Crash Bag, Vol. 51: That Supersonic Tidal Wave

One day, when I have the time to do this, I want to have a daily podcast. I’ve already got the name picked out (though I’m not going to tell any of you what it is, because I don’t want anyone to steal it), but there are some obstacles.

I mean, sure, I don’t have the time, nor the equipment, nor the professional contacts to make something like that work, but what’s really holding me back is the lack of an opening line.

You know, how Jeremy Clarkson opens Top Gear with “Hello and welcome,” or Drew Fairservice’s “Greetings, greetings and good day!” from Getting Blanked. I was thinking of just stealing “Hello and welcome,” but if anyone’s got any better ideas, feel free to share. I’ve got no good ideas. Like, in general.

@DashTreyhorn: “What Phillies position player would you put on the mound in a tight spot?”

Gotta be Dom Brown, right? Like, seriously, there’s no other option. Think about it: the Phillies have three (THREE!) starting position players who are famous for not being able to throw all the well, in Ben Revere, Ryan Howard and Chase Utley. I mean, all three are more famous for doing other things, but they’ve all had their issues throwing the ball.

Ordinarily, you look for a guy who pitched in college, or who was drafted as a two-way player. For instance, if the Braves run out of pitchers and it’s the 19th inning or they’re down 25 runs and want to save the bullpen, they’d probably go to Andrelton Simmons, because he pitched in college and could reach the upper 90s. As far as I know, the Phillies don’t have such a player, though I must admit to a certain degree of ignorance regarding Humberto Quintero‘s youth.

Though come to think of it, wasn’t there talk of Delmon Young throwing mid-90s as a pitcher in high school?

Failing that, you’d probably go with a guy who’s got a good arm and who you aren’t that worried about hurting himself, which probably means Domonic Brown nowadays, as sad as that makes me to say.

That said, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if Utley or Michael Young had turned a decade of grimaces into a working circle change or something.

@soundofphilly: “what was the root of Doc Brown and Marty McFly’s friendship?”

That’s a great question.

So I’ve seen all the Back to the Future movies, combined, a total of one time, at a Saturday midnight showing at a theater not far from a bar I used to frequent in New Jersey. So you’ll forgive me if I’m not particularly clear on the details.

But unless I’m completely wrong, young Marty was a frequent guest at the workshop of an eccentric recluse who apparently had the wherewithal to acquire fissile materials and, as a result of such wherewithal, was wanted by Volkswagen-driving Libyan terrorists.

This would be bad enough if Christopher Lloyd weren’t creepy as hell. I feel like Angels in the Outfield would have been an entirely different movie if Maggie had been able to *see* Al, and if Roger and J.P. weren’t the neglected products of a tragically broken foster care system. And if Christopher Lloyd’s character weren’t an angel, and as such come with a letter of introduction from the Lord God Almighty.

Though now that I think about it, all you have to go on that Christopher Lloyd and the Polyphonic Spree are who they say they are is his word. Which, now that I think about, is probably appropriate, because don’t you really have to take the existence and beneficence of angels on faith? Angels of all things, really. But that opens up theological questions that I’m sure Bill would rather I stay away from.

Anyway, I have no idea what a person such as Marty McFly would want with Doc Brown. He seems like a normal kid, a good-looking high schooler who played guitar and rode a skateboard, back when those things made you look like a cool guy and not a dipshit stoner weirdo.

The real question is why Marty’s parents were either naive enough or neglectful enough not to put a stop to it. And that one, I think I’ve got an answer to. I blame it all on Lea Thompson. Going into Back to the Future, I thought the worst acting performance I’d ever see in my life would be Lea Thompson’s in Red Dawn. Boy was I wrong. I could not conceive of a universe in which Lea Thompson could be worse than she was in Red Dawn. But she’s full of surprises, like Ruben Amaro or an incontinent dog.

@Cody011: “If you could only choose 1, would you rather have Amaro or Wade as the GM?”

So my choice is “or death?”

I’d have Wade. You see, it’s been a really easy narrative device this season to say that the Phillies are going to pot rapidly because they don’t have an analytics department. That’s utter bullshit, peddled to us by thoughtless men looking to fill pages or text boxes with easy conclusions. Much like myself. You can win without embracing “sabermetrics,” whatever that means anymore. You can go old school as hell and still win games, particularly when you’re endowed with the vast financial resources the Phillies have. You can do this without running a single regression, without understanding Bayesian statistics as anything under than a count of the houses you have on the western side of Long Beach Island.

