Paul Hagen: Phillies as environmentalists: Red could go even greener

Jose 'Big Truck' Contreras' nickname screams gas guzzler.
Jose 'Big Truck' Contreras' nickname screams gas guzzler.
Posted: August 06, 2010

DURING THE middle innings of every Phillies telecast, there's a promotional item duly noting how environmentally friendly your local ballclub is. For example, from the team's official website, is a boast that the Phils use only certified printers that utilize soy-based ink and that one even operates on 50 percent wind energy.

The front office has been uncharacteristically modest, however, about a more recent initiative. While we normally avoid writing about what goes on in the press box, on the grounds that nobody really gives a damn, we are happy to report that the team has significantly cut back on the amount of game notes and stats packages that are distributed before each home game. That not only reduces waste but saves a few bucks on paper.

So, please, give them a hand.

It also got the staff here at Philliedelphia thinking about even more ways the team could reduce its carbon footprint. From the suggestion box:

Fly commercial instead of using charters. The Phillies figure to log more than 27,000 air miles this season. If those flights average 500 mph, that's 54 hours in the air. Large planes use 10,000 to 20,000 pounds of fuel per hour. Splitting the difference, that's 810,000 pounds of fuel, which computes to more than 120,000 gallons.

There's a helpful tip on the website's Red Goes Green section which notes that leaving your car at home just twice a week can cut greenhouse gas emissions more than 1,500 pounds per year.

Wow. Can you imagine how much could be saved if the Phillies just used planes that are already going to be in the air anyway? And, since they'd be buying so many seats, they could probably even cut a deal to have those annoying $25 baggage fees waived. Or else fly Southwest.

Trade in those SUVs and Hummers. Frankly, the players' parking lot is packed with gas-guzzlers. That big-leaguers can easily afford even the high-octane grades is beside the point. The front office probably can't make driving a hybrid part of the standard contract because the players association would surely object. But maybe they could offer bonuses to players who switch to more fuel-efficient vehicles. Or give them the exit door and bulkhead seats on the commercial flights.

Of course, it would mean that reliever Jose "Big Truck" Contreras would have to come up with a new nickname. But everybody has to share in the sacrifice.

Adjust the AC. When the heat outside goes up, the habit is to lower the temperature in the clubhouse. That creates a nice oasis for the players after batting practice and even between innings, but is obviously terribly inefficient in terms of saving energy. Turn it up to 74 and leave it there. Make it 78 on the visitor's side and you've created an instant competitive edge.

And never, ever open the doors at the end of the tunnel to create a cooling breeze in the dugout. Would you open your windows at home when the air conditioner is on? Of course not. That's practically throwing money away.

There are plenty of other ideas, too. Play all day games. Think of how much energy would be saved by rarely having to turn on the stadium lights. Dismantle Phanavision and all other electronic displays and install a hand-operated out-of-town scoreboard. Even less electricity used and it would lend that nice, turn-back-the-clock appeal to games that teams strive to create with their retro stadiums. Reusable coffee mugs in the player's lounge instead of throwaway styrofoam cups. Composting in the bullpens.

The Phillies have been at the forefront of the sustainability movement in baseball. They should be commended for that. But there's always more that can be done. And, remember, every little bit helps.

Around the bases

* Cheers for A-Rod: Alex Rodriguez, who Wednesday became just the seventh player in history to reach 600 career homers, has 87 RBI. Thirty-seven of them (42.5 percent) have tied the game or put the Yankees ahead.

* Jeers for A-Rod: Count former major league pitcher David Wells among those who believe that Rodriguez' admitted steroid use detracts from his accomplishment. "Normally I'm fired up about about people getting those milestone numbers, pitcher or hitter, but this just takes away from it," he told the New York Daily News. "It'll be just another number for me and, if you're dirty, it's not going to be the same for most fans, either."

