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Offseason Icebreakers, Vol. 3: Romeo and Juliet

Posted by Michael Baumann, Mon, January 10, 2011 07:00 PM | Comments: 23
Odds And Ends, Opinion, Posts, Whimsy

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.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve always dreamed of having an illicit romance. Bringing a girl home to my parents, or being brought home to hers, having them say “We don’t approve of her–you can’t see her anymore,” and having a love of such monumental potency that we’d carry on in secret. Or, now that I’m out of high school, serving in the trenches in World War II, falling for a fetching German girl, and sneaking across the battlefield every night, risking sniper fire and land mines, to say nothing of my commission (because who knows what secrets she’s been carrying back to the Nazis?) to be with her each night.

However, to paraphrase Shakespeare, I’ve hung my bugle in an invisible baldrick, so the only way I can imagine an emotional attachment like this is by rooting for players who aren’t on the Phillies. Now, don’t get me wrong, if the Marlins are playing the Phillies and Logan Morrison is in the lineup, I want him to go 0-for-4 with 4 strikeouts (an eventuality he seems to have accepted) and the Marlins to lose. But we all have players we like who happen to wear the enemy uniform. Today’s Icebreaker: is there a player you love who just happens to wear the enemy uniform? Who is it, and why? My response is after the jump. Leave yours in the comments.

I’ve always had an irrational love for Rockies lefty Jeff Francis. I think it stems from an article I read in Baseball Weekly when I was in 8th or 9th grade (it may have been this article, but I’m not sure–remember when we had to get our news from print media? Seems like so long ago). The long and the short of it is that Francis was a late bloomer who went to an NAIA school (the level of collegiate athletics below NCAA Division III) because that was the only way he could play American college baseball without leaving his native British Columbia. At the University of British Columbia, he not only became one of the top pitching prospects in the 2002 MLB draft, but he pursued a major in, of all things, physics. So, to my 15-year-old mind, he seemed like a cool guy with enough quirks (being Canadian, going to a small school, being a science geek with a 93-mph fastball) to be worth following.

Ultimately, Francis went ninth in the 2002 draft to Colorado, becoming the second-highest drafted Canadian ever (after fellow lefty Adam Loewen, who went fourth that same year). For this, Francis earned a passing mention in Moneyball as potential draft target for Oakland, had he fallen to the late first round, where they took Joe Blanton instead. Other pitchers taken in the first round that year include, incidentally, Cole Hamels, Zack Greinke, Matt Cain, and Scott Kazmir.

Over the years, Francis turned into a good starting pitcher, perhaps best known among Phillies fans for besting Hamels in Game 1 of the 2007 NLDS and leading the Rockies, as their de facto ace, to their first World Series appearance. That year was probably Francis’ best, as he went 17-9 with a 4.22 ERA and a career high in K/BB ratio, to go with a ninth-place finish in the Cy Young voting (though in the interest of full disclosure, it was only one third-place vote in a year Jake Peavy won unanimously).

Francis pitched hurt in 2008 and only won 4 games with an ERA of 5.01 and missed all of 2009 after having shoulder surgery. Upon his return in 2010, Francis had lost his spot at the top of the Rockies’ rotation to Ubaldo Jimenez, Aaron Cook, and others, and given his just-below-average stats for last season, it’s unlikely he’ll ever be the same pitcher again.

Still, because I found him interesting so long ago and have followed him for such a long time, I’ll be rooting for him.

So the question remains: who’s your favorite non-Phillies player?

Avatar of Michael Baumann

About Michael Baumann

Michael Baumann has written 229 articles on Phillies Nation.

Michael is a graduate student at Temple University who lost his childlike innocence when, at the age of 6, his dad let him stay up for the end of Game 6 of the 1993 World Series. Unsettled by the Phillies' recent success, he has threatened over the years to leave the team he loves if they don't start losing again, but has so far been unable to follow through. Michael spent 4 years as an undercover agent in Braves territory at the University of South Carolina, where he covered football and soccer for The Daily Gamecock before moving back up north. He began writing for The Phrontiersman in June 2009 before moving to Phillies Nation in January 2010.

 
 
  • Posts: 2 raj4pres

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    We just got him back!!! Cliff Lee.

     
  • Posts: 9 philsphan914

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    A few that I root for because they are ex-Phillies are Thome, Abreu, and when he played, Schilling. But some that have never worn a Phillies uniform: Evan Longoria, Ichiro, Josh Hamilton, Albert Pujols and when he played, Griffey Jr. I root for Hamilton probably bc of what he came back from. And the others, it’s simply bc I find them great. I mean, how can you not root for Griffey Jr?

