Feb 19, 2010

2001 Topps Gold Label Brandon Duckworth: Spring Training is Here

I miss the "Duck Pond". There, I said it. I also miss the "Wolf Pack" and "Padillas Flotillas". The early 2000s were a wayward time for the Philadelphia franchise. They traded away their two biggest stars, Curt Schilling and Scott Rolen, for almost nothing. They were looking forward to the demolition of the only stadium to have a court inside, Veterans Stadium. (I always pictured the implosion of Veterans Stadium to be similar to a big bowl of rice krispies popping with a little too much milk).

For fans, it was a time of pessimism and low expectations. Honestly, it was pretty miserable. The end of the Terry Francona era into the Larry Bowa era was one of perrenial disappointment for Phillies fans. Not because they finished in last place like most of the '90s, but because they came so tantalizingly close to the playoffs in 2001, 2003, 2004, 2005....

But this is not a lament about times past. This is a reflection of Brandon Duckworth and the "Duck Pond".

Fans needed something to keep them entertained in those formative, transition years of the franchise. Enter the mixing of the love of animals with funny looks at people's last names.

Brandon Duckworth at this time was a pitcher with the potential to be a significant contributing starting pitcher. He had a promising 2002, wild around the edges, as evidenced by the 1.44 WHIP, but he did have 167 K in 163 innings. Plus, and most importantly, fans could wear swim trunks and wear duckbill hats sitting in the stands when he pitched.

The allure of grass (well, there was painful astroturf in Veterans Stadium) each spring training never goes away for those who play the game. Brandon Duckworth is back to try again with the Philadelphia organization. Though no longer looked upon with promise, he will probably get a heavy dose of playing time during the split squad games. It would be great to seem him make a triumphant return to the place where he began his career.

Spring training is a time of hope and flexibility workouts for those looking to make an impression, of both the too inexperienced and those left in the backwash of numerous roster crunches. I hope the sun continues to shine in FL and AZ as all roster and non-roster invitees pursue their annual dream.

1 comment:

Jim said...

There's an outside chance he makes it back into pinstripes this year. I guarantee if he does, there will be at least one "Duck Pond" sign sighted within CBP.

I miss the Flotilla, but I don't miss the Padilla.