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2012 Week: The story of the 2012 Phillies as told by lyrics from Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe”

How better to tell the story of the 2012 Phillies than by using the biggest hit of 2012?

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An annual Spring tradition in America is for recording artists to release songs that they hope will take over the country and be declared “Song of the Summer.” Sometimes, it feels like they try way too hard (Looking at you, Can’t Stop the Feeling), and sometimes, heretofore unknown artists emerge with unexpected earworms that become the undisputed holder of that title.

Prior to 2012, very few people had heard of Canadian pop singer Carly Rae Jepsen. But by the time Memorial Day rolled around, just about everyone was familiar with her breakthrough hit, “Call Me Maybe.”

If the past ten years have allowed you to purge the song from your memory, here’s the music video so you can get reacquainted:

Why did this song catch on the way it did? It’s got a catchy beat and easy to remember lyrics, and it seems to fall into the happy place of fun, but not too unbearably vacuous. It also sparked countless debates over whether or not Carly Rae Jepsen was hot.

While 2012 was undoubtedly a good year for Ms. Jepsen, the same couldn’t be said for the Philadelphia Phillies. Please allow me to tell the story of the 2012 with help from the lyrics of her signature hit.

I threw a wish in the well

Knowing the team would be without Ryan Howard for a good chunk of the season, the Phillies tried to find ways to replace his production. They signed Jim Thome with the hope that he could make two starts a week at first base. Unfortunately, Thome’s back wouldn’t cooperate. After a few attempts at playing first base in April, he was limited to DH and pinch-hitting duties.

To his credit, Thome did hit well when he was the designated hitter, but due to the National League’s arcane rules, those opportunities were limited to a handful of games in American League parks. Eventually, the Phillies gave up on the experiment and traded him back to the American League.

I looked to you as it fell

Most of the Phillies had disappointing seasons. One notable exception was catcher Carlos Ruiz who had a career offensive season and made the All-Star team. Ruiz’s strong season inspired his teammate to write perhaps the most iconic Phillies tweet of all time:

I trade my soul for a wish

With the Phillies out of contention at the trade deadline, they traded away outfielders Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence. Neither man was having his best season, but in hindsight, the trades were a bad idea. None of the players they received in return ever amounted to much, and it felt like the Phillies spent the next two years vainly trying to fill the holes they created in the outfield.

Pennies and dimes for a kiss

The Phillies’ biggest move prior to the 2012 season was to sign free agent closer Jonathan Papelbon. In another section of the multiverse, Paps might have become a fan favorite. But due to a variety of reasons, despite being effective overall, Paps was generally disliked in Philadelphia.

I wasn’t looking for this, but now you’re in my way

As the Phillies offense struggled to produce runs at the Major League level, in Reading, a young player was putting up huge power numbers. Some people still believe that if Darin Ruf was given a full-time job in 2012 and 2013, the team might have been better off. Instead, he mostly sat behind Ryan Howard, despite Howard’s inability to hit left-handed pitching after his return from injury.

The Ruf truthers conveniently forget that Ruf’s performance against right-handed pitching wasn’t anything special, and there are a lot more righties pitching in the league.

Hey, I just met you, and this is crazy

The 2012 Opening Day roster should have clued us in that the season might not go the way we hoped. Yes, they still had plenty of marquee names around, but the 40-man roster also included a lot of unknowns like Ty Wigginton, Brian Schneider, Freddy Galvis, Chad Qualls, and Laynce Nix.

It’s hard to look right at you baby

Speaking of marquee names, perhaps the saddest part of the 2012 season was the sudden downfall of Roy Halladay. At the start of the season, Halladay seemed to be his usual uber-ace self, but things quickly fell apart. All of those years of high inning counts had taken their toll, and sometimes, when the end comes, it comes quickly. Watching Halladay struggle was painful, and perhaps the biggest factor in the Phillies falling out of contention.

You took your time with the call

After missing the early part of 2011 with a knee injury, it was disheartening when Chase Utley’s season was again delayed by an injury. He didn’t make his 2012 debut until late June, and while he was solid after his return, his play wasn’t up the standard we had grown to expect.

You gave me nothing at all

In 2011, John Mayberry got a lot of playing time in left field, serving as the right-handed part of a platoon with Raul Ibanez. And given his .854 OPS and 15 home runs that season, it was reasonable for the Phillies to give him a chance at the full-time job in 2012.

Unfortunately, Mayberry wasn’t up to the task, and his OPS dropped to .695. Over the next three years, the Phillies gave Mayberry a lot of at bats against right-handed pitching, and kept trying to use him as a centerfielder, even though he repeatedly showed that he couldn’t do either thing well.

I beg, borrow, and steal

Mayberry’s failures were offset a bit by the surprising showing from free agent Juan Pierre. Pierre added stability, batting .307 with 37 stolen bases. His speed even helped them pull out an extra inning win:

At first sight and it’s real

Freddy Galvis made his debut in 2012, largely playing second base in Chase Utley’s absence early in the season. It was unclear if Galvis’ bat would ever rise to the level of adequacy, but his defense came as good as advertised.

And you should know that I missed you so bad

2012 was the first year since 2006 that the Phillies would miss the playoffs. They haven’t made it back since, leaving Phillies fans longing for the days of watching the team in the postseason.

I hope you enjoyed this walk down memory lane. Now please enjoy spending the rest of your day getting the song out of your head!

Rise and Phight: 10/2/2023

Bring on Tuesday: Phillies 9, Mets 1

Gamethread 10/1: Phillies at Mets