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Crash Bag, Vol. 40: Leon’s Getting Larger

Posted By Michael Baumann On February 8, 2013 @ 8:23 am In Crabshurn Urly,Crash Bag,MLB,Philadelphia Phillies,Potpourri,Talking about feelings | 8 Comments

We begin with a question not from the guy who runs the blog, but from the guy who runs the whole blog network. 

@dschoenfield: “What name would you give this winter storm? And would it include the word Young?”

Apparently the sky is falling back home. I have to say I am entirely unimpressed. Out here in Madison, it’s getting to the point where I’m starting to wonder if it will ever stop snowing. It rained yesterday morning, and I’ve never been so happy to see the rain. I’ve been extremely impressed with the way the public works folks here in Wisconsin clear the roads (that I’ve only driven sideways into four snowdrifts in the past 10 days is downright miraculous), but driving is still dicey on a slushy/icy/mushy mix that coats the side roads no matter how fast you get the plows out. Anyway, I’ll be very happy to see some of this snow melt and some of this slush run off.

I guess my point is: stop griping, New York. You’re like the snotty rich girl in eighth grade. We know the world revolves around you. Stop bringing the world to a halt every time you’re mildly inconvenienced. Some of us haven’t seen grass since December.

But to answer the original question, and in the spirit of same, using the word “Young,” I think calling this winter storm (because we’re naming every bit of inclement weather that hits Manhattan nowadays) “Michael Young‘s On-Field Value,” because it’s talked about in the media a lot, but in actuality isn’t significant enough to warrant anything more than passing discussion.

On a more serious note, having David Schoenfield write in brings up a bit of news regarding another ESPN baseball writer that I think deserves applause.

Christina Kahrl has joined the advisory board of the You Can Play Project, an organization dedicated to eliminating homophobia in sports and sporting culture. I won’t go into tremendous detail, but if you’re not familiar with You Can Play, it’s worth a couple minutes to click around the website. I learned about You Can Play when it was getting off the ground in the NHL and larger hockey community, and I really admire the work the YCP folks have done and the way they’ve gone about it. So I just wanted to take a moment out to thank Christina and say that it makes me very happy to see that she and YCP are working together.

Enough of that. Back to the regularly-scheduled vitriol and nonsense.

@aisflat439: “with the Singleton suspension can we talk about baseball as arbiter of morality? Or is this not the right time?”

Yeah, so in case you missed it, former Phillies prospect Jonathan Singleton got suspended 50 games for testing positive for pot. Which, first of all…yawn. I don’t smoke pot, nor do I have any desire to smoke pot, and I’m pretty sure the totally uncool manner in which I’m about to use euphemisms for America’s favorite illegal drug is proof of that. I’d like to see it legalized so the government can tax the balls off it to fund public education like they’re doing in Colorado, but from what I understand, it’s not particularly hard to come by even in its current restricted state, and I have no real stake in its legalization anyway.

But apparently Singleton is unlucky, because if he were on the 40-man, he wouldn’t be subject to marijuana testing, because while minor-league baseball tests for marijuana, they don’t so much in The Show. Which explains this:

Our Timmy

Underrated part of that GIF, by the way: Hunter Pence staring maniacally off into space and looking more than a little like Dr. Krieger from Archer.

Anyway.

I feel like there are a whole lot more worse things that J-Sing could have done than smoke the sticky-icky (a slang term which makes me giggle every time I say it) that would have merited less than a 50-game suspension. That’s what you get in the minor leagues for hitting an umpire with a bat. Which I’d say is worse than using most drugs.

I think suspending anyone 50 games for smoking pot is draconian, unless he’s a surgeon or an airline pilot and he’s showing up for work baked. And if I were a major-league GM, I’d rather my players not smoke pot for reasons that go beyond it being illegal, but I’m gratified to see that talent evaluators are treating this incident with the apathy it deserves. You can do far worse than smoke an occasional J after a game.

@pivnert: “RE: todd helton, why are people so indignant over PEDs but indifferent to offenses such as this? furthermore, why are there not harsh repercussions from the MLB? singleton got suspended for marijuana use…”

Speaking of which. There are baseball bloggers and writers who get a lot angrier than I do whenever a player gets caught driving drunk.  Whenever someone like Todd Helton gets caught driving drunk, I’m less outraged than confused. If he wants lottery tickets that badly (and while we’re at it, why someone who’s made low-nine figures over his career needs lottery tickets is beyond me), couldn’t he have waited until morning?

