Crash Landing: All-Stars, Odubel, and A New Era
I have a trivia question for you — name all of the Phillies All-Star Game representatives who were born in the ‘80s. Take your time. I’ll even give you a hint, they’re all included on this list of All-Star representatives since 2007:
|Phillies All-Stars Since 2007|
|2016||Odubel Herrera (OF)|
|2015||Jonathan Papelbon (P)|
|2014||Chase Utley (2B)|
|2013||Domonic Brown (OF), Cliff Lee (P)|
|2012||Cole Hamels (P), Jonathan Papelbon (P), Carlos Ruiz (C)|
|2011||Roy Halladay (P); Cole Hamels (P); Cliff Lee (P); Placido Polanco (3B); Shane Victorino (OF)|
|2010||Roy Halladay (P); Ryan Howard (DH); Chase Utley (2B)|
|2009||Ryan Howard (1B); Raul Ibanez (OF); Chase Utley (2B); Shane Victorino (OF); Jayson Werth (OF)|
|2008||Brad Lidge (P); Chase Utley (2B)|
|2007||Cole Hamels (P); Aaron Rowand (OF); Chase Utley (2B)|
Did you spot them? There are two reasonably obvious ’80s babies. Until Odubel Herrera was named an All-Star, Domonic Brown (remember that guy?) was the youngest member in the fraternity of Phillies All-Stars. He was born in September 1987 and was a representative of the new wave of talent that was to help return the Phillies to relevancy… or so we told ourselves once upon a time. Another 80s baby? Cole Hamels. He was born in 1983 and made three All-Star appearances for the Phillies.
Okay, now keep going. The last two are Jonathan Papelbon and Shane Victorino… barely. Both of them were born in November 1980. That’s it. Players ranging from age 26 to 36 were born in the ’80s and, somehow, the Phillies have only sent four to the mid-season classic.
I suppose this shouldn’t come as a big shock. The Phillies were an “old” team for a long time and most of their recent core of regular All-Stars — Utley, Howard, Halladay, Lee — were born in the late ’70s. It’s just that I never really thought about it in these terms until yesterday when Odubel Herrera took the field… as the first ’90s baby to be a Phillies All-Star.
Herrera was born in December 1991 and is now ushering in an era where the Phillies greats will be kids who have lived their entire lives in a world where the Soviet Union did not exist. (Fun? fact: Herrera was born three days after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.) We had a bit of a false start on the new era of Phillies All-Stars with Brown, but this time it’s for real. It has to be, because there’s no other alternative. Howard and Ruiz are in the final months of their Phillies tenures which makes it almost a given that next year’s Phillies representative(s?) will be young members of the new talent wave.
It will be years before know exactly what role these new players will play in Phillies history. Is the emerging core that of a perennial playoff contender? Is it a championship core? Over the next few years, there will be a bunch of new additions to the list of Phillies All-Stars — will any of them be building careers that will one day warrant a spot on the Wall of Fame? Time will tell.
For now, the Phillies have a deserving 24-year-old All-Star roaming center field. It’s fun, it’s exciting, and it wasn’t easy to appreciate in the moment. Herrera caught one fly ball and flew out in his one three-pitch plate appearance. His presence in the game was (understandably) overshadowed by the “real” All-Stars. You know, the ones the league can market. The ones who will win awards and star in the postseason. Herrera’s not there. He may never get there, but his presence in the game Tuesday night was just another in a long string of reminders that change is afoot in Philadelphia and the future remains maddeningly unwritten.