The Evster Repairs the Images of Bynum, Lindros, Rolen and McNabb

The Evster Repairs the Images of Bynum, Lindros, Rolen and McNabb

I cannot wait to heckle Andrew Bynum when he comes back to the Wells Farg.

I might even make a sign, even though I recognize that there's nothing lamer than making a sign, and nothing more annoying than sitting behind a fan holding one up. And yet I'm still considering it. Right now my #1 sign idea is: "HEY ANDREW HOW'S THE WEATHER UP THERE JK NO ONE CARES." I think it's pretty good.

But the thing is, Bynum didn't really do anything wrong here. (Yeah, there was the whole bowling thing, but bowling is SUPER FUN and we can't get mad at a person for bowling.) He was just injured and wanted to make sure he was healthy before cashing in on free agency, and that's really no reason to hate him. It was just his complete and total apathy for the whole situation that was so maddening. Not once did it ever seem like he understood that we were excited to have him. Not once did it seem like he wanted to dunk on people's necks. It's not fun to watch Spencer Hawes play basketball. Andrew didn't get that, and now he's leaving town as one of this city's all-time most hated athletes.

I'm not sure if Andrew cares (in fact, I'm not sure if this guy cares about anything), but I think he might. Because if getting through middle school taught me anything, it's that most people in this world, deep down, just want to be liked.

And Andrew still could be.

All the guy needs a good public relations person and one thoughtful press release. So I am offering special one-time only pro bono Evster PR services to Andrew (and Eric Lindros, Scott Rolen and Donovan McNabb) to repair their images once and for all.

Andrew Bynum: "Yo, I'm sorry this didn't work out. I really am. I came to Philly super excited to follow in the footsteps of the great Sixers big men like Wilt and Moses and Shawn Bradley (jk that guy sucked), and be the face of this franchise, but my body just wouldn't let it happen. I get injured so much and it's really, really frustrating. I really appreciate the Sixers organization showing confidence in me, trading for me and prying me away from that whack job in Los Angeles, that city is friggin' bonkers by the way, have you ever been there? People wear jackets there all the time. It's like, 78 degrees every day, and they still wear jackets. Ridiculous. My time here wasn't supposed to end like this, and yes, I admit the bowling thing was stupid, but I friggin' love bowling. Cherry soda? Amazing. Those old school jawns with the plastic cups and the seltzer shoots out and then the syrup? You can't beat that! After being laid up for a while, I just wanted to get out of the house and roll a few frames with the fellas, but them lanes is slippery! You know them lanes is slippery! So I'm sorry, but I've got to move on, and I'm sure you understand that. Best of luck to the organization. Best of luck to Nerlens, I know how hard coming back from injuries can be. I really hope Cleveland has good sandwiches. You guys got some good-ass sandwiches here. Yo, you seriously got some good-ass sandwiches here. Y'all should be proud. Peace."

Eric Lindros: "Not sure if you guys are aware of this, but during my time here I suffered a bunch of brain injuries, which means I suffered injuries to my BRAIN. Do you get that? Do you understand what I'm saying there? I'm not even sure if I understand, because my brain is broken and I have trouble understanding things, but I want you to try and understand that THERE'S AN "S" AFTER THE WORD INJURY BECAUSE I HAD MULTIPLE MULTIPLE MULTIPLE BRAIN INJURIES. I wanted that Stanley Cup, I really did, but THE WHOLE THING WITH MY BRAIN AND IT GETTING INJURED AND ALL, I just wasn't able to make it happen. I always wanted to be the next Gretzky or Lemieux or Messier, but when my BRAIN STARTED TO SWELL UP INSIDE OF MY SKULL, I started to make some really poor decisions. Also, my dad is a total whack job. Ugh, parents, am I right? Can't live with 'em, do you guys hear a doggie? I think I hear a doggie. Sorry that I wasn't able to achieve my goals here, but I'm very thankful for, do you hear a doggie? I definitely hear a doggie. I'm going to go find that doggie. Here, doggie! Here, doggie!"

Scott Rolen: "I am a white person from Indiana who was drafted by a professional sports team that plays its home games in the murder capital of the world. And still, I feel like I gave you guys six solid seasons of hustle, grit and ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE DEFENSE I MEAN DID YOU SEE SOME OF THOSE PLAYS I MADE. But the Vet turf, I mean, that Vet turf?!?! You saw that guy on the Bears blow out both of his ACLs. HE BLEW OUT BOTH OF HIS ACLS! I'm from Indiana for God's sake! I needed to get back there. People from St. Louis and the Midwest are so nice. Yeah, they also commit murders, but there's plenty of great parking available in downtown St. Louis and people in this town park in the middle of Broad Street! Who does that? You can just park in the middle of the street? This place is lawless. And why is everyone in this town always yelling at each other? Must be the humidity. I just had to get out of here. I'm sure you understand. His ACLs literally exploded out of his legs. He was screaming."

