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.
For we Orioles fans, game number 162 of a long 162 game season usually provides little more than a merciful end to another painful, disappointing campaign in the otherwise hollowed history of our once-proud favorite baseball franchise. And while I'd considered for several weeks not reprising last year's Orioles Apple Lineup given the contrast in the promise this squad provided in the spring compared to the crushing disappointment 2011 proved to be, I've thought better of it. After watching them completely change the fortunes of the 2011 playoff race (I'M LOOKING AT YOU, RED SOX!!!) in the American League in dramatic fashion, I've decided to go ahead with it, even if I'm only going to highlight the few players worthy of commendation for their efforts. It's still early in the apple season, afterall, and while this makes it hard to do an apple lineup for a team loaded with worthy stars such as the Phillies, having so few apples with which to draw comparisons is a bit of a blessing in the case of my much-maligned Orioles. So here we go! Keep the faith Orioles fans! Afterall, only the Cubs can have a bad century, our time will come!
- 'Honeycrisp' Apples - JJ Hardy, SS - I know Adam Jones won Most Valuable Oriole and I'm well aware that Weiters was our All Star representative. However, over the course of a long season, Hardy was our best player all the way around. Some could say it was his early season injury (along with Roberts) that led to that May swoon from which the O's never recovered. One of only three Oriole shortstops to hit 30 HR, I'm glad the O's have Hardy locked down for three more years. Honeycrisp will be around for another 100 years, but who's counting?
- Three Springs "Must Eat" Apple Cider - Buck Showalter, Manager - Buck is generally a little more tart than sweet. Maybe that's why I like him so much. I like my cider as I like my big league managers... no, that sounds like a lousy joke. Buck will be actively fermenting over what went wrong for the long offseason.
- 'Jonagold' - Mark Reynolds, 3B/1B - For the record, I'm going 1B with Reynolds, not 3B - too many errors. But aside from that, yes I'll hear your strikeouts argument, but his 37 HR is the most since Miguel Tejada. Additionally, he led the team with 86 RBIs. While he didn't offer much in the way of batting average or defense, he was more than adequate (in some cases better) in all other metrics as was Honeycrisp. He can't offer everything the Honeycrisp can, but he's right there in terms of producing a quality fruit.
- 'Gala'Apples - Adam Jones, CF - Adam Jones should win another Gold Glove this year. I think his defense in CF was better than the year he did win the award. And aside from his road splits, you couldn't have asked for much better a year out of Jones. He's still learning and he's likely to progress more next season, but in a team full of rotten apples, he was a consistent, go-to big league caliber ballplayer. Gala, too, are dependable when choosing a sweet treat for the lunchbox!
- 'Fuji'Apples - Matt Wieters, C - After this season, I can say I'd proudly wear a "Matt Wieters took batting practice this afternoon. There were no survivors" t-shirt. He should be a fixture behind the plate in Baltimore for a long time to come. He improved every part of his game from an up and down rookie campaign and emerged as a bit of a leader as well. In terms of our best apples, there's only room at the top for four - Honeycrisp, Gala, Jonagold, and Fuji are our best ones. I could think of no better player to round out the top four. If you only had to pick four apples to eat the rest of your life, I'm bettin' Fuji would be on there!
- 'Macintosh' Apples - Jim Johnson, RP - I don't think I approve with the notion of making a starter out of Johnson, no matter how desperate we are for a good one. I prefer to think "hey, we've got one pitcher in the whole organization who fills a role and does it almost flawlessly and with great consistency". In other words, in a pitching staff full of rotten apples (expect me to regurgitate that analogy several times), don't fix the only thing not broken. JJ goes out there and makes the mit pop, throws strikes, and puts the pressure on the opposition. Macintosh don't hold their pressure as well, but you get the "pop" sensation when you bite into one.
- 'Jonathan' Apples - Zach Britton, SP - Hard to believe I fit a third pitcher on here, but
away we go. If you were to throw out Zach Britton's three worst starts (which were particularly bad), you'd think he was one of the better young pitchers in the league. Well, it's my opinion he still might be. He had a rough patch in the middle there but he started well, he ended well, and he led the team with 11 wins when the dust settled. He's got a bright future. If Jonathan sized more, they'd still be available at supermarkets, but it's just a eyeblink from national recognition. That's why your secret admiration of Jonathan is safe with me. Haven't tried one yet? They're the most underrated apple we grow.
