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Crash Bag, Vol. 50: I Will Judge You For Misusing Heir Apparent

I was going to write last week that the success of the Phillies on a given night seemed to depend on whether or not I was watching, because for the first eight games, they were 3-0 when I didn’t watch the game and 0-5 when I did. And I’m a fairly well-reasoned person, not the type at all to give in to superstitions or small sample flukes.

But with that said, the Phillies are now 5-1 when I don’t watch the game and 1-9 when I do. I mean, that’s probably still just flukey. I can’t imagine a confluence of events in the evolution of the universe in which whether or not I watch the Phillies has any impact on whether or not they win. I’m just saying it’s getting to be a large enough sample where I’m starting to check my closet for poltergeists.

Question time.

@Jrmcgeev: “who’d be the coolest phillie to go to Mexico with.”

For nearly a year, I’ve been fielding Crash Bag questions along the lines of “What Phillies player would you most like to socialize with?” and every time I respond with Ryan Howard.

I’ve never been to Mexico, and while I enjoy Mexican food and mariachi music (which, to someone who’s spent the vast majority of his life in the northern parts of the United States, is what constitutes Mexico), I have no real desire to go there.

But I’m not going to act like re-enacting the Mexico trip Riggins, Street and Lyla took in Friday Night Lights with Howard, Cole Hamels and Ben Revere wouldn’t be an absolute laugh riot. Howard would be the life of the party, making iPod mixes for the car, always bringing around the next round of tequila shots, getting up and doing drunken karaoke the night before he’s supposed to have shark DNA therapy for his leg injury or whatever they were there for. Hamels would be the responsible one, making sure nobody got into trouble, and Ben Revere could laugh at everyone’s jokes. I would absolutely go to Mexico under these circumstances.

@KGEich: “If you had to carry the child of any phillies player, which player would you pick? Would they be a good father?”

Of course, if you spend all night out on the beach pounding back mezcal with Ryan Howard, and the moonlight hits the water in a certain way…well, sometimes you wind up pregnant.

As to whether Howard would be a good father, he’s already got a kid, of whom there don’t seem to be any rumors about destroying things or falling in with the wrong crowd, so that’s a good sign. Never having met the man and only judging him by his public persona, I like to think he’d be a good father.

That said, there’s only one way to find out. So if you want to go to Mexico, Ryan, I’m in.

@magoplasma: “I have to graduate in three weeks. What should I do with my life?”

Go to Mexico with Ryan Howard, Ben Revere and Cole Hamels. Get pregnant. Figure out the rest later.

@pivnert: “is there any realistic chance that the phils let cholly go before the end of the season?”

Not that I can see. Though I’m having a lot of fun imagining Uncle Cholly getting so angry at a missed call at the plate that he literally strangles Bob Davidson to death.

Charlie Manuel has presided over the greatest period of success in franchise history–five straight division titles, two pennants and a World Series–so I can’t imagine Ruben Amaro suddenly deciding that Manuel’s been the problem all year and cashiering him midseason, particularly given his age and contract situation. As I’m sure you know, the Phillies seem to be grooming Ryne Sandberg as Manuel’s heir…

…hang on a second, I’m going to get pedantic for a moment.

Whenever, in sports or politics, it looks like an older person is going to retire or step aside to make room for a younger person being groomed to succeed him or her in that position, the media insists on calling that younger person the “heir apparent.” Like Ryne Sandberg is Charlie Manuel’s “heir apparent.” Because it’s “apparent” that Sandberg will be Manuel’s “heir,” in which case it sounds like an  heir apparent is someone who might take over someone else’s job.

Except that’s not what heir apparent means. An heir apparent, in a royal line of succession, is guaranteed to take over the throne unless they change the rules. Is Ryne Sandberg guaranteed to be the Phillies’ next manager? Of course not. Ruben Amaro could hire Juan Samuel, or Manny Acta, or Jim Tracy, or Lou Brown or Roz from Monsters, Inc. if he wanted to. And you know what, that’s kind of a dick thing to do, call out a minor idiomatic error. Particularly when the idiom only survives in our lexicon when countries such as the United Kingdom continue to fetishize hereditary monarchy, the yoke of which which most right-thinking countries in the world threw off centuries ago when they tired of the way it perpetuated the oppression of the majority, often with a level of passionate violence appropriate for the dissolution of such a government.

Or it would be a dick thing to do if there weren’t already a name for someone who seemed likely to take over a given role, but was not guaranteed to do so. Ryne Sandberg is more accurately called the heir presumptive to Charlie Manuel, not the heir apparent. So get it right–I will judge you for misusing heir apparent.

I don’t even remember what I was writing about.

Oh, yeah, so Sandberg appears to be the heir presumptive to Charlie Manuel, but the thing is that field managers and coaches only get fired either for 1) gross professional misconduct or 2) when general managers fear for their own jobs and are looking for a scapegoat. Neither is the case right now. Ruben Amaro has no reason to suspect that his job is jeopardy. Not because he hasn’t run the Phillies into the ground with the panache of Evel Knievel failing to pilot the Skycycle across the Snake River Canyon, but because that’s just how much leash GMs get anymore.

@Cody011: “Sooooo… Who are the top prospects in this years draft?”

Right now it’s a two-horse race between two college pitchers: Mark Appel of Stanford and Jonathan Gray of Oklahoma. Earlier this week, Keith Law and Kiley McDaniel broke down the top of the amateur draft on the Behind the Dish podcast earlier this week, and since both of them know far more than I do about such things, you should go give that podcast a listen. You might know Appel because he was also the No. 1 overall prospect in last year’s draft, but when he fell to No. 8, he refused to sign with the Pirates and went back to Stanford for his senior year.

