Kyle Schwarber is a delightfully weird player. It starts with his fabulous name. “Kyle Schwarber” is the name of the guy on your softball team who brings the beer. “Kyle Schwarber” is the man who checks out your ductwork and tells you that you might have a mold problem. “Kyle Schwarber” is the name they just congratulated over the loudspeaker at the bowling alley because he rolled a 247.
“Kyle Schwarber” is “Schwarbs” or “Schwarbie,” the guy you painted houses with the summer after your senior year, the kid who had a full beard at age 14, the one people always ask about: “Hey, you heard from Schwarbs lately? What’s that guy up to? I loved Schwarbs. Everybody loved Schwarbs.”
And the great thing about the real Kyle Schwarber is that he lives up to the name. Everything about him is so Schwarbie. He’s from Middletown, Ohio, naturally, and his dad was the local police chief, obviously, and he was a catcher (probably because he looked like a catcher), and he could really hit, and he was also middle linebacker, and he could really hit. In football, he led his high school to its first undefeated season in like 75 years. He also sang in the school choir. Because, of course he did.
In college, he played baseball at Indiana, but he obviously never forgot where he came from.
“That’s right, baby!” he told the Hamilton Journal News after leading the Hoosiers to the College World Series. “I just can’t be more happy to be from Middletown.”
How can you not love Kyle Schwarber?
And as a player, he couldn’t be more Schwarbie. He’s the sort of outfielder who pleasantly surprises you just a little bit when he makes a catch. He’s faster than he looks, but only because he couldn’t possibly be as slow as he looks. He strikes out a bajillion times. His Baseball-Reference comps are Dave Kingman, Miguel Sano, Ron Kittle, Rob Deer, Russell Branyan, guys like that.
He’s the last guy who you would ever expect to hit leadoff.
But he hits leadoff for Philadelphia anyway.
And when he gets hold of one … the world stops spinning for an instant.
That’s what happened Tuesday night as the Phillies took out San Diego in Game 1 of the NLCS. These Phillies … wow. We are beginning to see a trend in baseball — well, it’s not yet a trend, but it’s beginning to feel more and more commonplace.