Donovan McNabb: "You gotta see how much food they give you during Super Bowl week. Everywhere you go, there's just buffet tables and spreads and little dishes of peanuts and pretzels and Chex Mix, you wouldn't think Chex Mix was that delicious, but it is, and by the time that 4th quarter rolled around, I was queasy as a mugg. Plus, went to Olive Garden the night before, which was obviously a mistake, but dude, free breadsticks and salad?!?! How do you turn that down? Literally, as many breadsticks as you can eat. So sorry about the puking. I wanted to win, I really did, but I also wanted to just eat some breadsticks. You understand. How do you guys not like me? I played basketball at Syracuse for God's sake! That's so cool. Devendorf? Sherman Douglas! Please get off my back. Remember that scramble against the Redskins? Doug Pederson seriously sucked though, right, we can at least agree on that. You don't even have to like me, I really don't care, but can we just agree that Doug Pederson sucked so much butt? Do you know that he's now Andy Reid's offensive coordinator in Kansas City? That's unbelievable. Shawn Bradley was seriously the worst, though, c'mon, let's be honest. Shawn Bradley? Seriously? #76? C'mon. Hook shots? Hook shots??!?! C'mon, guys. C'mon. C'mon, man. Seriously. Shawn Bradley?"

If you want to hire The Evster to handle your clients' public relations, follow him @TVMWW.

Thinking man's pitcher, Phillies prospect Cole Irvin enjoying time with Clearwater

Thinking man's pitcher, Phillies prospect Cole Irvin enjoying time with Clearwater

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Clearwater Threshers pitcher Cole Irvin is a student of baseball, but maybe the word “student” – simply stated and in its base meaning – describes the young left-hander best.

A graduate of the University of Oregon who completed his undergraduate degree in sociology in just 3½ years, Irvin has applied a studious, methodical approach to his work on the mound, where he starred as a freshman and senior for the Ducks as a regular Friday night starter.

His 2014 collegiate season was marred by Tommy John surgery, but he reflects on it now as being an important part of him staying in college and obtaining his degree. He remained in Eugene another semester after getting drafted by Pittsburgh in the 32nd round, his second time getting selected.

“I look at it as a positive. I wouldn’t have been able to finish my degree at Oregon if I didn’t have the surgery,” said Irvin, who was drafted in the fifth round by the Phillies last June.

“Sociology covers so many topics. It’s a great degree to have. My studies varied from the population of salmon affecting society to the study of social media. There was so much I learned in so many diverse topics. I like interacting because everyone’s opinion mattered.”

The sociological background also easily translates to the diamond for the 6-foot-4, 190-pound Irvin.

“It’s the same in baseball. The more information you have about the opposing team, our team, if we’re doing the shift and other things… now you have all that collected information. Now you just go do your thing. I think I apply (sociology) to so many different aspects of what I do,” he said.

Sociology aside, Clearwater pitching coach Aaron Fultz has been impressed with the mental approach Irvin has displayed.

“Very (much so),” replied Fultz when asked if the southpaw is the quintessential cerebral pitcher. “He’s a no frills guy and he’s here to work.”

Fultz broke in to MLB and played three seasons with the San Francisco Giants – 2000 to 2002 – and the former big leaguer said Irvin reminds him from a work ethic standpoint of a Bay Area teammate of his.

“He kind of reminds me of Jeff Kent. He comes here and he wants to work and get better,” said Fultz of Irvin, who also bears a slight resemblance to the five-time all-star and 2000 NL MVP of the Giants.

That industrious attitude worked well for Irvin in his first spring training camp in the Grapefruit League in February. He broke camp by bypassing Low A Lakewood and joining the Threshers. Then he proceeded to overwhelm hitters in the Florida State League.

Irvin, 23, was 3-1 in four starts in April, posting a 1.04 ERA. In 26 innings, he allowed 22 hits, struck out 20 and walked just three. His WHIP stood at 0.96.

“His first four or five starts, I thought he was the best pitcher in the league,” Fultz said. “Since then, we’ve had a little hiccup here and there about location and just giving up some hits. He’s had some bad luck, too.

“But I love the way he goes about his business. He gets the ball and he’s ready to pitch. He has a very good idea and is a smart kid. He doesn’t throw 95, but he’s left-handed – that helps – and he has a really good change-up. His stuff is better than average, but his tenacity and the way he goes after hitters is a really good selling point for him.”

Irvin said he tries not read what is written about him or the multitude of numbers baseball produces.

“The past three outings haven’t gone the way I’ve anticipated, especially after the first five starts of the year,” said Irvin, who is 3-5 with a 3.20 ERA after four straight losses starting on May 4 against Jupiter.

He will try to break that winless skid on Tuesday when he faces Florida back in Clearwater.

Of his standout first pro season at short-season Williamsport last year (5-1, 1.97 in 10 games), Irvin admitted he doesn’t look at the stats, saying, “Honestly, I don’t know the numbers. I don’t get ahead of myself and look at stats. Every once in a while, I’ll look at media stuff, but I try not to follow that stuff.

“Once it gets in your head, you start to get anxious about moving up and thinking about things you’re not supposed to be thinking about. I’m supposed to be thinking right now, ‘What can I do to get better and get to the big leagues?’ It’s not about being in the minor leagues; it’s about being in the big leagues.”

