Morning Wood: Stiff and Angry


I’m still not happy. 

Reader SwaggerNuggets (birth name?) asks the question you’re all thinking:

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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

Aramark caller by crossingbroad


30 Responses

  1. You can rip me for it later, however, when i get a wierd positive vibe (this happens so rarely) it usually pans out. I have an overwhelming feeling that the Phillies are done with the loss colunm this year, yesterday pisssed everybody off to the point of action. I started to get this warm and fuzzy after my third shot of 151 in the sixth inning though…

  2. My sister and I used to go to Yogun Fruz every game, which was about 10 this year. A couple of weeks ago we stood in line for THREE AND A HALF INNINGS. It was fucking ridiculous how SLOW the one and a half (I would say two but the cashier doesn’t deserve to be considered a whole person) employees were moving. I realize that this is a unique item and they have to use a special machine, but they honestly did. not. care. I would not mind the long lines at any of the concessions if the employees made an effort to keep them moving. This is the only problem I have with an otherwise great experience at CBP

  3. Just bring your own food and avoid the trouble. I stop a little deli and get a 5 dollar hoagie before I come and bring a couple bottles of water. Might throw in some snacks too they let you bring almost anything in. Saves a crap load of money and time. 8 dollars for a sandwhich was somewhat reasonable at a ballpark, 9.25 or whatever it is not is just crazy. Only thing you would need to buy there is beer, but I can’t quite justify 7.25 for a crappy light american beer.

  4. I think the unions need to shut the fuck and be happy they have jobs in this tough economy. If not, the Phillies need to hire a right to work company to provide services, or outsource workers and keep aramark as a food supplier, but no longer use their workers.
    These are the reasons unions have lost support in this country (i’m not trying to be political, providing food is not a tough industry where you need protection from a cutthroat employer, any idiot could do it.). its stadium food not coal mining.

  5. the one place that seems to consistently move and run efficiently is chickie’s and pete’s. i get crab fries every game i go to and i’m never bothered by the line extending out the cue because it does run so fast 🙂 i’m going tonight (my last game of the season 🙁 sadness) i’ll check out the other lines perhaps or maybe just even be a little observant !!
    ps. RAJ was spotted by my friend at the starbucks on 10th n chestnut this morning. sadly i was in class at 9th and couldnt run down. people in my class didnt know who i was talking about. i was thorougly appalled and ashamed that they called themselves phillies fans.

  6. If you’re waiting in a line for several innings for overpriced food…don’t go to the game and instead leave the tickets for people who actually want to watch baseball.

  7. Let’s talk about McFadden’s for a minute as well…on Saturday after the Penn State/Temple game they locked down the outside entrance. Locked down=not exaggerating. We stood in line outside of the entrance for at least an hour if not more – they told us “one in, one out” at first but we stood there watching people leave, and no one getting in. Which is when they told us the outside entrance was now locked down. My friend was granted access to use the bathroom after 45 minutes, and when she came back out she told us no one was in the dining room, and we could obviously see from the doorway there was practically no one inside. At one point a waitress came out pissed they weren’t letting anyone in. We obviously left at that point. 2 Phillies employees stood there in shock the whole time as well but “there was nothing they could do”

  8. if you’re really unhappy with the long lines in the ballpark, why don’t you bring your own food? They do allow you to bring hoagies, chips and other un-opened food. I know you can’t bring in alcholic beverages, but bring soda, juice or water instead. I’m just sayin!

  9. I have no problems with unions, but those Aramark workers don’t deserve any more than $11/hour. If they changed their work ethic and attitude I would see no problem with them wanting more money but it’s not right to get rewarded for doing a simple job with such lackluster energy and a poor attitude.

