Offseason Icebreakers, Vol. 1: The Thanksgiving Turkey – Phillies Nation

Offseason Icebreakers, Vol. 1: The Thanksgiving Turkey

The worst thing about the offseason is not being able to watch baseball. The next-worst thing about the offseason is having to come up with excuses to talk about baseball. With the winter meetings and free agency, it’s not too much of a stretch, but let’s face it, it’s easier to talk about baseball when there’s a game on.

In order to alleviate the boredom of the offseason–the NFL and regular season ice hockey being inadequate as diversions–I’ll be posting icebreaker questions periodically. They’ll always be at least tangentially related to the Phillies, and, as always, feel free to leave your own answers in the comment section.

This fist icebreaker is a simple question. I’ve always said that inside every fat kid is a skinny kid who didn’t run fast enough. Today, let’s indulge our inner fat kids.

With one of the few uniquely American holidays coming up later this week, imagine the 2010 Phillies as a Thanksgiving meal. Which players correspond to which foods? My answer is after the jump. Leave yours in the comments.

Turkey: Ryan Howard (dark meat) and Chase Utley (white meat)

So right off the bat we’re going to be a little racist and a little blasphemous. These are the two power-hitting superstars that have formed  and will form the backbone of this team going forward. I give you the following from Scripture:

“And I say to you: that you are Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.” -Matthew 16:18

Now replace Jesus with Ruben Amaro, “Peter” with “Chase Utley and Ryan Howard”, and “church” with “team.” And there you go. They might not be your favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner, and you might think one’s a little dry and the other’s a little slimy, but you can’t have the meal without it.

Stuffing: Roy Halladay

I don’t know about the rest of you, but stuffing is the reason I love Thanksgiving. I mean, I’m excited for 12 hours of NFL football on a weekday, and classes being canceled, and my brother and Kate, the Long-Suffering Girlfriend, coming in from out of town. But I defy you to name anything worth getting excited about more than stuffing. That’s the kind of year Roy Halladay had–getting the fan base’s collective mouths watering, then coming through on the hype in a big way.

Mashed Potatoes: Cole Hamels

There are two amorphous pastes that make Thanksgiving dinner so great. The first, as I’ve said, is stuffing. The second is mashed potatoes. The difference is that while stuffing keeps me up nights in the weeks leading up to the big day, I often give mashed potatoes short shrift–I forget how great they are, from time to time, and need the occasional reminder. So after a subpar 2009, and after seeing the team of which he was the erstwhile ace go out and trade for not one, but three top-of-the-rotation starters, Hamels was not highly esteemed by most Phillies fans.

Cole Hamels started wrecking house after the All-Star break, leading up to his series-clinching, complete game shutout in Cincinnati in the NLDS, and that’s the equivalent of piling a plate full of turkey, stuffing, rolls, cranberry sauce, and going back for potatoes, only to scoop in a spadeful (yes, I eat Thanksgiving dinner with a shovel–don’t judge) of that warm, creamy, buttery goodness and say to oneself, “How did I not stock up on this before?”

Biscuits, Rolls, and Other Assorted Bread Products: Jayson Werth

Sure, Werth wasn’t the staple of the meal, but who doesn’t love a good roll with butter or jam? It’s hard to imagine Thanksgiving without bread products, but they always seem to run out first. You never really appreciate the biscuits and rolls until there’s one or two left and you’re sitting across the table from your drooling four-year-old cousin who’s done nothing but eat biscuits and shove asparagus sprouts up her nose all night. But you can’t, in good conscience, take that last biscuit from a little kid, and before you know it, the little ankle-biter’s eaten it. It is with a similar sense of wistful nostalgia that we look back on Jayson Werth’s illustrious Phillies career, left only to wish there were more biscuits.

Ham: Roy Oswalt

You don’t think of ham as a Thanksgiving food. Indeed, when this season started, Oswalt wasn’t even on the Phillies’ radar. So when he showed up and was squeezed into the rotation, it was unexpected, but it was quite tasty.

Vegetables: The Bullpen, Bench, Jamie Moyer, Kyle Kendrick, Raul Ibanez, Placido Polanco, and Joe Blanton

You can’t have a full meal without corn, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, or whatever, I suppose. These players were good at times, but more often than not, you’d wait for their turn on the mound or at the plate, if only so one of the bigger bats or arms would come up. Try to pass at all costs.

Gravy: Wilson Valdez

I could really do without it, but whatever–it seems like some people love the stuff. I guess I’ll never understand it.