I don’t condone it, but I understand the logic if some broke college student can’t scratch up the $20 for cab fare home from the bar. Todd Helton made almost $5 million last year. In 2011, he made more than $20 million. He could buy a taxi service if he wanted to. There’s really no excuse for a ballplayer not to call a cab or even rent a party bus if he wants to go out and hang the Space Shuttle around his neck.

But yeah, I’d like to see stiffer (or even any) penalties from Major League Baseball for DUIs or domestic violence or assault or any of the, you know, actual social ills that plague not only ballplayers and people they encounter but society at large. And it’s not like we haven’t seen Josh Hancock and Nick Adenhart die in the past few years in auto accidents involving drunk drivers.

@JakePavorsky: “I’m giving you $10,000 and you have to spend it all on Phillies related items. Go.”

This Phillies team? With The Great Satan, Delmon Young, slated to start in right field and an oppressive cloud of pessimism creeping over the horizon, blocking out the sun like the alien spaceship from Independence Day? Well, a subscription to MLB.tv runs a little over $100, which leaves enough money to buy somewhere just shy of 600 liters of Evan Williams black label and twice that volume of ginger ale. Assuming ice is free, I could drink for years on that.

@VojirEsposito: “how will the MLB justify not reprimanding Ryan Braun for his second steroid allegation?”

Because Ryan Braun hasn’t broken the rules. They found a bunch of papers in a scumbag’s office in Miami. That’s the boring part of an episode of Dexternot a reason to fine or suspend unionized workers.

Major League Baseball has codified rules for player conduct, in a legal agreement with the players’ union. That’s how business works–an employer (MLB) and a labor union (the MLBPA) sit down and negotiate the terms by which workers will be employed. We think of baseball as something more than a business enterprise, but ballplayers, in a sense, are no different from public school teachers or steel workers. On the one hand, you have labor, and on the other, a set of capitalists who seek to exploit that labor. So the workers and the capitalists sit down and figure out the terms of employment. The owners get their product, the workers get paid, and ideally, everyone goes home happy.

Now, we think of the CBA mostly in terms of how it affects player movement through free agency, arbitration, the draft and so on, but it’s really nothing more than a uniform set of labor practices agreed to by management and the union that dictates pay, benefits, working conditions and a code of conduct. Management wants to keep performance-enhancing drugs out of the game, so they want to test players under duly negotiated conditions.

Under the conditions negotiated on his behalf, Ryan Braun cannot be deprived of the right to work unless certain conditions were met, and when he tested positive for PEDs last year, Major League Baseball couldn’t punish him because its functionaries mishandled the sample, thus depriving them of the evidence they needed to suspend him.

There’s even less evidence this time. These records aren’t grounds for suspension, even if they were damning evidence that Braun used PEDs, which they aren’t. Ever notice that Alex Rodriguez was never suspended for PED usage, even though he admitted to juicing? If we’re going to start suspending players based on circumstantial evidence, in the absence of legally viable evidence, I’d like to say that I saw Andrelton Simmons smoking steroids in the bathroom after fifth-period math, because I don’t like the Braves and I want to see him sit 50 games.

Go watch the witch hunt episode of Battlestar Galactica and get back to me. If we don’t abide by the rules of due process, even when they’re optically inconvenient, we get anarchy, or worse, the NFL.

Also, if you’re unlike me and haven’t had had more than your fill of talking about performance-enhancing drug talk, you need to get caught up on Craig Calcaterra‘s stuff over at NBC. Not only does he tend to be level-headed in tone about such things as usually generate heavy breathing and rending of garments, he is, by virtue of being a lawyer, one of the few bigtime baseball writers who isn’t talking out of his ass on the subject of drug suspensions.

@DashTreyhorn: “If a jug handle was, in fact, a drug, what kind of drug would it be?”