     
  • Posts: 2 raj4pres

    Avatar of raj4pres

    Is ed wade a phillies double agent? I wouldn’t be surpised if he is on the Phils payroll. He trades for a Phils player who has to be released at the end of the week. Are u kidding me

     
  • Posts: 1435 Pat Gallen

    Avatar of Pat Gallen

    Always root for Jim Thome and did when Schilling was around, too. Was never an Abreu fan, though. Or a Rolen fan. They always rubbed me the wrong way when they played here.

    Griffey had to be the favorite for many kids my age growing up. The smile, the swing – he was just cool. Ive been rooting recently for Josh Hamilton as well as he’s overcome a lot. It’s great to see someone with that sort of comeback.

    Michael Young is another I’ve rooted for. Just a solid all-around, unassuming player that continues to go unnoticed in Texas.

    Been an Adam Dunn fan since the early days in Cincinnati. How can you love a 6’6 guy that hits 500-footers? There are many others too, from my childhood. Mickey Tettleton! I used to emulate his batting stance. Don’t ask me why.

     
  • Posts: 959 betasigmadeltashag

    Avatar of betasigmadeltashag

    this is a tough one for me if you are talking about at any time, I would say Reggie Jackson, I actually met the guy a couple of times cause his nephews went to my Elem school, after I was there, but he came by a few times when I was back visiting teachers. I just always thought he was cool. Right now I might have to say Andre Ethier of the Dodgers, he would be a good guy to have in the pin strips and he seems to hit 20 game winners a year

     
  • Posts: 9 philsphan914

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    I forgot one.. Logan Morrison. Because I follow him on twitter, and he’s a cool guy.

     
  • Posts: 14 phillygirl17

    Avatar of phillygirl17

    I agree with Logan Morrison. I’m fascinated by this kid. I would also like Buster Posey. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Chooch, but Posey has a long career ahead of him. I also really like Ryan Zimmerman. Maybe it’s living in DC and being forced to watch the Natinals all the time, but Zimm is quite the player.

     
  • Posts: 18 Kieran Carobine

    Avatar of Kieran Carobine

    I enjoy following Nationals’ third baseman Ryan Zimmerman. We played briefly together in highschool (he was a freshman when I was a senior) and I followed his career at UVA and then after he got drafted. The kid is a great athlete and one of the most humble players you will ever meet. I root for him all season long, even when he plays Philly. Because let’s be honest, the Nats don’t have much else.

     
  • Posts: 38 GoPhils

    Avatar of GoPhils

    I like Mike Stanton of the Marlins. The guy is just flabbergasting. The Richter scale must be able to pick up his homeruns. If he stays healthy, he might break some records. His numbers last year for a rookie were excellent. He grinded it through a huge slump last year (5-56 or something), actually coming out of it against the Phils. If i’m not mistaken, he’s also electric in the field. He’s probably going to strike out a lot and be streaky, but people in Florida need to come out to see this kid. But I hear they don’t even support the Heat down there.

     
  • Posts: 523 Bruce

    Avatar of Bruce

    I go with the latest sensation in Buster Posey, the Rookie of the Year for 2010. He looks to be the real deal. Just ask the Phillies. ;-) You could see his development during the course of 2010 season where he gained experience and confidence in handling the pitchers and producing clutch hits over and over. Toward the end of the season, he blossomed into a full fledged star on the Giants team. If he stays healthy during his career, he will be putting up astounding HOF numbers for a catcher.

     
  • Posts: 5085 Lefty

    Avatar of Lefty

    Lorenzo Cain recently traded in the Greinke deal. Youth, speed, cost, and up the middle defense. Just pure speed and “give up the body” hustle. I love guys that play with heart, and great D.

    In this video you can’t even tell how far he ran just to get to this ball, but he covered a lot of ground quickly.

    http://milwaukee.brewers.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=11543775

     
  • Posts: 193 bfo_33

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    From my youth, 3 guys I always wanted on the Phils – Johnny Bench, Jim Rice, and Reggie Jackson. Bench did everything right, always looked in control. I’ve never seen anyone hit the ball harder, intimidate pitchers more than Rice. Reggie was the best big game player, flair for the dramatic.

    Completely opposite players, but always a big fan of Griffey and Bagwell, followed their whole careers. Griffey had the perfect swing, ran effortlessly, always seemed better than anyone else on the field. Bagwell was the opposite – always seemed dirty, a true grunt.

    More recently, Ethier’s ability for walk off hits, and the consistency and power of Pujols – the greatest player of the this generation.

     
  • Posts: 193 bfo_33

    Avatar of

    Another fun list – guys you always hated. There is the Joe Carter/Chipper Jones class – hated because he beat you, but respected. Then there is the Gary Carter/Steve Garvey/Derek Jeter group – holier than thou, better rep than actual performance (I still can’t get over Jeter winning the Gold Glove). Then there is the Daryl Strawberry/Doc Gooden/Steve Howe group – inner demons destroyed unlimited potential (which makes Josh Hamilton all that much more special).

