In a project I undertook over a month ago, I asked the question, "which Philadelphia bars best represent individual Phillies players?" In the interest of rigorous inquiry, I limited my scope to the starting rotation, Jonathan Papelbon, and positional starters. Given the success of said inquiry--all players studied were successfully "matched" with corresponding bars--I decided to extend the scope of that exploration to the rest of the 25-man roster, as it currently appears to be constructed.
Antonio Bastardo--Farmer’s Cabinet. I know, I know: Farmer’s Cabinet isn’t a bar. I’ll counter that it’s at least as well known for its beer and cocktails as it is for its food. You, the reader, accepting that counter-argument as valid, permit my use of Farmer’s Cabinet here. Good. Now we can move on. This time last year, Farmer’s Cabinet was one of the hottest places in the city. Great food, an impressive local cheese collection, and fantastic drinks combined to generate multitudes of buzz. As you may have heard, however, things changed dramatically when Farmer’s Cabinet was busted for operating under an expired liquor license and displaying a forged renewal license. Fill in left-handedness, low BABIP, and relative youth, respectively, for great food, cheese, and drinks. Then, substitute biogenesis for expired liquor license. There you have Antonio Bastardo
Mike Adams--McGillin’s Olde Ale House. McGillin’s is billed as the oldest bar in Philly. Maybe back in the 1800s, it was a place worth going to. I imagine it was a dependable place for those lamenting the McKinley assassination or for soldiers trying to forget the nightmares of trench warfare after WWI. In other words, it used to be a dependable place you could go to in higher leverage or traumatic moments of life. For an Irish pub, it was long an exception to the rule that Irish pubs are populated by bros and ex-bros. Go to McGillin’s now and you will see the extremes of a typical Irish bar--it’s packed with ex-lacrosse players sporting suits on a Saturday night and flashing benjamins to impress desperate women. Before coming to the Phillies, Mike Adams, as one of the best set-up men in the league, was an exception to the rule that relievers are a volatile breed. After a weird surgery to remove a rib, Adams has become a case study of the principle that teams should be extremely wary of counting on relief pitchers year in and year out.
Justin DeFratus--XFINITY Live. DeFratus was supposed to have solidified his place as a high-leverage reliever out of the Phillies bullpen by now. Likely because of an uncharacteristically high BB% in the majors, he hasn’t done that yet. When XFINITY Live was first conceived as Philly Live, it was supposed to provide a pre and post-game experience for all types--from kids to drunk assholes. It has far from lived up to that by attracting, primarily, all the people from high school you would rather not have to interact with again. Unlike XFINITY, DeFratus seems poised to eventually live up to the expectations set for him, but until then, XFINITY and DeFratus will be inextricably intertwined, if for no other reason than both having (at least) two capital letters in their names.
Jake Diekman--The Barbary. Probably the best manifestation of the cliched "effectively wild" designation on the Phillies roster, Diekman’s combination of lots-a-strikeouts and lots-a-walks has made him an elite LOOGY, at least. Like Diekman is designed to cater to a strange breed (left-handed hitters), The Barbary caters to a different strange breed--hipsters. With events like TigerBeats and MileyBall, the Barbary occupies a niche spot in Philadelphia’s nightlife.
Brad Lincoln--Boot and Saddle. When drafted by Pittsburgh 4th overall in the 2006 draft, Lincoln was supposed to advance quickly through the minors and contribute to the Pirates. Things didn’t quite work out for Lincoln. After a delayed arrival due, largely, to Tommy John surgery, Lincoln has been unspectacular throughout his 4 year career. After coming to the Phillies in the Kratz trade, he is looking to establish himself as a reliable, major-league-quality bullpen pitcher. Before closing in 1996, Boot and Saddle, a bar and concert venue, featured an eclectic mix of acts from punk to country. In September 2013, The Boot reopened as a restaurant, bar, and R5 Productions venue. Like Lincoln, it hopes to regain its lost luster.
