Hey Look Kids, Big Ben. Parliament. A Mailbag.

Warm Up the Car for Me?

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Poor timing for the Phillies to have an off day.  The walk-off win streak will have to be tabled for a day while the Phils have their ALS festival and fly to Atlanta.  The series against Milwaukee was one of the strangest you’ll ever see.  Three straight 7-6 victories, and even though they were full of red flags–it’s still a winning streak.  The Phils have passed the Brewers and now are a mere 6 teams out of the wild-card.  One step at a time.  Here’s to hoping the series against Atlanta features more:

Christmas Morning Chooch.

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Q:  Given your choice of pitches and any bat you’d like–do you think you could hit a baseball out of Citizens Bank Park?  L. Screen, Temple, TX.  

A:  Those are some pretty generous parameters.  I certainly couldn’t go deep with a wood bat.  You put a wood bat in my hands and I turn into Rod Carew without the speed.  I’d be muscling balls over the shortstop’s head–AT BEST.  Of course, you have to take into account the cozy dimensions of Citizens Bank Park as well.  She’s a mere 329 ft down the line, and I can pull a ball with ease.  The term is BAIL and WHALE.  I haven’t hit a baseball with any regularity since the late 90s.  Dang, that’s a long time.  Our home field in high school had a 340 foot fence in left field, and, on occasion, I could leave the building in batting practice.   So, at one point in my life I definitely could have hit a ball out of Citizens Bank.  The question is, where are my skills NOW?  In my mind, I’m equally good at baseball as I was back then.  If anything, I may be STRONGER.  Of course, neither of those are likely to be true.  In the end, though, I’m going to treat this as an exercise in self-confidence.  Can I hit a ball out of Citizens Bank Park, Mr. Screen?  You bet your sweet ass I can.  ON THE REGULAR.

Q:  What percentage of Major League players do you think Derek Jeter would recognize out of uniform?  I would guess that every single guy in the league would ID Jeter, but Jeter doesn’t have to know that many people, right?  It’s not important for him.  There’s no way if Vance Worley walked by Jeter on the street he’d have any clue who he was.  Where’s the cutoff?  Do you need at least one All-Star appearance? Kyle Kendricke, Philadelphia, PA.

A:  I assume Jeter knows everyone on the Yankees.  So, right there we’re talking about ~3%.  That’s the basement.  The guy has been in the league FOREVER, so you have to assume he knows most of the regulars in the American League.  The National League, guys with only a few years of experience?  That’s where it starts to get tough.  I want to put the number at 40%.  That’s where I’m comfortable.  What I think is more interesting is: does Jeter pretend to not know someone?  Is there a pecking order in play here?  It’s OK for Stephen Strasburg to go up to Justin Verlander, but can Verlander be like, “Stephen Strasburg–OMG!”  I don’t think he can.  That’s not Big League.  I think there is some expectation that a star player is going to be self-absorbed.  Recognizing a guy from a late night Baseball Tonight marathon?  That’s not really Big League, either.  It’s funny that you mention an All-Star appearance, because I do think there is some sense that you have to earn your way in a little bit.  If you stroll into an All-Star Game clubhouse, then maybe Jeter takes a minute away from running down starlets and says, “should I try to remember who this guy is?”  If Jeter knows you, you’ve made it.  I know that.  

Q: I’m a little curious about the Jean Short Open.  Is it happening this year?  Updates please!  Levi Wrangler, Tampa, FL.

A:  Of course the Jean Short Open is happening.  I suppose the proper buildup to the JSO has been a casualty of the decreased blog schedule.  This year we will heading out on August 4th, so you’ll want to be sure to check in on the blog early the next week to get an eyeful of great ball-strikers wearing denim.  Much of the particulars remain the same for this year.  We’ll be teeing it up at Pickering Valley.  We’ll be starting off the day with the prerequisite 42 Coors Lights, and as always we’ll be hoping that it stays under 100 degrees.  I’m a little worried about my tolerance, to be honest, but I’m not going to let my age catch up to me–I’m still in my JSO prime.  As you can probably imagine, all JSO outfits are kept under lock and key.  “THE REVEAL,” is one of the best parts of the day.  I can say, however, that I attempted to step up my game this year.  I went to great lengths (a 3-minute Google search) to try to recreate your standard Rickie Fowler outfit in denim.  As it turns out, the majority of jean shorts I could find in orange are made for women and have a 3″ inseam.  So, I will not be Puma’d up for the JSO this year, but I’m sure my playing partners will more than make up for this disappointment.  As for me?  I’ll just be hitting up Ross the day before, as usual.  Ross is BOSS.  

