One Man's Quest to Bring the Athletics Back to Philadelphia

One Man's Quest to Bring the Athletics Back to Philadelphia

J T. Ramsay is a local baseball geek who has started a movement dubbed "Bring Your A's Game" in an attempt to lure the Oakland Athletics back to Philadelphia. We chatted with him to see what his motivations were and how exactly the plan was coming along.

Enrico: Tell us a little bit about what exactly you're trying to do.

J T.: I'm trying to bring the A's back to their rightful home, here in the
City of Brotherly Love. It sounds crazy at first, but then when you hear
what's going on with the A's franchise, it's not that farfetched.
Oakland can't afford to keep them and San Jose can't afford to move
them, unless the Governator's cool with one of the cities in his
cash-strapped state okaying a half a billion dollar loan.

Will
the A's just be this tempest-tos't franchise, doomed to wander smaller
and smaller markets? I feel they deserve a better fate and thought, "Why
not move them back here?"

I know you're a diehard Phillies fan. What made you think Philadelphia needed a second baseball team?
Also, would you change your allegiance?

You're right. I bleed fire-engine red. My wife and I have practically raised my son in Section 143. 

I
love the Phillies, but I love Philadelphia and baseball so much that I
think we'd be a great home for the A's. They're the kind of working
class heroes Philly loves. Guys like Jack Cust and Dallas Braden would
be hometown favorites overnight. When I think about how few people saw
Braden's perfecto in person, I want to weep. The overflow crowd from
Citizen's Bank Park on Mother's Day would've been bigger than the 12,000
paid in Oakland that day. We're
a sport-crazed city. Of any city that doesn't have two baseball teams,
Philadelphia seems perfect for it. It'd be a beautiful homecoming.

As
far as allegiance goes, I don't think anything would have to change,
really. Philadelphians could have an AL and an NL team. It'd be another
opportunity to root against the Yankees and Red Sox. Who doesn't want that? They put up a new "With Love Philadelphia" billboard dedicated to them overnight!

One point Matt mentioned that I hadn't thought of is that most cities with
multiple fanbases have a rivalry, but those fanbases tend to hate each other.
Is that something we really want in Philly? Two different fanbases not liking
each other?

Yeah, I get that question a lot. Philadelphia fans don't have the
greatest reputation when it comes to anger management, but I don't think
a crosstown rivalry would be that bad. Rivalries rise and fall. I mean,
think about the Phillies-Mets rivalry. Isn't it a little sadder now
that they've folded like a deck of cards? The A's would have such a
honeymoon in this city that it would take a generation before anyone
felt animosity toward them. Heck, we'd finally have a winner in this town!

Look at what's happened to baseball rivalries today. The MLB has
tried to legislate new rivalries based on what will market well. None of
them, with the exception of Red Sox-Yankees and Cubs-Cards, seem all
that natural. Factor in interleague and you have some of baseball's
worst contrivances. It's a disservice to the fans. Don't Orioles fans
have it bad enough? Do they really need to watch a series against the
Nats when they play in the AL East?

A move like this restores order. Sure, you miss the
Battle by the Bay, but you'd revive a great tradition in Philadelphia,
which the A's and Phillies observed as far back as 1883, when the
original A's were still around (link) It's like the Big 5, but for professional baseball. Get rid of the On-Deck Series and play these games instead!


I think we can all agree a ball park located closer to Center City
would be pretty awesome. Did you have a particular location in mind?

I disagree with the downtown location, actually. I think there are
too many headaches involved in trying to do something downtown. The
Convention Center really crowded that opportunity out. Why not find a
location that's still convenient to regional rail and the Broad Street
line, closer to the A's original home? I think it would reintroduce the
concept of an actual neighborhood stadium, not just a neighborhood-style
stadium built alongside the interstate.

What can fans do to help with your cause?

Join and tell their friends. Find creative ways to bring their
A's games. You know how the Phanatic is all over town right now? I want
to see people take pictures with White Elephants all over town and share
them on Facebook and Flickr. Be creative! Show everyone just what a
great baseball town Philly is and how we miss our A's. Show your support
and join us for the first official Bring Your A's Game meet and greet
at Memorial Hall Field on September 19th. Details here.

Links:
Save the White Elephants. Join Bring Your A's Game
Share photos in our Flickr group
Follow Bring Your A's Game on Tumblr

Shibe Park image via

Seth Smith would be a logical, low-cost trade target for Phillies

Seth Smith would be a logical, low-cost trade target for Phillies

Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said Tuesday night he'd still like another veteran bat in addition to Howie Kendrick, though he understands the front office is conscious of not blocking young prospects.

The Phillies need offense and the clearest area to upgrade is an outfield corner. But don't expect to see the Phils go after Jose Bautista, Michael Saunders or anyone of that ilk, because those players will require multi-year guarantees and everyday playing time. If you sign one of them, you're basically telling two of Roman Quinn, Nick Williams and Aaron Altherr that they won't be needed much the next three years. 

That would be unwise. The whole point of rebuilding is filling a roster with young, inexpensive talent and then eventually supplementing that core with established players who fit. Look at what the Cubs did. Look at what the Astros are doing now, adding older players like Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann, Nori Aoki and Josh Reddick to fill in the holes around Jose Altuve, George Springer, Carlos Correa and Alex Bregman.

For that reason, a player like Seth Smith would be a worthwhile addition for the Phillies.

Smith, 34, makes $7 million in 2017, the final year of his contract with the Mariners. When Mackanin discusses "professional hitters," Smith is the type. He has one of the better batting eyes in baseball, chasing about eight percent fewer pitches outside the strike zone the last three years than the league average.