  10. Dude, I also stood in the Schmitter line last night. Took me 15 fucking minutes to get my sandwich. In years past you could walk right up and there would be a platter full of them for you to grab. The Democrat behind the counter was literally wrapping them for each customer as they approached. Unreal. The guy in front of me asked if they had ones with no onions The lady gave him no response whatsoever, didn’t even look at him, so he naturally asked again thinking she didn’t hear him to which she spit him some attitude, waddled her way back to some other container and grabbed one that I wouldn’t be surprised if it had extra onions on it. What a fucking joke. $11 an hour? Cut that in half and that’s what those slobs should be making. I’m sure they are getting some sort of child support payments or slanging rock on the side anyways.

  11. I have not seen any increased issues with the concession waits and I also go to about 20-25 games a year. For example, I stood in the Schmitter line last night as well. I was there 15 minutes before the game started. I was in line perhaps 5 minutes, tops. I have never had more then a few minute wait at a Brewerytown on the first level concourse ont he third base side.
    Some of the lines have always had a wait. Cheesesteaks, crab fries, etc. The yogurt line is always long. I simply go to the games a bit early to get my food, or go when the initial rush wears down, or get something where the line is shorter.

  12. Regarding the Phillies’ current offensive slump, if everyone from Uncle Charlie to the players to the beat writers are saying there’s nothing to worry about, then why am I having horrific flashbacks to last season when, at around this same time frame, the bats went into a coma and stayed there, prompting an early exit from the playoffs? I don’t want to say that history will repeat itself come next month, but damn, what’s going on right now AIN’T good! Once is a coincidence, twice is a pattern, and I’m concerned that I’m seeing a pattern.

  13. While I do agree with some of the points made, I can honestly say, I’m not worried. In years past we would be pulling our hair out the last couple weeks of the season, hoping we could make a late run and get into the playoffs, getting in on the last weekend usually. This year has been different. We had a good month of April (usually .500 or below), even while dealing with numerous injuries, most notably, Chase Utley. They haven’t hit a severe losing streak all year, thanks in most part to our starting pitching, which we all know is what wins in the postseason (i.e. the Giants 2010). So this year we clinched early, straddling the line of rest versus rust, all while playing teams with either nothing to lose, or everything to lose. Did we all forget that only a few weeks ago we dispatched the other two best teams in the National League (sweep of the Braves, almost sweep of the Brewers). At that point, everyone was raving about the Phillies, even notorious Philly Hater, Craig Calcaterra of Hardball Talk.
    I will admit the last several games have not been pretty, but does it really matter? Coming into spring training, they had a set of goals. 1) Win the division. Check. 2) Finish with best record in NL. Check. 3) Win the World Series. Check-mate. Obviously it would be nice to win these meaningless games, but the fact remains, we will enter the playoffs with the best pitching rotation in baseball and a veteran team looking to make a legacy for themselves.
    And for everyone complaining that they might not break the franchise record for wins … shut it! All the matters now is the World Series. It doesn’t matter if they finished with 120 wins or 88 wins. If they don’t win it all, the season is a complete failure. If they win, it won’t matter 6 months from now if they finished September poorly.

  14. Totally agree with you on the team playing lethargically. I love the idea of the A and B squads. I believe they’ll get it into gear, but the only thing that really worries me the most is if we run into a team in the playoffs who is on fire. Against any of the competition so far, I have no doubt in our ability to “flip the switch”. But if a team like St. Louis all of a sudden catches fire and captures the wild card, I wouldn’t want to face them in the first round.
    I’m not so sure I see your point on the ballpark service, though. I don’t have season tickets, so I haven’t been down as much as you have, Kyle..But I have been to 5 games this year (I usually have gone to around that many every year), and I have to say that I haven’t really noticed that much of a spike in the kind of shitty service that usually plagues places like stadiums, theme parks, etc. From my experiences, it has seemed to stay pretty even since we became the team to beat in 07. Brewerytown has always had longer lines, with a slightly longer wait due to the necessity of checking IDs and pouring some of the beers from the bottles to the cups. And I’ve seen the schmidter line be pretty long in previous years too, eventhough its location is kind of hidden.
    I feel like, as is the case with any sports stadium, the service is either hit or miss, and has been for some time…I’ve been goin to games my whole life and have had Eagles season tix for about 10 years now, and in every venue, the service is fine most of the time, but you can’t really avoid a craptastic exeperience if you frequent the venues. Maybe the bank has hit a shitty streak this season, I dunno, I’m not arguing with you, just merely giving my point of view, but before this blows up into a big issue, I don’t think we should forget that even at nicer stadiums like CBP, you’re not going to be getting 5 star quality service. Even though the Phillies have exemplified class and professionalism in most everything they do, we’re still talking about ballpark service here.

