The other day, we wrote that the Phillies were ready for you to start forging real bonds with their young players, some of whom could even be future stars. Naturally, the team has determined that mashing their youths together for your amusement should be a thing now.
"Phillies Futures Series?" 'What the hell is that?' you ask. "Settle down," I reply, sceaming. We have bigger questions than that. Why is "Futures" plural, as if there are multiple timelines extending from each individual Phillie? Is that what we're saying is happening? Am I reading too far into this? I'm reading too far into this.
Look at the way Aaron Nola and J.P. Crawford are looking at each other in the image above. Is it a pulsating, blood-lusting hatred, matched by mutual respect? I'm not in their heads, but I would say absolutely it is both of those things. And I get it if the Phillies want to take advantage of that heat.
The exact plan is to take their new, hot prospects, and force them to play against their slightly less new but still equally hot young major league players for two exhibition games just prior to the regular season. Have I been saying the word "hot" too much? People are saying that yes I have.
"Hot" is exactly what it will be when the new Prospects vs. Young Players games will take place on March 31 and April 2. The first is scheduled for Reading, at the Fightin Phils' FirstEnergy Stadium, the sight of such terrific young Phillies achievements as "Nick Williams Doing Things in 2015," and "The Stuff Darin Ruf Did to Make us Think he was Good of 2012." Then, the tangled mess of adolescent limbs rumbles its way into Philadelphia, where Citizens Bank Park hosts its first version of these events. In between the two games on April 1, the prospects and non-prospects will rejoin forces to take on the Orioles for some reason in an additional exhibition game, as the competitive nature seething in their passionate veins is briefly put on hold.
This Futures Series will be replacing the On-Deck Series from before, during which the Phillies would play the Pirates twice before the start of the regular season. Given the opposite directions in which both franchises have moved in recent years, it's understandable that the Phillies would try to move away from having a legitimate contender come into Citizens Bank Park just before they were going to try and convince people to buy tickets and beat the piss out of the home team.
But it's also another showing of this franchise's investment in young players, something that may seem normal for other teams, but for this team, is an aspect of the future that still seems fresh and new.
The 2016 Phillies: "Michael Young is definitely not going to be playing third base this year." That's how you ignite a fan base.