He's a career .261/.344/.447 hitter who averages 29 doubles, 16 homers, 56 walks and 102 strikeouts per 162 games.

The left-handed Smith can play both outfield corners, and he's always been very effective against right-handed pitching. He has a .272 career batting average with an .827 OPS against righties compared to .202 with a .594 OPS vs. lefties. 

Smith is a fit for the Phillies for several reasons. They need more offense from the corner outfield. Logically, that outfielder should be a left-handed hitter because the Phillies' projected middle of the order has four right-handed bats in Maikel Franco, Tommy Joseph, Cameron Rupp and Kendrick.

Furthermore, Smith, unlike Saunders, for example, does not require everyday playing time. Smith shouldn't start against lefties. That would provide opportunities to Altherr and Quinn in 2017, while protecting against ineffectiveness from Altherr and another injury to Quinn.

And lastly, Smith is not going to cost anything meaningful via trade. He's a 34-year-old platoon player in the final year of his deal. The Phillies could likely land him for an insignificant prospect, perhaps a pitcher who had a high strikeout rate last season in the low levels of the minor leagues. 

For Seattle, it would be more of a salary dump. The Mariners' 2016 payroll is already $20 million more than it was last year, and per reports, they seem willing to spend to improve their starting rotation.

Smith is not a game-changer, that's not the argument here. He's not J.D. Martinez, a much bigger name and better player. Martinez would also fit the Phillies as a one-year option, and they'd likely be interested in keeping him around longer if they could acquire him. But any trade with the Tigers for Martinez wouldn't be nearly as painless for the Phils as acquiring Smith. 

So perhaps more than other available outfielders, Smith would be an offensive upgrade and a player who fits the Phillies' goal of improving without stunting a top prospect's growth.

Connor McDavid, Oilers' speed, skill present Flyers with 'real good challenge'

Connor McDavid, Oilers' speed, skill present Flyers with 'real good challenge'

VOORHEES, N.J. — They are among the very best – and highest scoring — lines in the NHL this season.
 
And they’re gunning for the Flyers on Thursday night at the Wells Fargo Center.
 
Connor McDavid’s unit with Milan Lucic and Leon Draisaitl have a combined 30 goals and 78 points worth of offense. 
 
Among them, the lightning quick McDavid leads the NHL with 36 points. All 11 of his goals are even strength. 
 
He doesn’t have a single power-play goal, but is tied for the league lead with several players, including Claude Giroux, with 10 power-play assists.
 
You can expect to see Pierre-Edouard Bellemare’s unit with Chris VandeVelde and Dale Weise against this line with defenseman Ivan Provorov drawing McDavid for the first time this season.
 
“Speed and skill that Edmonton has up front presents a real good challenge for our team,” Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said. “We have to be better with the puck tomorrow. 
 
“We didn’t do enough when we had the puck. Gave it up a little too easily and because of that, you end up playing defense a lot of the night and that’s what happened last night to us.”
 
Bellemare, who had his share of forward battles with Jaromir Jagr in Tuesday, likes to analyze the matchups against McDavid.
 
“He’s one of the best players in the world,” Bellemare said of the 19-year-old McDavid. “It’s tough not to be excited when playing against a guy who plays like this. He competes every second he is on the ice. That line is an impressive line.”
 
The Flyers better have some bad, choppy ice to slow McDavid down. Edmonton has some of the fastest ice in the league and the Oilers use it to their full advantage. 
 
Asked of McDavid’s tendencies, Bellemare said, “Is that a tendency? To be super fast?”
 
Yes it is. 
 
“When you play against them, he is a kid who is freaky fast right from the start,” Bellemare said. “Against that line, you saw [against Buffalo] that everyone knows how fast he is and he still had two breakaways.”
 
Which means the Flyers need to watch their turnovers, especially in the neutral zone where McDavid can go 60 feet in a flash.
 
“Even blue line to the top of the circle, you can’t turn the puck over,” Bellemare said. “Or he’s gone. This is a tendency we have to be careful of. All of the ice, you can’t give him any time or space. The less time you give him, the bigger chance you have to frustrate a player like this.”
 
Bellemare did some talking with Jagr a couple times in Tuesday’s game. So did Provorov. Bellemare says it helps to add psychology to the mix.
 
“You try to be in his face,” Bellemare said. “If you can win that battle against that line and our first line can win the battle against their fourth line, then it’s a win-win situation. I was trying to be in [Jagr’s] face.”
 
Jagr actually got angrier at Provorov and it showed with his hooking calls. But when Bellemare and Jagr went into the corner, Jagr got testy with his stick there as well.
 
“He was trying to give it to me a little harder,” Bellemare said. “Exactly what I need. If he is less focused on the puck, then maybe I have a chance to win that puck.”
 
McDavid’s focus will be solely on the puck.
 
“McDavid has been playing some pretty good hockey,” Flyers captain Claude Giroux said. “They’re a high-tempo team. A smart team. We’ve got to be ready.”
 
Loose pucks
Boyd Gordon came off long term injured reserve onto the active roster to give the Flyers 13 forwards. In doing that, Matt Read (oblique pull) went on injured reserve. … Defenseman Michael Del Zotto will sit against the Oilers while Radko Gudas returns from an illness. Gudas will be paired with Mark Streit, as Ivan Provorov remains with Andrew MacDonald for now. … Steve Mason, who did not practice Wednesday, will start in goal.