There aren’t very many things I don’t feel comfortable talking about. There’s the saying about how you don’t talk about politics, religion, or money–I’m devoting my professional life to the study of politics, and I love talking about religion because it’s an easy way to wind people up. Money, I don’t talk about much, but that’s probably related to my having so little. That might change later.
About a third of what comes out of my mouth is either sexual innuendo or scatological humor. I fart at the dinner table and talk about it openly. You get the idea. Really, there are only two things that I think are off the table for discussion: first, my social life from ages 11 to 16. I don’t want to talk about that for the same reason Mark McGwire doesn’t want to talk about the past–it was a dark phase that I regret and would rather pretend didn’t happen.
The other off-limits topic of conversation has to do with the time, my junior year of college, when I went to a party in Columbia, SC, on Friday and woke up 18 hours later in a barn in Tennessee with my pants on backwards, my torso covered in blue and green paint and a goat tied to my left arm. I don’t know what happened, and I’m fairly comfortable keeping it that way.
But today, I feel like adding some things to that list. Here are six Phillies-related topics or phrases that I could really go the rest of my life without ever hearing again.
1) “That home run hasn’t landed yet….” This one we get a lot as Phillies fans, both because of Matt Stairs’ massive dinger in the 2008 NLCS and because Brad Lidge’s flakiness has largely been attributed to a similar moon shot he surrendered to Albert Pujols in the 2005 NLCS. It was funny the first time, but after 18 months, it was like we were playing word association. If I say “Matt Stairs,” you say “That home run hasn’t landed yet.” It happened just about every time the 2008 NLCS comes up, which, for Phillies fans, is about 2 or 3 times a day, and justifiably so.
Someone said it, and then a we all started repeating it, and then national commentators started saying it, not realizing that Sal in the Northeast says it when he calls 610 and 6-year-old Dabney Horowitz from Cherry Hill says it when he brings in his Phillies cap for kindergarten show-and-tell. The almost Pavlovian fixation with the phrase “that home run hasn’t landed yet” needs to end before someone (read: me) snaps and goes all Brett Myers on some poor, unsuspecting schmuck who thinks it’s still clever.
I watched that game, and that home run was certainly a prodigious one. But I distinctly remember the ball traveling in a ballistic arc. I guarantee you that that home run has, in fact, landed by now.
2) Most of what Chris Wheeler says.
I was running this post by the other writers yesterday, and our founder/CEO/Praetor/Dictator-for-Life Brian Michael sent me this. (Careful when you click on it, it’s red background/white text, and after reading it for about 6 or 7 minutes, I was convinced that I had done irreparable damage to my retinas).
It’s a Chris Wheeler glossary, and it got me thinking. One night in my college newsroom, I opened up soundboards for Borat, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Captain Picard, and decided that I was only going to communicate through those clips all night. The crazy part is that I didn’t realize how lame that was until just now.
I’m not a Wheels hater by any stretch of the imagination, but could you replace Chris Wheeler with a bunch of recordings of this he’s said in the past without anyone noticing except T-Mac? I say you could.
3) Griping About the Cliff Lee Trade
I wanted him to stay too. Visions of a top-three of Halladay, Lee, and a pissed-off Cole Hamels danced in my head too. But if I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times–you’d regret not getting something for him later, when it’s 2012 and the core of this team is either old or gone. Maybe you think pushing it all in now and saying, “the hell with competing past 2011” is worth it. Maybe you think getting a bad first-rounder and a sandwich pick would have beaten getting Aumont, Gilles, and Ramirez. That’s fine.
But please stop lining up to jump off the Walt Whitman Bridge when Aumont has a bad outing. Please stop whining every time Ramirez takes the mound for the Phillies or Lee takes the mound for the Mariners. I get it. You’re mad. You think it’s a bad trade. But Roy Halladay’s in town, and the team is, at worst, just as good as in 2009. So calm down. Take deep breaths. Smoke a J. Eat some chocolate cake. But this constant anger (and I realize that we’re Philadelphia sports fans) is only going to end in a stroke. We won’t be able to accurately evaluate this trade until about 2013 anyway, so let’s not spend the next 3 years crapping our pants.