You do that by doing what the Phillies did from when Wade took over to when Amaro took over: you pour all of your money, energy and resources into scouting and player development. You hit an absurd run of good with first-round draft picks, bagging Pat Burrell, Brett Myers, Chase Utley and Cole Hamels, adding Ryan Madson and Ryan Howard with mid-round picks. That’s six Wade picks in five years constituting the top two starting pitchers, a dominant reliever and the 3-4-5 hitters on a team that won the World Series. You make smart decisions with your high draft picks and get the best developmental staff you can.

Which is what Ed Wade did, and you know what? He took a team that had been worth a crap once in the past 15 years and turned it into a perennial contender. Now, that ultimately wound up not amounting to anything during Wade’s tenure, and I don’t think Wade was a good GM on balance, but it’s hard to argue that he didn’t lay the groundwork for a team that ended up winning a title.

@TonyMcIV: “Does thinking about Dear Leader RAJ fill you with murder frenzy?”

Lots of GM anger nowadays.

Son, I’ve been saying this day would come for going on four years now. I’ve made my peace.

You know that scene in Deep Impact where Tea Leoni gives up her seat on the helicopter and goes to make nice with her estranged father, and they go down to the beach and embrace one last time on the beach? And then they get pulverized by that supersonic tidal wave? That’s about where I am with the Phillies right now.

@Phisportsfan11: “Will Delmon Young’s return have an impact on the Phillies? If so, positive or negative?”

I think his return will have a deep impact.

All joking aside, he’s going to come up to Philly and play. And, again, it’s probably my newly-fatalistic outlook on life, but we’re probably not going to notice the difference. John Mayberry‘s put up some nice numbers through the first month, but it’s a month in a career mostly spent looking completely lost at the plate. And if you’re looking for intermittent offensive output and indifferent defense, Delmon Young is on the same page as Laynce Nix.

Delmon’s going to play for a couple months, then get traded or cut at the end of the year. And if I’m wrong, and he hits, so much the better. But he’ll just be another below-average hitter on a below-average team.

@JimmyFricke: “Why did the phillies get Mike Adams when Phillippe Aumont is sitting in the bullpen doing jack-squat?”

I don’t think he’s doing jack squat, exactly. He’s probably out there kicking Papelbon’s ass in Carcassonne, drinking limeade and teaching Tony No-Dad to speak French.

I hated the Adams signing. There’s no doubt that he’s a superb reliever, but giving relief pitchers multiple years at multiple millions each when they’re 1) inconsistent as a species 2) don’t throw that many innings and 3) pretty fungible…that’s just not something I support, on principle. Particularly when, in Bastardo and Aumont, you’ve got two young guys with killer stuff on the cheap to set up Papelbon, and a bunch of quality minor leaguers besides.

Now, the problem with both Bastardo and Aumont is that neither really counts control as a strength. So if you’ve got money to burn, you’re angling for a World Series run and your faith in your young relievers is shaky, then sure, you go spend a little on that extra back-end arm, like the Nationals did with Rafael Soriano. And for the record, while I didn’t hate the Soriano deal from Washington’s perspective, I wasn’t in love with the idea either.

So with the caveat that Adams is absolutely a better pitcher than Aumont right now, I hated the Adams deal because lack of reliable middle relief is, like, the fifth-most pressing issue for which the Phillies should be looking for an external solution. After all, Adams+Lannan+Young=$14.5 million in salary, for a reliever, a below-average starter and a below-average infielder. That much gets you Nick Swisher in free agency. So Adams could absolutely be worth $6 million this year, but so could Aumont, for less than 10 percent of that.

@Doc_Ruiz2012: “On a scale of Delmon Young to Chase Utley, how much do you like Giancarlo Stanton?”

I’m sorry, you must mean The Mighty Giancarlo Stanton. And I like him a lot. On a scale of Delmon Young to Chase Utley, I’d say he’s at least an Andrelton Simmons, but probably a little higher than that. On the Young-to-Utley scale, he’s probably around a Ben Zobrist and a half, maybe an even Yu Darvish on a good day.

@SoMuchForPathos: “what are your favorite Shakespeare plays? Ones that you don’t care for?”

Having not seen or even read Shakespeare’s entire oeuvre, I’m not the perfect person to ask about this. My Shakespeare education contains significant gaps: The Merchant of Venice, Richard III, King Lear, MacBeth, The Taming of the Shrew (though 10 Things I Hate About You is a classic bit of American cinema), and I’ve only seen Shakespeare live once. So I’m just putting that on the table so nobody yells at me for leaving out that one Al Pacino movie.