Irvin has enjoyed his season so far and, like a good sociology student, is harvesting his own data.

“There’s a lot to build off of. It’s my first full season, so it’s exciting to spend a whole year playing baseball and doing something you love and is fun. It’s something I’ve dreamed of as a kid,” he said.

“I never thought I’d be here this quick, so I’m taking it one day at a time. I can only focus on this day, and tomorrow will come tomorrow.”
 
Three questions with Cole Irvin

You throw a one-seam fastball. What does it do?

“It’s literally across one seam, holding it with one finger. It depends on the wrist. If it’s on the side of the ball, it’s going to fade (versus righty batters). But if your wrist is more on the inside toward your body, it’s going to cut. I only use it as a strikeout pitch. [Laughing] I’d say it’s a wipe-out pitch, but I don’t have wipe-out stuff like most of the guys on this team. It’s an effect pitch, where there’s a little uncertainty where it’ll go.”

You’re from Yorba Linda, CA, the birthplace of Richard Nixon and home of the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum. Have any good Nixon stories?

“Actually, I do. When I was 12, I had to do community service for the high school I was going to go to. I had to have so many hours. The library was looking for someone to clean the helicopter – Air Force One helicopter or whatever it was called. Every Sunday morning I’d show up at 5:30 a.m. to clean that helicopter. I had to go through the Secret Service back door and security checks. I was 12, so there wasn’t much information on me. I spent four or five Sundays cleaning that helicopter. It was so much fun.”

As an Oregon Duck, you were able to play in the Civil War against the Oregon State Beavers and New York Mets outfielder Michael Conforto. Any success?

“My senior year was the first time we’ve ever gone to Goss Stadium and won a series at Oregon State. I pitched against Conforto and also played with him on the Team USA collegiate team that had (Chicago Cubs star Kyle) Schwarber. Honestly, Michael’s one of the great guys to know and talk to. He’s just a world-class, awesome guy.”

Now on Phillies' bench, Ty Kelly looks back fondly on Team Israel experience

Now on Phillies' bench, Ty Kelly looks back fondly on Team Israel experience

Ty Kelly is currently the 25th man on the Phillies' roster, a utility man who has all of two starts with the club this year.

But two and a half months ago, he was one of the headlining players on the Cinderella squad of the 2017 World Baseball Classic.

Kelly was the starting third baseman for Team Israel, which made a surprising run to the second round with a perfect run through Pool A. The team began the WBC with an upset over host South Korea before wins over Chinese Taipei and the Netherlands. Israel beat Cuba in the next round in Japan but fell to Japan and the Netherlands handily.

Unlike most MLB players who spent their spring in Florida, Kelly got to experience two major Asian cities -- Seoul and Tokyo -- while getting his preseason at-bats.

"It was a great experience, trying the food and all that and seeing all the sights," Kelly said.

However, he wasn't too adventurous with trying the local cuisine compared to his teammates.

"Some of the guys were really trying to seek out the native food," Kelly said. "I wanted to do that as much as I could, but at the same time, you're still trying to get ready for baseball games in a tournament, so you've got to do what's best for your body.

"Chicken sandwiches for me were the way to go for the most part," he added with a laugh.

Kelly's participation with the squad began in the middle of 2016, when Peter Kurz, the President of the Israel Association of Baseball, emailed him and asked if he had a Jewish grandparent. Kelly's mother's side of the family is Jewish, making Kelly eligible.

Last year was also the end of Kelly's long road to the major leagues. Drafted by the Orioles in 2009 out of UC Davis, Kelly was traded multiple times, once straight up for current Brewers slugger Eric Thames before Thames went to Korea and back. Kelly wound up with the Mets and finally made his MLB debut two months shy of his 28th birthday. He played 39 games for the Mets at six different positions and got a hit in his only postseason at-bat, which came vs. Madison Bumgarner no less.

Kelly still had to make the Mets this spring, which could have made joining the WBC a tough decision. However, the organization was on board with Kelly playing in the tournament.

"It made it difficult, but I talked to the Mets about it and they were all for me going over there and still playing and getting experience," he said. "People were still watching, so once I got the go-ahead from them, it was an easy decision."

Kelly made the Mets out of the spring but had just one at-bat before he put on waivers and was claimed by the Blue Jays. Eight days later, he was traded to the Phillies. He has four hits (three doubles) in 19 at-bats with the Phillies and had the game-winning RBI single two weeks ago in the front end of the Phils' doubleheader with the Nationals.

He's the only player from Team Israel to have played in the majors this season. Ryan Lavarnway and former Mets 1B Ike Davis are in Triple A while the roster also included former MLBers Nate Freiman, Sam Fuld and Jason Marquis.

While none of his WBC teammates have parlayed Team Israel's run into MLB time, Kelly still thinks the team caught the eye of people in the game.

"There was definitely a lot of fandom around our team," Kelly said. "A lot of people rallied around us, including people in front offices I think. Of Jewish descent or not, I think a lot of people liked what we did.

"Being a part of that definitely looks good for me, which is just an added bonus."