Michael Baumann

Recent articles by Michael Baumann

 

Crash Bag, Vol. 99: Baby’s First Democratic System

Gregg Easterbrook once wrote (and I’m paraphrasing, because if I have to sift through a billion TMQ columns to find the exact wording, I will end my life, so help me God): “Writing a book is like hitting yourself in the head with a hammer: it feels so good when you stop.” I’m writing a
Continue reading…

 

Crash Bag, Vol. 98: Carrying Asche Around

I was thinking about heist movies the other day. Heist movies are one of my three favorite genres of movie, along with movies about journalistic ethics and movies where a small group of guys go to do something during World War II. Now, I’ve seen bad examples of the other two, but the worst heist
Continue reading…

 

Crash Bag, Vol. 97: Jelly is Great

Tonight, on the Crash Bag: The Phillies fail to score, a man asks a record-breaking question, and I distribute breakup advice. @asigal22: “Will the Phils be as bad in the regular season as they have been in Spring Training. I know Spring Training is stupid.” Relax. I mean, yes, the Phillies are going to be
Continue reading…

 

Crash Bag, Vol. 96: This Train

I wonder if anyone from Spain has ever written in to the blog. I’d be surprised if that was the case. Because, you know… @Bradleycs1: “what do you think AJ Burnett’s reaction to the Phillies implementing defensive shifts will be?” I know he was unhappy with the Pirates shifting last season, but he’ll deal with it,
Continue reading…

 

Crash Bag, Vol. 95: American Virtue

@jimmyfricke: “Should Phillies fans be upset about Cruz being signed for 1 year 8 mil while we’re stuck with Byrd for 2 years 16 mil” Absolutely not. Cruz is a 33-year-old power-before-hit corner outfielder who produces no value on the bases or in the field. Those guys tend to have a couple things in common:
Continue reading…

 

Crash Bag, Vol. 94: Ben Wetzler Lightning Round

NBA trade deadline, labor strife, Little Big League…we’ve got it all this week. @truelladelphia: “How great is Sam Hinkie?” Pretty great. Early in the season, I had an expectation of getting at least one first-round pick (either this year or next) for Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes, but that stopped being realistic a while ago,
Continue reading…

 

Crash Bag, Vol. 93: Bad Cherries

What up, bossman? @CrashburnAlley: “Astros are at 57.5 wins. They won 51 last year. Are you brave enough to take the over?“ I think I’ve spent more Crash Bag time on the Astros than on the Phillies in recent weeks.

 

Crash Bag, Vol. 92: Past Tense Utley

Let’s kick the tires and light the fires. @bxe1234: “Which would you most like to try: luge/skeleton/bobsled? Also, if you could two-man luge with a Phil, who would it be?” I’m terrified of speed. I’ve never gone skiing and probably will never go skiing for this reason. So I’ll take bobsled, because that’s the one
Continue reading…

 

Crash Bag, Vol. 91: Winter Storm Neymar

So I’ve been encountering a phenomenon recently where journalists gripe about how, in the context of a postgame interview, “Talk about…” isn’t a real question. And it’s not. “Talk about how Cole Hamels got out of that sixth-inning jam” is not literally a question. But I don’t know why this is an issue–beat reporting isn’t Jeopardy.
Continue reading…

 

Crash Bag, Vol. 90: Naming Your Baby

Greetings. Let’s talk about how great it is that Bobby Abreu is on the Phillies again. @Wzeiders: “how great is it that Bobby Abreu is a Phillie again, even if it’s just a fleeting dream I’m scared to wake from?” It’s pretty great, I tell ya. It’s pretty great. I try not to swear above
Continue reading…

 

Crash Bag, Vol. 89: Merciless and Unyielding

One of my Facebook friends shared a photo essay of someone discovering a 15-foot snake crawling out of their toilet. The overwhelming majority of snake-related fear porn on the internet is fake, like the one that was going around about the boa constrictor in India swallowing the town drunk whole while he was passed out,
Continue reading…

 

Crash Bag, Vol. 88: Paul Bunyan Lager

I know y’all are probably sick of hearing about the Hall of Fame, but I’ve got one last parting shot: I don’t think taking the vote away from the writers is the answer, because if you assign it to a special committee, it will concentrate power in a smaller, less empirically inclined, more reactionary group
Continue reading…

 

Why I Still Care About the Hall of Fame

This is a post that’s kind of about baseball’s Hall of Fame in which I tell you how to think and how to act. It’s a post that I should have given a title with a colon or starting with the word “On,” or incorporating a Dr. Strangelove joke–in short, the kind of title I
Continue reading…

 

Crash Bag, Vol. 87: Blizzard Shopping with Ruben Amaro

Hey, hey hey, interrogate me hey… @mdubz11: “your hall of fame ballot, opinions, etc etc” I’m shocked that nobody asked me this before now, but I guess there’s a certain point past which nobody cares about my opinion. Anyway, I answered this last year, and nobody got in, so a lot of my answers are the
Continue reading…

 

Crash Bag, Vol. 86: Basal Ganglia

I’m down to my last month or so in Madison (side note, if anyone wants to pay me to write or edit anything, I’m very much available), and let me say this: I am entirely sick of snow. We got about eight inches dumped on us in what seemed like an hour, and I’m so
Continue reading…

 

Crash Bag, Vol. 85: The Duck Blind

Bill told me, when this post was in draft mode, that I’d turned off comments. I have no idea how I did this, so I don’t know how to turn them back on, and while Bill apparently edited the post while I wasn’t looking, he might not have reenabled the comments. We’ll see how this
Continue reading…

 

Crash Bag, Vol. 84: The Burrito Emporia of Queens

Good set of questions this week, so I’ll dive right in. First from the boys at Cespedes Family Barbecue. In my Roy Halladay tribute piece on Grantland earlier this week, I called Zoo With Roy the weirdest, most passionate blog…excuse me, “bolg”…in the history of sports, but Cespedes Family Barbecue is about 94 percent as
Continue reading…

 

Why the Phillies Can’t Contend No Matter How the Offseason Shakes Out

When the Red Sox went from 69 wins to the World Series last year, it wasn’t the craziest thing in the world to ask if that blueprint–not tearing the team down, but just making a few shrewd free agent signings–could be replicated. Particularly, if the Phillies could do it. The Phillies have some payroll flexibility,
Continue reading…

 

Crash Bag, Vol. 83: I Am Easily Shamed

Let’s start things off with a furious bout of wishful thinking. @asigal22: “Is there a record this season that gets Amaro fired? If so, can he get the Phillies there?” I don’t think so. Well, let me rephrase–there is such a record, but it’s like 36-126 or something ridiculous and bad as I think the
Continue reading…

 

Crash Bag, Vol. 82: The Hanukkah of Excess

So last week I made an effort to keep the Crash Bag largely baseball-focused. This week, not so much. Sorry. @jlwoj: “is Friday Thanksgiving Kosher or does it violate everything?” I think if there’s a good reason for you to celebrate Thanksgiving on the Friday–like work or travel restrictions–then go for it. I don’t presume
Continue reading…

 

Crash Bag, Vol. 81: Semi-Serious Baseball Questions

I got a new laptop since the last time I wrote the Crash Bag, and it has a touchscreen. It’s so cool–I could never go back to a non-touchscreen computer now. This week I tried to scroll on my wife’s Macbook by touching the screen and nothing happened and my first thought was: “What a
Continue reading…

 

2013 Phillies Report Card: Domonic Brown

I am guilty. I was driving the Domonic Brown bandwagon from the start, but early last season, I lost faith. I strayed and committed an act of Brownish apostasy. I gave up hope. I’m sorry.

 

2013 Phillies Report Card: Michael Martinez

Bill James once wrote that batting average represents about half of a player’s value (he might have said “offensive value,” but this post isn’t worth my going to look it up). That’s not true for every player–Sean Casey‘s batting average was a much higher percentage of his value than half, while the opposite is true
Continue reading…

 

Crash Bag, Vol. 79: Return of the Monkfish

I think it’s time to bring back the monkfish. A friend of mine, Matt Winkelman, is encountering the wages of writing about minor leaguers for a team-specific blog, which is to say that people are trying to tell him that Maikel Franco is a better prospect than Miguel Sano. I don’t think that’s literally the
Continue reading…

 

2013 Phillies Report Card: Chase Utley

I keep this line in my mind: .332/.410/.566. That was Chase Utley‘s triple slash line in 2007, which was, broken wrist and playoff oh-fer notwithstanding, his greatest year. An elite defensive up-the-middle player producing that much with the bat, running the bases as well as Utley did…it was really something to see. Perhaps Prime Utley
Continue reading…

 

Crash Bag, Vol. 78: Ted Williams Shift

The other night, when I was watching a Cardinal (I believe Carlos Beltran), hit a screaming line drive straight into the Ted Williams Shift for an out, I remarked that if I were dictator of baseball, I’d outlaw the shift, which generated this response: @SamMillerBP: “Why?” Fair question.