My favorite Shakespeare play has to be Much Ado About Nothing. I own the 1993 film adaptation and it makes me laugh out loud, a lot, every time I watch it, for reasons that have nothing to do with Keanu Reeves being hilariously overmatched in a movie that also features Denzel Washington, Kenneth Branagh, Emma Thompson and Robert Sean Leonard. Even though, if we’re being honest, RSL spent most of this movie chewing the shit out of the scenery, no matter how much I like his later work. I love pretty much everything about this play, from the razor-sharp repartee to the fact that there’s absolutely nothing at stake in this film, so it can be as silly and gleeful and light-hearted as it likes. I’d probably be a happier person if I watched Much Ado About Nothing as much as I watched, like, Se7en.

Speaking of narrative fiction that’s about humanity’s twisted and evil nature, Othello is another personal favorite of mine. It’s not as self-indulgent as Hamlet, but–and this seems kind of twisted, but it’s true–I really like well-told stories where bad things happen to good people for no reason.

The only Shakespeare play that I’ve read or seen that I really didn’t like all that much was the 2011 Ralph Fiennes adaptation of Coriolanus. It was really striking visually, but I just found myself not really caring at times whether these characters lived or died. I don’t know if that’s a product of the film or the source material.

@MichaelJBlock: “Is there a more unfortunate name in the Phillies organization than ‘Pettibone?’ “

Well, you’re going to have to as someone with a more encyclopedic knowledge of the Phillies’ minor-league system than I have, but I’d say Tyler Knigge has some pretty intense mispronunciation potential, and considering we’re less than two months from the draft, there’s . Plus you’ve got that Antonio Bastardo character already in Philly.

@aisflat439: “my wife and I are considering moving south from Philly. Where should we move that’s out of phils MLBtv blackout restrictions? Anywhere with low taxes south (ie not DC)”

Well, not knowing anything about your work situation or your personal preferences, I’m just going  to speak in generalities about areas south and west of the BosWash Megalopolis in which I’ve spent enough time to form an opinion on. I obviously know some of these places better than others, so take that for what it’s worth. Also, not that I think this is actually the case, but please don’t make me your first or even close to your primary resource for choosing a place to live. But here’s what I think.

  • Hampton Roads/Virginia Beach/Newport News/Norfolk/Chesapeake, Virginia. I have ancestral roots in this region, a collection of several small-to-medium-sized cities that rings the mouth of the James River, so I might be a little biased. Which is not to say that Allen Iverson is my father, but it’s also not to say that Allen Iverson isn’t my father, either. If you know what I mean. This area is kind of a decentralized suburban bleh, but it’s still relatively convenient to Washington, you still get all four seasons and there are some sneaky-good beach towns around there.
    And even though there’s no major-league (or even major college) sports within 100 miles, you’ll get some of the best high school football in the country, as well as the Norfolk Tides, the Baltimore Orioles’ triple-A team. I’m not one of those “Live Baseball Uber Alles” hipsters, but a Tides game at Harbor Park is a phenomenal live sports experience by any standard.
  • Louisville, Kentucky. Home of bourbon, the Louisville Slugger museum (an underrated destination for a baseball fan) and Churchill Downs (the largest building I’ve ever seen in my life). Good basketball, convenient to Cincinnati, Columbus and Indianapolis. Kind of an underrated city. Cons: Underrated city, but still not great. I’d probably rather visit than live there.
  • Greenville-Spartanburg, South Carolina. When I was teaching state and local politics, I used to use Upstate South Carolina as a shining example of how economic and technological factors have determined population movement in the United States over the past 50 years. It’s a burgeoning region nowadays, thanks to the Germans. No, seriously, Siemens and BMW are two of the biggest employers in the area, and the catalyst behind a very encouraging economic rebirth.
    With that said, the Upstate is much more interesting academically than practically. Greenville, actually, is boring as heck.
  • Columbia, South Carolina. I spent four years here, and while the medium-sized city/state capital/college town is exactly the kind of place I’d want to live, Columbia is near the bottom of the list of such cities I’ve been to (and no, I don’t count Boston or Atlanta). It’s a great place to watch college football and hit dive bars if you’re, say, 22 or 23, but I can’t speak to what living there is like if you’re old enough to be married and worried about taxes.
    Also, Columbia in the summer is possibly the most humid place on Earth.
  • Nashville, Tennessee. I’d rather live in Nashville than anywhere else. You can’t throw a guitar pick without hitting a bar with superb food and live music. Lots of culture, with less bullshit than you’d find in, say, New York, and for a fraction of the cost of living. And everyone here has a great accent to boot.
  • Florida. Just don’t. Humidity, hurricanes, jorts, alligators and old people. Stay away.

@JordanChazin: “I told a co-worker that the Braves have a chance of hitting more HRs this year than any team in MLB history…thoughts?”

