Well Charlie, you've really outdone yourself this year! With Phillie of my youth Ruben Amaro pulling the strings in the front office deserving a heaping helping of praise as well, the 2011 version of the Philadelphia Phillies set a franchise record with 102 wins en route to their fifth straight division title (one for every year of Three Springs farmers markets and Headhouse Farmers market). While the "Four Aces" garnered a lot of the hype, injuries caused the Fightin's to rely heavily on role players and young players brought up through the farm system to achieve a regular season worthy of recognition as the "greatest Phillies team of all time" according to this Metro scribe. We celebrate these achievements and wish the Phillies nothing but the best in their annual playoff run by acknowledging each members similarities to our favorite apples in advance of the National League Divisional Series, beginning this week! Without further ado, the 2011 Phillies Apple Lineup!
The Four Aces:
- 'Honeycrisp' Apples- Cliff Lee, SP - I know what you're thinking - where's Doc? Follow me with this one. We're into Cliff Lee season, now. This is no knock on Doc Halladay, but we know when the lights shine brightest, Cliff Lee turns the lights out on the opposition. Now that the playoffs have started, it's Cliff Lee city, folks. Plus, his signing is what set this whole season in motion - his desire to return to Philadelphia and his willingness to spurn the hateful New York Yankees (plus, Doc was HC last year - spread the love). In the height of apple season, there's no fruit I trust to wow a new farmers market customer quite so much as a perfect Honeycrisp. In the playoffs, there's nobody more clutch on the mound than Cliff Lee.
- Three Springs "Must Eat" Apple Cider - Charlie Manual, skipper - It takes a wise and deft manager to produce a consistent winner. You need the know how and you need to have the right parts in place with the right blend of starting pitching, relievers, power, average hitters, defense, and speed. Thankfully, I acquired the know how required to blend apples for cider at Penn State. My goal is to consistently produce winning cider batches. After five consecutive trips to the postseason, Charlie has blended his talented apples into a winning product on the field and is now recognized as the winningest skipper in the history of Philadelphia (much like our cider was recognized as something everyone should eat in Philadelphia).
- 'Jonagold' - Cole Hamels, SP - How soon we forget that Cole was Cliff Lee before Cliff Lee was Cliff Lee back in the World Series run of 2008 - a hard-throwing lefty who proved to be completely unsolvable when it mattered the most. Cole Hamels has proved himself to be that same pitcher again through long stretches of the 2011 season, finishing the season with a WHIP under 1.00 (didn't think that was possible) to lead the team! Similarly, I'd throw Jonagold up there with Honeycrisp in terms of overall flavor - excellent eating quality, more sweet than tart, just not as thunderously crunchy as the Honeycrisp. They're two left-handed power pitchers with a history of postseason dominance, Honeycrisp and Jonagold are!
- 'Gala'Apples - Roy Halladay, SP - Your game one starter, your leading Cy Young candidate (Clayton Kershaw beat up on inferior competition in meaningless games), your steady, everyday world class starter - this is Roy Halladay, folks. Other than leading the best Phillies team ever assembled in Wins, ERA, and Innings Pitched - what's there left for Doc to prove? Easy, Doc hasn't won it all yet and there's nothing more important to him than that ring! He took a pay cut to prove it! In a country where consumption of apples per capita is down, each year there are more Gala apples sold in this country than the year before! The success of this New Zealand apple is hard to fathom at times... just like the success of Doc once he was freed from chilly Canada!
- 'Fuji'Apples - Roy Oswalt, SP - This Mississippi born hurler returned from injury and settled right into midseason, err postseason form! The Phillies had make ends meet for a period of about two months this summer as he recovered from a back injury. Here at Three Springs, we grown an Early Fuji which ripens about a month or more before our "normal" Fuji, called 'Myra'. Due to the weather, we might find ourselves without Fuji for a week or two as the Early Fuji lost a lot of fruit to windfall. When 'Myra' do ripen, they are significantly smaller than the Early Fuji we enjoy now. Similarly, this 2005 NLCS MVP does not measure up size wise with his fellow aces, measuring up at a modest six feet even. What Fuji (and Roy) lack in size is made up for in sweetness. Also, Roy's fluid delivery is tangibly represented on our stand in the form of our Fuji Apple Juice! BONUS!