Q:  Is what happened with the Marlins this year the most embarrassing thing you’ve ever seen?  The Miami baseball renaissance lasted what? Three months?  Orestes Destrade, Jupiter, FL.  

A: Ah, the joys of professional baseball in Florida.  The Marlins have a checkered history.  One thing they’ve done consistently is sell off veteran players.  They’ve had a surprising amount of success doing this, but horrific attendance and cheap owners have prevented any sustained run.  This year was supposed to be the year it all changed, though.  They opened their new stadium.  They signed a bunch of high-priced talent.  They had Ozzie Guillen to run the show.  I’ll admit that I was swayed by the glitz and glam.  I thought the Marlins had a shot at contending.  Of course, I thought the Phillies had a shot at contending too.  The pieces just didn’t seem to fit in Miami.  And, they gave up on it pretty quick.  They shipped off Anibal Sanchez and Hanley Ramirez.  They say they aren’t in full tear down mode, but can you trust Jeffrey Loria?  This is a guy who sold the Expos to MLB to buy the Marlins in a shady series of events.  You forget how close the ‘Pos got to being contracted.  Loria talks a good game, but hasn’t backed it up aside from last winter.  I fear for the future of the Marlins.  The question is, how embarrassing?  It’s definitely up there when you look at on the surface, but maybe trading Hanley was the right play?  The guy has been terrible for a year and a half.  Now, they’re free of his salary.  They still have a lot of talent, so we’ll see.  Plus, when Houston is 2-24 in their last 26 games, it’s a bit difficult to wrestle away the embarrassing crown.  

Q:  Does it ever surprise you what people say in public?  Like they just assume you won’t be offended.  I was strolling through a department store the other day and two employees were standing out in the center of a main aisle, having a conversation.  One of them said as I walked by, “I hate when fat people talk about how much weight they’ve lost.”  Now even if you were thinking this, would you say it within earshot of a stranger?  Take a beat and wait until I pass by?  Noah Filter, West Chester, PA.

A:  Were you at Bloomies?  I feel like only Bloomingdales employees would have such audacity.  Saying something like that takes an old school disdain for the downtrodden and overweight.  I’m not going to pretend that I don’t, on occasion, say some pretty nasty things, but it is important to show some decorum.  Or at least have an awareness of your surroundings.  I think I’ve documented some occasions when I’ve stuck my foot in my mouth, and you feel terrible about it.  I bet these ladies didn’t blink.  I hear things at work all the time that are borderline offensive.  I guess because I am your standard white guy, people feel comfortable throwing around their casual bigotry.  One time a lady told me that a certain product had gone downhill after they started making it in China.  The way she phrased it was WAY MORE racist.  On another occasion a guy was spouting off about how “gay” Key West was.  He was going on about the standard fear of being hit on by other men.  Somehow I think the men he was describing would have shown remarkable RESTRAINT.  The point is, he doesn’t know a thing about me, but he’s comfortable saying all this without a hint of remorse.  I want to think it’s a bit of a generational thing.  You’d hope the younger generation would be a bit more exposed to such things, a bit more aware, but I’m not sure that’s the case.  One of these days, I’m going to tell one of these people that they’re a prick.  Should make for an interesting story.    

Q:  What are your thoughts on attending NFL Training Camp as a spectator?  Snake Draft, Colorado Springs, CO.

A:  I’m not aware of a more boring “sporting event” to attend.  I use the quotations there, because it’s really not an event.  Nothing is happening.  It’s hardly a practice.  In my youth I attended Eagles training camp at West Chester once or twice.  I remember it being very hot and little else.  I think the general consensus was…AUTOGRAPHS!  I didn’t get any autographs, which is a shame, because I really could use a scrap of paper with Heath Sherman’s name on it right about now.  The attendance at training camp is just a sign of the desperation people feel in regard to the NFL.  I saw a clip of Broncos’ camp this morning and it was a FULL HOUSE.  It was the first chance to see Peyton Manning, dang it.  You’ve got to understand the mentality of certain fans too.  Say you are out there in Denver, what are you excited about these days–the Nuggets?  The Rockies stink.  The pre-season in sports is a lot about HOPE.  When fans show up to Spring Training they think–maybe this year.  For football this is the time of year for unadulterated optimism, so that can carry you through the slog of training camp.  Because, believe me, it’s terribly boring to watch.  Assuming you have any idea what’s going on (you don’t), it’s still just a chance to break in your new jersey.  Best case scenario you see a fight.  Worse case–heat stroke.