What’s the best kind of drug? Because it would be that. When I was in college, I briefly dated a girl from Texas, and our first argument was on the utility of jughandles and traffic circles versus conventional traffic interchanges. We went on to have other, more serious arguments and eventually I dumped her in favor of Kate, the Long-Suffering Fiancee, and everyone lived happily ever after. It never would have worked, though, because she spoke with fury and vitriol about having driven in New Jersey once and having been flabbergasted by the concept of having to get into the right lane to turn left.

I, being of New Jerseyan upbringing, turn left from the right-hand lane as naturally as a Clemson graduate acquires doffs his orange overalls to carnal knowledge of a sheep. Jughandles improve the flow of traffic and make driving in New Jersey less harrowing an experience.

I appreciate this attention to traffic flow, because I’m probably the only man under 40 in the continental U.S. who doesn’t think he’s a good driver. I’m a pretty bad driver, actually. I’m overly cautious because I still don’t judge speed and distance all that well (come to think of it, that might have something to do with my being terrible at baseball too), and my sense of direction is…suffice it to say, my sense of direction is not my strongest attribute. It once took me three hours to drive from Voorhees to Maple Shade because I read a map backwards. So I appreciate anything that allows me to avoid turning left across highway traffic. Jughandles are the best.

@gberry523: “who is the next phillie to get busted for PEDs”

You guys are really big on the drugs today.

Not Larry Greene, that’s for damn sure. The Phillies, by the way, have updated his official dimensions to 6-foot-1, 259 pounds. He turns 20 later this month. He, like the fog, is getting thicker. And like Leon, is getting larger.

@BSLLanceRinker: “I have Dominic Brown under contract in a fantasy league. Did the Phillies intentionally sabotage me by signing Delmon Young?”

I’m not going to answer this question.

Instead, I’m going to talk to you about college football. I was listening yesterday afternoon to the Solid Verbal podcast’s recap of National Signing Day. You may recall that Solid Verbal co-host Ty Hildenbrandt is a friend of the blog and once contributed his own knowledge to the Crash Bag. Anyway, Ty was talking about his favorite names in this year’s high school graduating class, including newly-minted Alabama defensive tackle Dee Liner, a shining advertisement for nominative determinism if ever I’ve seen one.

But the most bizarre name by far belonged to an Air Force Academy commit named Tim McVey. Now, Ty was going on, and rightly so, about how preposterous it is that someone who shares (at least audibly) a name with the most infamous domestic terrorist in American history, wouldn’t go by a nickname or his initials. I mean, if my name were John Allen Mohammed or something, you can bet your ass that I’d go by J.A. Or Buster or something. But here’s the thing–McVey is a high school senior, which means he was most likely born in 1994 or 1995, though after thorough research (read: about 90 seconds on Google and Rivals.com) I couldn’t find an exact birth date for our unfortunately-named future Falcon.

A couple thoughts on that: first of all, we’re going to watch people born in 1995 play football on TV next year, which…ugh. Also that the Oklahoma City bombing was almost 18 years ago. But because the Oklahoma City bombing took place on April 19, 1995, there’s a non-zero chance that Tim McVey was born after the bombing. That would be ridiculous.

I can identify, to a point. There aren’t really a whole lot of famous Michael Baumanns in the world–if you type my name into Google, I come up within the first couple pages. Which is odd, because there are a ton of Michael Baumanns in Germany and Switzerland, just relatively few who did anything of note. But if you type my name into Wikipedia, the only entry that comes up is, in fact, that of a terrorist. The difference is, nobody in the U.S. has ever heard of Michael “Bommi” Baumann, East German terrorist, and the mention of his name doesn’t send chills down people’s spines the way Timothy McVeigh’s does. I bet most Germans don’t even know who he is.

Anyway, if he were a household name, I’d have probably gone by a nickname. That’s all I’m saying.

Let’s do some quicker-hitting ones.

@soundofphilly: “will CA be doing a weekly graph on Delmon Young’s weight this season?”

I don’t think that’ll be publicly available information. Though if it were, I imagine Bill would make it part of his popular Graph of the Intermittent Time Period feature.

@BSLLanceRinker: “Who will have the better 2013: Vance Worley or Ben Revere?”

I don’t follow all that many athletes on Twitter, but I do follow both Worley and Revere, and both of them seem like almost oppressively optimistic and positive personalities. I betcha that regardless of on-field performance, both of them have a riotous good time in 2013.

