I was beat last night. I got home, collapsed into bed and came across the NFL Network replay of the NFC Championship Game. It was like Joe Buck and Troy Aikman were reading me my new favorite bedtime story. A little weird, but nice. Anyway, right after the Torrey Smith touchdown grab, I noticed something that I somehow missed the other night: Continue Reading
Here’s Gabe Kapler answering a question about what fans can expect this season at last night’s College Winter Summit held by the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park:
Phillies manager Gabe Kapler explains what will lead to a "shitload of wins." pic.twitter.com/eYe1WkwXVa
— Tim Kelly (@TimKellySports) January 18, 2018
“You can expect the highest level of intensity in both practice and in a game. You can expect an incredible amount of effort and energy. You can expect a team that rallies around each other and fights for one another. And I think, finally, you can expect a team that is extraordinarily prepared. I think all of those things in aggregate will also lead to a shitload of wins.”
A “shitload” of wins? Sign. Me. Up.
A little nugget today over at The Good Phight by Liz Roscher, who dug up this press invite to an Iron Pigs offseason event featuring Gabe Kapler, Nick Williams and others:
IronPigs Charities will be hosting its eleventh annual Phillies Winter Banquet presented by The Air Products Foundation, Abarta Coca-Cola Beverage Company, and Service Electric Cable TV & Communications on Thursday, Jan. 18, at Sands Events Center in Bethlehem. As in the past, there will be a media session prior to the event from 6 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Working media* is invited to attend the session for interview and photo opportunities with our featured guests, who appear below:
Gabe Kapler, Phillies Manager
Gary Jones, IronPigs Manager
Nick Williams, Phillies Outfielder and Former IronPig
Mark Leiter Jr, Phillies Pitcher and Former IronPig
*Per request of the Phillies, bloggers will not be credentialed for this event.
God forbid bloggers soil the sanctity of an offseason event at the Sands convention center.
It’s almost like the Phillies don’t want enterprising bloggers asking Gabe about sunning his balls and freeing his boys through the wonderful benefits of luscious coconut oil. Surely no credentialed media member would broach such a topic.
This is my all-time favorite Philly sports media moment: pic.twitter.com/n9CEhKrPzA
— Kyle Scott (@CrossingBroad) November 2, 2017
Liz, rightfully, dug in against the Phillies, specifically naming head of PR Bonnie Clark, who, over the years, has had a less than cozy relationship with blogs, including this one, as the person responsible for this. I’m not sure where, or from whom, this directive came, but I can say that, last year, the Phillies had made it a priority to embrace new and social media, something that was long overdue.
Leslie Gudel had reached out to me about doing some Phillies stuff for us. I was intrigued, but warned her that the Phillies likely wouldn’t be on board since I was of the opinion (I think rightfully) that they mostly hated what we did. That turned out not to be the case– or at least the Phillies were willing to start with a clean slate, and welcoming in Leslie, who obviously had as much access as anyone during the WFC years, was a good, safe way to dip their toes into working with blogs without, you know, having me in there snapping pictures of jock straps, because obviously that’s what bloggers do. We had no issues, and in fact the Phillies were pleased with the mostly positive content we put out. Leslie even wrote a piece – carefully filtered through the Phillies’ director of marketing, Michael Harris – about them turning over a new leaf and joining the 2010s.
Similarly, Kevin has been covering the Sixers on an almost daily basis while they’re at home, and I’m hard-pressed to find someone who is doing a better job with their access. Anthony SanFilippo, who obviously used to work for the Flyers, is doing the same. Not only have there not been problems, but I know those teams actually appreciate the type of coverage we’ve provided and are able to separate my sometimes colorful nature from the work that Kevin and Anthony do.
So, this little press release comes as a surprise, especially in light of what seemed to be a change in direction. It’s also downright backward-thinking. What separates working media from bloggers? In case the Phillies hadn’t noticed, the mainstream media industry is not what it once was. Longtime Phillies reporters Kevin Cooney and Ryan Lawrence were let go by their respective publications last year. Upstart online-focused outlet Billy Penn just laid of its sports person. And Philly.com is behind a paywall that I would be shocked to learn is a success. Those are the working reporters. That doesn’t make blogs or bloggers any better or worse, but trying to draw a professional distinction between the two is like Bam Bam fraternizing with dinosaurs but not the newfangled crocodile because one was once big and powerful (though rapidly approaching extinction) and the other is smaller and kind of gross but may stick around for a little while.* The Phillies are quite literally living in the stone age if they think there is a clear distinction between the two. Never mind the fact that they have been teetering on irrelevance for a few years now and, like the Flyers have pretty much always done, should be thrilled to get basically any publicity at this point.
This is all perhaps muddied by the existence of Howard Eskin, who sort of fills the space between relevance and obscurity like water seeping into the cracks of an old pipe. He has a Saturday morning radio show (I think?) and maybe works for a TV station, but mostly just attends press conferences to get himself off and glad-hand with coaches and players, who pretend to act like they know who he is. He’s the one who broached ridiculousness in Kapler’s introductory press conference when he asked about coconut oil (truth be told, I wanted to hear the answer). He’s the one who routinely shits on the Sixers, often without merit or factual basis, and then shows up at practice trying to befriend Joel Embiid, which I can assure you doesn’t sit well with a forward-thinking Sixers front office that has little time for relics like Eskin.
The point is, there are plenty of dipshits in mainstream media. And in blogging. Perhaps I’m one! But at this point you could make an argument that there is better, more inventive work being done in new media than there is amongst the dwindling unkempt masses of yesteryear. And yet, the Phillies still appear to be choosing sides in the matter. I wonder if they realize there’s, like, four real reporters left.
*I may have just butchered millions of years of history, but you get the point. I think. Right, Bam Bam?
There’s a cold reality that many athletes in this city have learned the hard way over the years–once a player develops a negative reputation, it’s virtually impossible to shake it. And that, in short, is why Maikel Franco is fucked. Probably.
If you were paying close enough attention, and I can’t blame you if you weren’t, you may remember Franco’s better days that came during the infant stages of his Major League career. He emerged in earnest in May of 2015 after a brief call-up the previous September. Franco, playing on a brutal 63-win team, represented the biggest, if not only reason for optimism that the Phillies would one day again be relevant, or at least stop playing shitty and boring baseball. In 335 plate appearances, Franco swatted 14 homers and 22 doubles on his way to posting an impressive .280 average and .840 OPS. Now, here we are two years later, with expectations unfulfilled and the Phillies and Franco seemingly headed in opposite directions. Coming off a miserable year in which posted a disturbing .230/.281/.409 slash line, the optimism and hype once surrounding Franco has been replaced with varying degrees of disappointment and disgust.
His inability to adapt to the frequently utilized game plan of opposing pitchers working him with off-speed stuff low, away, and often out of the strike zone, has earned him the reputation of an impatient and undisciplined hitter–one who either lacks the intelligence to understand how he’s being attacked, or, worse, the concern. Is either characterization fair for a 25-year-old who’s logged a relatively small sample of just over 1,600 plate appearances? That’s debatable, but what I can definitively tell you is that for a player whose future is in limbo that this isn’t going to help:
Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco was suspended for three games by his Dominican Winter League team, the Cibao Giants, “for violating the organization’s discipline code.” Translation: Franco was photographed partying at 6AM this morning at a club when, at 4PM today his team was scheduled to play a game in the Dominican Winter League playoffs.
Here’s a SnapChat photo showing Franco, and three of three other teammates who were also suspended, getting it in at the break of dawn just hours before a Dominican Winter League playoff game.
ATENCIÓN: Maikel Franco, Moises Sierra, Garabez Rosa y Eduardo D’Oleo son SUSPENDIDOS por @Gigantes_Cibao por falta disciplinaria (estuvieron en discoteca de SFM hasta las 6:00 AM con juego en SD a las 2:00 PM). *Foto de un bloc de SFM. #RoundRobin #LIDOM pic.twitter.com/bt5w19WZe5
— Marino Pepén (@Marino_Pepen) January 7, 2018
To expect athletes to forfeit their social lives is both unfair and ridiculous. Athletes possess youth, fame and fortune–to waste any would be crazy. Step into their shoes for a second.
Everyone knows me, most of them love me, and I’m rich as fuck. I think I’ll stay in tonight.
Not happening. Contrary to popular belief, athletes don’t exist merely to hit baseballs, catch passes, or drain three-pointers, and they should party and bullshit just like everybody else does. But in this particular instance, well, I actually get the concern. In the club at 6 a.m. before a Dominican Winter League playoff game? It’s not the World Series, but it’s his hometown team and people down there take that shit seriously. The players apologized and the suspension was lifted after a Sunday rainout, so they won’t actually miss a game. It’s still not a great look for a guy entering a make-or-break year and it’s most certainly something Phillies fans will hold against Franco if he should continue to struggle.
Cutting ties with Franco now would be foolish, mainly because the Phillies have no reason not to play him at third base going into this season, but it’s become increasingly unlikely he’s here beyond it. There’s just simply not another legitimate option in the organization right now, unless they elect to hold onto César Hernandez and slide him to third when Scott Kingery arrives, but such a move would decrease the value of his bat. Moreover, the team isn’t going to compete and he still possesses enough raw talent that they can afford to collectively cross their fingers and hope he recaptures the form that made him such an intriguing piece only a few years ago, however unlikely that may seem. Still, given Franco’s declining production and failure to quell mounting concerns about his innate desire to succeed, it’s more likely that we will get more of what we’ve seen over the past two seasons. The writing is on the wall and his time in Philly may soon be up.
New York Mets first base coach Ruben Amaro Jr., himself a former general manager and graduate of Penn Charter, made a cameo on The Goldbergs last night.
Ol’ Rube played his father, the Amaro Sr., attending a “William Penn Academy” PTA meeting in a performance that was worthy of… well, perhaps a former GM grasping at straws to stay in the game.
The footage: Continue Reading
Much has been both said and written about the greatness of Roy Halladay in the weeks since the tragic plane crash that took his life back on November 7, but until today it remained uncertain how the Phillies planned to honor the legendary pitcher this upcoming season. While the organization hasn’t revealed its full plans, we now know it will shelf Halladay’s No. 34 for the 2018 season, according to Todd Zolecki of MLB.com.
For those wondering, backup catcher Andrew Knapp wore No. 34 a year ago, but recently switched to No. 15 in the wake of Halladay’s passing.
The Phillies assigned Knapp No. 34 at the end of Spring Training when he made the Opening Day roster, but at the time he expressed reservations about wearing Halladay’s number. After Halladay died, the Phillies talked internally about what to do with No. 34. They called Knapp to see if he had any thoughts about it. Knapp said he actually planned to call the Phillies, seeing if he could switch numbers out of respect for Halladay.
It’s almost certain the team will unveil additional plans in the coming weeks and months to honor Halladay, whose passing elicited deep shock and sadness across baseball, particularly in Toronto and Philadelphia where he built a Hall of Fame resume over 16 seasons. His accomplishments include 203 wins, two Cy Young Awards, eight All-Star appearances, a perfect game, and a postseason no-hitter that was, aside from the World Series clinchers in 1980 and 2008, the most memorable game in the long and storied history of Philadelphia baseball.
The Phillies officially welcomed new first baseman Carlos Santana to the team during this afternoon’s press conference at Citizen’s Bank Park. It was a standard affair. General manager Matt Klentak said some nice things about Santana:
“Carlos fits us in just about every way that we would want him to and that’s why we were so aggressive in going after him.”
Santana said some nice things about the Phillies, comparing the team to where the Indians were in 2013 and how he believes the Phillies can replicate his former team’s success in explaining his somewhat surprising decision to sign here.
Klentak admitted his interest in upgrading the starting pitching, while understandably not providing much insight as to how he might do it. He also dropped this gem in response to a question from Jim Salisbury if this signing speeds up the rebuild:
“As far as our expectations for 2018, I expect us to be the best club we can possibly be given our personnel.”
Holy shit. I don’t think I can handle the excitement. The Phillies should somehow incorporate that gem into its marketing plans for this upcoming season.
But the real highlight of the afternoon was this, uh, aggressive hug between Gabe Kapler and Santana which begins at the 15:55 mark in the video embedded below.
You may be thinking to yourself, “So what?” Nice little bro hug to break the ice, set some positive vibes. Plus, it makes for a nice photo op. Hugs happen all the time at these things. Well, have a look: Continue Reading
Imagine for a moment that you’re Cole Hamels. You’re a phenomenal baseball player. All of Philadelphia loves you for leading the way to the city’s lone championship of the last 34 years. Your wife is gorgeous and you may be even better looking. No matter what you do – the clean-shaven look that highlights your boyish smile, or the more recent rugged look – it doesn’t matter. You’re phenomenal either way. And you’ve earned more than $154 million over 12 Major League seasons.
Now, of course, you’re not Cole Hamels. You’re just some average person reading this article because you’re on the toilet, ignoring tasks at work, not studying for finals, ignoring your wife/girlfriend, etc. But what if you were? What do you do after dominating life to this extent? Where do you go from here? You donate one of your mansions to charity, obviously.
Camp Barnabas announced Friday that Major League Baseball pitcher Cole Hamels and his wife, Heidi, are donating their 32,000-square-foot home and more than 100 acres of land to the camp for children with special needs and chronic illnesses. ‘There are tons of amazing charities in southwest Missouri,’ Cole Hamels said in a news release. ‘Out of all of these, Barnabas really pulled on our heartstrings. Seeing the faces, hearing the laughter, reading the stories of the kids they serve; there is truly nothing like it. Barnabas makes dreams come true, and we felt called to help them in a big way.’
The home is valued at 9.75 million dollars. It features 10 bedrooms, 13 bathrooms, six half-baths, and four living areas and sits on the edge of Branson’s Table Rock Lake.