Cranberry Sauce: Shane Victorino

You wouldn’t want to eat it all the time, and certainly not to the exclusion of the various meats and other sides on the Thanksgiving table, but it’s quite tasty and the meal wouldn’t be quite the same without it.

Pumpkin Pie: Jimmy Rollins

Just like pumpkin pie is the staple of Thanksgiving dessert, so too has Jimmy Rollins been the staple of the Phillies’ lineup. The longest-tenured Phillie has been the team’s voice, offensive spark plug, and leader for the better part of a decade, and looked to be on his way to a career year before injuries put him off track. Sometimes, there’s just not room for dessert after engaging in state-sponsored gluttony all afternoon. This year, too much got eaten too fast, and all we can do is hope there’s room for dessert next year.

Sweet Potato Casserole: Carlos Ruiz

I’m not sure how prevalent sweet potato casserole wherever you eat Thanksgiving dinner, but I hadn’t really tried it until about two years ago. I like sweet potatoes as much as the next guy, but the casserole looked a little weird and with stuffing and mashed potatoes on the plate and only so much room in my stomach, I wasn’t sure I had room for a third amorphous goo on my Thanksgiving plate. I was persuaded to try a spoonful and it changed my life. I’ll repeat that for those of you in the cheap seats. It changed my life. So when I hold my nose as a starting catcher bats .219, then two years later see him pick up a few MVP votes and lead the team in hitting, I can’t help but think of sweet potato casserole.

Leftover Sandwiches: Domonic Brown

So when dinner and dessert come to an end, a feeling of incredible sadness comes into my heart, and a jolt of pain hits my belly, and it’s not just because I’ve ingested 35 cubic feet of mashed up bread, potatoes, and meat. However, there’s always a silver lining: leftover sandwiches. I go to sleep Thursday night secure in the knowledge that until at least Monday, I’ll be eating nothing but leftover turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and mayonnaise on either bagels or thick-cut wheat bread. Just like last year’s No. 1 minor-league prospect, that’s something worth looking forward to.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone, from all of us at Phillies Nation.



  1. Pizza Bagel

    November 24, 2010 at 12:58 pm

    I’d like to add Charlie Manuel as the appetizer, perhaps chips and salsa. You love seeing everyone in the family gathered around the dish, and you begin to dip and crunch as well. Only after you’ve eaten the entire meal, that salsa is sitting around in your stomach, causing it to make noises that aren’t understandable by anyone. Still, gotta love that chip and dip.

  2. robbie e

    November 24, 2010 at 1:03 pm

    Agree with all your answers! Love the Cole Hamels reference and the fact that the team keeps trying to replace him in the rotation year after year. I will add Danys Baez as the indigestion you get after eating too much and Ryan Madson as the bi-carbonate that makes you feel better!

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  3. Sweet Dee

    November 24, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    The Ham: Roy Oswalt

    He’s also probably the funniest on the team. He IS quite the ham.

  4. jeff

    November 24, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    Outside of the Phillies for a second. Why I really do not watch sports that much. Jeter for example. The man has made millions upon millions. He is a solid player. He would be lost without the Yankees. For example if he was playing with the Royals. Not good enough to carry a team. They made if a 3 year 50 million offer and he has declined. 36 years old. Let him go. This is what is wrong with pro sports. No thank you.

  5. Bob in Bucks

    November 24, 2010 at 1:49 pm

    Sure the offseason is long and boring.

    I would like Phillies Nations to get some “visiting blog” from other teams to write something about where they see their team in 2011 starting obviously with the NL East. Hearing perspectives from outside Phillies Nation would be interesting and we might get a different look at where other teams are going.

  6. Andrew from waldorf

    November 24, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    1. Any talk of Lopes to the Dodgers? Its a killer and the biggest move of the off season. Period.

    2. Ryan K.
    You guys love him and jock him etc etc.
    At no point can the haters be any worse than the lovers.
    As much as you love him he is actually that bad.
    Two words
    Aubrey Huff or how about Pat standing at first and hitting 25 homers?
    I dont care about the contract. Pay him 1 billion if it doesnt matter. But it does when you have a budget.
    BTW if the phils had anyone else who was overpaid id bitch about that too.

  7. George

    November 24, 2010 at 4:36 pm

    Maybe Howard was overpaid this year, maybe not, and he’ll probably be overpaid when his latest contract kicks in. But he was underpaid by a huge margin in his MVP year, and probably his first arbitration year, too.

    Not very many people have had the production Howard has had in his short career, and I think people should forgive an off-year, particularly one in which he suffered injury and still managed to be among the league leaders in home runs and RBIs.

    He’s also a hard worker and tries always to improve his game.

    As I said, maybe he will be overpaid in the future, but I’m waiting then before I decide to hate him so much.


    November 24, 2010 at 4:43 pm

    george-TY…..WELL PUT!!!!


    November 24, 2010 at 4:44 pm


  10. George

    November 24, 2010 at 4:46 pm

    “Pat”–I’m assuming you mean Burrell– “standing at first?” sounds pretty accurate to me. He’s a statue in left, so he’d no doubt be one in the infield, too. I’ve always wondered why pigeons don’t roost on him.

    Asa far as Thanksgiving goes, I absolutely despise sweet potato anything, so I prefer to compare Ruiz to some unexpected and delicious recipe from a relative or friend you didn’t even know could cook.

  11. brooks

    November 24, 2010 at 4:56 pm

    My wife makes Gumbo for every holiday.
    It’s spicy but is so engrained now in our tradition – I’d say Gumbo is like Cholly.. southern, spicy, friendly

  12. Jack

    November 24, 2010 at 5:12 pm

    I also have to say that Dickie Thon is the nap after the slob fest…

  13. brooks

    November 24, 2010 at 5:12 pm

    Like about 6 years ago, a friend of mine stated that he hated the Shaq. He said anyone who stands as tall as he is, as big and strong as he is should dominate every game. Scoring more than everyone, outrebounding everyone and blocking shots and by the way, if he misses free throws, be able to fix that part of his game. For the reason that Shaq did not go undefeated, or dominate in every game he played in, my friend thought he was stealing money and overpaid from whichever team incorporated his services.

    The Phils have a highly paid, larger than life first baseman who did not perform up to his capabilities for whatever reason this year. Why the hate? Give him another year, give him this past one (especially since the Phils still won the division handily) and see what happens. If he hits .250, 30 ish hrs and manages to knock in 100 rbi in a full season, with Utley, Rollins, Poly and Vic all getting on base in front of him, hey, I will join you in the “Lets move this guy” parade. But, lets give it a year where all the ducks are lined up. Last year was a mess pretty much accross the board for almost everybody.

    Shaq’s numbers would probably not equate to the garrish 45 hr, 140 rbi average that Ryan had in years 2 through 5. Let’s see the big guy bounce back.

  14. Andrew from waldorf

    November 24, 2010 at 5:29 pm

    Lopes is huge. Follow the Dodgers base running next year and the Phillies. Hate being right about bad things but I am pretty sure on this one.

    The Howard stuff is this. He failed. 0 RBI
    Its big and reg season numbers wont make up for it.
    If anything I just want people to prepare for it like Werth leaving.
    I wont be the nastiest. And Ill be rooting for him.

    Happy Thanksgiving 🙂

  15. The Original Chuck P

    November 24, 2010 at 5:51 pm

    So let me get this straight- Werth’s failure during the regular season (162 game sample size) don’t bother you but Howard’s failure during one 6 game series does.

    I don’t know why I bother… if Andrew from waldorf was part of the Thanksgiving meal, he would undoubtedly be the giblets.

  16. jeff

    November 24, 2010 at 6:04 pm

    YES chuck the ……..well you know. werth is werthless. howard is the face of this franchise. one of the highest players in all of sports. playing in the biggest games since you played hs baseball. he gets paid that kind of money to drive in runs. turd

  17. The Dipsy

    November 24, 2010 at 6:58 pm

    Ryan is a great hitter but the fact remains that he shrinks against lefties in the post season. To be paid that much you have to put the team on your back in the post season if you have to. He hasn’t done it. But ARod was hurt all year and didn’t even get to the second round. Sure he’s overpaid but what is the best pure slugger in the game worth?

    The Dipsy

  18. Chuck

    November 24, 2010 at 8:29 pm

    I love me some gravy…

    ….just like I loved the way Wilson Valdez plugged that huge hole on the team this year.

    More taters and gravy please!!

    Happy Thanksgiving to all….even to you, jeff….and you, Andrew. (Here’s some holiday advice: Be thankful for Ryan Howard and his contract…more pennants and WFCs are in store during his time here.)

  19. karen

    November 24, 2010 at 9:36 pm

    I love this 🙂 you are all so much more creative than i can ever dream of being. But we need brad lidge in there as his own unique dish….not sure what though……the only even close thing could be that lidge could be an assorted bowl of pickles….sometimes he is great, sometimes awful, sometimes full of pits, sometimes just something to spit out.

