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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.

@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.