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Who is...The Masked Hitter?

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To build fan excitement, the Phillies should take a hint from reality television when they announce their free agent signings.

Most of us expected Manny Machado and Bryce Harper to be signed by now. The seemingly interminable wait has caused some fans to become disillusioned with the team, the players, and even the entire game of baseball. While most fans will quickly turn around if the Phillies announce they’ve signed one of the big two, there will still be some disgruntled fans who will hold a grudge against the player, and be turned off because the “Phillies were obviously not his preferred location.”

The Phillies need to make a pre-emptive strike against these hard feelings, and I’ve come up with the perfect way to do it. Instead of announcing the deal on Twitter or via press conference, perhaps they can schedule some television time for some special programming.

Announcer: The Phillies have come to terms with a free agent! But who is he? Find out tonight on...The Masked Hitter!

The in-studio audience cheers with delirious excitement

Announcer: Let me introduce our special host for this event...Gregg Murphy!

Murphy: Thank you! It’s time to introduce our mystery guest for the evening. He’s mean, he’s green, and he’s ready to be the game changer that Phillies fans have been waiting for! He is...Phanatic!

Phanatic:(with muffled voice) The Phillies have had hitting stars before, but they’ve never had a star like me.

We then see multiple shots of Phanatic hitting balls in a batting cage. Half of the screen is a mirror image, so it is impossible to tell if he is right handed or left handed.

Phanatic (voiceover): Fans love souvenirs, and I’m prepared to give the fans of Citizens Bank Park a lot of home run balls to take home.

Murphy: (Walks up to Phanatic) It’s great to have you as a member of the Phillies. Is there anything else you can tell us about yourself?

Phanatic: Some people say I’m not worth the money, but I’m ready to pay the team back...in World Series titles!

Murphy: That’s some big talk. And we’ve assembled a special panel of baseball experts to try and guess who you actually are. First up, we have Larry Andersen!

Andersen: What’s going on here? I don’t understand what’s happening.

Murphy: You’re supposed to guess who the masked hitter is.

Anderson: The guy in the Phanatic suit? Isn’t that Tom Burgoyne?

San Diego Padres v Philadelphia Phillies
It’s not Tom Burgoyne
Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images

Murphy: Also with us is Ben Davis!

Davis: Hey Murph! This is so exciting! I’m a big fan of this show, and I’m planning on referencing it all season, long past the point when the jokes stop being funny!

Murphy: Do you have a guess as to who the Phanatic is?

Davis: Gee, I don’t know, this is really tough. Maybe it’s Larry Andersen? He used to wear silly masks, didn’t he?

Murphy: You mean the Larry Andersen who is sitting beside you right now?

Davis: Uh...yes?

Murphy: Interesting guess. And finally, we have John Kruk!

Kruk: Why are you making me do this? Am I being punished?

Murphy: Sort of. Have any guesses as to who the masked hitter is?

Kruk: So is this supposed to be either Bryce Harper or Manny Machado? Is that what we’re doing here?

Murphy: Sounds like you guys need some help. So let’s have Phanatic reveal a clue about his identity!

Phanatic makes a dramatic turn to reveal he’s holding a All-Star Game hat

Davis: Oooh, an All Star hat! That must mean he was on the All-Star team!

Andersen: Who was on what All-Star team? Are we getting a new mascot? What the heck is this all about?

Kruk: Harper and Machado were both on the All-Star team! This doesn’t help! (shakes head) I can’t believe I agreed to do this.

Murphy: Do you have any final guesses as to who the masked hitter is?

Davis: Man, this is too tough for me. I don’t want to guess.

Andersen: Can someone explain this to me? Is this some sort of sabermetrics thing?

Kruk: I dunno...Bryce Harper, I guess?

Murphy: Okay, Phanatic, time to show the world who you are.

Crowd chants “Take it off” as the Phanatic begins to lift off his head. Finally, he turns around to reveal....

Mike Moustakas!

Kansas City Royals Photo Day
Surprise! It’s Mike Moustakas!
Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Crowd stares in stunned silence

Murphy: It’s former All-Star third baseman Mike Moustakas!

Davis: Wow, what a surprise! I thought for sure it was going to be Manny Machado!

Andersen: Snores loudly

Kruk: They went through all this just to announce they signed Mike Moustakas? That’s it, I’m done with this. (Walks off stage)

The audience’s silence is broken by a solitary boo. Seconds later, the entire crowd begins to join in.

Murphy: Well, that’s all the time we have this week. If you thought this was exciting, be sure to tune in each night of the season when Mike Moustakas and the Phillies take on the baseball world! And remember, season tickets are still available!