Crash Bag, Vol. 45: Filling In For a Legend

Hello, pleased to meet you. My name is Paul, and I’ll be filling in for your usual host, Mr. Baumann, today. This column has always intimidated me, both because it’s the longest regular feature on the site and because Mike effortlessly references so many things that I couldn’t hope to duplicate him. But I’m what you’ve got and what you’ll have to deal with.

We’re coming up on a year’s worth of ‘baggery, and I consider myself honored to be part of this now-long-standing tradition. I’m not sure exactly how much I deserve to be soiling the name of this fine column with my own byline, but I hope my words do it proud. What I may not quite have in quantity, I certainly won’t make up for in quality. Or something like that. What follows is a mix of baseball, Oreos, Little Giants, revisionist poetry and Jennifer Lawrence. SEO, baby!

@tiff1001: If you had to eliminate 2 of the 3 from your life which would it be: Watching phillies, listening to The National, eating pb/oreos

So part of this Crashbag will apparently be doubling as something of a get-to-know-Paul session, I guess. I really like baseball, which some of you may know. I really like music, especially the band The National. I also really like Oreos and peanut butter. Tiffany knows these things, and has decided to torture me with the thought of abandoning not one but TWO of these things.

Even though I love my Double Stufs, I can definitely write Oreos off as the first cut. They’ve got the most high-quality competition in their field, if we’re talking about all kinds of snacks. Even if we’re limited only to cookies, at least there are Girl Scout cookies to rely on. I don’t know if it’s coming across, but this all feels very flimsy to me and I’m getting anxious at the very thought of giving them up, and this is only the first cut.

If the rest of baseball were still available to me, I’d cut the Phils out. Sure, I’d miss out on a lot of good – not watching Hamels and Utley and whatever future icons might be in store would be kind of lonesome – but I’d save myself more than a few patches of gray hair from watching the myriad frustrating things they all do at the same time. Also Wheels.

I’ve already spent too much time on this question.

@Billy_Yeager:  If (Puerto Rico) becomes a state, do you think they forfeit the right to compete independently in the WBC?

I still don’t know exactly how much I’m in on the World Baseball Classic, even though this is already the third one and the first took place seven years ago. It’s a terrific idea, and I wish I enjoyed it nearly as much as the fans of other countries seem to. I will say that the 2009 Netherlands upset of the Dominican Republic still ranks among one of the coolest things I’ve seen, even though the Dutch have (thanks in no small part to that year, I’m sure) started churning out some quality Major League talent semi-regularly.

I’m sure Puerto Ricans would want to maintain a separate identity for a while. They certainly wouldn’t forfeit their competitive independence immediately of their own volition. Such an event would make for an entertaining spectacle of writers trying to work in “Annexation of Puerto Rico” references, though. Much like I just did.

@moose_bigelow: In a world where the Phanatic was the pope what would he make a mortal and venial sin?

You know, in all the many years of Phanatic skits, I can’t recall there ever being one where Mr. Greenfur ever dressed up at His Papacy. Although a Google image search does yield this pair of photos side-by-side.

I don’t know what the Phanatic would consider most egregious. I’m sure if he had his way, no man would be allowed to grow hair on the top of his head. And talking on phones and waving when sitting in the field-level seats behind home plate. And outlawing surveys on the “most popular” mascots in sports that are just obviously so, so wrong.

Venial sins would be wearing the cap of a non-combatant to a game. At a Phillies/Braves game? Leave your Yankees cap at home, scrub.

@dj_mosfett: Which Phillies do you think could pull off the knit cap? What hats do you think look best on each player?

As we continue our Get to Know Paul session, we come to this: During the first-ever Baseball Roundtable that Rangers fan/Twitter supastah Lana Berry put together, I appeared toward the end with a gray beanie on my head. This was after midnight eastern time and the heat was functioning quite well in my apartment. I wasn’t even having a particularly bad hair day. But there I was in a gray cap, and apparently this caused a bit of a stir and I’m now associated with knit beanies. I guess it could be worse. I don’t know, the internet is a strange place sometimes (all the time).

Now, I think Sarge is probably the resident hat expert around here, but he was surprisingly unavailable for comment on this issue. Jimmy Rollins does the knit cap thing pretty well. Chase Utley rocked it on one of his signature days. Long-haired Cole Hamels probably does it well, though short-haired Cole resembles Mark Prior too much (not that that’s relevant, just pointing it out).

As for other hats? I feel like Jonathan Papelbon is good candidate to bring back the tri-corner hat. Because everything that is old will be new again, and he’s weird. If Hunter Pence were still around, he’d be the fedora-donning goon, but I feel like Chad Durbin could unironically pull that off in his stead. Ben Revere would have one made out of balloons.

@Doc_Ruiz2012: When will the Ben Revere puns end?

Listen, my children, and you shall hear
Of the gritty slide of Ben Revere,
By the eighteenth of April, steal seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Unaware of his grin from ear-to-ear.

