An Interview With Jason Mulgrew, Author of "Everything Is Wrong With Me"

An Interview With Jason Mulgrew, Author of "Everything Is Wrong With Me"

Jason Mulgrew is a South Philadelphia native who grew up idolizing Michael Jack Schmidt. Perhaps most famous for running a fireworks distribution empire, he also happens to be a fellow alum of Boston College who has blog. His new book is titled Everything Is Wrong with Me: A Memoir of an American Childhood Gone, Well, Wrong. The book, much like his blog, is quite hilarious. He was kind enough to answer a few of our questions, mostly about the Dead and Philly sports venues.

Enrico: You’re a Philly guy,
you went to a local Prep school, you graduated from Boston College,
and you have a blog, yet you give off the impression you’re not pulling
tail left and right.  What gives? 

Jason: You’re telling me that
spending my adolescent years going through puberty surrounded by 200
dudes, being a fat guy from South Philly with a beard and attending
a college stocked with New England-bred upper class girls who prefer
the J. Crew/lacrosse player type, and having an internet diary means
I should be getting laid more?  Really?  Please tell me you’re
kidding me, because I know that shit ain’t working for you. 

And if you’re not kidding,
I’m really going to flip out.  We just might have to move on.       

Perhaps my favorite anecdote
from your book was the story of your parents first
“encounter” or what you want to call it back in the 70’s. 
In short, they first encountered each other during the Mummer’s Parade
while your dad was doing his best drunken strut while unknowingly bleeding
from a stab wound.  That’s pretty much the best
“how did you meet” story I’ve ever heard.  I secretly wanted
to meet a gorgeous girl during the Phillies World Series parade in 2008,
fall in love, and subsequently marry her.  That way when people
ask the “how did you meet?” question, we’d have a killer answer. 
So, I guess my question is, how can you top your parents’ story? 
Give us a situation where you meet some lovely lady, fall in love, and
get married that tops your parents’ tale.   

First, I think that my dad
was aware that he had been stabbed and was bleeding; he just was too
drunk to care.  And you’re right, that’s pretty much the best
“How did you meet?” story ever.  And in the case of my parents,
there’s actual photographic proof!  Which, of course, you’ll
have to buy the book to see. 

(Well, I guess you could technically
just pick up the book, look at the picture, and then put it down and
walk away.  But you’d have to read the chapter to get the whole
story.)     

I don’t know if I – or
really, anyone – will be able to top theirs.  I can say that
a few years ago, my roommate and I used a drug delivery service in NYC
(just for pot, don’t worry).  It was amazing, quick and efficient
– you’d call, tell them what you wanted, and 45 minutes later, a
guy would show up with your pot.  Awesome.  It was a sad,
sad day for us when it was eventually busted.   

But anyway, there were only
two guys who ever showed up at our place to drop off the pot: a pretty
jacked Latino dude who didn’t speak at all and was in and out in under
ten seconds and this dirty-ass skinny Wook who’d want to come in,
have a beer, smoke, hang out, whatever.  And my roommate and I
never knew which one it would be, so each time we opened the door, it
was a surprise.  We were always hoping for the scary Latino dude,
because, even though he was more likely to murder us, at least he didn’t
want to hang out.       

But the roommate and I had
a joke that maybe one day we’d open the door to receive our pot and
instead of the Latino guy or the Wook, there’d be the gorgeous girl
– this smoking hot hippie chick with long flowing hair and an ample
bosom, standing there, an eighth or quarter of pot in her hand, and
that’s it – you get the classic “love at first sight” montage
where she brushes her hair behind her shoulder in slow-motion and “Dream
Weaver” starts playing and bam, you’re in love.    

So maybe something like that
could come close to my parents’ story: this hot girl delivers my pot,
we strike up a conversation, spend our first date smoking up, eating
Pringles and watching “The Big Lebowski”, and we eventually marry,
almost certainly on a farm, to the wedding song like “Wagon Wheel”
by OCMS.  Then, years later, when we’re sitting at a wedding
table full of strangers and one of them asks, “So how did you guys
meet?” I could say, “It’s a funny story, actually – she used
to work for my drug dealer.  Well, I guess technically she used
to be my drug dealer, since I gave her cash and she gave me drugs,
but, really, I’m not a lawyer. We now have little two girls, Star
and Star As Well, and a third child on the way.”   