B.J. Rosenberg--Fox and Hound. Fox and Hound, located on the corner of 15th and Spruce in Center City is a pretty typical sports bar--20+ TVs, a menu consisting mostly of wings and burgers, and, obviously, beer. On Tuesdays, however, it features all domestic beers for $2. We’re not talking the typical definition of "domestic beers" that includes only Yuengling as well as Coors, Budweiser, and Miller products; "domestic beers" at Fox and Hound might include Southern Tier Pumking, Rogue Dead Guy Ale, or Dogfish Head 90 Minute, if on tap. For the most part, Rosenberg is your typical fringe-major-league bullpen piece. What separates him is that he does one thing pretty well--throws the ball hard. His 94-96 MPH fastball is his $2 Tuesday. They’re not complicated; they’re not fancy; but, they both serve to separate their possessors from the pack.
Jeff Manship--Moshulu. The Moshulu is a ship. Jeff Manship has the word "ship" in his name. That should be sufficient explanation.
Wil Nieves--Grace Tavern. Wil Nieves is your typical backup catcher--capable enough to fill in once or twice a week without actively hurting a team’s chances of winning. If you start Nieves with any regularity or in a big game, however, you are certainly not maximizing your chances of winning. Grace Tavern is a typical neighborhood bar--it’s small, quiet, and makes a solid and reasonably-priced burger to go with a serviceable selection of draft offerings. This is fine for an off day, but on those nights when one is on the prowl for finding the love of one’s life via a random encounter in a public venue, Grace Tavern will not do. Grace Tavern and Wil Nieves: use sparingly and never in a crucial moment.
Cesar Hernandez--The Plough and the Stars. What is this place? Is it a fancy Irish themed restaurant? A typical, if not slightly classier, Irish pub with occasional live music and Guinness that is too cold? How about an underpopulated late night dance spot? One thing is for sure, whatever it is, it is about average at everything it might be. Same goes for Hernandez. Everyone thought he was a second baseman this time last year, but since then, he’s seen some time in centerfield and has been considered an option at 3B and SS this Spring Training. He’s fine at all these spots, but should never be a first choice.
John Mayberry, Jr.--Bru. Bru has all the tools to be a solid bar--a great and lengthy beer list, simple and good food, a large indoor space, and a jukebox. Unfortunately, it has the misfortune of being located directly across an alley from McGillin’s Olde Bro House (see above). When McGillin’s gets over-crowded on a weekend night, the crowd spills over to Bru, making it an undesirable destination. Like Bru, John Mayberry, Jr. deserves better than what he has gotten so far. Because of injuries and organizational delusion, Mayberry has been enlisted as an everyday player and centerfielder. Mayberry has major-league worthy skills--most notably, his ability to hit LHP. However, that skill is often forgotten because he has not been positioned to display it with regularity.
Tony Gwynn, Jr.--Fergies. Because of his name, if not his lineage, any mention of Tony Gwynn, Jr. immediately calls to mind images of his father. Like Junior Gwynn, Fergus Carey’s namesake bar, Fergies, exists in the shadow of his more famous bar, Monk’s Cafe. Neither will ever be mistaken for their world-class kin, but Junior is (almost) certainly a major league-quality player and Fergie’s is a more-than-worthy bar for an early evening stop, especially for live music on Saturdays.
Michael Martinez--Brewer’s Towne Tavern (Haddon Township, NJ). I include him because, come on, we all know he’ll make at least 100 PA for the Phillies this year. Let’s not be delusional. Martinez’s is the same story of how a hookup that should have become a one-and-done becomes a fling that lasts for a couple months. Sure, it wasn’t anything great; in fact, it was likely a regrettable event. But, inevitably, a deep Saturday night will come along--it may be the following week, it may be the following month--and there will be this number in your phone that you know will be agreeable. Sending that text to a known quantity is easier than finding something new. Michael Martinez is that phone number you should have deleted from your phone and Brewer’s Towne Tavern is that bar you should never go back to.