Giving Thanks to the Phillies

On Thursday, many families will crowd around the dinner table and give thanks for all of the wonderful things in their life. Some are in good or improved health, others have recently found employment or received a promotion, still more have found love. Me, I’ll be giving thanks for the grown men who run around in pajamas chasing a spherical object for seven months out of the year. Join me, won’t you?

I am thankful for Chase Utley. He has never finished higher than seventh in MVP voting though he has certainly deserved a top-three finish on one or two occasions (especially in 2008, when he finished with 9.0 WAR, per Baseball Reference). He was the best player at his position for a solid five-year stretch from 2005-09, doing everything a baseball player needs to do: hit for average, hit for power, steal bases, and play sterling defense. Even as he’s a few weeks from turning 35 years old in the twilight of his career, he is still a very productive player. He’s a once-in-a-generation player and I’m thankful he’ll be wearing a Phillies uniform for at least a couple more years.

I am thankful for Cliff Lee. Whether he’s straight up dominating the opposition like he did on May 6, 2011 against the Braves — when he struck out 16 batters and walked one in seven innings of work — or providing us a reason to make a .gif like he did against the Reds …

… he’s giving us a reason to watch this otherwise putrid, poorly cobbled-together team. And as much as we bemoan lengthy, expensive contracts, his has actually worked out thus far. The Phillies signed him to a five-year, $120 million contract in December 2010. In the three seasons since, he’s posted a 2.80 ERA over 93 starts spanning 666.1 innings, striking out 667 and walking just 102.

I am thankful for Cole Hamels. Hamels is really the last Phillies draft pick to have blossomed into a superstar. Taken in the first round — 17th overall — in the 2002 draft, Hamels worked his way into becoming one of the three best left-handed starters in baseball. He the biggest reason why the Phillies won the World Series in 2008 despite waltzing into the post-season with a rotation that included Brett Myers, Jamie Moyer, and Joe Blanton.

I am thankful for Domonic Brown. His time in Philadelphia has been tumultuous, but when he broke out in May 2013 …

… he wrapped up a corner outfield job for himself. Fans stopped calling him a “bust” and begging GM Ruben Amaro to trade him — at least until Brown posted a photo of himself wearing Dallas Cowboys paraphernalia on Instagram. Thanks, Dom, for doing the two things I enjoy seeing the most: hitting dingers, and riling up Eagles fans.

I am thankful for Ben Revere, for doing this …

… and also for hitting .347 between May 1 and when he was injured on July 13.

I am thankful for Carlos Ruiz for being a solution for the Phillies’ otherwise depressing catching situation.

I am thankful for Jake Diekman because mid-90’s fastballs from a lefty are sexy. Ask Aroldis Chapman.

I am thankful for the Phillies’ 10 walk-off hits providing a reason to watch even long after they had been realistically eliminated from post-season contention.

I am thankful for finding $1 seats at Citizens Bank Park on StubHub because some fans will only support a perennial winner. And I’m thankful for Dollar Dog Nights, too.

Now, let us pray.

Happy Thanksgiving, you guys.

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