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.

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