* Or maybe not: The New York Post reports that Yankee Stadium merchandise shops sold out of 4,000 Rodriguez 600th home run commemorative T-shirts at $25 a pop within 15 minutes after he hit it. And that $10 knockoffs were immediately available outside the park.

* And just one more: A-Rod hit his big homer a day after skipping the Yankees team photo. He said he forgot. Gee, for $32 million this year, you'd think he could afford to hire somebody to remind him of appointments.

* Bucking up: New Orioles manager Buck Showalter was fired by the Yankees in 1995 and the Diamondbacks in 2000. In both cases, his former team went on to win the World Series the following year. "It's kind of like raising your daughter and having someone else walk her down the aisle," he said at his introductory press conference. "I hope to get to walk them down the aisle here."

* Faces from the past: In Joe Torre's 3 years with the Dodgers, he's had seven pitchers who also appeared for him while he was with the Yankees: Ted Lilly, Octavio Dotel, Jeff Weaver, George Sherrill, Tanyon Sturtze, Scott Proctor and Esteban Loaiza.

Just a guess, but he might have preferred Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera.

* Quick change I: There are only four players on Cleveland's active roster who were on the 2007 ALCS roster: Fausto Carmona, Jensen Lewis, Rafael Perez and Asdrubal Cabrera.

* Quick change II: Chris Sale, the 21-year-old lefty drafted by the White Sox in June, became the first member of the Class of 2010 to reach the majors when he was called up Wednesday. Said manager Ozzie Guillen: "The first time I saw this guy on tape, I asked [general manager Kenny Williams], 'Why don't we have him here tomorrow?' "

Phair and phoul

* Neat stat of the week: Mike Fast posted an interesting article on Hardball Times about kwERA. And what is kwERA? Well, it's a formula developed to measure strike-zone dominance. Or, in baseball terms, how well a pitcher "pounds the zone." Bill Baer adapted it to analyze the Phillies' staff.

The average was calculated to be 3.89 and there are a couple of surprises in the rankings. According to this system, the Phillies above that line going into last night were Ryan Madson (2.59), Roy Halladay (2.97), Jose Contreras (3.19), Roy Oswalt (3.38), Cole Hamels (3.42), Brad Lidge (3.67) and Chad Durbin (3.71).

Below average were Joe Blanton (4.12), Jamie Moyer (4.18), Kyle Kendrick (4.63), David Herndon (4.84), Danys Baez (5.30), J.C. Romero (5.62) and the now-departed J.A. Happ (6.03).

Or, if you want to try it yourself, plug the numbers into: kwERA = (5.30) – 12*(K-BB)/PA.

* More numbers mania: Everybody understands that won-lost record is an imperfect indicator of how well a starting pitcher has performed. There are too many variables that can affect that, including run support and bullpen effectiveness.

So it's worth noting that while Cole Hamels is just 7-7, the Phillies are 6-2 in starts when he didn't get a decision. That has to be viewed as a sign that he is at least keeping his team in the game. The rest of the rotation, not counting newcomer Roy Oswalt: Halladay 13-8 (1-1; an indication that he pitches deep into games), Blanton 4-6 (3-4) and Kendrick 7-4 (6-4).

* Missing piece: The ankle injury that landed Ryan Howard on the disabled list this week most likely means an end to his streak of four straight seasons with at least 40 homers and 130 RBI. Only Babe Ruth (seven), Ken Griffey Jr. (four) and Sammy Sosa (four) had done that.

Howard has 23 homers and 81 RBI. If he returns to the lineup 2 weeks from tonight, he would have 42 games left to play.

* Endgame: Sometimes the schedule works out so that the teams competing for the postseason don't face each other in the waning days. That won't be the case if the Braves and Phillies are still fighting it out in late September. They meet in six of the last 12 games of the season, including the final weekend at Turner Field.

* Wait for it: The Phillies announced this spring that Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt would be part of the broadcast crew for a series at Citizens Bank Park this year. Still no word on when that will happen.

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