Tyler Kepner takes a look at Phil Hughes Weblog for the Times:
As a homegrown Yankee with talent, Hughes was bound to be popular. But his blog has forged an uncommon connection. A young medium has further endeared a young player to the fans.
“I think his blog is a success because it makes Hughes more than a number or a grouping of statistics, it makes him not only human, but approachable,” Alex Belth, who has run the blog Bronx Banter since 2002, wrote in an e-mail message. “It makes him seem not so very different from his readers, no small deal in an era when fans feel the distance between themselves and the players more than ever.”
General Manager Brian Cashman said he had concerns about players maintaining Web sites that could embarrass the team. Cashman added that he would rather not have players breaking news; Curt Schilling of the Red Sox has done that on his blog, 38pitches.com.
“Fans get enough baseball information from you guys; that’s your job,” Hughes said, referring to the news media. “I don’t try to do any of that. I want them to feel they have a connection with me. That’s kind of the main idea.
“To me, baseball players always seemed so larger than life. I guess one of the points I’m trying to make is that it’s not really that way. You can idolize players, but you realize they’re just guys. That’s kind of what I want to get across. I’m not any better than anybody else. I just happen to have this ability that not many other people have.”
I’m not any better than anybody else. I just happen to have this ability that not many other people have.
I think we’ve found our new Yogi.
About six weeks ago, I voiced my displeasure over Hughes having a blog – at this stage of his career. Seeing this report, I decided to reconsider my position – with the hope that perhaps I might be able to find a way to change my mind.
To that end, I went back to the last entry that I offered regarding the vibe that I get from Hughes – the one that will not allow me to jump on the “Phil Franchise” bandwagon just yet. To find it, I did a search (of this blog) using “Keanu” – and, in doing that, I found something else that (I think) helps me understand what it is about Hughes that makes me feel uneasy.
Two weeks ago, I explained the “Keanu Hughes” factor (for me). But, in doing the aforementioned search, I found that I also once hung the “Keanu” label on someone else: Our ol’ pal, and deep-thinker, Bernie Williams. As I wrote back in January of 2006:
…I decided to throw out some nominations now for nicknames to use this season, with the hope that some of them stick….
Bernie “Keanu” Williams
If Telemundo ever does a TV-version of Bill & Ted, Bernie’s gotta get the part as Ted Logan.
The minute I saw Bernie’s name, I thought about what Brian Cashman said (on Bernie) last month:
On Bernie Williams’ final years in pinstripes, Cashman’s assessment was the former center fielder, “Got into music, and I thought it took a lot away from his play.”
Bingo. That’s the beef for me with Hughes’ blog – that it’s a potential distraction – for someone who has yet to prove himself at the big league level.
Right about now, I expect those Yankees fans who worship Phil Hughes to start hollering “Didn’t you see what Hughes did, at such a young age, in the majors last year? Did you forget about that game in Texas?”
Hey, I did see what Hughes accomplished last season. And, via the Complete Baseball Encyclopedia, I can come up with some right-handed pitchers, since 1973, who have done the same thing – or darn close to it – at age 21 (which was Hughes’ age last season). Here’s the list:
YEAR RSAA GS IP RSAA T1 Alan Wirth 1978 4 14 81.1 4 T1 Brandon Lyon 2001 4 11 63 4 T3 Brandon McCarthy 2005 3 10 67 3 T3 Gil Meche 1999 3 15 85.2 3 T5 Alex Fernandez 1990 2 13 87.2 2 T5 Phil Hughes 2007 2 13 72.2 2 T7 Tommy Boggs 1976 1 13 90.1 1 T7 Dan Petry 1979 1 15 98 1 T9 Dan Larson 1976 0 13 92.1 0 T9 Joel Davis 1985 0 11 71.1 0 T9 Ramon Martinez 1989 0 15 98.2 0 T9 Andy Benes 1989 0 10 66.2 0 13 Tom Carroll 1974 -1 13 78 -1 14 Rich Harden 2003 -2 13 74.2 -2 15 Steve Baker 1978 -3 10 63.1 -3 16 Brett Myers 2002 -4 12 72 -4 17 Kyle Davies 2005 -5 14 87.2 -5
See Andy Benes up there? Well, that brings back a flashback from a year ago, huh?
Of all those guys on this list, Brandon McCarthy and Brett Myers still have a chance to have some All-Star seasons. And, as I wrote a year ago, “…if Hughes’ career does end up the same as the back of Andy Benes’ bubblegum card, that would be a win for him – in my opinion. It’s not as if Andy Benes had a career like Ben McDonald..” But, for the most part, almost all of these youngsters had their career derail somewhere for some reason.
And, the same can happen to Phil Hughes. I’m not saying that it will happen – I’m just saying that it could happen. Further, until, for fact, it doesn’t happen, it’s my personal preference that Hughes waits for his “ability that not many other people have” to mature into reality before he starts going out of his way to attract attention to himself (above the attention that already comes his way as a result of his prospect status).
For the record, my reaction to this would be the same if it was Joba Chamberlain or Ian Kennedy (instead of Hughes) doing a blog.
In the end, as much as I try to come over to the side of glee, with respect to Hughes having a blog, I still can’t do it (now).
Thinking about it as I write this, I know what it will take to get me there. It’s one of two scenarios:
1. Phil becomes a huge star and he continues to blog away, just as he is now, despite his star status. Or,
2. Phil struggles, and finds himself back in the minors – even if it’s a Doc Halladay type situation and just a step back for a bit – and he continues to blog away, just as he is now, despite things not going as planned.
Now, that (either scenario) would impress me. It would show me that Hughes really wants to blog because he wants to show that he’s “not any better than anybody else.” But, I’ll have to wait and see on this, won’t I?