Ace in the Hole:
- 'Jonathan' Apples - Vance Worley, SP - The Phillies might not have known what they had in Vance Worley without Roy's back injury opening the door for the youngster. He marched through the door and the Phillies won 14 consecutive games he started, at one point. Wow! There's a fair amount of success that can be attributed to this rookie's performance that would be easy to overlook given the celebration heaped on the other starters, however worthy that exercise might be. Simlarly, the Jonathan are VERY easy to overlook but you can't tell the story of our wonderful apples until you at least try one of these underrated gems!
Around the Diamond:
- 'Macintosh' Apples - Ryan Howard, 1B - Ho, hum - Ryan Howard hits another 30 HR and drives in a half-sneeze short of 120 runs to lead the team in both categories. He's as powerful as he is consistent. Sure, his average was down a little but he didn't have much run production batting behind him (not until Hunter showed up at least), after which he cranked it up another notch once he got some protection in the lineup and started seeing better pitches. Macintosh have been around for a while as well, and always deliver that "pop" texture (as opposed to a crunch) - just like the pop in Howard's bat.
- 'Gold Delicious'Apples- Shane Victorino, CF - Here's a player who doesn't get enough national recognition. He provides very reliable defense in center, where defense really can win or lose a ton of games for you. Led the Phillies in batting average, runs scored, and on-base percentage in 2011. Bernie Williams never paced those good Yankees teams in those categories but you heard plenty about him nationally because he was a Yankee. If you're watching the same games I am, you know Bernie Williams wishes he was the player The Flyin' Hawaiian is! Folks, if you actually stop and eat a Gold when it's fresh off the tree, you'll see that you've been missing a great apple this whole time - an apple that "common wisdom" tells you is mushy. Don't buy into that nonsense! Believe in the Victorino-esque nature of the Golds!
- 'Grimes Golden'Apples - Hunter Pence, RF - He might not have the terrific hair as his predecessor Jayson Werth but Pence seems to have the same appeal with the female fans of the Fightin's... and by that I mean his ability to provide lineup protection for Ryan Howard, gun down greedy baserunners with his rocket arm, come up with timely hits and play a hard-nosed, all out brand of baseball. Pence is a "gamer" and has made quite an impression in his brief time in Philly. Grimes won't be around much longer - and while Pence is likely going to be policing things in RF for at least another year or two after this playoff run, this year will seem abbreviated by comparison. Last week for Grimes.
- 'Smokehouse'Apples - Jimmy Rollins, SS - Just like above, just pencil J-Roll in for another terrific year defensively, good average, good on-base percentage and durability at the always-demanding position of shortstop. Jimmy is also fast, even at 32. He reached the 30 stolen base plateu for an eye-popping ninth time in his illustrious career. Smokehouse are never around for too long, but they are as dependable as any other apple in their ability to stand up to a variety of uses for those seeking great flavor in an apple that is decidedly more tart than sweet but not overwhelmingly so. Just like Jimmy, you'll do well not to be caught stealing at our stand in the short time these heirloom apples are around!
- 'Red Delicious' Apples - Placido Polanco, 3B - Two things about Polanco you maybe didn't know: 1) even though his very respectable batting average of .277 in 2011 is down a little bit from some seasons, he still has a career BA of over .300! 2) I know he's been in the bigs for a long time, but I never would have guessed he's 35 years old. That age doesn't make one old by any stretch, but for most baseball players, 35 is pretty long in the tooth. He certainly is outplaying almost every other ballplayer that age. Two unrelated things you maybe did know: 1) Polanco has a very, very large head. 2) Red Delicious apples - they're very red but only so delicious. Read this blog.
Coming Out of the 'Pen
- 'Yellow Barlett' Pears - Antonio Bastardo, RP - Madsen's pitching the ninth, so who'll step into his role and shorten the game another inning with lights out performances in the eighth? Lefty Antonio Bastardo was that guy in a big way. Leading the way with 19 holds, Bastardo was nothing short of phenominal in his role against the league's best in high pressure situations. I might add that with Lidge back in good health, those three relievers give the Phils the same strong bullpen the Rangers mortgaged the future to get... and I'd still take Lidge, Bastardo, Madsen over Uehara, Adams, Feliz. The Barlett Pears will shorten your hunger pangs by being the sweetest thing to grace your tastebuds this week - they're PERFECT right now! Available in bulk online.