 

2013 Phillies Report Card: Jake Diekman

One of the interesting things about the draft is how quickly returns diminish. You hope to get a major league regular in the first round or two, but once you get around to, say, picking guys from Nebraska junior colleges in the 30th round, any positive major league contribution counts as shooting the moon. Some
Continue reading…

 

Crash Bag, Vol. 77: Max Pentecost

Yesterday morning, Keith Law and Christopher Crawford took a crack at ranking the top 30 prospects for next year’s amateur draft. It’s on Insider, so I won’t ruin the content too much, but many of my favorite college prospects were there, including Trea Turner, Aaron Nola, Tyler Beede and Carlos Rodon, who’s going to go
Continue reading…

 

2013 Phillies Report Card: Darin Ruf

Let’s do this as an acrostic.

 

2013 Phillies Report Card: Antonio Bastardo

Antonio Bastardo was really good this year. Once you factor out virtual nonentities like Mauricio Robles and John McDonald, Tony No-Dad led the team in ERA+ and K%. He’s been outstanding ever since his move to the bullpen, a few injury-addled months late in 2011 and early in 2012 notwithstanding. He also got dinged for
Continue reading…

 

2013 Phillies Report Card: John Mayberry

In preparation for writing this piece, I pulled up John Mayberry‘s Baseball Reference page. And my browser crashed. That’s a metaphor, in addition to being true.

 

Crash Bag, Vol. 76: Moose Tracks

Starting to get the distinct impression that the Phillies are gaslighting me. @asigal22: “why on earth would RAJ purposely resign Michael Martinez? I’ll take a contract too if he wants to sign bad players” I want to rip off 3,500 words about how dumb a move it is to re-sign Mini-Mart. But you know what?
Continue reading…

 

2013 Phillies Report Card: Kyle Kendrick

That Kyle Kendrick is only the sixth-longest-tenured Phillies player is more a testament to Cole Hamels‘ ability and the Phillies’ propensity for throwing good money after bad. That Kendrick played for the Phillies from 2007-2011 and managed to throw nearly 600 regular-season innings and make exactly one postseason appearance is reinforcement for what he is:
Continue reading…

 

Crash Bag, Vol. 75: The Fetishization of Bacon

It is with a heavy heart that I announce that this will be the final Crash Bag. Because we’re going to have to cancel the internet. Thanks to this: So smoky, so sultry, so you. Give yourself a bacon moustache and discover even more fun at your local food co-op. t.co/HEpAOr5AT9 — StrongerTogether (@strongrtogethr) October
Continue reading…

 

2013 Phillies Report Card: Justin De Fratus

The unknown is a seductive idea. When we were young, we looked off into the distance, into the future, with wonder, enraptured by the possibilities that the devil you don’t know can entail. Your life is boring, your routines tiresome, your friends wholly known. This is the appeal of a series of works of fiction
Continue reading…

 

Crash Bag, Vol. 74: Longo in a Horseshoe Mustache

First off–a big thanks to Bill and Liz for keeping the Crash Bag running in my absence. But daddy’s home now. Let’s have questions. @loctastic: “what possible questions could people have regarding the phillies at this point” I have no idea, but by God I’m going to write a Phillies mailbag column. Also, I don’t
Continue reading…

 

2013 Phillies Report Card: Laynce Nix

On Monday, I sneezed and somehow wound up with snot on my forehead. This concludes the Crashburn Alley review of Laynce Nix.

 

Crash Bag, Vol. 73: Did You Mean Felman Shrung?