He said to his coach, “If the Cardinals’ arch
Can stand by sea o’er the town to-night,
Hang a curveball aloft and I’ll start my march
On the North Base, powered by my cleats’ flight,
One, if by land, and two, if by seams;
And I on the opposite base will be,
Ready to ride and spread the charm
Through every Manayunk village and bar,
For the city folk to put up with my arm.

@AntsinIN: Rank these, from lowest to highest: AAV of Utley’s next contract, Cliff Lee wins in 2013, HRs by Phillies RF, DYoung BBs

Fascinating. They’ll all be somewhere in the range of 10-25, most likely. I still haven’t made up my mind about just how much I think Chase Utley is worth on the open market, but I think that all depends on whether he stays healthy and what Robinson Cano ends up doing. Not that Utley and Cano will fetch similar values at all; he’s just the only player standing in the way of Utley being the top FA prize at second base.

I think today I’d rank them (low to high): Utley’s AAV, Young’s walks, Lee’s wins, RF homers. Utley gets $10-12M AAV on a shorter deal, Young doesn’t play enough to reach 20 BB, Lee “rebounds” (gag) to post x-teen Ws and Dom Brown is a top-five OF in the NL East and approaches 30 dingers.

Hey, it’s a cool thought.

@hdrubin: What kind of numbers would Ryan Howard have to put up this season to make us OK with his contract?

This answer will vary for everybody. For you. For me. For any other writer here at this site. The “value” of a win is somewhere between $4M and $5M, so to break even at $20M for 2013, you’d hope for a four-plus-win year. By fWAR, Ryan Howard’s last season of that caliber was 2009. By rWAR, it was 2006. Suffice to say, it would take a season of vintage Howard to break even contractually.

Luckily, my personal bar for Howard is set rather low. He’s showing decline and is still on the fringes of recovery from a major injury. He’s shown some encouraging signs this spring – both with the bat and on the bases – that gives me hope of something better than whatever 2012 was.

I don’t know that Howard can, sabermetrically, put together a season quite on par with what his contract pays him to produce, but I’d be “OK” if he puts together a full season, shows improved production against lefties and slugs above .500.

@joperasinger: Which would be the better outfield: Uptons B.J., Justin, and Kate, or whatever the Phillies end up putting together this year?

Wasn’t Jennifer Lawrence just in a movie about an Eagles fan? And didn’t she have a now-famous stumble? Stick her in left field and it’ll be like Raul Ibanez never left. The unwritten bonus is that you could buy tickets in the left field lower level  or far down the third base line and re-sell at a 500 percent mark-up with ease.

Speaking of Jennifer Lawrence, when is the last time somebody came along in the Celebrityverse who not only wasn’t mocked and made fun of ruthlessly by paparazzo blogs and Twitterati for doing something dumb but was actually liked more as a result? Has that ever happened? I mean, I laughed for a second when this happened, but that was only for the sheer absurdity of the event, not because I was suddenly enamored with Shane Victorino.

Aaron Rowand’s face-exploding catch doesn’t count, because that was heroic. Any ideas?

@Framed_Ace: What are some good podcasts you listen to? Any recommendations?

Admittedly, I’m not a big podcast guy anymore. I used to listen to Preston & Steve a lot, and still snag some All Songs Considered when the playlist looks intriguing, but the only one I listen to regularly anymore is WNYC’s Radiolab. It’s a cleverly disguised science podcast with some unique production values and a high-chemistry (no pun intended) hosting duo of Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich. It never fails to be an interesting listen. Same goes for This American Life, though I found their shows to be roundly depressing for too long a stretch and stopped listening some time ago.

@mferrier31: If you could get rid of 1 player, no penalty, and would not have to pay them, who would it be? Yuni, MiniMart, Ryan, or Delmon?

Ahh, contract amnesty. Such a tantalizing possibility.

Howard is the obvious answer here, even though he’s the best player by a wide, wide margin on this list. Howard’s owed $105M more, and when that’s compared with the minimum that Yuniesky Betancourt  and Michael Martinez make and the incentivized money-sink that is Delmon Young’s deal, it looks like the easiest choice. You’d hope to be able to work out a shorter, smaller deal to retain him (like I said, he’s the best player on this list), but even the risk of losing him isn’t a big-enough deterrent here. That is a LOT of money.

@tigerbombrock: compare each of the big three’s pitches with songs.


@uublog: Describe the 2013 Phillies with a song by The National or Torres. Either collectively or individually.

All right, music questions! I’m going to twist this around a bit and do one song per player, because finding three different songs for fastballs (that aren’t by, um, Fastball) proved to be a little too difficult to do with any sort of care for quality.

