Today is Thanksgiving Day, and like many things in 2020, the holiday will likely be a little different than we’re used to. Instead of uncomfortable discussions around the dinner table, we’ll get uncomfortable discussions over Zoom. (Can you hear me? Oh, sorry, I was on mute!)
Unfortunately, given our current national environment, it seems more likely than not that some of those discussions will eventually veer into political territory. And once you start talking politics, things often get heated quickly. (Yes, Uncle Frank, we’re all very aware of your feelings on election fraud.)
If you find that happening, I suggest that you deftly redirect the conversation towards the Phillies. Because no matter how you lean politically, everyone can probably agree that both John Middleton and Andy MacPhail have done a lousy job over the past year.
Baseball on Thanksgiving?
The Phillies, and baseball in general aren’t the first sport that normally comes to mind when you think about Thanksgiving. Football is so closely associated with the holiday that many Americans would sooner give up eating turkey than not watch football. Yes, Thanksgiving means spending time with family and showing gratitude, but it also means watching the Detroit Lions perennially bumble their way around the field.
If the people in charge of Major League Baseball really want to re-establish their sport as the national pastime, they need to find a way to get in on that action. I’ll admit that loosening the NFL’s stranglehold on the holiday would be difficult, but it’s kind of sad that baseball hasn’t even tried. Maybe 2020 isn’t the best year to start something new, but in 2021, maybe Major League Baseball can put on some sort of Thanksgiving Day exhibition game? The Cleveland Indians vs. the Colorado (Plymouth) Rockies perhaps?
As I write this, I’m realize that the logistics of such an offseason exhibition would be difficult, and even if they pulled it off, it probably wouldn’t make a dent in the NFL’s ratings. So instead, maybe MLB should focus on making one of the major summer holidays their version of Thanksgiving.
The obvious choice would be Independence Day, and while there is usually a full slate of games on the air that day, does anyone really consider them to be must-see viewing? Perhaps the problem is the nature of the holiday. On Thanksgiving, most of the festivities take place indoors, while the prospect of sitting inside on your couch seems less appealing in July.
It seems like I’ve gotten nowhere with these suggestions, but on the other hand, I’m just a blogger spit-balling a few ideas. The real question is: Why aren’t the marketing geniuses at Major League Baseball working on these things? It’s almost like they want their sport to be an also ran.
The Phillies relievers as Thanksgiving food
Remember how bad the Phillies’ bullpen was in 2020? Wasn’t it fun how they pretty much sabotaged the team’s chances at the playoffs? You know what would be more fun than watching those guys pitch? (Anything?) Imagining if some of those relievers were Thanksgiving foods!
David Phelps - Green bean casserole
It tasted good when you had it at someone else’s house, so you figured it would be the perfect addition to your Thanksgiving meal. But you must have messed something up, because when you tried to make it, it tasted awful.
Seranthony Dominguez - Grandma’s stuffing
You knew it was unlikely that Grandma was going to be able to make it to dinner this year, yet your parents kept pretending that it might happen. They held out hope that Grandma would be there, and her stuffing would make the meal much better. But as most people predicted, Grandma stayed home, and the meal definitely suffered without the stuffing.
Brandon Workman - Your aunt’s “special” gravy
Your aunt wasn’t at your house for Thanksgiving last year, but she kept telling you about how great her gravy was and how much everyone loved it. It isn’t clear if she changed the recipe from last year or maybe it wasn’t really ever as good as we were led to believe, but it tasted horrible and ruined some of the otherwise good food on the table.
Blake Parker - Mashed potatoes
A little unusual tasting, but not bad. Still, it’s not a good sign when the mashed potatoes are the best part of the meal.
Tommy Hunter - Brussel sprouts
It’s not good, nobody really likes it, yet it keeps showing up at the table every year.
Jojo Romero - Macaroni and cheese
After a few bites, you recognize that there’s potential for greatness there, but it definitely needs some more seasoning.
Heath Hembree - Green beans with pearled onions
This is a bitter-tasting mess, and it baffles me how anyone could have thought it was a good idea.
Deolis Guerra, Nick Pivetta, Austin Davis, and all the other random pitchers the Phillies unsuccessfully ran out there - Candied yams
Just gross. Ew. Get it off the table!
Hector Neris - The grocery store sweet potato pie
It’s not the worst thing on the table, but is this really what you want to finish the meal with? Every year it seems like you should be able to find a better dessert to close things out, and yet, every year we’re left with this unspectacular pie at the end of the meal.
Let’s be thankful
2020 was not the Phillies’ year. Neither was 2019...or 2018...or every year since 2011. But instead of worrying too much about what the Phillies haven’t done lately (aka, make the playoffs), lets focus on the good stuff!
Despite the team’s baffling determinedness to stifle fan morale, the team isn’t as far off from being a playoff team as you might think. If you look at the 2020 team, they were an overall good team that was done in by a historically bad bullpen. The good news is that relief pitching tends to be the most volatile in terms of year-to-year performance. There’s a solid chance that even without sweeping changes, the 2021 Phillies’ bullpen “table” will have fewer candied yams and more delicious turkey. And maybe - especially if they bring back a certain free agent catcher - that will be enough to get them back to the postseason.
Or maybe I’m just a hopeless optimist?
On a personal note, I’d like to say I’m thankful for all the readers of this site. It isn’t easy being a Phillies fan, and 2020 has been an especially tough year. So thanks to everyone who chose to go through the arduous journey with us.
With that, I’ll bid you farewell with wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving!