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Tommy Joseph gets big hug for recent onset of yips

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Cameron Rupp knew the best way to help his teammate: unconditional love.

MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at Arizona Diamondbacks Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

Baseball’s unseen shame is the awarding of the Golden Sombrero. Following a hitter’s four-strikeout performance and, it is placed by sinister, unknowable baseball forces on his head while he is sleeping that night. The next morning, he awakens and comes out to breakfast, his family, roommates, and/or hotel staff gasping as he passes. Only when he spots himself in a reflection does he realize: Oh no. I have been marked by the gods. And they despise me.

Naturally, this is not a good feeling, and it’s certainly not the way a young hitter is going to regain the confidence at the plate that kept him out of such low, low depths initially. Last night, Tommy Joseph’s bad couple of weeks got a little worse with an 0-for-5 performance at the plate; but that last AB, the one in which he flew out hard to center, was probably a pressure release valve compared to the the flailing he submitted in his previous four ABs; the ones through which he got his golden sombrero.

On June 10, Joseph was hitting .323 after a two-homer night against the first place Nationals, including one off Stephen Strasburg, in a game the Phillies of course lost. Still basking in his newness, Joseph was clearly the answer at first base, having usurped Ryan Howard’s position and seemingly erased Darin Ruf from the annals of Phillies history. Every ball he hit, even the outs, was hard struck, and it was tantalizing to think what he could do after fully adjusting to big league pitching.

Well, it seems like it adjusted to him first. Since June 10, Joseph’s numbers have been on the plummet, to the point that, following last night’s quadruple K’s, he’s slashing .234/.246/.468 (If we shrink that down to the last two weeks, it becomes .163/.178/.302 with 11 SO). He’s only struck out 17 times in 59 AB since then, so last night’s rock bottom was a bit of an anomaly. But it’s easy to see he’s not hitting the ball anymore, and as a member of the heart of the Phillies’ order, it’s costing the team its precious few runs (After knocking in four runs on June 10, Joseph has knocked in three total since).

I mean I don’t remember literally “crying,” but I know how much you big tough sports guys hate that crap so I’m not going to rule it out. It’s been an upsetting time. Joseph came out of the gate so sharply and effectively, we barely noticed he didn’t see many pitches (3.75 per AB) and swings at pitches outside of the strike zone as if he’ll get extra points for hitting them (which he doesn’t, I checked). This is something perhaps we could have reflected on when he sat out a game on June 23 due to being “sick,” according to reports, but instead we just sat there and chewed our thumbnails as Ryan Howard went 2-for-5 with a home run.

On top of his head-shakingly poor performances at the plate, Joseph has started to let the defensive brain farts sneak in as well.

Look, I still love Tommy Joseph. You all should too. Anyone who didn’t see this coming hasn’t watched a young player get promoted to the big leagues for the first time before. It’s literally amazing that Joseph is able to get out of bed in the morning, given his injury history, let alone be deemed good enough to join a major league squad - which he was, at Triple A. He came up riding that lightning and now the storm is over, and he’s got to stand in there, take his licks, listen to advice from coaches and teammates, make adjustments, and slowly pull out of this downward spiral. It’ll happen. We already know he can hit, though his numbers show a definite split between facing lefties (.333 in 33 AB) and righties (.198 in 91 AB).

So, I’ll just say what we’re all thinking: Peter Bourjos has mojo-jacked Tommy Joseph. But, thankfully, not all of Joseph’s Phillies teammates are crafty mischief gods from the old country. Cameron Rupp knew the best way to help his teammate: unconditional love, and Scott Franzke informed us last night after Joseph’s fourth strikeout that the burly catcher wrapped his teammate up in a bear hug to let him know everything was going to be okay.