  20. Lefty

    November 24, 2010 at 9:38 pm

    Michael you don’t have to convince me, I’d rather have seconds of sweet potato casserole than dessert.

    Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

  21. Ted Bell

    November 24, 2010 at 10:21 pm

    Andrew – I agree that the Howard contract was a bad deal and will handcuff the team for years. I don’t necessarily think he’s a bad player – just one who will be paid well above his market value as his skills diminish. I’m just curious as to why you continually direct your anger at Howard and not the guy who made the decision to offer the deal. This was a mistake made by RAJ, and it could ultimately be one that defines his front office legacy.

    I’m Ted Bell.

  22. The Dipsy

    November 24, 2010 at 10:26 pm

    Very true. Why get angry at the players? They’ll always take the money. Its one thing to pay a player fairly and have him underperform it and another to overpay a player from jump street (see IBANEZ, Raul; MOYER, Jamie). There would have been only one thing worse than overpaying Howard and that would have been watching him walk away.

    The Dipsy

  23. George

    November 24, 2010 at 11:32 pm

    So who gets the wishbone?

  24. brooks

    November 25, 2010 at 7:22 am

    Happy Thanksgiving PN!

  25. Kate

    November 26, 2010 at 11:55 am

    Gotta love the negativity on Thanksgiving.

    Howard will bounce back next year and most of you will be eating crow. His 0 RBI in the playoffs can be traced directly back to the fact that the guys around him were failing to get on-base when he was hitting. .313 average in the playoffs, he was by far the most productive dude at the plate. The 0 RBIs were a matter of timing, not real failure on his part. He’ll bounce back and then the bandwagoners will be embracing him once again.

    Both Utley and Howard, along with Rollins, are poised for a great 2011 season.

    I think both the swagger and the chips on the shoulders will be back next year. Unfinished business indeed.

    I love how people completely forget about Moyer’s contributions earlier in the season before he got hurt and the fact that he was neck at neck with Roy Halladay for wins at the time of his injury. That complete game shutout of the Braves was a MASTERPIECE and he beat the Yankees after getting smacked around by the Red Sox.

    Gravy is underrated, just like Wilson Valdez’s contribution to this club this season. At least Manuel and the front office value him the way he should be valued. Fans’ opinions mean jacksh*t and that’s a good thing in this case.

  26. The Original Chuck P

    November 26, 2010 at 12:47 pm

    They might have overpaid for what Howard is going to give them over the course of his contract. Does that worry me? Sure. Will that “cripple” our franchise. I don’t think so. In case you have forgotten, we still have guys named Halladay, Utley, Hamels and Oswalt on our roster and they’re all as close to a sure thing as you’re going to find out there. We all knew that Howard was going to command a lot of money and no one expected him to re-sign here because the Yankees/Red Sox would pay him more on the free-agent market. Well, he signed before hitting free agency… that speaks a lot to his character and the fact that he wants to be here and give how hard he has worked and what he has already accomplished here, I’m happy he’s here and I choose to think that he will continue to produce. If he can find himself in the top 5 in RBI and HR every season, I think that his contract is money well spent.

    Anyone who thinks that he is not going to produce is basing their opinion on a short sample size in the postseason… saying that he doesn’t get it done when it matters is ludacris. How about those September months when he carried us into the postseason? How about the infamous, “Just get me to the plate.”

    Overpaid… his numbers in the context of history over the course of his first 6 seasons say no. Again, it’s not easy to fathom anyone making that much money but I know that I like the fact that my franchise doesn’t let guys like Ryan Howard walk and he’s earned my trust… I’ll root for him whole heartedly and I believe that he’s in it for more than the money.

  27. Kate

    November 26, 2010 at 7:09 pm

    In the context of getting a paycheck, all of these guys are overpaid, especially if you look at what was going on a century ago when ballplayers were criminally UNDERPAID.

    Would I complain if all of these guys got pay cuts, across the board in the MLB? No, because 25 million over a course of five or six years is more money than ninety percent of the human population is going to see in their entire lifetimes. They’re all ridiculously overpaid and so are professional football, basketball, and hockey players.

    But I trust Ryan Howard to get his sh*t together over the off-season. He and Utley have something to prove now.

    If Rollins, Polanco, and Utley had synchronized their on-base schedules with Howard’s hitting schedule (which wouldn’t have been all that difficult, given that Howard was hitting .313 in the playoffs), people wouldn’t be riding Howard’s ass nearly as much.

    In Howard we trust. So say we all. And those who don’t can go off and cry because a fourpeat of the NL East Crown and all the way to Game 6 of the NLCS isn’t enough for them.

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