Shades of Brien Taylor

I’ve only seen anything close to the inner workings of one Major League ballclub, that of the Phillies from my two years covering their affiliate in the South Atlantic League, the Lakewood BlueClaws. As a result, I managed to interview, at least once, the likes of Ed Wade, Steve Noworyta, Mike Arbuckle, Dave Montgomery, Greg Legg, Jeff Manto, Johnny Podres, Dallas Green, Larry Bowa and a few others. Each one, in some way, touched upon one thing with regard to the types of players it looks for in its farm system and that is “good young men.”

The recent incident in which pitching prospect Cole Hamels broke his hand could not have gone over well in the Clearwater offices — or even those in Philadelphia. If the police account is true, the Phillies’ feelings will almost certainly go much deeper than the “disappointment” expressed in Wade’s statement. Hamels was drafted with caution, following his broken arm in high school, but came with an abundance of potential and upside. His first year in the organization — in Lakewood the summer after I switched jobs — showed tremendous ability. In 74.2 innings at low-A Lakewood (his debut), he went 6-1 with a 0.84 ERA and 115 strikeouts. Promoted just two days before I was going to catch his start at Lakewood, he finished the season in Clearwater, where he was winless, but had an ERA of 2.73.

Having missed most of last season because of biceps tendinitis (after an impressive “major league” debut in spring training, when he fanned both Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter), this is exactly what the Phillies did not want to see. A hint of what the Phillies might think lies in Wade’s statement — “he put himself in a position that slows his development” — and, for Hamels’ sake, I hope he’s able to make a speedy recovery.

As for the Phillies, they have their own fans to deal with, too. I love how the court documents note that the man attempted to catch the foul ball over which he’s suing the team, rather than making any attempts to protect himself. Maybe this guy thinks $50,000 will soothe his embarassment. I mean, really. You go to a ballgame, you have decent seats in the lower level. You see there’s a screen there to protect a swath of seats. If you’re behind the screen — great, you’re not likely to get beaned, though you have little to no chance of any souvenirs. If you’re seated just beyond the coverage of the screen, then perhaps you should be alert and note when any horsehide spheres come hurtling your way.

I bet the guy in front of him ducked.

Actually, if that had happened, he’d probably be suing that fan, too.

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