Crash Bag, Vol. 3: Gazing into the Abyss

The Phillies did some things since our last installment of the Crash Bag–sign Michael Saunders, DFA Severino Gonzalez, say Aaron Nola is healthy–but, if the questions submitted for present consideration carry a larger message it is that no one give a hoot about any of that. What follows is complete frivolity. Yes, even more so than usual.

In that spirit:

@KeithWinder: Who wins in a staring contest: Papelbon or Giles?

I like this question because both players, as “proven closers” have a reputation for being intense, focused dudes. However, the way they arrive at that reputation couldn’t be more different. Papelbon is intense in the way the ‘roided up football star with the high school locker next to yours is. Every time you are near him, you feel as if you are in extreme danger. Giles’ is more of a quiet focus than violent intensity. The bottom line is that both as professional athletes–already a mark of competitiveness in itself–have reputations of being competitive and focused even within that elite pool of competitive humans. Both would certainly not lose this contest easily. As Nietzsche put it in anticipation of this question, “when you stare for a long time into an abyss, the abyss stares back at you.”

I think the correct answer depends upon the contest. If, for instance, this staring contest were to take place on the mound before the start of the ninth inning where the winner earns the opportunity to pitch for the save, I’d pick Papelbon without a second guess. More than Giles, he seems to be a flammable ball of adrenaline-fueled rage when he steps to the mound. I don’t know if the guy has blinked in a major league game in his life. That’s saying something. He’s pitched in 689 of them totaling 725.2 innings on the mound. Plus, his pace of pitching would lull a viewer to sleep were his appearances mostly in high-leverage spots. That’s a lot of time not blinking.

If this battle were to take place in a locker room hours before or after a game, I’d probably give the edge to Giles. His affect on the field seems at least a bit similar to it off the field. Plus, he’s an awkward dude.

I think in a non-baseball situation like a locker room staring contest, he might freeze up and forget that he’s supposed to blink.

@scottdkessler: Predict the next Phillies World Series team’s lineup.

I’ve seen one Phillies World Series winner in my life of 27 years and have won only two in the history of the franchise. That alone is evidence of how difficult it is to win in baseball. Even with one of the greatest cores in recent memory, the Phillies only won one World Series. It takes not only unbelievable talent, but also luck. With 29 other increasingly smart teams striving for the same goal, the smartest way to answer this question would be to say that the lineup will be composed entirely of players we’ve never heard of.

That would be avoiding your question, though. To do justice to your question and have some fun myself, let’s assume that the Phillies will win the World Series sometime between 2020 and 2022 when the current talent in the system is in its prime. Let’s further stipulate two things: 1) at least one or two players currently in the system will have to exceed expectations for the team to win and 2) there will need to be some high-profile additions through free agency or trade to supplement the current crop.

With that out of the way, there’s no actual logic to what follows:

  1. Odubel Herrera CF
  2. J.P. Crawford SS
  3. Mickey Moniak LF
  4. Bryce Harper RF
  5. Manny Machado 3B
  6. Maikel Franco 1B
  7. Jorge Alfaro C
  8. Scott Kingery 2B

Starting Rotation:

  1. Chris Archer
  2. Vince Velasquez
  3. Aaron Nola
  4. Franklyn Kilome
  5. Kevin Gowdy

Late-innings relievers:

@Phixated: What are your favorite commercials shown/played during games in your lifetime?

I don’t know if I’ve ever seen it during a game, but I feel obligated to note that the Ice T/Lemonade commercial is the best I’ve seen on television in recent years.


With that out of the way, baseball commercials are a tough lot. Because the season is 162 games long and the playoffs consist of series rather than a single-game winner-takes-all format, there’s not the same incentive to produce a knock-out high-profile commercial like there is for, say, the Super Bowl. That’s why Chapman Auto Group has a better representation in baseball commercial breaks than most anywhere else.

Come to think of it, there’s not a single baseball commercial that comes to mind for me, so I’ll just regale you with a couple of my favorites overall.

The Sears air-conditioning commercial from the 90s:

“I’ll call today.” “You’ll call now.” “I’ll call now.” Is still remember that exchange all these years later, which is really what an effective commercial is supposed to do: Embed a brand or product in a young impressionable mind for a lifetime.

Bob Wehadababyitsaboy:

Was this the first Geico commercial? I don’t know, but it was before the caveman, so it’s certainly in contention. As I recall, this ran as a Super Bowl commercial in the era of the “WAAAZZZUUUUPPPP” commercial that, to this day, serves as an effective litmus test for tolerability of people. This was good, and it wasn’t that, so it wins.

My grandfather wasn’t a farmer, and, in all likelihood, yours wasn’t either. But this is a story about our grandfathers. Because of proximity, we mostly have conflicted imperfect relationships with our own parents, which makes it difficult to idealize them. Grandparents–unless you lived with them–mostly lack these flaws. They survived the depression, and, from that, gained a certain rugged affect that, as much as we might try to convince ourselves otherwise, is what we all want to be. We all want to be on our own, working the land. It’s why we read Gary Paulsen in elementary school and Thoreau years later. It’s why anyone sensible is at one time attracted to either anarchism or libertarianism (or both) before coming to our senses about the realities of the world. We all want to be rugged, self-sufficient, and live in a world where we have total control of all our basic needs. This commercial speaks to those unrealistic, but still real, desires. It is the greatest commercial of my lifetime. I almost bought a truck.