I think that’s a bit much. The record is 264, held by the 1997 Seattle Mariners, and I find it kind of unlikely that we’re going to see that record broken anytime soon. The Braves lead the majors with 35 home runs in 21 games, which, at a clip of 1 2/3 home runs per game, would only just break the Mariners’ record over the course of the season, and that’s assuming Justin Upton keeps homering every third at-bat the way he is now.

Besides, this is a much less hitter-friendly environment than in 1997, thanks to every one not doing more steroids than the women of the East German Olympic swimming team. Add the park doesn’t help, either. Turner Field was the No. 12 run environment in 2010 and No. 11 in 2011 and 2012, which isn’t bad. But for home runs, it’s actually below average: No. 13 in 2010, No. 17 in 2011 and No. 22 in 2012.

Plus the Braves play in the National League, as you may be aware, which means they’re losing quite a few home runs to not having the designated hitter. The DH answers the question of “What if you crossed baseball with the pie-eating contest scene from Stand By Me?” But it also leads to more home runs.

That 1997 Mariners team, by the way, was stacked. They had three of the best hitters of the era, in Alex Rodriguez, Ken Griffey, Jr. and Edgar Martinez, plus Jay Buhner and his 40 homers, Paul Sorrento and his 31 homers and…well…Russ Davis and his 20 homers. So I guess you know it’s your year when Russ Davis homers 20 times in 455 PA.

I think the Braves have a ton of power in their lineup, and I think they’ll continue to hit well and win a lot of games in so doing, but I have a hard time imagining them topping 264 home runs.

Thanks for flying Crash Bag Air. See you next week.

Leave a Reply

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16 comments

  1. NavyJoe

    April 26, 2013 08:11 AM

    Having lived in Hampton Roads, here is a list of things that are superior to Hampton Roads (obviously not exhaustive):

    Ryan Howard’s Contract
    Dan Brown’s Writing
    Appendicitis
    Heroin Withdrawl (so I hear)
    Applebees
    Life Aboard an Adrift Carnival Cruise Ship
    Sandpaper Enemas

  2. LTG

    April 26, 2013 08:24 AM

    “I’ve got no good ideas. Like, in general.”

    Probably the most accurate description of being in graduate school I’ve ever read.

  3. SJHaack

    April 26, 2013 10:43 AM

    The reason you take Ed Wade over Ruben Amaro is the secret handshake and wink agreement that it returns you to the days when you had Mike Arbuckle as Phillies Director of Scouting, the guy who actually oversaw all those resources in scouting and player dev that led to drafting guys who can play baseball.

  4. Scott G

    April 26, 2013 10:59 AM

    Utley is really in the same category as Howard and Revere in terms of throwing? I mean he played 3B in college. He can’t be THAT bad, can he?

  5. Dubs

    April 26, 2013 11:20 AM

    We could start a podcast together and call it “Mike and Mike in the Morning”

    Oh wait…

  6. Oliver

    April 26, 2013 12:50 PM

    How excited are you for the new version of Ado by Whedon et al?

  7. MattWinks

    April 26, 2013 01:13 PM

    Brown on the mound would be incredibly intimidating. He has built arm strength since HS and could probably touch 90 and that coming from LHP with long arms. The command probably isn’t there but it would be scary if you are in the box.

    The obvious answer is Galvis, great arm strength and accuracy and tell me you don’t think he has been doing bullpen sessions in addition to all the positional practice (I also think Rollins on the mound would be incredibly entertaining)

  8. provost zakharov

    April 26, 2013 03:16 PM

    Lest we not forget that a youthful Raul Ibanez hit a single dinger for the ’97 Mariners.

  9. SJHaack

    April 26, 2013 05:13 PM

    I forgot to add that of COURSE Utley should not be in the same “famous for throwing badly” category as Ryan Howard and Ben Revere. He had a stretch of literally about 7 games where everyone held their breath, and he’s been fine the entire rest of his life.

  10. Cez

    April 26, 2013 06:53 PM

    “Good day and stupid Dubs.”

  11. Joss Murdoch

    April 27, 2013 11:31 AM

    Did I detect an Eddie Izzard reference? Very good…

  12. Tim

    April 27, 2013 05:54 PM

    If you have to move south from Philly, you go to Asheville, NC. Great city.

  13. Western Dave

    April 29, 2013 10:13 AM

    It’s the source material with Coriolanus. Even S. was capable of putting a stinker up there from time to time.

  14. Phillie697

    April 29, 2013 12:50 PM

    I don’t know whether I should feel happy that people are coming around to realize how ridiculous crappy RAJ is as a GM, or upset that they didn’t realize this at least since the Ryan Howard extension that perhaps we could have started the demise of RAJ a few years sooner. Or maybe I’m just bitter for having gone through all those years fighting RAJ apologists.

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