- 'Gold Delicious'Apples- Robert Andino, IF - I can barely believe I just typed that. I'm really going with Robert Andino for the much-respected "underrated Golden Delicious" spot. I thought he was too good for AAA ball and never good enough to be an everyday player. I thought he had a bad attitude and would never improve his game. He proved me wrong. Reminds me of the market customer who heard some goofball farmer who kept assuring him or her that Golds aren't mushy, that they're really a terrific apple... gosh, what a coincidence! Also, who had Robert Andino at 139 games played? I would have thought 50 was a huge number.
- 'Grimes Golden'Apples - - Jeremy Guthrie, SP - This one is tough for me. Jeremy Guthrie deserves better. The O's aren't getting better anytime soon and Jeremy pitched
well enough to win close to 18 games for a good team. Instead, he lost 18 games for the Orioles because they don't play well behind him. It pains me to say it, but we need to trade Guthrie and free him from the prison known as my Baltimore Orioles. Similarly, we'll have no more Grimes Golden after this week's markets.
- 'Smokehouse'Apples - - Chris Davis, 1B - Ok, so he still looks better in batting practice
and in AAA than he does on the field but I have to put him in here based on potential alone. When he gets a hold of one, he smokes it (see what I did there?). This was a great pickup at the trade deadline without even talking Tommy Hunter and I'm anxious for what Chris Davis could do in a full season at the major league level. I'm also excited to harvest the Smokehouse each year, since each year I turn a few new customers on to this little known, heirloom tart-flavored apple!
- 'Red Delicious' Apples - Vladimir Guerrero, OF - It was great to see a Hall of Famer like
Guerrero in an O's uniform. What wasn't so great is that it was 2011 not, say, 2004 when we offered him the moon, the stars, and his very own life size Bromo Seltzer tower to haul back to the Dominican Republic only to see him sign with Anaheim. Similarly, Red Delicious look good in still life photography.
- 'Yellow Barlett' Pears - Pedro Strop, RP and Tommy Hunter, SP - I can't figure out which
one I liked better in his brief time here. Both were acquired from Texas in separate trades and did very respectable jobs in the bullpen and rotation respectively. If you acquire a Bartlett from our stand this week, you'll be the recipient of a more than respectable amount of flavor. Available in bulk online.
- 'Bosc' Pears- Nick Markakis, RF - Had a forgettable first half but ended up with a respectable season. Many had suspected Nick was playing hurt through long stretches of 2011 and Manager Buck Showalter confirmed that suspicion in his post game address after the thrilling victory over Boston Wednesday night. It's a testimony to his grit and toughness. Bosc aren't too tough to eat. Truthfully, I find it a very easy thing to do. I ate one today - easiest thing I accomplished by a landslide. They do, however, have a little gritty texture.
see also, the 2010 Baltimore Orioles Apple Lineup
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:
In 2007, after several weeks of updating our farmers market customers with descriptions of apple varieties, I was struck with a nasty bout of writers block. I had to come up with a new way to describe these apples - a way my customers could appreciate. It was our first year of markets - all of them in Philadelphia where the hometown Phillies had just won the NL East after a legendary choke job by the Mets. With Phillies Phever in full swing, I described the apples by comparing them to Phillies players. It was a big hit (so to speak)! The Phils fought admirably in the playoffs before falling to the Rockies that season. However, emboldened by my 2008 Phillies Apple Lineup, the Fightin's went on to win the World Series. They made a return trip last year after another Apple Lineup. You'll recall how well Chase Utley played in October last year - no doubt miffed he wasn't included that season's lineup.
I've had a lot of fun with this over the years. Fast forward to this season, and the last few months of the Orioles season were more fun to watch than any in years! Buck Showalter got the team turned around and playing "The Oriole Way". So in homage to the revived Baltimore Orioles AND since it's brought so much luck to Philadelphia's Phillies, I give you the inaugural Baltimore Orioles Apple Lineup.
Honeycrisp - Buck Showalter, "skipper" - Our tree fruit ripened early this year, thanks to a warm spring and elevated soil temperatures brought on by a long snow pack. The Orioles, however, ripened late - thanks to the guidance of skipper Buck Showalter! Sure, there were key guys who got healthy when he showed up, but you can't say that for the starting pitchers who were, all the sudden, going 7 innings strong after he took over. Likewise, the only reason a lot of people show up for farmers markets in cold weather are crispy, sweet, tangy, Honeycrisp apples.
