The Phillies’ spring training truck has arrived in Florida, and I don’t know about you but my pants are getting warm, both because I’m excited for baseball and because I sit in this leather chair all day and rarely give my boys time to breathe.
Anyway, David Murphy wrote a piece for Philly.com in response to the bow tie man himself, little baby Ken Rosenthall’s piece exploring whether the Phillies are tanking or not. I very much looked forward to reading it since the alternative this week is to continue discussing Sam Bradford. Unfortunately, rather than some genuine insight into the Phillies’ rebuild, we got David Murphy pounding his own grammatical meat:
Today, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports does a nice job of laying out the case that the Phillies — and others — are not “tanking.” Really, though, it seems as if we’re arguing over the definition of a word more than anything else. Because I have no life, I recently wasted a couple of hours researching the etymology of the word “tanking.” In sports, it seems to originate in boxing, where, according to a 1935 article in Today, “a type of slavery common in boxing is ‘professional tanking. There are managers who maintain stables of fighters whose business it is to lose.”
Here’s a column by William Safire on the word with regards to politics, where in 2008 the media was accused of being “in the tank” for Hillary Clinton.
Goddammit, David. Can’t you just for once remove douchedom from the equation?
Fap. Fap. Fap.
Anyway, the tank question notwithstanding – they’re not because, unlike what the Sixers are doing, the Phillies are not intentionally being bad to get good, rather they’re just choosing not to spend until the time comes where spending would yield actual positive results* – where are we with the Phillies as a fan base? More excited than last season? Less excited? Bobby Abreu excited or Wayne Gomes excited?
I saw this Tweet:
So excited for Phillies baseball. Hopefully like getting on board in 2004.
— d ä v ë (@PhilliesFever) February 15, 2016
Disagree. Don’t get me wrong, I’m looking forward to this season substantially more than the previous two (not three, because in 2012 there was still chance). Finally the Phillies have turned a page and acknowledged that their window of opportunity has (had) slammed shut. Matt Klentak, who’s all grown up, understands this. You need not look any further than the decision to trade Ken Giles, a legitimate stud bullpen arm but one that the Phillies don’t need right now, for prospects. What we’re left with is a whole bunch of guys of whom most of us have never heard – we will soon play Phillie or Congressman? – a couple of high-ceiling youngsters to watch all summer – specifically Maikel Franco and Aaron Nola – and Ryan Howard. Ryan Howard is still around.
That all nowhere near approaches 2004 level of excitement. Setting aside the new ballpark opening, the Phillies were legitimate contenders from 2003 to 2006. In 2004 they had Jim Thome, Jimmy Rollins, Pat Burrell, Bobby Abreu, Marlon Byrd and a young, sexy, Chase Utley (it’s frankly incredible that team didn’t make the playoffs). Their pitching, however, was awful, save for genuine asswipe Billy Wagner. I mean, Eric Milton led the team in innings pitched. Eric. Milton. A flyball pitcher in the bandbox that was pre-expansion CBP (THANKS, ED WADE!).
If it were me, I’d go 2002-level excitement. Hey, Jimmy Rollins is a stud, and did you hear Pat Burrell has a swollen penis? That’s where we are now– Maikel Franco is a stud, and Aaron Nola, as long as he doesn’t torque his elbow off, is EXCITING. And then there’s a whole bunch of prospects with varying levels of ceiling who will fight to make the team and crack the lineup and rotation. And Ryan Howard. Finally we’ll get to watch players who may be around when the team is eventually good. Watching Cole Hamels, Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard (he still here?), and dear Chase over the past few years has proven to be a fruitless effort. It was akin to watching exhibition baseball. They provided nothing other than fleeting entertainment for the few thousand people in attendance and the tens more watching at home. Ironically, actual exhibition baseball this year will be more meaningful than the useless version of the sport the Phillies have been playing these past few years.
I’m interested. Intrigued. I LOOK FORWARD TO WATCHING. But let’s not kid ourselves, this isn’t 2011, 2007, or even 2004. Yet. Still, I predict a surprisingly mediocre season (A 2016 Philly Sports Story)– 78 wins. What says you?
*This is the exact opposite of Ruben Amaro, whom I heard once bought his daughter a Lexus because he thought it would help the effectiveness of her braces.