clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

From the horse’s mouth: Let’s cyber bully COVID-19!

New, 4 comments

Hashtag shaming the coronavirus and a look back at Juan Samuel

Philadelphia Phillies
As a rookie, Samuel looked like a star in the making

Random thought about the Phillies

I was never all that fond of Nick Williams. Sure, there were flashes of greatness, but I never thought he was much better than an ideal fourth outfielder. That said, I feel bad for his current plight. The previous manager didn’t seem to like him, and upon the late signing of Bryce Harper last Spring, he went from a presumptive starter to an afterthought. While you’d prefer that a player would be able to work past such a disappointment and still find a way to thrive, it’s also understandable that he struggled for most of the 2019 season.

If anyone thought the 2020 season was going to be a comeback for Williams, that doesn’t seem too likely at this point. It never really felt like he was a contender for a 26-man roster spot, and the team confirmed that by quietly optioning him to the minors last week.

It feels like it would be best for both the team and player if he was given a fresh start elsewhere, but a trade has yet to materialize. You’d think he’d be worth something - even a lottery ticket prospect - from another team, but the Phillies seem content to just let him wither in the minor leagues.

Random thought that is most definitely not about the Phillies

This whole pandemic thing doesn’t seem to want to go away any time soon. Maybe instead of meekly hiding in our homes, it’s time that we fought this thing more aggressively.

I’m not saying we should be defiant and continue to gather in public places. That’s just playing into the virus’ hands, and will only make it stronger. Instead, let’s use that extra time we have to spend on social media, and defeat the virus through the magic of cyber bullying. I’m proposing that everyone log onto their favorite social media platform and start dissing COVID-19.

Here are some examples:

COVID? More like #NOVID

#COVIDIsSo2019

#CoronaBYErus

Can you imagine the look on COVID-19’s face if it opened up its phone and found these hashtags trending? I can’t imagine it would want to stick around much longer after that.

Phillies stuff I found on YouTube

Wanna see a guy get REALLY excited about Juan Samuel stealing a base? Or how about the Phanatic pulling a long-suffering wife into a television set? Check out these commercials from 1986.

Pheatured Phormer Phillie: Juan Samuel

Speaking of Samuel, there was a time when he looked like he would inherit the mantle of franchise player from Mike Schmidt. In his rookie season of 1984, he set a then-rookie record with 72 stolen bases, and led the National League with 19 triples. That was good enough to earn him a spot on the NL All-Star team and second place in Rookie of the Year voting (behind a very deserving Dwight Gooden).

Samuel followed that up with two solid seasons, before returning to the All-Star Game in 1986 thanks to 28 home runs and 15 triples (which again led the league). In the 80’s, a middle-infielder who could hit 20+ home runs was a rare commodity, and at 26 years of age, the Phillies appeared to have one of the NL’s brightest young players on their team.

However, there were some warts in Samuel’s game. Like many Puerto Ricans, taking walks wasn’t a big part of his game. He would swing at just about everything - and unfortunately, he often missed. He led the NL in strikeouts in each of his four first seasons.

He also wasn’t a great defender at second base, so the Phillies thought maybe his speed would translate to center field. He turned out to be even worse out there, and his poor defense seemed to drag his offense down with it. His production slumped in 1988, and by 1989, the Phillies - who were firmly in rebuilding mode at that point - decided he needed a change of scenery. They traded him to the Mets in exchange for Lenny Dykstra and Roger McDowell.

Samuel bounced around the majors for awhile, and returned to the All-Star Game in 1991. However, he never came close to fulfilling the promise he showed in his first four years. Eventually, he was welcomed back into the Phillies family. He was added to the team’s Wall of Fame in 2008 and served as a coach from 2011-2017.

Featured Phillies baseball card

When looking at Samuel’s baseball cards, I thought it was strange that considering Samuel’s speed, most of the pictures they used were still shots. And in several, much like this one from the 1984 Fleer set, Samuel looks unaware that his picture is even being taken.

Smile, Juan! Or don’t. Either way.

Parting thought

If my campaign to cyber bully COVID-19 proves ineffective, maybe the Phillies can ask Nick Williams to work on finding an effective drug treatment against the virus. After all, its not like he’s got much else to do.