    Something to think about on what’s bound to be a long ride home today.

     
  • Posts: 2980 Chuck A.

    Avatar of Chuck A.

    I don’t think Jeter’s “holier than thou”. Just because he wears the Yanks’ uniform, plays for the most famous franchise ever and is actually good….people like to think that he’s that way. But I think he’s a pretty classy guy and I’ve always been a fan of his. I also respect guys that play for the same team for their entire career….whether it’s the Yankees, Phillies or the Pittsburgh Pirates.

    As for the player that I love that wears the “enemy uniform”??…..

    Gotta now say Jayson Werth. No….I don’t think the Phillies should have paid him what the Nationals did. And, no…..I don’t “hate” him becasue he took that deal. (He would have been stupid if he didn’t!).
    I’ve always been a fan of his and I’ll always root for him (unless he’s playing the Phillies, of course).

     
    • Posts: 193 bfo_33

      Avatar of

      I work in N. Jersey and am surrounded by Yankees fans (used to be a lot of Mets fans also, most are in hiding now). My dislike of Jeter is probably more appropriately directed towards Jeter fans than him. They tend to elevate his strengths, downplay any weaknesses. I also respect his loyalty, ability to handle the pressure of playing for the Yanks, and the way he plays the game.

       
      • Posts: 2980 Chuck A.

        Avatar of Chuck A.

        Kind of the same way a lot of Phillies fans tend to treat Chase Utley.

         
  • Posts: 19 yrsoprano

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    Gaby Sanchez of the Marlins is one of my faves ever since he took out Nyjer Morgan of the Nationals with a tackle that would have made Brian Dawkins proud!

    Since I am originally from Baltimore, I grew up with those great Oriole teams. That 66 team that swept the Dodgers was amazing with a rookie Jim Palmer. My favorites over the years were Mike Flanagan, Brooks Robinson, Mark Belanger and of course, Cal Ripken.

     
  • Posts: 1190 Manny

    Avatar of Manny

    Always been an Edgar Renteria fan, since his days with the Marlins. There was also one game against the Phillies at CBP where he hit a first-pitch HR in the first AB of the game (he was the Braves’ leadoff hitter a couple years ago) –I believe it was the same day that Howard hit 3 bombs (double-header).

    I was ecstatic when he hit that 3-run HR against the Rangers in the 2010 WS (off Cliff Lee) and won the MVP Award. I still vote for him for the All-Star games :/ haha

     
    • Posts: 2980 Chuck A.

      Avatar of Chuck A.

      I really disliked a lot of the Giants players last year….but was truly very happy for Renteria and his success.

       
      • Posts: 1190 Manny

        Avatar of Manny

        Yea.. I was only happy for him. F the rest haha

         
  • Posts: 2069 Brooks

    Avatar of Brooks

    Another Oriole refugee? I too grew up in Crabtown during those most formative years – from 61 (Diamond Jim Gentile and that mamoth swing) to Brooks & Frank Robinson (who did put that franchise in the stratosphere for the next few decadess) – How could you not love baseball when your team was facing the likes of Charmin Harmen, the Mick, Tony Oliva – and of course a steady role of great pitchers anchored by Jim Palmer.

    Here we are though. The Phils have all the right ingredients I dont know how long they can carry the banner of excellence and they do have to win at least 1 more WS in the next few years. It sure seems like the ownership has come around and decided to give the town a show to watch!

     
  • Posts: 13 MissPhillie

    Avatar of MissPhillie

    So does Werth count for this now? haha (sorry, my loyalty will never die :P)

    I agree with your mention of LoMo, he’s a really awesome guy who’s every down-to-earth and looks like he has a lot of promising talent. Same with another a few have mentioned, Buster Posey. He won rookie of the year for a reason. Great guy as well.

     
  • Avatar of The Original Chuck P

    Good post… had to comment even though I’m two days late.

    I always had a man crush on Halladay… his legendary work ethic and competitive spirit always intrigued me. I like Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzky – those kids can play and seem to really want to win. Josh Hamilton for so many reasons… the talent, the humility and I think that he realizes that it’s a game and is out there to have fun and take advantages of the opportunities and gifts that he has been given. Joe Mauer… hard not to like him. I actually bought my son a Mauer Quicswing training machine for Christmas (a great buy; cheapest training machine out there) – the reason I bring this up is that his family actually runs the business… the motor did not work and I had to call someone to work on getting a replacement; the person who responded to my request was Jim Mauer. We emailed back and forth and he sent a replacement motor the next day (said no need to send the old one back); truly remarkable customer service experience and the fact that Joe’s dad and family are hands on tells me that there is a genuine love of the game.

     
 
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