February 10, 2008
The Phil Hughes thing still bugs me. Just last night, I started to think about it again. I have to confess: Even I don't understand myself on this one.
I like to think that I have the ability to be objective, when needed. And, I like to think that I have the ability, most times, to digest fact and move forward from that point with some logical thought. But, when I think about the way Phil Hughes resonates with me, it seems like I'm operating in a manner inconsistent with those abilities that I like to think I use, for the most part.
I mean, truly, you would have to be pretty darn dense to examine Phil Hughes' minor league results, to date, and factor in his age (when he produced them), and not come away as being impressed.
And, to be true, when I look at those minor league stats for Hughes, I do find them impressive. Yet, still, I cannot bring myself to join the vast majority of Yankees fans out there and completely sign-off on the "Phil's the one" doctrine.
As I was noodling this last night, something came to me. "The one" was the concept that triggered it. "The one"...ah, yes, The Matrix, and Keanu Reeves.
A little disclaimer here: I liked Keanu Reeves in the Bill & Ted movies. And, I'm a huge fan of the Matrix series. And, for what it's worth, I didn't think that Reeves killed movies like The Devil's Advocate, The Replacements, and Hardball. I do find those movies to be enjoyable when I come across them on the T.V., somewhere.
Still, the general perception of Keanu Reeves is, well, after a quick google, I found this that pretty much sums it up:
Quite possibly the Godfather of crap acting, Keanu Reeves has managed to craft a very lucrative career based solely on flat performances and the use of the word “Whoa”. Reeves has managed to suck in everything from science fiction to Shakespeare. Bland has an image, that image is Keanu Reeves.
Bland has an image, that image is Keanu Reeves.
When I read that, it ties back to something that I wrote five months ago, the last time I really did some deep soul searching on what the problem is, with me, in not being able to "appreciate" (for lack of a better word) Phil Hughes the way so many other Yankees fans do:
Remaining candid, I really don't know what it is...it's just a feeling. You know how baseball scouts refer to "the good face," and none can tell you exactly what it is - but, they know when the they see it? It's sorta of like that, now, for me, with Hughes.
I wish that I could shake this feeling, and get on the "Phil Franchise" bandwagon. But, I can't do it just now. Hopefully, I'm worrying about nothing here and there will be a seat left for me on that wagon when Hughes is a star for the Yankees.
Feeling something bland from Phil...yeah, that's close. Perhaps "lethargic" is a better word for the vibe that I get from Hughes. (That would synch up with the reported approach that Hughes has towards conditioning.)
There are past and present Yankees that I have found myself admiring, just about unconditionally, right from Jump Street. Guys like Andy Pettitte, Dick Tidrow, Don Mattingly, Hideki Matsui, Joe Girardi, Lou Piniella, Mariano Rivera, Melky Cabrera, Mike Pagliarulo, Paul O'Neill, Ron Guidry, Roy White, Sparky Lyle and Thurman Munson come to mind.
There was just something about them - some condition - that I don't see when I see Hughes.
Again, it makes no logical sense. I should be able to look at Hughes' age and his minor league performance, and just join the "Phil Franchise" bandwagon (like everyone else). But, because of the vibe that I get when I see Hughes on the field, and the expression on his face, that Keanu Reeves' bland-aura-thing, my gut tells my head: "Wait until you see success in the majors before you join the throng and pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of Phil Hughes."
Agreed, it makes no sense to feel this way, based on the facts. It's one-hundred percent subjective and is not quantifiable. It's just a feeling. But, it does exist, at least for me.
Don't get me wrong. I still also feel the way I did five months ago when I wrote: "Hopefully, I'm worrying about nothing here and there will be a seat left for me on that [band]wagon when Hughes is a star for the Yankees."
I would love to be totally wrong about "Keanu Hughes" - and, I will confess to being wrong about, every time, when Hughes goes on to be a star. And, I will do it happily. But, for now, I have to stick to my gut feeling on this one - and, wait for that day when I am proven wrong about Phil Hughes.
Posted by Steve Lombardi at February 10, 2008 10:30 AM
Its ok to have that feeling steve, and i hope phil proves you wrong too. But my feeling, along with other fans, for hughes isn't just a great scouting report or minor league numbers. My feeling of great success in phil's future comes from a major league debut, on the road and in a dead hitter's park, where he almost no-hit a rangers team with a curve that droped 6 feet. It also comes from a huge win on the road against the first place indians when he wasnt fully recovered and his fastball was only hitting 90 on the gun, his September numbers when he was healthy and his gutsy win in the playoffs coming out of the pen and being lights out.
He's a kid that has done things at 20 and 21 years old that i give me a great feeling of future success. You can still be passive on him, but if you're looking at what he's accomplished in one year and still think he won't develop into something than that may mean you're looking for a problem instead of appreciating what he has done...or can do.
Let's not forget: He's still a kid. I don't mean that in a pejorative way, but Hughes at least appears to be far more mature and level-headed than me when I was his age. He'll probably say and do some goofy things from time to time, but that's because he's 22.
Don't be ashamed of liking Reeves Steve, for some reason I've always thoroughly enjoyed Kevin Costner's movies, although I've never subjected myself to Waterworld or the Postman.
As far as Hughes, I'm skeptical of him being the next Clemens or whatever he's hyped as, because that's an impossible standard, but Hughes looks to be for real to me. The concern I had last year was the wildness he was showing when he came back, but he seemed to get his legs back under him in September and he was nails in the playoffs.
One of the things that may be bothering you is his maturity and steadyness under fire. He doesn't panic, or demonstrate...like Joba. He goes about his business as though he were a vet.
I never believe rooks are as good as the media makes them out to be. In this case, I like what I saw of him. Let us hope he is as good as advertised...wouldn't that be great?
Basically, I agree with Yank 20/brockdc, he is a kid (I am envious)and will get better. 27/08
I think it's likely that if Hughes hadn't sustained two leg injuries last season this blog entry would have never been written.
Well, at least you admit this dislike is illogical.
This time last week, you could have written the same post and substituted the name Eli Manning. I could care less what expression Phil Hughes has on the mound as long as he performs.
I don't know if I can say THE ABSOLUTE MOST but,
considering his MiLB numbers....
the media attention...
the Texas almost no-hitter...
the obvious maturity and level headedness...
the #1 prospect ranking at different times by different raters...
the fact that he has ACTUALLY made it to MLB and did not fail due to drugs, injury, personal problems...
Phil Hughes is porbably the greatest legitimate Yankee prospect since Mantle.
Murcer was hyped, but nobody in the know really expected the 2nd (or even 3rd or 4th) coming of Mantle.
Jeter looked great, but neither Torre or anyone else was SURE how he would perform.
And Maas, Spencer, Duncan, the football player at 3rd, et al?
Mostly hype and hope.
But Phil is the closest thing to the real deal, short of actually winning a CY, we have had in a while.
Bouton? Stottlemyre? Whitey?
Phil could be better then all of them.
So, Steve... you know what your problem is? Why it is so hard to put a handle on it? Why it alludes you so?
Are you sitting down Steve?
No, he's doesn't have the 99 mph FB that all the TV heros have.
But none the less....
He could be a Yankee God.
Something we have been waiting for, for a long time.
And so Steve.... (are you sitting down)....
You are afraid of being disappointed.
You love this team.
You live and die with them.
And you are afraid Phil will kill you.
If you allow yourself to believe...
that a Yankee God has appeared...
and he fails...
It will kill you.
So all of this is a self-protection mechanism to keep you from getting hurt. From getting slaughtered.
Tis better to expect the worst but get the best, then the other way around.
We understand Steve. Really. Hope can be scary. Faith can be painful.
So we understand Steve.
when Phil turns out to be great...
we all here reserve the right...
to kick your ass inside-out and upside-down,
on your very own blog.
Enjoy 2008 Steve. You'll be hearing from us soon.
I wouldn't mind if Phil were facing Manny with a full count and the bases loaded in the bottom of the 9th at Fenway, and instead of throwing a pitch, he gets inside Manny like Neo got inside Agent Smith at the end of the first Matrix movie and blows him up.
That would save the Sox having to figure what to do with Manny's option year, too.
Wow, Steve, you've out-stupided yourself. Good work. This is now the dumbest thing I've ever read on a Yankee blog anywhere. What team are you really a fan of?
Michael Lewis wrote a book about this somewhere.
The name doesn't come to mind.
~~Wow, Steve, you've out-stupided yourself. Good work.~~
Remind me of that next time you ask me to link to some of your work.
Posted by: Steve Lombardi at February 11, 2008 07:00 AM
I can relate Steve. I don't think Brett Favre is as great as the media and fans make him out to be.
Thanks for this post, Steve. I've always felt that it's fine for a writer to not be objective -- as long as they're honest about it. We all have some players we like more than others, sometimes for no rational reason whatsoever; as long as you're upfront about it, and your audience can adjust accordingly, I don't see the problem.
I have high hopes for Hughes myself, though. If "bland" is what's worrying you... well, hey, no baseball player is publicly blander than Derek Jeter, and that seems to have worked out okay.