Greetings, Crash Bag readers. I am not Michael Baumann. I’m Liz Roscher, Supreme Blog Mistress over at The Good Phight, and I’m filling in for Baumann this week. He still loves you all very much, though. At least that’s what he said. He could have been lying. On to the questions! @ilrosso_: Can you describe
Continue reading…

 

Crash Bag, Vol. 71: The Opacity of Athletes

Yeah, I got nothing. Let’s go. @TheBigCup: “WHY IS IT A CRASH BAG?” Because this is the mailbag column for Crashburn Alley. It’s a portmanteau. @SoMuchForPathos: “Which military leaders would have been good baseball managers, assuming, y’know, that a Caesar or Genghis Khan learns baseball.” The thing about baseball is that it doesn’t really lend
Continue reading…

 

Crash Bag, Vol. 70: Howard Roark is a Terrible Architect

I’ve got a search saved on Twitter for “Crashbag.” Often, when I ask for questions, people respond directly to me, but others follow the original question-asking procedure from all those months ago and just toss a question out into the ether with the #crashbag hashtag affixed. To my knowledge, “Crash Bag” is not a very
Continue reading…

 

Crash Bag, Vol. 69: Baumann’s Second Law of Social Conduct

There are two great regional food-related battles in American language: soda vs. pop vs. coke and what you call a sandwich on a long roll. I pay a lot of attention to such things because my own linguistic base is mixed–not only have I split my own life between the Mid-Atlantic and the Southeast, I’m
Continue reading…

 

Crash Bag, Vol. 68: Let Them Sing

I’m about to say something, fully aware of the irony the venue provides. I started doing the Crash Bag last May because I was bored and unemployed, and looking for something steady to contribute. I figured a mailbag would be fun and relatively easy, and a bunch of writers I look up to–Bill Simmons, Katie
Continue reading…

 

Some Thoughts on Charlie Manuel’s Ouster

Most of the immediate reactions I’ve seen from Phillies fans to the end Charlie Manuel‘s tenure have been emotional. And rightly so–Manuel is the most decorated manager in Phillies history and one of the most beloved figures in local sports. The man who orchestrated his removal, Ruben Amaro, is…well, not universally reviled, but not the
Continue reading…

 

Crash Bag, Vol. 67: It’s Important to Score Runs

I’m currently eating a salad. Not the kind of salad I like best, which is so much meat and cheese and starchy crap it’s really a taco or a buffalo chicken sandwich but with so many vegetables you can’t avoid them, but a real salad: spinach and a little feta cheese and raspberry vinaigrette dressing.
Continue reading…

 

Crash Bag, Vol. 66: Destroyed in Seconds

It seems like everyone who went to college had that one professor who really made a profound impact on his or her own life. I had, like, nine. And one of those was Gordon Smith, a political science professor at South Carolina. If you go there, or know someone who does, I can’t recommend Dr.
Continue reading…

 

Crash Bag, Vol. 65: Climb a Staircase of Opponents’ Throats

Editor’s Note: Actually, I’m not the editor, am I? Anyway, this is Baumann, and we’ve got a special treat for you today–for the first time ever, we go outside the Crashburn Alley family for the Crash Bag, with Justin Klugh of That Ball’s Outta Here, among other outlets. You can follow him on Twitter at
Continue reading…

 

Crash Bag, Vol. 64: Truth and Reconciliation

Okay, let’s get this over with. @BerenstainGer: “I don’t care about steroids in baseball. Am I normal?” I care, I guess, just not very much. I think if you’re of a certain age, you don’t really remember a clean game. I was in fifth grade when they found Andro in Mark McGwire‘s locker–the baseball of
Continue reading…

 

Crash Bag, Vol. 63: Some Massive Betrayal of the Faith

Some free advice to anyone who drives a mid-2000s Toyota Corolla. If you have an FM adapter for your iPod (which you all should, since Toyotas of that vintage have neither a tape deck nor an MP3 plug-in, you can make your steering wheel sound exactly like a cowbell. Just hold the wheel with your
Continue reading…

 

Crash Bag, Vol. 62: A Tropical Fruit Coma

I ordinarily write this over the course of three nights, asking for questions on Twitter intermittently as I go. But I tend not to get that many unless Bill retweets my request for questions. Now, I know this is because he has about five times as many Twitter followers as I do, but it still
Continue reading…

 

Crash Bag, Vol. 61: I Will Wear White Socks in Europe

I got a lot of comments about last week’s Crash Bag being a downer. I apologize. I was writing while trying to keep up with the Sixers dropping acid at the NBA draft, and at the end of a long week. Being funny is hard work for me, and it requires time, energy and concentration,
Continue reading…