Both history and literature are littered with tales of heroes who die in pursuit of an elusive goal or treasure. Ahab has Moby Dick, Socrates had eidoi, and Ponce de Leon had the Fountain of Youth. Like these great figures, I, too, may well die pursuing an unattainable treasure—the perfect bar in which to watch a Phillies game.
But this post is not about the perfect Phillies bar. Rather, it is about a frivolous activity conceived in the pursuit of that aforementioned goal—which Philadelphia bar best represents each Phillie? The obvious joke here would be to list a bunch of bars located in Old City. I won’t indulge that easy joke in part because, on the whole, I don’t enjoy old city that much whereas, on the whole, I enjoy the Phillies quite a bit. In fact, I resist all jokes here; bars are serious business. What follows are my best attempts at matching current Phillies to their watering hole counterparts.
Cliff Lee—Barcade. For three of the last four seasons, Lee has led all qualified starters in K:BB ratio, including a comical 10.28 in 2010. To my knowledge, the Barcade does not have a baseball arcade game, but if it did, the pitchers would pitch like Cliff Lee.
Cole Hamels—Ranstead Room. Adjoined to the kitchen of Stephen Starr’s El Rey, the Ranstead Room is difficult, if not impossible, to find if you’re not looking for it. Ranstead is far and away the classiest bar I’ve ever been to—the bartenders concoct personalized cocktails for the low price of $13! Likewise, Hamels’ value is hard to appreciate without seeking it out. Quietly, he is 9th among active pitchers in career ERA, and 4th in both WHIP and K:BB. Additionally, Hamels is expensive after signing his recent extension with the team. That salary, like the personalized cocktails, however, is probably a solid investment.
A.J. Burnett—Standard Tap. A.J. Burnett decided to play with the Phillies, in large part, because he valued his family and wanted to stay close to home. Standard Tap in Northern Liberties maintains a similar commitment to staying close to home, drawing primarily from local breweries to populate its taps.
MAG—Dolphin Tavern. My girlfriend lives a block from the Dolphin, so, naturally, I try to convince groups to go there whenever I’m out for drinks and dancing. It’s relatively new and remains a mystery to most people in the city, so, without exception, there is always someone in the group who has never heard of it. After convincing them that, yes, a bar with go-go dancers that doesn’t play the hits on the dance-floor can actually be a good time, they love it. Like the Dolphin, Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez is new and no one knows exactly what he is, including, strangely enough, Ruben Amaro. Hopefully MAG will complete this analogy by actually being good.
Fausto Carmona—Ten Stone. Before my time, it went by a different name and had character. Sure, fights occurred with regularity, but at least it had character. Now, reincarnated as Ten Stone, it, like the surrounding Graduate Hospital neighborhood, is too bland and lacking personality to really stick out. Prior to re-becoming Roberto Hernandez, Fausto Carmona was a successful major league pitcher, finishing 4th in the 2007 AL Cy Young vote. After re-discovering himself as Roberto Hernandez, he not only lost a cool name, but has been a sub-mediocre starting pitcher.
Kyle Kendrick—Dirty Frank's. Dirty Franks is a classic Philadelphia dive bar. It’s a safe option for a night out, but nothing special. You enter Dirty Franks knowing that your night is going to be relatively enjoyable—cheap drinks, maybe some darts—but you ultimately end the night wanting more. With Kendrick, he’s going to pitch something like 6 innings and give up 3 or 4 runs every time out there. That’s fine; you can win with that. But, at the end of each season, an upgrade is always desirable.
Jonathan Papelbon—SugarHouse Casino. After a couple hours of drinking, the bars might close, but, for you, the night doesn’t quite feel over yet. What other option is there? Sugarhouse is open and, more than a couple drinks deep, it seems like a great option. The next morning, you’ll inevitably regret the money you lost to end an otherwise good night.
Carlos Ruiz—Fiume. This is one of the smallest bars I’ve been to in my life. Despite its size, it packs a punch with an extensive bottle list and bartenders who know their drinks. Ruiz is far from the flashiest of catchers; 2012 aside, he doesn’t post eye-popping batting lines. Like Fiume’s bartenders know their beers, Ruiz knows his staff and is often praised for his game-calling ability.
Ryan Howard—Bob & Barbara’s. Bob & Barbara’s is known as the home of the City-Wide Special—a can of PBR and a shot of Jim Beam. It’s been doing the same thing since it opened in 1969, serving cheap city-wides and featuring mediocre-at-best jazz musicians. For Howard, HRs have been his calling card his entire career. For the most part, that has worked out just fine. Frequently, however, teams exploit his bad-jazz-band-esque flaws by shifting the infield and throwing more breaking balls than 2013 Roy Halladay.
Chase Utley—Monk’s Café. I’ll leave my explanation to the following Foursquare review: "still kicks ass after all these years."
Jimmy Rollins—Royal Tavern. The Royal does a couple of things really well:it makes a mean burger, has a small but solid beer list, and remains relatively un-crowded despite its quality. Sounds like the perfect bar, no? Well, many people I know refuse to go there because of the hipster service. Jimmy Rollins also does—or did, in his prime—many things very well. He provides elite defense at a premium position, runs the bases extremely well, and produces offensively more than the average shortstop. However, many fans can’t get past his lack of hustle on meaningless plays to appreciate the value and near-greatness of Jimmy Rollins.
Cody Asche—Nodding Head. Despite the allure of going to a brewpub, the quality of the beer at Nodding Head always disappoints. Likewise, Asche is appealing primarily because he was brewed in the Phillies system, but he’s likely to fall short of many of the unrealistic expectations that are attached to that.
Domonic Brown—Memphis Taproom. The Memphis taproom always ranks high on lists of the best bars in Philadelphia. Last summer, I finally had the occasion to visit the Kensington hot-spot, and, after biking for over 30 minutes to get there, I was disappointed. Despite the hype, the beer selection was average and the food was over-priced. In short, despite all the hype it received, it turned out to be nothing more than an average, maybe above average, bar.
Ben Revere—American Sardine Bar. Relatively new to the scene, the Sardine is a key attraction in Point Breeze, the most quickly gentrifying area of Philadelphia. The Sardine’s food menu is unique and exciting—Sardines, Pittsburgh Cheese Steak, Sardines! It complements that intriguing menu with a beer list that, while always solid, never hits it out of the park.
Marlon Byrd—Khyber Pass. Back in the day, the Khyber was a typical dive-y rock bar featuring shows and cheap drinks. Because of that, it catered to a very specific crowd. In recent years, it has transformed into a bar with consistently great beer lists and a solidly above-average food menu. Because of its Old City location, it attracts a broad clientele—bros, beer snobs, hipsters, grown-ass people, and more. When Marlon Byrd first came into the league, he was a low-power center fielder who played solid, but unspectacular defense. Last year, at age 35, Byrd morphed into something of a power hitter, posting 24 HR and an ISO over .200 for the first time in his career. That transformation likely widened his appeal around the league during his free agency this offseason.
 I’ve left out bench players and non-Papelbon bullpen guys for length. I would be happy to provide bar comps for other players upon request.
 Hipster service is restaurant and café service characterized by practiced disinterest and shortness of both patience and language. This type of service is often displayed by those who think they are too cool or refined to provide guests with hospitality or adequate answers to menu-related queries, e.g., hipsters.