Jonagold - Luke Scott, DH/OF - Luke Scott was the MVP of the club this year and carried them single-handedly at times with an incredibly hot bat. Fortunately for all O's fans, the streaky slumps he's known for were fewer and farther between this year. Good thing Jonagolds aren't inconsistent! They have a flavor that ranks with Honeycrisp and a bold, syrupy flesh.
Gala - Brian Roberts, 2B - I'm sure Brian would rather forget this year, one marred by injuries and rehab. That being said, when he returned, he largely looked like the same player we've become accustomed to... a short leadoff hitter with speed who makes things happen on offense. You won't be offended by the small, sweet morsels in the Gala crates at market. They too are going fast!
Fuji - Nick Markakis, RF - One of the best defensive RF in the game, Nick had a steady year at the dish despite his power numbers suffering a bit. We're glad his contract was extended so we can enjoy above average play in right for years to come. Similarly, Fuji are not only sweet and crunchy for snacks and salads, they're known as GREAT keepers - lasting for months in refrigeration!
Nittany - Adam Jones, CF - It was another up and down year for Adam Jones who showed flashes of brilliance at the plate yet is still not quite putting it altogether. He's a little up and a little down, but he's growing! Nittany are a little sweet and a little tart. They're done growing... that's why we picked them!
Red Delicious - Matt Weiters, C - Weiters looks really good in the batting cage. We've been told for years now about how he's going to be a feared, middle of the lineup bat. So far, we've been a little disappointed. Red Delicious have always been a good-looking apple. Some people have told us that they're really good... there's still plenty of time for Matt to make a real 'Honeycrisp' oughtta himself, no need to go tart on him yet, O's fans.
Golden Delicious - Cesar Izturis, SS - Cesar is an under-appreciated member of the O's because he doesn't bring much flair. His offensive game is very average and he isn't a "web gem" highlight reel defensive star. What's underappreciated is he makes all the plays he should. All the best teams are built around strong defense up the middle... well, except maybe the Yankees (Jeter isn't 26 any more). Golden Delicious apples are also under-appreciated and dismissed as mushy. They don't make many "favorite apple" lists, but they are sweet, they are tangy, they have great texture and they've got a syrupy, winey quality when they are fresh!
Granny Smith - Jake Arrietta, SP - Jake has a great fastball and above average breaking stuff, but he's still a little green. Granny Smith have great texture and are above average for baking stuff... and they are very very green.
Empire - Brian Matusz, SP - Just a perfect example of the impact of Buck Showalter. All the sudden, the young lefty was pitching with confidence late into ballgames. Just what we like to see! In our Empire, we like to see a bi-colored skin with pretty white flesh when you bite in - I mean REALLY white! The flavor is a little more sweet than tart. If they call the Yankees The Evil Empire, I want to be sure to point out that all these apples have in common with the #*&$ Yankees is the state of origin.
Ida Red - Jeremy Guthrie, SP - Jeremy ended the year with a good run of starts. Had a few bumps along the way, but overall another very decent year for the righty who set a career mark for wins. He can really bring the heat when he needs to. Add heat to an Ida Red and you'll be remarkably surprised how well the apple maintains good texture and how the flavors brighten a little bit.
Rome Beauty - Felix Pie, OF - The ressurection project that is Felix Pie. Depending on who you ask, it might be over - he might be a bona fide big leaguer! He sure looked like one in longer stretches than ever before, and that's a terrific sign. He always had all the physical ability in the world. Oh wait, I should explain how Felix "Pie" is like this apple... are you really going to make me connect the dots for you?
Bosc Pears - Kevin Millwood, SP - It all went pear-shaped for Kevin Millwood in 2010.
Cameo - Ty Wigginton, IF - Ty made a cameo appearance in the 2010 All Star game, as the O's representative. Actually, the way he was hitting back then, if that goofball manager of the Yanks wouldn't have pinch hit that piece of garbage Nick Swisher and let Ty hit, we might have won the thing... anyhow. He lost his All Star form in the second half. Cameo lose a little of their tartness in storage and are a teriffic eating apple fresh or in the spring!
Mutsu - Koji Uehara, CL - I don't know if he's clumsy or just has bad luck, but I'm glad this Japanese import got healthy in time to contribute because he really attacks hitters coming in out of the bullpen late in games. Mutsu are another Japanese import - a late ripener with good tangy zing, attacks the palate!
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.