Also of interest: the ongoing draft coverage at The Crawfish Boxes, the SB Nation site for the Houston Astros. The Astros have the No. 1 overall pick, so those folks (including Jordan Sams, who may be a familiar face to the readers here after his time at Liberty Ballers) have been going all-out breaking down the potential top picks throughout the spring.

But apart from Gray and Appel, you’re going to have to ask someone more knowledgeable than I am, because out of Law’s top 50 draft prospects, only one is from the SEC East.

@fotodave: “What’s your top five movies set in Boston?”

  1. The Departed. I know it’s easy to mock, but that movie has about as deep a roster of good actors as any major movie I can remember. I love movies that feel like you read them rather than watched them by the end, and this is one of them. I have no complaints. Okay, James Badge Dale wasn’t all that great. Almost no complaints. 
  2. The Social Network. I had the same reaction to this movie being announced that I did about Moneyball–well, it’s an important story from recent history, but I have no idea how they’re going to make this into a decent movie. ButMoneyball largely played it safe, down to wimping former college football player Paul DePodesta down into a flaccid stereotype played by Jonah Hill and employing a game but kind of limp noodle Brad Pitt in the lead role. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely adore Brad Pitt. But it seemed like he took Billy Beane too seriously and went a little conservative in the role. Brad Pitt’s at his best when he’s having fun in a role: Ocean’s ElevenFight Club, even those critically panned movies I love like Spy Game and Meet Joe Black.
    I mean, look at Inglourious Basterds. He was TERRIBLE in that movie, putting on perhaps the worst fake Southern accent I’ve ever heard. But it seemed like he was having a laugh riot in that role, and that translates to the viewer having fun.
    Anyway, where Moneyball was kind of conservative, David Fincher took the founding of Facebook and made it an opportunity to just get up to his thighs in the inherent weak, manipulative and sinful nature of man, which is how I like my fiction.
  3. Good Will Hunting. Maybe I should just marry Matt Damon. Gus Van Sant, I feel, is one of those directors who needs to have boundaries set for him. Good Will Hunting was phenomenal, I think, because the story was just so imaginative. But apart from Robin Williams, I’m not sure that it featured a single above-average acting performance. Which isn’t Van Sant’s fault. But I remember watching Elephant and being left thinking that the movie had made profound statements about 1) the Columbine shootings and 2) how badly Van Sant wants you to know that he’s DIRECTING REALLY REALLY HARD. Anyway, I liked Good Will Hunting a lot.
  4. Mystic River. Sean Penn wants you to how hard he’s acting even more than Gus Van Sant wants you to know how hard he’s directing. Which might be why my favorite thing about Milk was Victor Garber’s insistence on coming to the office and putting on a workmanlike performance in the shadow of so many weirdo egomaniacs. Victor Garber in Milk is like Robert Horry on the turn-of-the-century Lakers.
  5. The Town. I would have absolutely loved this movie if I hadn’t seen the trailer so many times. I don’t know that it’s anything a whole lot better than an East Coast version of Heat with better actors (which Jon Hamm managed to pull off with much less shouting than Al Pacino did). Mostly I mean to say this: I don’t think I’ve ever seen a heist movie I didn’t like.

@MisterBrendan: “question: how do all the ships in BSG have gravity? This bothers me now.”

Just like the seminal line in Thank You for Smoking, it’s a one-line fix. I love space opera as much as the next guy, and much of my favorite fiction would be impossible if they had to either account for weightlessness all the time or make it so everything had to be on a rotating disc to create enough centripetal force to keep everyone’s feet on the ground. Yawn.

I’m glad they ignored that particular bit of scientific minutiae, as well as several others, in Battlestar Galactica. Because I like scientific accuracy, but not as much as I love the pseudo-submarine-warfare ideal of barking out contacts and bearings and “Set Condition One throughout the ship. Launch the alert fighters.” Even if the idea of a combo-submarine/aircraft carrier in space is impractical.

@Wzeiders: “If the NL gets the DH, then the AL will want 2 DHs, where will it end? #slipperyslope

Where, indeed? I think we all know that one league’s worth of the designated hitter has allowed indolence to sneak into our society. This is an indisputable fact. But two leagues’ worth? Let’s just say that I’m more proud of this, from a moral standpoint, than perhaps anything else I’ve ever written.

@uublog: “How can we go about overthrowing Rube and who should we replace him with? Are you busy the next couple years?”

You’ve got to be patient. General managers get to fail to build a winner, then they get to wait too long to scrap it all and rebuild, then they get to fail at the rebuild before they get canned. I’ve already gone on the record as saying that I think I’ll watch the next Phillies playoff game with my son or daughter.

Let me answer your question by quoting another:

@DarylIT: “Does it really matter who is in charge when they finally decide to jump they are all going to jump..no crashbag at the bottom.”

Which, I feel, is a pretty good metaphor for the 2012/13 Phillies, even if he was talking about something else entirely.

@Bennyc50: “Why does it seem so many Twins bloggers/tweeters follow the Philly ones more than others?”

Is that so? I think the Twins have a lot of good bloggers for a team that bad in a city that podunk. I know I can vouch personally for my Water Brother, Mike Bates, who is a Twins blogger/tweeter, and whose work (most conspicuously for SB Nation) is a must-consume for any serious baseball fan.

I’m not sure what the point of that was, except to create an excuse to call someone my Water Brother.


@SoMuchForPathos: “Which television characters would make great baseball GMs?”

Cannot attempt to create an exhaustive list. Television is too vast and baseball too complicated. So here are a couple ideas:

I apologize for this being something of a truncated Crash Bag, but there’s no shortage of other good stuff for you to read this week from the Crashburn folks. Let’s run those down right quick: