The Phillies took this afternoon’s rain-soaked matinee with the Baltimore Orioles by a 4-1 final, thus bringing their record to an impressive 24-16 overall. It’s their best 40-game start since 2011 and they now sit one-half game out of first place behind the upstart Atlanta Braves. On their way to this point, there have been some pleasant surprises, underwhelming disappointments and reassuring reasons for hope. Some pretty crazy shit has gone down, too. With the team now at the 40-game milestone, and thus bringing a welcomed end to the “small sample size” qualifier, let us use this otherwise arbitrary schedule landmark to reflect upon and assess what has gone down over the season’s first seven weeks.
Who or What I Liked:
1. Gabe Kapler
Odubel Herrera is playing at an MVP level, and Aaron Nola has emerged as one of the National League’s best starting pitchers, but the biggest story so far has been Gabe Kapler. Did he demonstrate a laughably inept command of how to utilize a Major League bullpen during the first week of the season? Indeed! Is he an egomaniac who is absolutely obsessed with himself? I think so. But I have to tell you, I’m completely into it. You might remember his removal of Nick Pivetta during the sixth inning of the home opener because the fans mercilessly rained boos upon him, but I remember it for the straight sex appeal that emanated from him during his strut to the mound:
“I don’t like all of these pitching changes! Boo! You didn’t let Hoby Milner warm-up last weekend! Boo! Nice abs, asshole! You make me feel like less of a man! Boo!”
While they booed, I swooned. I have this idea that Kapler arrived at the park that morning, went into his office bathroom and put on “I’ll Tumble For You” by Culture Club as he primped himself for the upcoming day. He stood before the mirror, likely shirtless, knowing he was going to get crushed (rightfully so), and said, “Whatever. Doesn’t matter. These aviators are fire, I’m a certifiable TEN, and these people will all love me—they just don’t know it yet.”
On the baseball side of things, Kapler was indeed a disaster in the early going, but he seems to be now finding his way. He hasn’t been perfect, and there’s the occasional head-scratcher, but that’s going to happen with any manager. Plus, as I wrote the other day, I have been impressed with his team’s ability to bounce back from adversity.
2. Odubel Herrera
I’ve never understood any take that opposes Odubel Herrera. Takes like this one:
You can get mad over bat flips, an occasional lack of focus, or a rare jog to first. I’ll marvel at and appreciate plays like this one:
And swings like this one:
And stats like these:
And he’s fun:
But does he bring his lunch pail to work? Is he gritty? Cerebral? You know, is he Philly enough? Stop already. The guy is an absolute stud. Continue Reading