I’m still not happy.
Reader SwaggerNuggets (birth name?) asks the question you’re all thinking:
I’m worried, Mr. Nuggets. There are a lot of things that just seem off.
The Aces are off. Doc was a mere mortal on Monday, giving up four runs in eight innings. Cole has been below average in his last two starts: eight earned runs in 12 innings. And even Cliff, our magical steed of hosing excellence, only managed a dehydrated-looking amber stream complete with golden froth last night- a luke warm outing at best.
The usually reliable defense has been shaky, too. Last night, Placido Polanco, Jimmy Rollins, and Chase Utley all made lazy plays that sacrificed outs. Lee threw roughly an extra 20 pitches because of the gaffs, leading to a bloated pitch total of 120. 120. Charlie Manuel let Lee throw 120 pitches in an exhibition game. Why?
As you know – mostly because of my homoerotic prose on Cliff – I enjoy watching him pitch as much (read: disturbingly more) than the next guy. But do we really need to have any of the aces throwing more than 100 pitches per game over the next week? It’s just foolish.
The lineup? Worse. They forgot how to hit.
Updating the running total we started yesterday, here is the Phillies’ offensive output in their last 12 games: 2, 1, 2, 1, 3, 2, 2, 9, 0, 3, 3, 0.
Fuck, Scoob. Like an asshole, I spent the last 10 minutes analyzing those numbers for hidden meaning, but only came away with the following: S-H-I-T.
Shit, indeed. Wake up, team. Wake up.
Manuel has the very difficult task of straddling the line between risking injury and keeping the players sharp. Let me offer up a solution:
The Phillies have eight games left. Beginning tonight, split the starting position players into two groups of four- Squad A and Squad B. For the next six games, start one group per day, giving each a day off in between starts. This will not only rest the team, but also – for what it’s worth – get them in the routine of playing on an every-other-day basis, which will more closely replicate what they will be doing in October.
For the final two games, start them all. Full-squad games to close out the season. Two tuneups for Doctober, if you will. Boom: solved.
Let’s turn our attention to another item that has escaped mention on this site all summer: ballpark service.
Last night, in this Hunter Pence post, I mentioned the Phillies “shitty ballpark customer service.” Of what do I speak, you ask?
Well, let’s rewind.
My father and I have had season tickets for nine straight seasons (2003). Understanding that the new ballpark and success of the team have increased attendance almost consistently in each of the years we’ve had tickets, one would expect longer waits and lines at the ballpark. No problem. However, the stadium has been sold out for over two years (and was damn full in 2008). In the previous three seasons, the fan-friendly experience remained almost completely intact. Other than understandably long lines in Ashburn Alley, you could pretty much pencil in a less than five minute wait at every other concession stand in the ballpark.
Not this year.
Every single line is longer, almost painfully so.
Try grabbing a beer in between the fourth and fifth innings in the 300 level behind home plate- you’ll likely get back to your seat in time for the bottom of the sixth. The general concession stand next to “Brewerytown” has tumbleweeds rolling through it and seven workers staring at the ceiling, but the beer stand has three workers on two registers, with a third cash box usually unopened. I’ve actually witnessed one irate fan argue with two supervisors about the long wait. They humored him for 20 minutes (I know because I was in line the whole time) and said there was nothing they could do.
More: I bought a Schmitter last night. They sell one thing. One fucking thing- sandwiches. In previous years, there was virtually no line. You could stroll to the window, grab your sandwich, perhaps a beer at the adjoining counter, and be on your merry way.
Not this year, Holmes.
The line typically stretches out past the adjacent escalator. And it moves very slowly. Last night, I watched one employee (the woman responsible for wrapping the 30 cooked sandwiches sitting helplessly in front of her) look out at the long line of fans waiting for her to complete her lone task- she shrugged, took a deep breath, stretched, scratched her back (under her shirt and with her glove on), and then got back to the task at hand, which was performed about as vigorously as Bill Slowsky plowing his wife.
There are other examples, too.
Ever try that delicious new treat they added this year, Yogen Fruz? Probably not. Why? Not because its fruity mix doesn’t sing to your taste buds, but because one person works two nightmarishly slow machines with the urgency of a kitten cleaning its nether regions. That’s often not a brisk pace.
I was on Big Daddy Graham’s show on WIP last night and this very topic came up (you can listen to the interview after the jump). I must have struck a nerve, because, five minutes later, a beer vendor called in to complain about ARAMARK’s tough negotiating with workers, a process that has been ongoing since March, according to the caller (you can hear him after the jump, too).
I have also received three emails, two Tweets, and at least three comments on the ballpark customer service issue- all since last night. Apparently, I’m not the only one who isn’t thrilled.
Yesterday, NBC Philadelphia ran a story about a strike threat from ARAMARK workers, who are demanding – you guessed it – more money.
The sticking points include a dispute over how many employees would be covered by medical benefits and workers want their $11 hourly wage to go up.
ARAMARK allegedly offered an increase of 30 cents an hour.
Union members handed out pamphlets to fans before Tuesday afternoon's game — explaining their position.
“We don’t want to go on strike but… we’re going to do what we need to do to get the best deal for our people,” said employee Adam Franklin.
So, there seems to be a rather logical explanation for the downtick in ballpark service… though blaming just the workers and not lazy management (and the Phillies?) for not holding them accountable wouldn’t be fair.
Those are my thoughts. What are yours?
Audio of my interview with Bid Daddy Graham, and the Aramark caller, after the jump.
Big daddy call by crossingbroad