- 'Bosc' Pears- Ryan Madsen, CL - Great teams distinguish themselves from good teams in the way they handle adverse situations. Losing closer and Headhouse Market customer Brad Lidge could have been a devastating blow to the 2011 Phillies. Instead, Ryan Madsen rose to the occasion in dominant fashion, saving 32 of 34 save opportunities. Incredible! Plus if Ryan Madsen were a pear (and he's not), we believe he'd have the same gritty texture as the Bosc.
- Tomatoes - Chase Utley - just because I don't want to neglect him again!
- Apple Butter - John Mayberry, Dom Brown, Ben Francisco, OF - A great example of the depth required to be a truly great team and a divisional champion. Each of these outfielders filled a slightly different role as pinch-hitters, defensive subs, spot-starters for ailing players, DH-ing in interleague games, and filling in as starters missed game for injuries. Similarly, we need all four types of apple butter to satisfy the discerning palates of our market customers.
So here we are in our fifth year attending farmers markets! Hard to believe it's been that long in some ways. Quite a few things have changed since we attended our first market in 2007 (Schuylkill River Park, Philly - update your Three Springs Trivial Pursuit packs). More trivia later - back on topic, one of the things I've noticed as a trend at farmers markets is the renewed interest in food preservation, canning, and pickling. There's a canvolution taking place in this great nation of ours and it was with this in mind that we opened our online store, so that the most voracious, discerning, and preservation-minded among our customers could get, what we Central Pennsylvanians call, "good stuff cheap" (apologies). Are we on to something? We asked Headhouse Market frequenter Ben S. of Philadelphia how we're doing. These are his responses, printed verbatim with his permission.
THREE SPRINGS: What led you to order online from Three Springs?
BEN S.: I buy lots (and lots[at least I consider it to be a lot - I'm not sure how I compare to your overall customer base]) of fruit from Three Springs anyway, and when I want to make a bulk purchase it is quicker and simpler to do it online instead of through email. I like that I can pay via Paypal versus having to go the ATM to get cash. I just show up at the market, grab my crate and go.
They also have great deals on seconds which are great for ice cream, jam etc.
THREE SPRINGS: So! How'd that work out for ya?
BEN S.: Deliciously. So far this year I have bought strawberry seconds, sour cherries, peaches and peach seconds online and all have been good quality (seconds are obviously going to have some bruises etc) and worked well for my various projects.
THREE SPRINGS: What the blazes did you do with all that fruit?
BEN S. : My preferred breakfast is steel cut oatmeal with fruit, so I processed and froze a substantial portion of the fruit for breakfasts throughout the year. I also have started dabbling in making jam and ice cream this summer so that has been the destination for quite a bit of the fruit. My preferred end result though is pie. I like pie. (editor's note: We too love pie - pies of any description. Pies are commonly used to leverage bribes against us)
THREE SPRINGS: Would you order online with Three Springs again and, if so why (if not, why not)?
BEN S.: Definitely. You can get great fruit at a great price. That being said, it would be nice to have some of the other fruits listed up there as well - blueberries, apricots etc and in somewhat smaller quantities (half flat/crate instead of a full one) since a full crate can be a lot to deal with on a Sunday afternoon. Also, they sold strawberry seconds by the pound and I think that would be great for other fruit (apricots - hint, hint). Actually, forget the hint, do you have apricot seconds? Because I want them.
THREE SPRINGS: One non sequitur, have a guess - which of these people have not shopped with Three Springs: Pres. Barack Obama (Happy Birthday), Tony Danza of "Who's The Boss", "Angels in the Outfield", Phillies legend Greg "The Bull" Luzinski, or 1973 AL Rookie of the Year, Al Bumbry?
BEN S. : Definitely Al Bumbry.
So there ya have it - an honest testimonial from a brave Philadelphia pie lover who took the plunge, ordered bulk online with Three Springs, and was rewarded with sweet, sweet pie and the promise of many happy breakfasts in an otherwise cold, barren wintertime. This man could be you! Well... provided you've learned to put up with my bizarre sense of humor like Ben does - thanks man. Second thought, you don't even need a shred of personality to appreciate a deal this good! Generally not a problem at our stand, but not required all the same. If you have any further questions about online orders, just email me or add a comment. If you need good canning inspiration, check out Food in Jars. As a Biglerville native, Canners are very important to me.
And for your Three Springs Trivial Pursuit game, the correct answer is "Greg Luzinski". Orioles Hall of Famer Al Bumbry once left a complimentary voicemail on our office machine that I forbid anyone erase for at least eight months. "The Bull" is always welcome at our stand. We'll trade for BBQ.
Can it forward!
- Farmer Ben
Revived for the sake of posterity, not to mention a little nostalgia, this apple lineup was the second one we created after the original lineup, the 2007 lineup (lost to the world) was such a hit. Little did we know at the time that the 2008 Phils would go on to be "World Champions of Baseball!" (rest in peace, HK). So take a nostalgic look back at the apple version of the 2008 World Series Champion Phillies!
- Honeycrisp - Ryan Howard, 1b - So his average is down a little bit, the man collected 48 HRs and an eye-popping 146 RBI and played well down the stretch. That makes him number one on our apple buffet!
- Jonagold - Chase Utley, 2b - Has to be a close second in terms of importance to the Phils success this year - great season all the way around driving in runs and collecting hits in bunches - Jonagold, also second most popular eating apple here at Three Springs
- Jonathan - Shane Victorino, of - The Flyin' Hawaiian - perhaps the most underrated member of the '08 Phils, just as Jonathan ranks as the most underrated apple at Three Springs. A Jonathan apple as a snack is almost, but not quite as clutch as that Grand Slam last week! Woo-hoo!
- Gold Delicious - Jamie Moyer, sp - Ya know, Golds have been around for ever. You probably figure, "hey, I know Golds - it's nothing special". But ya know what, people have been saying the same thing about Jamie Moyer for nearly 10 years and still nobody roughs him up!
- Smokehouse - Brad Lidge, closer - The man throws smoke and, despite a little bit of excitement from time to time (like a zesty, tart apple), he was perfect in save opportunities in the regular season!
- Grimes Golden - Jayson Werth, of - Finally living up to the billing that made him a high draft choice of my Baltimore Orioles (grumble, grumble), Werth transformed himself from platoon duties in '07 to appearing in 134 games this season and came up with a bunch of clutch hits along the way! His likeness to Grimes Golden is based solely on the fact that my O's didn't hold onto him, making me a little sour (read: "tart").
- Gala - Pat Burrell, lf - Pat, I believe, is the longest-tenured Phillies player just as Gala is the apple we've been bringing to market the longest. It might make both the player and the apple easy to overlook, but biting into a Gala is still as exciting as a 3-run homerun to break open a close game, just like game 4 this past Sunday!
- Bosc Pears - Jimmy Rollins, ss - After a roller coaster regular season, last year's MVP is leading the Phils in batting this postseason, tearing up Brewers pitching for a .375 clip thus far. Sweet way to start up an offense if you ask me - just like a Bosc pear is a sweet pregame snack! (yes, I'm reaching on some of these, but I just wanna pay homage to the Phils!)
- Yellow Bartlett Pears - Cole Hamels, sp - Sure, let the sportscasters talk up how tough Sabathia is - there was no sweeter pitching performance in the playoffs than Cole Hamels, Game 1. Relive that sweet performance on the mound with a sweet, yellow Bartlett pear (excuse me for that, the cheesiest entry yet)
Apples new for this week (Phillies new for this year)
- Stayman - Geoff Jenkins, of - A guy who's been around awhile (Staymen, an older variety), but is new to the Phils. A left handed slugger who can come off the bench and swat one out of the park! Staymen are a big hit with late season apple eaters with a preference for crisp, juicy, and a mild tart flavor! (you're asked to provide your own rimshots on these)
- Mutsu/Crispin - So Taguchi, of - Mutsu are from Japan... So is from Japan. Mutsu grow to be very very large... So... looks like he stopped growing in middle school, but he's more than meets the eye! He's a heck of a ballplayer with postseason experience! Mutsu look green and tart but are much sweeter than you expect, with a history of being a great eating apple!
- Paradise - Pedro Feliz, 3b - Not a whole lot of juice in that bat this year, but he flashed some sweet leather! You'll be interested to learn that this unique apple has a killer sweetness but is a little less juicy than most!
- Granny Smith - Matt Stairs, of - A grizzled veteran from a foreign land who arrives late and puts some more pop on your bench! Stairs hails from Canada and came to Philly in a late season trade. Only Jamie Moyer is older than Matt Stairs. So while Matt's wife may or may not be old enough to be a Granny, Granny Smith apples arrive late in the season and will provide a real punch of tartness right off the tree and come to us from the foreign land of Australia!
- Canned Peaches! - Carlos Ruiz, c - Rugged and durable, Carlos Ruiz calls a good game and throws out would be base-stealers. All of our fresh peaches have been sold or thrown out except the ones we put in these rugged, durable cans earlier in the year for when we'd "run out"! "Good call", eh?!
- Fresh Apple Cider - Scott Eyre, rp - Eyre deserves some recognition for posting a phenomial 1.17 WHIP down the stretch after the Phils acquired him from Chicago. Good thing the Cubs were "so good" they didn't need him, right?! Hahaha! Ok, got that cheap shot in there. Eyre has been really good... our cider continues to be really, really good!
Alrighty, Phils fans! Playoffs are in full swing again this year and we're back with another winning apple lineup! As some of you already know, we've been doing farmers markets in Philly for four years and, not coincidentally, the Fightins have won the NL East every year (I'm definitely not omitting Chase Utley again this year)! Furthermore, I've likened the Phillies players to our ripe apple varieties each year, leading, by in large, to terrific postseason performances like what we witnessed from Doc Halladay last night. Afterall, I was brainstorming this lineup last night when I had to stop and watch history be made! Bodes well, folks. We've got high Apple Pie in the sky hopes!
Honeycrisp - Roy "Doc" Halladay, SP He's the best! What else can you say? He won 21 games, first 20 game winner since Steve Carlton. Honeycrisp is the perfect eating apple, "Doc" threw a perfect game! The National League is certainly wishing that an apple a day could keep "Doc" away (we don't sell to the competition). side note: he's driving in a run as I type this!
Jonagold - Roy Oswalt, SP - The Phillies are set up for big things based on their "Bermuda Triangle" of starting pitching (H-2,O). Our "Big Three" (which is really four) includes Honeycrisp, Jonagold, and Gala (and Fuji, more on this later). And since Roy was the last piece of the Triangle (as Jonagold is the last of these varieties to ripen), it's easy to see the similarity between this Texas righty and this... sweet/tart... crunchy piece of fruit... am I right?
Gala - Cole Hamels, SP - Cole was the first of the Triangle to arrive on the scene, in early August! No, wait... those were the Gala. Hamels has been with the Phillies since being a first round pick of the club in the 2002 draft. He's had a bounce back season in 2010, has a really sweet flavor, and is the perfect size for kids lunchboxes! Oh... switch that... err... I think you follow.
Fuji - Chase Utley, 2B - The man was an unstoppable force in last years postseason and this fruit grower is looking forward to more of the same from this slick-hitting second baseman. In light of his unforgivable and errant initial exclusion in this lineup last year, Chase is taking his rightful place at the top of our apple pecking order. Also, be sure to cut up a sweet Fuji apple to balance the tangy salad dressings or sharp cheeses in your postseason snacking.
Red Delicious - Jayson Werth, OF - Jayson Werth's got a great look about him, with the bushy beard and the long hair. Red Delicious looks good in a fruit bowl beside a banana! ... sweet!
Golden Delicious - Carlos "Chooch" Ruiz, C - Phils fans, hear me out. You know how you've exhausted yourself trying to explain how important Chooch is to the Phils to fans of other teams? This is how I feel about folks who tell me Golds are mushy! Most Underrated Phillie and Most Undeerrated Apple are a perfect pairing... kind of like Golds with Peanut Butter when the Phils are up four runs in the fourth (as I write this lineup Wednesday night).
Empire - Shane "The Flyin' Hawaiian" Victorino, OF - More proof that good things come in small packages, this diminuative switch hitter's 18 home runs was good for third on a team loaded with (albeit injured, in some cases this year) power hitters. Empire apples, also generally smaller, are thin-skinned and tasty - a little more sweet than tart.
Ida Red - Wilson Valdez, IF - Worthy of attention, this journeyman filled in admirably, providing steady defense at many infield positions while many of the Phillies infield regulars missed time to various injuries. Ida Reds fill pies well, provide firm, steady texture to many baking applications and fills many positions for apple fans who bake, enjoy a tart eating apples, or need a good cider base!
Nittany - Ryan Howard, 1B - When Ryan turns on that inside fastball, his creamy-smooth swing gets Phillies fans all charged up. The creamy sweet-tart flavor of the Nittany apple is a real homerun for folks who love good eating apples (rimshot).
Cameo - Raul Ibanez, LF - The man who made Phillies fans forget completely about Pat Burrell is getting primed for the postseason. Despite more moderate numbers in most power statistics, Ibanez hit for a slightly better average and got on base more frequently this year compared to last. It's easy to let his torrid 2009 campaign make light of his key contributions to this year's club. Cameo have super tart-sweet flavor and share a name with a funky 80's band... they can't all fit together nicely, folks!
Granny Smith - Brad "Lights Out" Lidge, CL - He's back! In addition to moonlighting as a local food advocate (cheers, Brad, Lindsay and Food Trust folks), he converted an eye-popping 27 of 32 save situations and put himself in contention for comeback player of the year, though I'm sure Brad would tell you he has his mind of some other hardware. All he's done is show up at the end of games and kick the door shut. By comparision, Granny Smiths show up at the end of the apple harvest season and, despite their very docile monicker, kick in with a booming tart flavor.
Rome Beauty - Ben Francisco, OF - Cliff Lee might have moved on, but he wasn't the only man to come over in that fateful trade from Cleveland. Francisco, besides having the best praenomen on the roster (pip, pip) adds to a deep bench that can make or break a team's postseason bid. He's also perfect in steals this season, swiping eight bags without being caught stealing. If you're needing a sturdy apple to add to your playoff pie, we give Rome Beauty high marks. We just ask that you pay for them as opposed to stealing them. Just because Ben Francisco doesn't get caught doesn't mean you won't and besides, we round down to the quarter every time!
Mutsu - Placido Polanco, IF - Placido Polanco might have the largest head in the history of Major League baseball! Look at the size of that gourd! It's like a watermelon on a toothpick! But seriously, the former Phil came back to play everyday third base and didn't disappoint. Feel better, P-squared. By the way, the largest Mutsu apples are the size of a toddler's cranium... nothing grows to the size of Polanco's noggin. I swear pop-outs get stuck in its orbit.
Bosc Pears - Jimmy Rollins, SS - The former NL MVP missed a lot of time to injury and probably isn't 100% yet but is one of the most important players on which the Phillies rely. He provides gold glove caliber defense up the middle, gets on base and sets the table for the big eaters in the lineup, all while providing a lot of the inspiration in the clubhouse. Despite his sweet, smooth athleticism, he plays with a lot of grit. Similarly, despite their gritty texture, the Bosc Pears are the sweetest fruit at Three Springs... its the only pear we have this time of year. Here's hopin' Jimmy & Chase turn a "pear" every chance they get this postseason! (just a reminder that cheesy goes with pears just as well as with apples)
Also, most of you know about Brad and Lindsay Lidge's Campaign with the Food Trust for Healthy Eating but if you didn't, here's some info:
So, it was brought to my attention that I neglected to include Chase Utley, hero of Game 1, in this year's Apple Lineup. Now, I could sit here and try to come up with excuses or try to explain how this happened but I won't. It's unacceptable. Heck, even the New York press has gone out of its way to honor the guy. To try to make up for my error, I'm going to go to the heartfelt, albeit completely unoriginal, lengths of writing him a creepy love letter:
I feel like I can call you Chase because... its your name. Chase Utley, you're a guy who's really good at baseball. You play baseball better than... well, everyone I know! Awesome! Someday, I would like to sell you some fruit. I think that maybe you would like the fruit and in eating my fruit, nourish yourself to hit the ball even further and harder than you already do. You run fast, too. Maybe after you're done hitting mammoth home runs and running fast, we could get together and talk about fruit... and baseball, ya know - whatever. Because that's what friends do... when one's an awesome and fast baseball player with cool hair and the other friend grows fruit. I hope you write me back because you are like the Honeycrisp... of my heart.
From Our Farm, to Your Home,
First off in the interest of full disclosure, the Wenk family are all lifelong Orioles fans... since birth! However, in the three years we've been doing farmers markets in Philadelphia, the hometown Phillies have won three consecutive NL East crowns, topping it off with a World Series Championship just last year. So you're probably thinking, They aren't seriously taking credit for the Phillies success are they? Of course we're not (we're not going to turn any down if you're willing to go there)... But! The previous two years we've toasted the Phillies by describing our apple varieties by the Phillies player they most resemble or which player comes to mind... or vice versa. This year will be no different. Since the Orioles have long punted on the idea of playing postseason baseball, we're pulling for the next nearest team to vanguish all other playoff opponents, most especially, the New York Yankees (who we hate passionately). So without further adieu, a tradition unlike any other pairing fruit and baseball, a goofy, cheesy, zaney look at your 2009 NLCS Champion Phillies... in apple varieties!