You’re an annual Mummer
with the Froggy Carr brigade.  Those are the really, really drunk
ones, is that correct?  Also, what do you think you’ll ever become
an official member are?   

I think it would be fair
to categorize Froggy Carr as the “really, really drunks ones”, yes. 
For this and other reasons, I’ve been going out with Froggy Carr since
I was about two.     

As for being a member, I don’t
know.  As I explain the book, almost anyone can go out with Froggy
Carr or other Comics in the Mummers Parade, but only a select few become
members of the club.  Maybe if the book sells a ton of copies,
they’ll let me in.  I certainly hope so – I have a crippling
need for acceptance and approval.  By the way, how am I doing so
far?  If you don’t like it, we can start over.  I’m sorry.       

You idolized Michael
Jack growing up, yet were admittedly a truly pathetic baseball player
(.013 career batting average).  You share plenty of tales in the
book about the obstacles in life that were challenging that perhaps
helped shape you as a person. Yet you seem to take being the worst little
league player ever in stride.  I think being such a shitty little
league player would damage me for life.  Thoughts? 

Little League was about
so much more than actually playing baseball.  It was about making
friends, eating sugary snacks, and, in the case of my team, learning
about and discussing masturbation.  I’ve also always approached
life with the general feeling that if at first you don’t succeed,
you should probably move on right away to something else you might be
better at.  So when I realized that I sucked at baseball, I sort
of shrugged it off and focused on hanging out with the other terrible
guys on the team and cracking jokes with them.  

See?  There’s a lesson
here.  When life gives you lemons, drop the shit out of those lemons
and go play video games or something.      

You talk about getting
the chance to see the Grateful Dead at the Spectrum as a 12-year-old. 
That must have been pretty surreal, obviously.  How was Jerry that
night?  Anything else you remember about the evening?  Any
other great Spectrum memories?   

Overall, that was a memorable
night, featuring a lot of “firsts”: first time I saw the Dead, first
time I saw a boob (that’s another teaser for the book), first time
I did or inhaled or whatever a nitrous balloon.  This last one
is especially surprising – I was doing nitrous balloons in the parking
lot of a Dead show when I was 12 or 13, but I didn’t even drink until
I was 18 or 19.  As for Jerry, I remember he was much fatter than
I thought he’d be and also very stationary.  But they did “Loose
Lucy” and “He’s Gone”, which were then and still are two of
my favorites. (Here's the full setlist)

And other Spectrum memories…I
saw the Phantoms win the Calder Cup there in 1998.  I wasn’t
a huge Phantoms fan, but to be present when a Philly team won a championship
was pretty awesome, something I wouldn’t get to see until ten years
later, when a buddy happened upon an extra ticket to Game Five. 
I was in Vegas at the time, but booked the first flight out in the morning
to Philly to catch the game.  Spectacular.   

But back to the Spectrum…I
saw my first ever concert there, which was Paula Abdul, with Color Me
Badd opening.  The Dead was my second concert, two years later. 
A lot happened in those two years, obviously.    

Having grown up on Two
Street, you lived in the shadows of the Vet for much of your life. 
Got a good Vet story?  Perhaps an adventure in the 700 level that
you’d like to share? 
 

Ah, yes.  Aside from
the obvious – about a billion Phillies’ games on $4 general admission
tickets – I do remember that on at least one occasion my buddies and
I snuck into the Vet to run the football field.  That was awesome. 
I’m sure I didn’t make it the whole 100 yards – or even 20 –
but it was still awesome nonetheless.   

And I remember one particular
football game when I must have been 7 or 8.  I was there with my
dad, sitting in the 700 level, and there was this guy in our section,
Bill.  All of the sudden during the game, apropos of nothing, the
people in the section would start chanting, “Bill! Bill! Bill! Bill!”
and Bill would come barreling down the aisle to the front of the section,
and do something between a Truffle Shuffle and a cheer, and everyone
would just erupt, roaring and cheering along with him.  He did
this a bunch of times, and then once when he was racing down the steps
to do it again, right toward the bottom, he totally bit it – just
fell flat on his face, hard.  And when he fell, everyone got quiet
and hushed, but then Bill just jumped right up and yelled and everyone
else yelled and it was quite a special moment, one of those “only
in Philly” moments – or only in the 700 level moments, I guess.

