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"This Is Bull****!": An Interpretation of the Bob McClure Mound Visit

A common narrative that emerged from last night's blowout loss to the Orioles was that Chase Utley had become the leader of a players' rebellion against Bob McClure, Ryne Sandberg, and the Phillies coaching staff. But that is only one interpretation among many. Below is another not implausible interpretation of the mound visit.

Not this mound visit, but a different one.
Not this mound visit, but a different one.
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

In a video shared by Twitter user @mat1419 and included by The Good Phight member John Stolnis in his recap of last night's game, indisputable evidence is put forth that Chase Utley--a person of whom the description "a man of few words" is certainly apt--publicly aired grievances against Phillies Pitching Coach Bob McClure, the 2015 season, and, probably, the indecipherable randomness of the universe.

Lost, however, in that focus on Chase Utley's uncharacteristic display of opinions and emotions, are the roles of the other visitors to the mound. As one can clearly discern in the video embedded below, no fewer than eight people paid a visit to he pitching mound with the bases loaded and two out in the bottom of the eighth inning last night.

To restrict an analysis of that encounter to a discussion of Chase Utley's unbridled rage directed at helplessly expressionless pitching coach Bob McClure is to deny agency, to deny personhood even, to the other six members of the human and baseball community who sojourned on the mound last night. Those six others deserve to be named among the ranks of Utley and McClure and to have their stories told. Carlos Ruiz, Jeff Francoeur, Cesar Hernandez, Freddy Galvis, Maikel Franco, and Lance Barksdale are their names, and what follows are their stories.


(Scene: A baseball pitching mound where players and coaches alike gather to seek refuge from the apocalypse surrounding them. Five participants--Jeff Francouer, Bob McClure, Chase Utley, Carlos Ruiz, and Freddy Galvis--appear to be seriously considering some weighty matters)

Enter: Maikel Franco and Cesar Hernandez

FRANCO (exaggeratedly disinterested, to self): To what purpose am I summoned to this place? I know not of the hardships of Jeff Francouer in his trials as a makeshift pitcher. I take off my glove to salute him but am at a loss for what else I might contribute. I will loiter beyond the enclosure of this gathering so that I might absorb some of the wisdom spoken from within.

UTLEY (with animation): Listen, Bob, you might have a badass mustache game going on, but you've got to listen to me on this one: my man, my companion, my friend Jeff Francoeur needs your help. Don't just stand there, you self-satisfied, mustache grooming waste of space! Use your power as Coach of Pitchers to remove this man from the game. You can save him! I offer myself as a replacement.

HERNANDEZ (to self): What have I walked into here? In my three years on the team, I have never once heard this man, Chase Utley, utter words from his mouth. And now, with his first words in years, he's yelling at a man who, though with whom, I must admit, I have never personally interacted, I respect as a coach. Would that I were back in Lehigh Valley. Times were simpler, more tranquil, then. And there was bacon everywhere. On the grills. Adorning burgers. Wrapped around little mini hot dogs. There was even bacon on the hats. Bacon. YUM.

FRANCOEUR (trying to change the topic): Lo! Behold Delmon Young over in the Baltimore dugout. He's not even in this game and he is in the dugout swinging a bat. Dude just can't stop swinging! You guys mind if I leave this conversation and talk to Delmon? Seems we have a mutual interest that I would like to explore further.

GALVIS: Stop it, Jeff! This conversation, at least ostensibly, is about you. Stop trying to run away from your problems.

MCCLURE: Here's the thing, fellas. I tried to use that new-fangled telephonic device we got back there in the dugout to reach the bullpen, but it wasn't working. There is no one else who can pitch. Stop it, Chase! You can barely throw the ball to first from second base sometimes. One thing I've learned is that pitchers, bullpen pitchers in particular, but this should also apply to non-pitchers, get better as they endure strains on their bodies for which they are unprepared. Jeff, at this rate, you will be better than that pretty California bum Hamels.

UTLEY: You know man, this is bullshit. It doesn't matter. We're down 15-3...or is it doesn't even matter, man. I mean, look, just last inning Frenchy was the best pitcher on our team. He held the Orioles scoreless. Now, a mere inning later, he looks as bad as Jerome Williams. Take my case for instance, in April, I had like two hits or something, for an entire month. Then, May came and I recored like 7 outs over that months. Now, here we are, it's June, and I've yet to get a hit.

