Morning Wood: Short, Shriveled, and Always to the Left
At this point, talking about the Phils’ offense is like dividing zero by anything… you just get nothing. There’s nothing to even talk about. Sure the Phillies hung a five-spot on the board in the ninth, after another eight shutout innings, but those runs came off a guy who may be bagging groceries in a week. It’s nothing to be proud of.
So, in the absence of runs – or any baseball situation that would require baserunners and scoring chances – we’re going to talk about something different today– T-Mac and Wheels.
Tom McCarthy took over full-time play-by-play duties in the spring of 2009, after the death of Harry Kalas. Since then, the Phillies have enjoyed what is likely their most successful three-year regular season run in history. 93 wins in 2009 and a division title. 97 in 2010 and a division title. 102 in 2011 and a division title.
Yes, hombres, it was easy to put up with that annoying duo (and Sarge– I like Sarge). Our biggest complaint was how much the play-by-play guy screamed every time a Phillie mashed a ball over the wall, something that I think any fan base would deal with quite happily. We even resorted to making fun of T-Mac’s 2010 division clinching call, which was over the top, melodramatic, and shat on a great moment in Phillies history. But again– gift horse, mouth.
Now that the Phillies are mediocre (at least they are through the first 17 games of this season)… well, our tag-team duo is annoying at best, offensive at worst.
You see, the real genius of Harry wasn’t that he called a great game and heightened important moments, it was that he somehow kept us interested and made the game enjoyable when the Phillies were awful. Really, he oversaw a relatively lousy nearly 40-year stretch of Phillies baseball, yet he made each and every moment memorable, or at least tolerable.
Instead of sensing the temperature of his audience (which right now is lukewarm, at best), T-Mac and his limited vocabulary manage to insult us by trying to get water out of a completely dry well. No one wants to hear sunshine and roses about Chase Utley right now. He’s hurt, barely taking BP (more on that in a second), and living in Arizona, perhaps because government scientists are using him to experiment new prosthetic leg technology. Yet there’s McCarthy, ready, willing and able to trumpet the company line and tell us how positive and upbeat Chase seemed. Of course he seemed positive and upbeat– he’s making $15 million this year and has been chilling in Arizona for the last three weeks. I’d be positive and upbeat too. You know what else he was? Tan. He was tan… because he’s chilling in Arizona, doing some futuristic stretches or something.
That’s nothing against Utley, and I am certainly trying to look at the positives when it comes to his long-term health, but listening to T-Mac trumpet the company line – on anything – is insulting to most knowledgable Phillies fans.
We put up with a lackluster broadcast crew while the Phillies were pounding the National League. But now? Now that it might be a loooong season…. well, folks are going to tune out.
Look at those last two: One is from a guy whose avatar was taken at the Phillies media room podium– he’s not watching. The other? A guy who switched over to the most obscure NHL playoff series of the year. I can promise you that wouldn’t have happened in 2009, 2010 or 2011.
Sure, much this comes from the offense. And winning solves all ailments. But, in the absence of runs right now, the broadcast crew is doing nothing to hold an audience.
I don’t have a boss– I do this for a living. So, usually, I can stay up as late as I damn well please to watch west coast game. Last night? Bed at 10:30. I couldn’t take it anymore. Couldn’t watch the team, couldn’t listen to T-Mac. Like a kid in the 1950s, I laid in a warm cocoon of blankets listening to Scott Franzke and Larry Anderson (on an iPad), both of whom should be on TV (though I've heard that neither really desire that opportunity– they like radio).
And despite that 9-0 score (or whatever it was at the time), this was somehow enjoyable: Franzke and LA talking about seeing Pat Burrell as a scout:
See, that actually made me forget – at least for a moment – that the Phillies were getting hammered at the time.
– Chase Utley returned. Sort of. Here’s what he told the media: [Phillies.com]
"It went well today," Utley said. "I was able to hit on the field, which was nice for a change. It's been a while since I've done that. No pain whatsoever, which in my opinion is a positive sign."
"I'd like to be back right now," Utley said. "I have to listen to my body and right now it's telling me to continue to move forward with the things I'm doing. I don't want to put a certain date on it because I don't want to force something that's not ready to happen. When my knee is ready to go, I'll be out there."
So he’s staying in Arizona, rehabbing and stretching. Not playing baseball. You can gloss that over as much as you want, but Chase still hasn’t started his spring training… and it’s April 24.
– There was a Let’s Go Flyers chant, in Arizona, during the fourth inning.
– Finally, a random musing: How does New York Life pay for that Safe and Secure spot? Is it on a per-use basis? A flat fee? Commission to T-Mac and Wheels?! If they’re paying a flat fee, they can’t possibly be happy with the lack of extra-base hits for the Phillies.