Honeycrisp - Ryan Howard, 1B - Your 2009 NLCS MVP is as vital to the Phils as the Honeycrisp are to our apple stand. They are our MVP and, like Ryan, are large in stature and come up clutch when you need an apple (or a timely three run HR in his case).
Gala - Shane Victorino, CF - Danke, Shane! What else do you want the guy to do? Hit for average? Hit for power? A little speed on the basepaths? Chase down balls in the gap? Just a great all around, reliable player much like Gala are a great go-to eating apple
Jonagold - Jayson Werth, RF - Huge season for Jayson, huge season for Jonagold. This was Werth's best year statiscally and this is the best crop of Jonagold we've had. They are large (see Werth, Jayson) and are a huge part of our apple cornucopia.
Fuji - Cliff Lee, SP - Fuji came to us from Japan. Cliff came to us from the Cleveland Indians. On arrival, we marvelled at the sweetness of both! What's more, whether you need eight shutout innings or crispness at room temperature for months after harvest, both Fuji and Cliff Lee can go the distance!
Staymen/Winesap - Carlos Ruiz, C - CHOOCH! There's something about a firm, tart apple that says "catcher" to me. Plus, Ruiz has set records for run production from the eighth spot in the order. Staymen also ripen late... eh? Works for me!
Cortland - Joe Blanton, P - Coming in at 250lbs in your media guide, Blanton is a pretty big guy serving a pretty big role in your playoff rotation. Between Pedro, A.J., and Blanton, skipper Charlie Manual can hand pick which starter is best suited for which matchup. These Cortland are also huge and versitile. Make them your starting salad apple or bring 'em out of the pen for a tasty homemade apple sauce!
Nittany - Pedro Feliz, 3B - It's easy to overlook Nittany, what with such delicious eating apples as Honeycrisp, Gala, Jonagold, and Fuji already lining the shelves. However, Gold Glove caliber defense and a few timely hits are not to be overlooked. Coming from Golden lineage (Golden Delicious, parent variety), Nittany, like Pedro Feliz, is not to be overlooked. Very vital part of any successful fruit stand/Championship baseball team.
Mutsu - Jimmy Rollins, SS - "J Roll" comes up huge when you need him and is noted for his speed on the bases... and also a great baserunning in general, for that matter. Mutsu comes off the tree huge every time! They just don't produce small fruit! And, due to their popularity, they're "going fast"! Same thing, right?!
Golden Delicious - Pedro Martinez, SP - There's this apple I know that is a delicious eating apple. It's been around a long time - been successful for many years yet, oddly, some people still take it for granted. They underestimate it because other versions of this apple are old and mushy. Guess the Dodgers won't make the same mistake with Pedro Martinez again, hmm?
Red Delicious - The Phanatic, mascot - Red Delicious are the same color as the Phillies uniforms.
Empire - Charlie Manual, "skipper" - Why is it geniuses from Bristol, CT think that anyone who talks with a southern accent is stupid, crotchedy or both. Charlie has led the Phillies to back to back National League pennants which hasn't happened since '95-'96! Wonder what these same folks would have to say if Charlie defeated their darlings in "The Evil Empire"? (Empire apples, while discovered and researched in New York, do not possess the same evil qualities as the presumed AL champion New York Yankees)
Rome Beauty - Paul Bako, C - Only so good for a "snacko", but terrific apples with which to Bako. (read: Bake-o... I know it's pronounced differently, Paul is a former Oriole afterall!)
Cameo - Ben Francisco, OF - Usually coming off the bench to start a rally from the pitcher's spot in the lineup, Francisco's cameo appearances can help the Phils start one of their legendary late inning rallies. When we need to rally in late apple season, the Cameo make an appearance to match Staymen as a dessert quality tart eating apple.
Bartlett Pears - Eric Bruntlett, IF - He swears up and down that these fruit are named after him, but I'm not buying it. Remember that time he recorded an unassisted triple play? That was pretty cool.
Bosc Pears - Matt Stairs, OF/PH - In case of emergency, use Pears.