4) “Professional Hitter”
This one comes courtesy of my friend, Special Agent X. He’s a government operative, so I’m a little wary of divulging his real name. The only reason I know it is because he and I have been friends since high school. At least, I think I know his real name.
At any rate, he’s developed this little tic whenever an announcer or a pundit calls Ryan Howard a “professional hitter.” Not because he, and others like him, are not paid to hit, but because of the perception that a “professional hitter” is a particular type of hitter. You see, anyone who is paid to play baseball, from Howard to Tagg Bozied, is a professional hitter, American League pitchers excepted. Let’s ditch this one for “slugger,” or “masher,” or something more appropriately descriptive. I know it’s true, but there’s gotta be a better way to say it.
5) Referring to players by first, middle, and last name
“Clifton Phifer Lee.” “Colbert Michael Hamels.” Of course, this gets its genesis with Harry Kalas (God rest his soul)’s famous “Michael Jack Schmidt.” But since then, it’s been bastardized and used on just about anyone for emphasis. Not just Cliff Lee, but Clifton Phifer Lee. Whoa. In that case….
It’s tired. Let’s leave the 3-name thing to people like Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Anthony Michael Hall.
Now, for the one that’s been bugging me for the longest. Those of you who don’t like long posts may want to take a pee break and come back to this one later. We could be here a while.
6) Linking Players’ Home States to Their Personalities
If I had a dollar for every time I had heard an athlete called “not a Philly kind of guy,” I’d be writing this entry from a well-appointed flat in Paris. Or maybe I wouldn’t, because I’d have so much money that I’d spend most of my waking hours extricating beautiful women from my Lamborghini.
There is a sort of hard-nosed, self-effacing athlete that we Philadelphians take to. Brain Dawkins comes immediately to mind. Bobby Clarke. Cliff Lee. But you know what, everyone likes that kind of athlete. And some of the most popular superstars ever in this city were definitely not that type. Mike Schmidt and Steve Carlton were hard-working and immensely talented, but both could be surly. Allen Iverson owned this town, but as soon as the Sixers disintegrated and he stopped winning MVP awards, he was “not a Philly kind of guy.” Ditto Eric Lindros. Donovan McNabb takes crap for smiling too much during close games. He’s the greatest quarterback this city’s ever seen, and arguably the greatest offensive player in Eagle history. Let’s denigrate him for smiling too much. What a farce.
You know what the “Philly type of guy” is? A guy who plays well, keeps out of trouble, and, ideally, helps the team win games. I’d wager that that’s what denizens of any city want out of their athletes.
So let’s move on to the aforementioned Cole Hamels. He was a “Philly type of guy” when he was mowing down hitters in the 2008 playoffs, but the instant he slipped up and started getting frustrated, the populace turned on him like a pack of jackals. Now “he’s a flaky kid from San Diego” or “You know Cole, he’s not a Philly type of guy–he’s too Southern California.”
I’m confused as to what Cole Hamels’ hometown has to do with his attitude. Being from California isn’t the reason that Brad Lidge and Jimmy Rollins struggled last year, nor is it the reason that Chase Utley has been so consistently excellent. Shane Victorino’s not a fun-loving, energetic dude because he’s from Hawaii–I think he’d be exactly the same if he were from Michigan.
But being from San Diego makes you a head case, evidently. So that means that we wouldn’t want San Diego native Ted Williams on our team–too flaky. (Though, in all fairness, Teddy Ballgame’s head is in a case at the moment)
The simple fact of the matter is that linking a person’s personality to his geographic origin is lazy thinking and, worse, usually not germane to the discussion.
Let’s never speak of these things again. Total WAR VII goes up tomorrow.