Looking Forward to the 2014 Phillies
Oh hi, Crashburn Alley! I’m Corinne Landrey (Twitter handle: @Ut26) and I’ll be joining the Crashburn crew for the 2014 Phillies season. I’m a lifelong Phillies fan whose earliest baseball memories include poring over box scores at the breakfast table as soon as I learned to read and developing an intense dislike for Kyle Abbott at the ripe old age of 6. I have an insatiable desire to continue learning about the greatest sport around and I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to share the ups and downs of Phillies fandom with you here on this gem of a website Bill provides for us.
With the Phillies entering a season I anticipate will provide many chances for angst and pessimism, I’ll take this moment to make my first piece here a light-hearted outlook on the upcoming season. Here are five reasons baseball will be fun in Philadelphia during the 2014 season:
Ben Revere’s First Career Home Run
Since World War II, exactly two men have failed to record any career home runs in more plate appearances than Ben Revere. One of them was Hall of Fame pitcher Don Sutton (1559 PA) and the other was a middle infielder in the 1970’s named Tim Johnson (1408 PA). Revere currently sits at 1400 career homer-free plate appearances, poised to surpass both Johnson and Sutton on this quirky leaderboard by the end of May. I’m predicting 2014 is the year Revere finally busts loose with career home run #1. Has anyone set up a ‘When will Ben Revere Homer’ pool yet? If so, I’ll take Sunday, June 29th at home against the Braves. Tickets are available at phillies dot com.
Jimmy Rollins: Phillies Franchise Hit Leader
The 2013 season raised many red flags in regards to James Calvin Rollins and it requires more optimism than I possess to predict he returns to being the productive baseball player we watched win an MVP and a World Series. Despite the fact that Rollins’ age is likely catching up with him and his predicted on-field contributions are questionable going forward, with just 59 hits this season Jimmy will finally take his place as the Phillies franchise All-Time Hits leader. Even in a down year like 2013, Rollins reached 59 hits on June 6th so, barring a catastrophic injury, this milestone is an inevitability. I’m here to tell you that it’s okay to celebrate this feat. There will be plenty of time to debate whether his contract was a good decision or how much playing time he should receive or even what his ultimate legacy should be, but when he cements his place in the history books as one of Philadelphia’s greatest, take a moment to remember. Remember the rookie who stole 46 bases with his incredible speed and a city’s heart with his beautiful smile. Remember the 36-game hit streak in 2005. Remember the dreadlocks. Remember Game 4 of the 2009 NLCS and his magical two-out two-run walk-off double that helped secure a second consecutive pennant. Sooner rather than later, the era of Jimmy Rollins in red pinstripes will be at an end and it’s been an era worthy of hearty celebration.
When Billy Wagner came to Philadelphia in the first season at Citizens Bank Park, fans would watch the pitch and then immediately look up for the radar gun readings. Cheers erupted on pitches called balls if the lights flashed 100 MPH. Power bullpen arms are exciting baseball. The Phillies have four different guys who could see time in the 2014 bullpen that feature mid- to upper- 90s fastballs in Jake Diekman, Ethan Martin, Phillippe Aumont, and Kenny Giles. Of those four, Giles may be the one to make that scoreboard register triple digits once more. One need only peruse Aumont’s baseball-reference page to determine that velocity doesn’t guarantee results, but that doesn’t make it any less exciting. These are young arms who figure to be difference makers and if even just 2 or 3 of these arms develop the way we hope they will, the Phillies’ bullpen could be set up for an excellent season.
#7 Overall Pick
No matter how bad things get during the 2014 season, Phillies fans are guaranteed one moment of pure optimism this summer. On June 5th, the Phillies will select their highest overall draft pick since taking Gavin Floyd with the #4 pick in the 2001 draft. Draft picks clearly aren’t guarantees of future production, but at the very least a Top 10 guy should be someone that has some tools to dream on and can contribute to the organization’s prospect depth. Plus, if this draft pick doesn’t pan out the way we hope it will, maybe the Phillies will be able to trade him for Freddy Garcia…
Chase Utley’s Existence
If there’s just one way I know I fit in with the Crashburn crew, it’s my reverence for Chase Utley. A year ago, I was vowing to appreciate every moment of Utley’s 2013 season spent with the Phillies out of fear it would be his last in Philadelphia. Now that he’s back for at least two more seasons, it’ll be easy to slip back into taking him for granted. Don’t do it. Even as his skills drop off a bit with age, the instincts and baseball acumen this man brings to the field are must watch television. Enjoy.
Happy baseball season!