@KeithWinder: if you had to put together a 4×400 team from Phillies MLB and MiLB, who runs and what order?

Another track and field question. You all are getting to know me, but I invite you to expand your inquiries to other areas.

Before we begin assembling the team, I can tell you who will not be coaching it: Dennis Mitchell. Under his tutelage, U.S. men’s and women’s relay teams have underperformed at every major championship event not because the athletes have run poorly, but because they repeatedly drop batons and commit exchange zone violations. Both of those are directly related to coaching. He will not be coaching our team. I’d nominate Davey Lopes, but, really, I’d allow anyone not named Dennis Mitchell near the team.

Like the distance runner question of a previous Crash Bag, the 400 runs into the same problem of limited information: baseball does not provide any opportunities to make informed evaluations on 400m ability since players never have to run that far. But, we can get closer. Usain Bolt–a 100m and 200m runner–is competent (as in vaguely world class) at the 400m despite never formally training for the event. We can more reliably extrapolate what we see on the baseball field to 400m ability.

The general strategy in ordering a 4x400m relay is to put your best runner last, your second-best first (you want to be in the race), and the other guys in the middle. So, here it is:

  1. Roman Quinn–not sure of his durability, so I’m not going to put him in a position to get out kicked at the line on the last leg.
  2. Aaron Altherr–we’ve seen him hit an inside the parker.
  3. Odubel Herrera
  4. Cesar Hernandez–last to limit his exchanges. Based on his base running, he seems most likely to drop a baton or hand off outside the exchange zone.

@Sbecker82B: Can the Phillies be competitive this year? I feel like they could get to 85 wins. Is that crazy?

I talked a little bit about this with John Stolnis on The Felske Files last night and the short answer is that I don’t think you’re totally crazy. The Phillies had three weaknesses last year: both outfield corners and bullpen depth. While Howie Kendrick, Michael Saunders, and the collection of Joaquin Benoit and Pat Neshek aren’t flashy additions consider who they’re replacing. Even if they combine to produce only 3 WAR (which seems conservative), they’re replacing negative WAR players. So, conservatively, let’s call that a 4 win improvement.

A full season of Tommy Joseph, a partial season of J.P. Crawford, and a reasonable bounce-back performance from Maikel Franco could add another couple wins. With a little better health from the starting pitching, I think Mackanin’s stated goal of .500 is an achievable one. Things would have to break right to reach it, yes, but it’s not laughable like it was this time last year when he said something similar.

Now, 85 wins and the idea of actual playoff contention that comes with it, is a bit of a pipe dream with this crew. That would take a major breakout from Franco, Herrera, and/or a starting pitcher or two. Save that goal for 2018.

@mholt74: A Philly sandwich created for each member of MLB team

I must plead ignorance to what exactly constitutes a “Philly sandwich,” and I don’t have the time or the desire to do 25 different creations here. But I will make some attempt to answer your question.

I’ll assume Philly sandwich broadly refers to a cheesesteak and that my task is to assign various toppings, condiments, and the such to each player. If that isn’t the intended task, it is nevertheless the one I will undertake.

Vince Velasquez: Vinny from Philly will go with the classic to live up to his nickname. Wiz wit.

Cameron RuppAs a Cowboys fan playing for a Philadelphia sports team, Rupp has no respect for anything holy. He will adulterate his cheesesteak with things like ketchup and American cheese. Hell, he’ll even throw some relish on there just to rub it in.

Odubel Herrera: Odubel is into a little bit of flash what with the bat flip and the sliding into first whenever the opportunity presents itself. His cheesesteak should reflect that. He’s gonna throw some pepper jack on this thing and probably top it with Sriracha.

Tommy Joseph: Joseph is an old man, so, he probably has simple tastes. He’ll do provolone and maybe some onions if he’s feeling up for it.

Cesar Hernandez: The TOOTBLAN of a cheesesteak is biting into one with wiz and ending up with half the sandwich contents back flowing onto your shirt/lap.

I don’t know if I’ve adequately answered any of your questions, but I had fun and, as I learned from playing tee-ball, that’s really all that matters. If you have a question you’d like to appear in a future edition of the Crash Bag, you may submit it in any of the following ways: 1) a tweet directed at CF_Larue with the hashtag #crashbag, 2) a comment on this post, 3) an email to me, 4) a tweet sent into the ether with the hashtag #crashbag (this is the least likely to get answered).

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6 comments

  1. HandsomeNeil

    January 20, 2017 10:31 AM

    I can’t find it online, but the ‘what about the printer’ WB Mason commercial from 2007 is the best Phillies baseball commercial ever.

  2. Joe

    January 20, 2017 10:38 AM

    Please no Bryce Harper. I don’t see him as a fit in Philly, at all

  3. Scuffy McGee

    January 20, 2017 11:19 AM

    I’ll agree that the Ice-T commercials are hilarious, but Kia has them beat with Tecmo Bo. And it’s not even close.

      • Scuffy McGee

        January 23, 2017 10:13 PM

        Quality stuff. I’ve always enjoyed ole Ryan O’Reilly’s character in those spots. But my youth was more defined by Tecmo than Moe, Larry, Curly, and Shemp.

  4. Jerry Spradlin

    January 20, 2017 10:32 PM

    I worry about Cesar Hernandez running the anchor leg. Given how he runs the bases, chances are good he starts running the anchor leg in the wrong direction.

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