay.

I think it comes down to three guys: Halladay for his reach and endurance–ain’t nobody going to outlast him; Howard for his knockout power and thick build. For all we talk about his body type and big first basemen not aging well, Howard isn’t fat like Mo Vaughn. He’s got that Blind Side left tackle build–big torso, long arms and legs, huge in the thighs and butt. I think he could outpunch anyone on the team and take some punishment on the body as well.

But here’s what I like about Pence. He’s giving up at least 10 pounds, probably more, to Halladay, and 20 pounds, probably more, to Howard, but I think he can stick and run, at least for a while. Remember that episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia where Mac and Dennis enter Charlie in an underground fighting ring because of his amazing ability to take physical punishment? I think Pence could do that. I think if he could avoid the big left hand from Howard, he could prevail in the end.

That said, if the Iron Pigs are allowed to play, Phillippe Aumont, despite being a native French-speaker who wears glasses, would probably destroy everyone on the 25-man roster. He’s listed at 6-foot-7 and 255 pounds and throws bullets–it stands to reason he could drop a decent punch as well. Plus he grew up in Canada, so he probably played some hockey and fought growing up.

Thanks for your questions, boys and girls. We almost didn’t get enough questions this time around, so if you want to see this feature continue weekly, write in for next week using the #crashbag hashtag or to

Until then, have a pleasant Memorial Day weekend, and go Phillies.


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  1. mbg131

    May 25, 2012 03:32 PM

    Odo = Gary Cederstrom

  2. LTG

    May 25, 2012 03:43 PM

    Just in case you have, don’t judge Lynch by Dune. He disowned the film and it had a long history of travesty even before Lynch took over the project. He deserves some blame but it is not representative of his work.

    The best Lynch film is probably Mulholland Dr. But the Lynchiest Lynch film is either Eraserhead (not accessible without initiation) or Lost Highway (a perfection of the dream-movie type).

  3. LTG

    May 25, 2012 03:50 PM

    Also, did you click the link on the slow loris youtube vid? That poor creature.

  4. Bxe1234

    May 25, 2012 03:51 PM

    I would like to see Schwimer and Aumont fight. They’re both enormous.

  5. Bxe1234

    May 25, 2012 03:54 PM

    And a good starter for Lynch is Twin Peaks. Accessible, clever, and eases you into the oddities that make Lynch so good.

  6. Curly

    May 25, 2012 04:04 PM

    And a good starter for Lynch is Twin Peaks. Accessible, clever, and eases you into the oddities that make Lynch so good

    But please, god, only the first season.

    Also, as far as the DS9 gif goes… Braves and Giants hats? I know Starfleet HQ is in San Francisco, but… argh!

  7. LTG

    May 25, 2012 04:29 PM

    But if you only watch the first season, you can’t watch the epic final episode with the best ending any TV series has ever had. EVER! NOT EXAGGERATING!

  8. Michael Baumann

    May 25, 2012 04:44 PM

    I’ve been meaning to get to Lynch via either Blue Velvet or Twin Peaks. We’ll see how that goes when I get there.
    And I actually meant to mention the Giants and Braves hats in the question but forgot. Neither the characters nor the actors who play them are from San Fran or Atlanta. I have no idea why they were wearing those hats.

  9. Richard

    May 25, 2012 06:21 PM

    I’ve always thought Dune was underrated. But then I saw it 800 years ago. There is lots of Lynch worth checking out, though I stepped off his train with Inland Empire, which is the kind of movie I can appreciate that others appreciate but which I in fact hated.

  10. Dan K.

    May 25, 2012 08:35 PM

    RE: KK as an echidna?

    The animal, or the mythological mother-of-all-evil (literally) from Greek mythos? Because I can see the comparisons for both…

  11. Matt D

    May 26, 2012 11:16 PM

    What happened to my baseball team? What happened to my baseball blog?

  12. Gaël

    May 27, 2012 05:23 AM

    Kendrick with the complete game shutout against one of the top offenses in the league. This season keeps getting weirder.

  13. Hunterfan

    May 27, 2012 08:46 AM

    I miss DS9. Like, a lot.

    And I know Jake (Cirroc Lofton) had on a Braves cap because he’s related to Kenny Lofton.

    Not sure why Captain Sisko had on the Giants cap….

  14. LTG

    May 27, 2012 09:07 AM

    Sisko loves Willie Mays.

    Anyone else catch that conversation between Buck and McCarver about fathers coaching sons in MLB? Buck finished it with, “I, on the other hand, love nepotism!” He thought he was being ironic. But he was really being double-ironic.

  15. LTG

    May 27, 2012 09:58 AM

    *Products of Procrastination*

    I made this list of peripheral comps to Freddy Galvis (based on O-Swing% and SwStr%): [Link shortened by ed.]

    From it we learn the following interesting things:
    1) Starlin Castro and Alexei Ramirez are comps
    2) Galvis already sees more pitches out of the strike zone than his comps
    3) He makes contact with pitches out of the zone more than his comps
    4) He hits fewer GBs than Castro or Ramirez
    5) 3) and 4) probably explain his low BABIP compared to his comps (hypothesis: weak contact)
    6) IFFB% is low. (Evidence against hypothesis)

    I’m not sure we can draw any conclusions about Given the SSS, his BABIP might improve without his peripherals changing at all. Or, if the weak contact hypothesis is correct, he will need to stop making contact with so many pitches out of the zone. If nothing else, let’s hope that the XBHs keep coming because that is his primary offensive contribution to this team.

    (I’d like to thank Richard who inspired this topic of procrastination.)

  16. JB Allen

    May 27, 2012 03:07 PM

    I would start with The Elephant Man. The absurd humor is missing, but Lynch’s love of sound and image is there. And the story is easy enough to follow that you can enjoy what Lynch is doing without wondering what the hell is going on.

    After that, if you enjoy what Lynch is up to, then understanding the plot seems to matter less with each film.

  17. smitty

    May 27, 2012 07:51 PM

    Oh…come on…go read another comic book on the throne…please ! Who really cares ?

  18. smitty

    May 27, 2012 07:56 PM

    The comment I received back was, “I had said that before…,” if so, I don’t ever recall. Nonetheless, perhaps you might compare the Phillies nine to the Star Wars bar crowd, or maybe the magnificent 7, or maybe just stop taking the hallucigens that is causing you to write this sort of rubbish.

  19. LTG

    May 27, 2012 08:51 PM

    Yeah, I hate frivolity too…

  20. Pete

    May 28, 2012 01:14 AM

    Frivolity is fine, but this is the Bill Simmons plague. God help us all.

  21. Pete

    May 28, 2012 01:16 AM

    …btw…Lost Highway is indeed perfection.

  22. JimL

    May 29, 2012 11:13 AM

    Pence= stork (do you see how high his leggings are?)

    Choley= cockatoo (with requesite Baretta themesong in the background)

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