Today is draft day in the world of major league baseball and the Phillies have picks number 18, 37, 65, 97, 127, 157. Now I cannot not think of a better exercise in futility than to sit around and try to predict who the Phils will select – so I’m not going to waste your or my time. If you cannot resist the urge and need a fix, then by all means scour the pages of Baseball America. The team over there has the Phillies projected to pick "Louisiana high school outfielder Jared Mitchell, a Louisiana State-bound wide receiver with raw baseball skills," even though this year’s draft is supposed to pitching-heavy. In general though, most predict that today’s draft class is the weakest since 2000, which makes my enthusiasm for the day drop even lower. Tomorrow, though I’ll give an update on who the Phillies actually chose and maybe in a few years we can report with some confidence a proper evaluation on the Phillies’ 2006 draft.
Today should be reserved as a day of remembrance for Eric Gregg who passed away last night after suffering a stroke Sunday. Eric was a great guy. Born in West Philly, Gregg worked as an NL umpire for 23 years. Despite his long career he is likely most remembered for his wide strike zone in the 1997 NLCS allowing Liván Hernández to record 15 strikeouts in Game 5. In 1999, his umpiring career ended in a failed attempted to bargain with the league through a mass resignation. Some of the umpires were eventually rehired, but Gregg received some compensation and spent the last few years pouring beers and bouncing at the Chickie’s and Pete’s franchises around the city. This is how I remember best. On the day of my college graduation a contingent of friends and family headed up to the boulevard Chickie’s and Gregg was there. Upon telling him of the momentous day, he offered his congratulations and bought me a pitcher of Yuengling. Later that year during the Labor Day Red Sox-Phillies matchup, Eric added to the holiday spirit by keeping a friend and I supplied with free beers throughout the game (don’t tell Pete). But Eric was more than just about free beers, he was an all-around great guy - funny, friendly and genuinely kind. For some more memories, check out this interview in the City Paper from a few years back. He will be missed.