Thanks to Jason for a fun Q&A. Buy his book Everything Is Wrong with Me: A Memoir of an American Childhood Gone, Well, Wrong. You can also meet him at his book signing at Barnes and Noble on 18th and Walnut on Thursday, April 8, at 6 p.m.

There's also a small section in the book dedicated to this song:

Instant Replay: Reds 8, Phillies 4

Instant Replay: Reds 8, Phillies 4

BOX SCORE

Zach Eflin allowed a career-high four home runs and the Phillies were outslugged by the Cincinnati Reds in an 8-4 defeat on Sunday at Citizens Bank Park.

The Phils have now lost nine consecutive series for the first time since 19977. The loss was their 22nd in 28 games. The Reds, who took two of three, picked up their first series win at CBP since Aug. 2006. 

Eflin was roughed up for the third consecutive start. The Reds tagged him for seven runs in just five innings. After three hits led to a run in the first inning, he gave up home runs in each of his last four frames. Following the game, Efllin was optioned to Triple A Lehigh Valley.

Jeanmar Gomez allowed a solo home run in relief. 

Andrew Knapp gave the Phillies an early lead with a three-run homer during a four-run second inning. However, three double plays stifled the Phillies' offense, which was held scoreless after the second. 

Scott Feldman improved to 4-4 with the win for the Reds. The Phils dropped to 17-31 while the Reds improved to 24-25. 

Starting pitching report
Eflin stumbled through five innings, allowing nine hits. He had held opponents to just four homers in first six starts, but has now has let up seven in his last two appearances. Over his past three starts, Eflin's been tagged for 22 runs in 15 innings. He's given up at least nine hits in all five May starts. 

A poor sign for Eflin: Only two of his outs came on the ground. The Reds were all over his fastball and scored in each of his five innings. His ERA has gone from 2.81 to 6.13 since May 17.

Feldman labored through a 32-pitch second inning in which he gave up four runs. He settled down afterward with a pair of double plays to get through five innings. The veteran righty struck out the last two batters he faced with a man on third and one out.

Bullpen report
Luis Garcia threw two shutout innings, striking out one. Jeanmar Gomez gave up rookie Patrick Kivlehan's second home run of the day in the ninth inning, snapping the Phillies' bullpen's scoreless streak at 23 2/3 innings. Gomez allowed three hits and the one run in two innings.

Blake Wood, Wandy Peralta, Drew Storen and Raisel Iglesias each threw shutout innings in relief of Feldman.

At the plate
Manager Pete Mackanin wanted the Phillies to string together 4-5 hits and they did so in the second inning. Tommy Joseph and Michael Saunders led off with back-to-back singles before Knapp drove them in with his 434-foot blast. Knapp laid off two high fastballs after falling behind 0-2 and drilled a curveball into the Phillies' bullpen.

Freddy Galvis followed with a double. Even Eflin aided the cause with his first career RBI on a run-scoring single. 

The top two in the order — Cesar Hernandez and Odubel Herrera — went 0 for 8. Everyone else in the lineup had at least one hit. Saunders and Aaron Altherr each had two hits while Ty Kelly had a pinch-hit double.

Adam Duvall, Scott Schebler and Kivlehan combined for five home runs with Duvall and Kivlehan notching multi-hit games. Jose Peraza and Zack Cozart extended their hitting streaks to 13 and 11 games, respectively, in the first inning.

Up next
The Phillies head on the road and begin a three-game set with the Miami Marlins, whom they beat twice in April at Citizens Bank Park.

Monday, 7:10 p.m. — Jeremy Hellickson (5-2, 4.28) vs. Edinson Volquez (0-7, 4.82)
Tuesday, 7:10 p.m.— Vince Velasquez (2-4, 5.55) vs. Justin Nicolino (0-1, 5.40)
Wednesday, 1:10 p.m. — Aaron Nola (2-2, 4.34) vs. Dan Straily (3.83)

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.”