Leftover bits of the Phillies in Clearwater

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I wish I was joking when I say that I spilled water on my keyboard yesterday and now the “r” key on it doesn’t work anymore. But that’s what happened. I’m putting them in via CTRL-V, which makes everything a lot slower. It’s pretty nuts, actually. Weirdest part? When I type the letter “i” it types “ir.” Like the r migrated down the keyboard. I think the water I spilled on it was possessed by evil spirits. Or the computer watched the movie “Electric Dreams” or something.

Anyway, I’ll try to salvage this post as best I can. I have no idea how I’ll write the rest of the day, but we’ll deal with that later.

It was a nice day. As I said the last time I was here back in 2010, Bright House Field is one of the nicest in all of spring training. a great park with a great, beachy-party vibe. Good food. Nice people. Phillies’ employees, from the people in the executive offices to the guys who wipe down the seats, are impossibly polite and make your day at a ballpark as pleasant as can be.

I already posted about my conversation with Gene Garber and the ceremony for Jim Fregosi — and as I said yesterday morning, the clubhouses were closed, so there wasn’t much of a chance to speak to players — so let’s just look at pictures I took. Lord knows the mostly boring game I saw — a 2-2 tie — wasn’t worth too many words.

There are lots of familiar faces on the Phillies spring training staff. Here’s one:

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Unfortunately, Chase Utley got the start over him today.

 

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Yes, I eavesdropped. The conversation was not quite as good as a Charlie Manual-Bobby Cox summit meeting likely was back in the day, but you take what you can get.

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A year ago, if I told you that all three of these guys would be significant parts of the 2014 Phillies, you’d have told me I was crazy. Abreu was out of the game, Brown was considered a bust and Utley hadn’t played a full season in ages. Yet here they are.

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Same goes for Larry Bowa, actually. He seemed done as a coach or manager and was left to TV duties only. He seems invigorated back in uniform. He hit fungoes for what seemed like forever, then pitched batting practice for much longer than you usually see a coach pitch. The man is a machine.

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But let’s not kid ourselves. This was my favorite coach on the field yesterday. For obvious reasons. Those reasons being that I am 12-years-old.

 

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I considered it for a second. But c’mon, there’s a reason I look so sad here. I could never purchase Phillies gear.

Bright House Field is home to some serious non-baseball entertainment:

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Coolio: you’re sharing a  marquee with a sibling, a cover band and “Black Honkeys.” Maybe it’s time to consider something else to do with your life? Something new?

Eh, who cares. I had all the entertainment I needed:

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A cheesesteak and a lager at a ballgame: that’s about as good as it gets.

Now, off to figure out how to be a professional writer without an “r” key.

Columnist bashes Bryce Harper’s fundamentals, “write it,” says Nats player

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Tom Boswell of the Washington Post wrote a column over the weekend about how the 2019 Nats are looking really, really good. And for the most part it’s a column that makes a lot of sense. The Nats added some key pieces this offseason and, because so much of their underachieving 2018 season was based on health, particularly in the bullpen, there is reason to be optimistic this coming year.

There is one weird passage in the middle of the column, though: a swipe at Bryce Harper, his fundamentals and his attitude. The upshot: Boswell is arguing that losing Harper to free agency is addition by subtraction:

Though few mention it, subtracting Harper, while it will cost 34 homers, a .899 career OPS and some amazing hair flips, would help any team improve its attention to fundamentals. When the most famous player on the team can’t go 10 days without failing to run out a groundball or overthrowing a cutoff man by 15 feet or throwing to the wrong base or being caught unprepared in the outfield or on the bases, it’s hard to demand total alertness from the other 24.

“Write it,” one prominent Nats vet said.

The “Write it” is what has me most fascinated.

It could possibly be read in two different ways. One way would be for that to be the non-committal reaction of a player when Boswell bounced his Harper-is-a-slacker theory. Saying, in effect, “you write that if that’s your take.” It seems far more likely to me though, that Boswell is echoing the off-the-record sentiments of Harper’s former Nats teammates and the “write it” is an encouraging plea to give public voice to that which the player has chosen not to.

If it is the latter, this would only be the latest of many anonymously-sourced disgruntled sentiments from the Nats clubhouse over the years. Former manager Matt Williams had a full-scare revolt on his hands that made it into the media. Last year Dave Martinez’s clubhouse had someone saying negative things to the press as well, and it was so bad that GM Mike Rizzo sent off a useful reliever — at a time when the Nats really, really needed a useful reliever — because he was the suspected source. If Boswell is giving voice to some anti-Harper sentiment in Nats camp, it’s just more soap opera from a bunch that, historically, can’t seem to handle their issues in-house.

As for the substance: I don’t watch Harper as much as Nats fans do — and I can’t say that I’ve ever heard anyone describe him as some sort of lazy slacker — but sure, there are players who are more fundamentally sound than him. It’s also the case, though, that Harper has always been judged more harshly for his deportment than a lot of players in the league, so I’m not prepared to totally defer to word of mouth — especially anonymous word-of-mouth — to someone slamming him on that stuff.

It’s still pretty interesting, though, that in an offseason in which the average fan’s take is that Manny Machado is the no-hustle slacker who should be avoided, that Machado’s former teammates have had no complaints about him, while Harper’s former teammates seem to have the knives out for him.