What I'm saying is, this all means nothing. It doesn't matter that I'm not good this year or that Chooch couldn't throw out Ryan Howard trying to steal third or that you, Freddy and Cesar, will never be any good at baseball, or that Jeff threw a shutout for an entire inning, or that he's throwing whatever the opposite of that is this inning. We're all going to die eventually. This game will end, then this season will end, then our careers will end, then my knee caps will fall off one morning in the shower, and soon enough it will all be over. Not just my existence, but our existence, the world's existence even.

Look at our current situation. What is a pitcher? Before last inning, Jeff was not a pitcher. Now, he is. I remember a couple years back no one thought of Roy Oswalt as a left fielder, but then, all of a sudden, he was one. Without these boundaries, we have no guide. Jeff is a pitcher, but also an outfielder. Roy is an outfielder, but also a pitcher. Time is a flat circle. A circle is round, but it's flat also. Time is a measure, but it's also a shape. Everything is everything else in one, large, interconnection of absurdity.

We're out here talking now and it seems like we've been talking forever. Seriously, where is the umpire to break this up. We've been talking about Jeff pitching, and Bob's mustache, and my wad of dip that makes it difficult for me to utter these words and what have we accomplished? Nothing. But, who cares. Maybe Jeff will blow his arm out and never play in baseball again. It's not like any one is going to shed a tear over that, and he was going to be out of the game in a year or two anyway. So why not speed up the inevitable? It's bullshit, as I already said, but the bullshit is not specific to this situation. It's a general bullshit--a cosmic bullshit--and...

GALVIS: Hey, Bob--and Chase, I'm sorry for cutting you off--look at Odubel out there in center. Looks like he wants to pitch. He's practicing his wind up, and it looks fine. I mean, he starts with one leg about 5 feet behind the rubber and his hat falls off before every delivery, but he looks like he has that fire Ryno's always talking about. Maybe we should give him a try.

FRANCO: (nods. pulls moleskin notebook out of rear pocket and feverishly scribbles notes)

Enter Lance Barksdale

BARKSDALE: Really, y'all? The score is, you know, whatever it is, and you're out here this long?! Save this for after the game when I'm no longer on the clock. I've got a wife and children at home to take care of. Let's get back to the game so we can all get out of here.

RUIZ: So what will it be, Jeff?

MCCLURE: What do you mean, Chooch? This is my call. I'm the coach; I make these decisions. This isn't some sort of hippie employee-run endeavor. This is a damn dictatorship, and I will decide who stays or doesn't stay in this game.

RUIZ: Listen to yourself, Bobby. Just a minute ago, you were waving a white towel in the dugout like a Frenchman--no offense Jeff.

FRANCOEUR: None taken.

RUIZ: Now, you're out here acting all high and mighty ordering pitchers or position players--who can tell the difference any more--to stay in the game or come out of the game? This is Jeff's decision. He's been thrust into this situation and, if we're being honest, is completely helpless at this point. We at least owe it to him to give the appearance of agency.

MCCLURE: Hippies, all of you!

FRANCOEUR: You know, Chooch, you got me thinking about Frenchman and surrendering. I will not be a stereotype, a Frenchman surrendering at the first sign of difficulty. I will stay. I will fight. If I die, or my arm becomes disconnected from my torso, at least I will have done right by my teammates and countrymen.

GALVIS: (shaking his head) I really thought Odubel was showing some promise out there.

UTLEY: And so we descend into the absurdity of the human condition.


HERNANDEZ: Jeff, you mind if I linger here for a minute? A lot just happened and I need some stillness to process it.

FRANCO: Don't worry about it Cesar, I got it all here in this Moleskine. I'll give it to you after the game to go over if you want.

HERNANDEZ: Thanks, Maikel. I guess I'll just have to remain confused and awestruck for as long as this game continues.

FRANCOUER: Will you both please get off my mound? The French land has long been seen at the plaything of Europe. This will stand no longer. I hereby claim my mound and will use it to conquer the world!


(The lights dim as Francoeur stands tall on the mound in a pose reflecting a misplaced confidence. As the lights go out, we see Francoeur deliver a pitch. Blackness. Silence.)