Phillie Phanatic gets smacked with a foul ball

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I knew a guy who used to do the mascot thing. It’s not an easy gig. The suits are hotter than blue blazes, it’s not easy to see in them, let alone dance and clown around, and you can bet your life on the fact that at least half of the people you interact with over the age of 10 are going to be jackasses to you.

I suppose, given his stature as baseball’s most popular and acclaimed mascot, life for the Phillie Phanatic is a bit better than the guy wearing the bobcat suit for a single-A team, but that does not mean that the job is without its hazards:

The Phillie Phanatic, making a rare minor league visit to Allentown, was taken to a hospital Wednesday night after he was hit in the neck by a foul ball during the IronPigs baseball game at Coca-Cola Park. Tom Burgoyne, the man behind the Philadelphia Phillies mascot’s green fur, was still being treated at 10:15 p.m. in the emergency room of Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest.

The Phanatic’s neck is where Mr. Burgoyne’s head would be, so it’s no surprise that he was shaken up.  Here’s hoping he’s OK and is back to, I dunno, riding ATVs and picking fights with opposing backup catchers and first base coaches soon.

2017 Preview: The American League Central

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the American League Central

Do the Indians have a weakness? Do the Tigers and Royals have one more playoff push in them or do they have to start contemplating rebuilds? The White Sox and Twins are rebuilding, but do either of them have a chance to be remotely competitive?

As we sit here in March, the answers are “not really,” “possibly,” and “not a chance.” There are no games that count this March, however, so they’re just guesses. But educated ones! Here are the links to our guesses and our education for all of the clubs of the AL Central:

Cleveland Indians
Detroit Tigers
Kansas City Royals
Chicago White Sox
Minnesota Twins

2017 Preview: The National League East

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the National League East

The Washington Nationals crave a playoff run that doesn’t end at the division series. The Mets crave a season in which they don’t have a press conference about an injured pitcher. The Marlins are trying to put the nightmare of the end of the 2016 behind them. The Phillies and Braves are hoping to move on from the “lose tons of games” phase of their rebuilds and move on to the “hey, these kids can play!” phase.

There is a ton of star power in the NL East — Harper, Scherzer, Cespedes, Syndergaard, Stanton, Freeman — some great young talent on ever roster and, in Ichiro and Bartolo, the two oldest players in the game. Maybe the division can’t lay claim to the best team in baseball, but there will certainly be some interesting baseball in the division.

Here’s how each team breaks down:

Washington Nationals
New York Mets
Miami Marlins
Philadelphia Phillies
Atlanta Braves