  • Cole Hamels: Everclear – Like a California King
    The California connection is plain and obvious, but I’ve got a particular fondness for the acidic, bitter lyrics. Also, it’s kind of fun in an evil way to picture a pitcher who will “knock you off your feet,” “burn you just like teenage love,” “eat you just like meat,” and “break you into pieces, hold you up for all the world to see.” It’s kind of ruthless, even if Everclear’s reputation doesn’t have one with much of an edge.
  • Cliff Lee: The Strokes – I Can’t Win
    Well, I mean, he can’t.
  • Roy Halladay: Tame Impala – Nothing That Has Happened So Far Has Been Anything We Could Control
    It’s always a sad time when a legend begins to decline. As fans, there’s nothing you can do but watch and hope he/she staves off the erosive winds and waves of time for just a little longer. I mean, maybe people in charge could do something, but we’re certainly helpless to stem it.

As for the second question, Torres only has one album without enough songs to pick from (although you really, really need to listen to said album). The National have plenty to choose from, and if I were feeling particularly caustic, I’d probably choose “Fake Empire.” But I’m feeling a bit sad about the state of things, of the team teetering on the edge of collapse and trade deadline gutting. And so my tone is one of commiseration when I pick “Baby We’ll Be Fine.” A song about a relationship on the brink is a near-perfect allegory, and a chorus that simply states “I’m so sorry for everything” is about all I could think to say to Halladay if he fails to win a World Series.

@Vansantc: Why is bust Dom Brown doing awesome I’m spring trading and FHOFDR (Darin Ruff) looking like crap?

Spring is a magical time, isn’t it?

Dom has a history of doing well in the spring, at least when he’s been healthy. He’s got a .370/.453/.609 line with three home runs and a 6:7 BB:K ratio in 53 PA thus far this spring, which is great. Darin Ruf has hit .211/.318/.368 with one home run and a 2:8 ratio in 44 PA. which is not so great. But this is spring, and those are tiny samples. I know the question was said jokingly, I’m just trying to stay grounded. I still believe Brown has something to show and that Ruf is a platoon bench bat (which is actually an improved outlook over the one I used to have), but all of the numbers they’re accruing now get wiped away when the games really start to matter. Brown looks good because he’s (finally) healthy, and Ruf might just be a bit rusty with the bat (the fielding won’t ever improve).

Of course, the simple answer could be that the former top prospect is finally having it all click in his 6th year of full-season pro ball while the guy who’s been old for his level at every stop just isn’t the player his Double-A numbers appear to be on the surface. The jury’s still out.

And so that concludes my first foray into the wonderful world of Crashbagging. Here’s hoping Baumann doesn’t disown me.

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  1. Jesse

    March 15, 2013 09:37 AM

    As soon as I started reading your Longfellow parody, the Paul Revere cell phone commercial came on.
    I think I had made it all of 1984-2012 thinking about Paul Revere maybe 4 or 5 times. And probably well-spaced. Now, I just had to deal with two *simultaneous* “Paul Revere exists” thoughts, and am gravely concerned with 2013’s Paul Revere outlook…

  2. TomG

    March 15, 2013 09:55 AM

    The thing with Mr. Met beating out the Phanatic still rankles my 13-year-old son. “What the f*ck is up with that?” – as he said when he first learned of this travesty. (Um … my 13-year-old son is evidently a longshoreman in this story; either that or I’m misquoting him.)

    This has nothing to do with the Mets being division rivals or my innate dislike of NY or anything like that. It has to do with the fact that Mr Met doesn’t do anything. He’s just a guy in a Mets uniform with a giant baseball head [<–SPOILER ALERT]. You can consider what the Phanatic does schticky and stupid if you want (as I'm sure some do; not me, though), but he does stuff, at least. So how is that do-nothing Disney-World-Mickey-Mouse-wannabe Mr. Met even in the same f*cking (you’ll pardon the expression) league as the Phanatic, much less better than him?

    It’s f*cking unbelievable.

    And if you’ve read this comment and come to the conclusion that I am the one who is outraged at this, not my 13-year-old son, well … perhaps you’re onto something. (Also, if that’s the case, it follows that the first paragraph quote above is indeed accurate, because my profession is one of the few in which there is more per capita swearing than there is the demimonde of the longshoreman. I am, of course, a f*cking librarian.)

  3. TomG

    March 15, 2013 09:58 AM

    ^^ “… than there is in the demimonde …” etc.

  4. Jonny5

    March 15, 2013 10:21 AM

    You let me down sir. Paul Revere by the Beasties would be a preferred parody imo. ;>P

  5. Bobba

    March 15, 2013 01:58 PM

    Well done.
    You’re a super-sub in the making!
    (small sample size caveats apply here)

    Yet it is refreshing as Mr. Baumann’s sour outlook has turned me off to the column. He’s so angry most of the time. Do the rest of you guys hang him on a hook by his underwear before he starts one of these columns? Piss on his oreos? Make fun of his mother?

    Man is that guy fiercly bitter!

  6. Western Dave

    March 19, 2013 10:25 PM

    I grew up a Met fan on LI in the 70s. I saw Tom Seaver pitch at Shea. Ray Knight lived around the corner from me. I repeatedly cut school to go to opening day at Shea. And not me or anyone I can think of ever, ever liked Mr. Met. I suppose that partially explains why I now root for the Phillies.

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