Christmas with the Phillies

Just because they’re millionaire celebrities doesn’t mean they don’t still celebrate Christmas like most of the rest of us. That’s right, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and even Michael Martinez excitedly woke up this morning to spend the holiday exchanging gifts, eating good food, and spending time with loved ones. What they didn’t know is that I had installed cameras at all of their residences so I could observe all of them to report on it later. Thanks, NSA!

Here’s a selection of gifts I observed members of the Phillies unwrapping earlier today.

To: Ryan Howard

From: Ruben Amaro

Howard’s gift from Amaro was too large to bring in and fit under a tree, so they left it on Howard’s back porch. After Howard had unwrapped socks, a tie, a DVD box set of Walker: Texas Ranger, Howard’s wife hinted that there was just one more gift remaining. She drew back the curtains in front of the sliding windows leading to the back porch, revealing a large cylindrical object sitting to the side of a table and some chairs.

“Wow, I wonder what it could be,” Howard mused. “It looks like it could be a kiddie pool.”

Howard tugged the wrapping paper towards the ground. The name on the label on the object had been scratched out with permanent marker but a careful eye could still make out the words “flaxseed oil” with the quotation marks included. Amaro had written over it, “body oil”, also with the quotation marks. Barry Bonds’ face adorned the label just above the quantity “8 gal.” On the card that sat atop the drum, Amaro wrote inside, “Merry Christmas Ryan. Thanks for being you. Gotcha some workout oil. Use this during the season! Please.”

To: Chase Utley

From: Bill Baer

Chase Utley is a popular guy and as such, he receives a lot of cards around his birthday and certain holidays like Christmas. Many come from animal shelters he has worked for, but fans somehow seem to find his address and swarm his mailbox with birthday wishes and holiday cheer every time.

Chase is not a man of materialistic desires, so many of his gifts were small in nature – gift cards, a Dwight Schrute bobblehead, a cute puppies and kittens calendar. He also had that stack of cards to get through. Most of the envelopes were red and green, the colors of Christmas, but one stuck out and caught his eye because it was bright pink. He slid his fingernail underneath the flap and tugged the card out. It was in the shape of a heart and cartoon hearts adorned the front. The caption read, “I want you, Chase. From: Bill Baer.”

To: Kevin Frandsen

From: The fellas at Crashburn Alley

2013 has been a pretty good year for Frandsen, but five guys – not Five Guys, mind you – tried to take it upon themselves to ruin the entire year for him with the flick of a wrist. The Crashburn crew felt that Frandsen’s performance for the Phillies merited a D grade in their year-end write-ups. That made Frandsen a bit upset, understandably.

Under the Frandsens’ Christmas tree lay a plain manila envelope with Kevin’s name on it. It was the first thing he reached for. He slid out a piece of paper which had a 5×5 grid – the rows with letter grades A through F and gradable categories making up the columns, the initials of each spelling the name KEVIN.

K – Klutch: A

E – Exciting: A

V – Very Cool: A

I – Irreplaceable: A

N – Neat: A

Frandsen beamed a smile so bright and wide. He stood up and bellowed to no one in particular, “Christmas isn’t ruined after all!”

To: Phillies Analytics Department

From: Office Supply Co.

Not so much a gift, but it was a box that was opened. It was just a big box filled with a bunch of different kinds of coffee, filters, packets of sugar, little cartons of creamer, etc. The Phillies’ “extern” fastidiously restocked the cabinet with the supplies, then sat around and stared at the wall wishing he had a computer, or like a book, or something.

To: Michael Martinez

From: Phillies fans

Martinez opened the envelope which contained a small season’s greetings card signed by a handful of die-hard Phillies fans. It read, “Hey Michael, we know you’re with the Pirates now but we know that you’ll somehow wind back up on the Phillies anyway. We are just embracing the inevitable. Anyway, check out this really cool massage parlor sometime, before the season starts preferably.”

Martinez ran his thumb over a discount coupon for a massage parlor called “Cryogenic Freezing”.

To: Ruben Amaro

From: Family

The Amaros could hardly contain their excitement was Ruben went through all of his gifts under the tree, knowing that none of them would be as good as the last one, which they had kept hidden away.

After Ruben had unwrapped a new pair of designer sunglasses, his family left the room and urged him to stay put while they got one last gift. The crinkling of wrapping paper could be heard along with some cluttering in the closet. A man covered head-to-toe in wrapping paper stood in the Amaros’ living room.

“Who is it?” Ruben asked with a mixture of genuine surprise and concern.

“See if you can figure it out,” his wife said, handing him a sheet of stats.

The man in wrapping paper sighed impatiently.

“Wow, 24-and-oh,” Amaro read. The sheet had the only pitching stats that mattered. “1.27 ERA. Well, I know this guy can’t be that young because no one’s done that in a long time.”

Amaro paused to think for a minute, then attempted a guess. “Bob Gibson?” No affirmation. “Doc Gooden?”

“Go ahead and unwrap him,” his wife said, knowing how much the mystery was eating away at Ruben.

Amaro started from the top, peeling off wrapping paper to reveal a Rakuten Golden Eagles logo.

“Tanaka! Oh my god, you got me Masahiro Tanaka!” Ruben shouted excitedly. “OH MY GODDDDDDDDD! OH MY GOD! YESSSS!”

Amaro fiendishly tore the rest of the wrapping paper off, revealing the 6’2, 205-pound Japanese right-handed pitching legend. He respectfully bowed and Amaro returned the gesture.

“We know you didn’t want to get involved with another big money contract in case it didn’t work out and people got another reason to hate you, so we negotiated with him on your behalf right after he was posted. He’s yours for the next six years.”

Amaro hugged his family gratefully. “You guys know me too well. I guess I do love my really expensive pitching stars.”

Tanaka’s skin was a bit itchy from being stuck in the closet in wrapping paper for hours. He reached over his shoulder to scratch his back but tore an elbow ligament in the process.

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