  15. I completely agree about the ridiculous long lines. Upper deck concourse behind home plate beer lines are always a half inning or longer wait too. They know to expect 45,000 customers a game….EVERY GAME. If you can sell 2 extra $7 beers or $9 sandwiches per hour because of faster lines, you’d paid that extra employee’s salary.

  16. I agree that there should be some worry, but if you go with your plan, which I think is a good plan, then you will still have half a lineup each night filled with martinez, schneider, valdez and other complete scrubs. I really think if you look at the lineups in the games we didn’t score runs, it is filled with the above mentioned. I think one of the games against the marlins are 6-8 hitters were orr, martinez, and schneider. You are not going to score runs with that lineup.

  17. Manuel’s ruining any good NL Cy Young chances these pitchers have against Kershaw or Kennedy. Also, I’d rather bring up the minor league guys who are playing for time, face value and the win rather than field the regulars who only half-go through the motions with lackluster swings at the plate and a step behind on their D.

  18. What I find ironic and I’m not tryna sound racist because theyre are slow lazy white people too but does anyone else notice that the slow workers IRS ones with the attitude 90 percent of the time are black, I mean it’s kind of ridiculous really that they don’t have to answer to anyone. As for the unions I’m so sick of them threatening strike like let’s be real 11 an hr is great considering there doin the same thing mcdonalds workers are doing for 7 an hr unions are flat out ruining the country and a huge part of the recession

  19. seriously who cares about the cy young award. I guarantee that both Doc and Cliff would trade all of their cy young awards for a world series championship.

  20. I’d actually like to point out, not ALL the vendors in the park suck as much as the ones named here. There’s at least 3 beer ladies scattered at stands throughout the 100 level that are hard working, care about the fan experience, and keep their lines moving despite the hordes of people. I’ve been a season ticket holder since 2008, in the 100 level. I go to roughly 55 games a year not including the playoffs, I will say that the attendance numbers for an average game now are what the playoffs (WS included) were like back in the 2008. The place is absolutely swamped. The number of SRO tickets has increased dramatically, they’re still selling out most of the seats, and more importantly, the owners of tickets are showing up.
    My point here is I can’t speak for the 3/400 level stands, but down in the 100 level, the problem is far less about staffing and effort from the workers, but the sheer hordes of people showing up.

  21. I couldn’t agree more about the food lines. I have been a season ticket holder for years, I have never waited in lines as long as I have this year. Not only are the lines long, but the quality of food has gone down drastically. I started bringing my own food back in May. Crab fries are one of the only things I will buy now.

  22. i think they should fire all the lazy ass stadium workers and offer free tickets to fans who would sacrifice an inning or two behind the counter. the money they save on paying the lazies they can lower the damn price of beer…..yes i pound 8-10 beers in the lot but i still would like something to sip on besides a 4 dollar luke warm dasani.

  23. The lines are crazy and the employees clearly do not care. I got water ice Sunday before the game even started and watched one employee EATING while the other filed her nails. I actually had to say, “Excuse me, are you open?” to get service. I do not even bother getting food during the game because I don’t want to miss half the game. I started bringing my own food most times, otherwise I just wait until I leave to eat. But it is sad that the Phillies don’t do something about it.

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