But to answer the question I’m sure you meant to ask, I’d go with Revere, though it’s close. I’ve been waiting for the other shoe to drop on Worley for two years now, and I’m a believer in Revere’s defense.

@Phrontiersman: “Which of Halladay/Ruiz/Utley will not be back with the Phillies after 2013?”

Probably all three. If we’re being completely rational, possibly none of them. I think Carlos Ruiz‘s value is extremely high, or it will be once he comes back from his suspension, and the Phillies have no use for a catcher in his mid-30s, particularly when trading him and his team-friendly contract would probably net a useful young piece.

With that said, the Phillies are not only unaware that good players tend to wear down once they get to about age 35 or so, but they’re unaware that this team is going to lose 90 games. So everyone is going to come back. It’s not the smart move, but it’s going to shake out that way.

@SethAmity: “would you buy gap clothes if kelis modeled them”

I wouldn’t buy Gap clothes if Jackie Bradley modeled them. I would patronize Steak n’ Shake if Kelis were a spokeswoman for that establishment. I do enjoy Steak n’ Shake. When I was in high school, a friend of mine ordered dessert by pointing to a picture on the wall once at a Steak n’ Shake. It was hilarious at the time, though I realize that sounds like kind of a lame story now. I have only lame stories.

@fjrabon: “would drafting joey pankake even come close to atoning for passing on JBJ?”

Yes. It would come close, though I don’t think it would atone completely. Joey Pankake, for those of you who have forgotten, is the sophomore shortstop for the South Carolina Gamecocks, and is possesed of an admirable bat for an infielder and a rocket arm–he sat in the mid-90s as a pitcher in high school. Now, he’s a dreadful defensive shortstop, even for a college player, but he might hit enough to stick at third. I mean, by the time he’s draft-eligible in 2014, the Phillies will probably have a pretty high draft pick, so why not?

@loctastic: “what’s your favorite chord?”

I don’t know about in absolute terms, but I’m a huge fan of playing guitar in E minor. I could switch from G to Em by way of D/F# and back all day.

@loctastic (again): “oh and also do you approve of the nickname “the Duck” for Delmon Young?”

It’s not as good as The Great Satan.

@tholzerman: “favorite hobbit?”

I’ve said on here before that I’m really not a big Tolkien fan. So I only know of, like, 6 hobbits. It’s not Sam or Frodo, because they were irritating as hell in the movies. Merry was a total badass though. I’ll take him.

@phisportsfan11: “2013 major MLB award winners?”

All of that is going to change before Bill sets up our season preview coverage, by the way.

@mikemcgoo: “excluding Delmon Young, who is your least favorite baseball player?”

Chipper Jones. Also Chris Carpenter, though he looks like he’s retiring soon.

Among active players? It might be Jose Valverde. I used to enjoy him in that fat, crazy reliever mold, but now he’s just obnoxious, and the question of how legs so skinny can support a torso so prodigious bothers me from an engineering standpoint. Plus I’m probably unfairly holding the perpetuation of the save statistic bullshit back in 2011 when he had the “perfect season” against him, but who cares?

Michael Young, by the way? Not all that far behind him. Also Yadier Molina.

@bradblackburn: “What author is writing the Phillies 2013 Season?”

Well, we start with something absolutely beautiful, and we take kind of a slow-motion approach to an almost nihilistic embrace of the futility of human life. Couched in a creative voice capable of staging heartbreaking beauty and juxtaposing it with a curious nostalgia for the customs and practices of generations past.

We fall in love with a character and root for him to succeed, then get clued in halfway through the story that not only do we know better than our hero, we care more. We watch in paralyzed fascination as he throws away his life after being given every advantage. And it all takes place under the auspices of such beautiful prose that you almost don’t care.

That’s right, Ruben Amaro is Frank Bascombe, and the 2013 Phillies are being written by Richard Ford.

If you’re at all interested in great writing, read The Sportswriter, please. It will break your heart and rob you of your will to live, but in a good way.

We’re a little lighter in terms of word count this week than normal, but, you know, that whole being confronted with the meaninglessness of life thing. NCAA baseball opens next week, so look for my long-promised college baseball primer sometime between now and the next Crash Bag. Until then, I’m Steve Thomas, and for Norm Abrams and Tom Silva, thanks for watching This Old House.


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