As far as the Phillies are concerned, Monday night was noteworthy for a couple of reasons.
Vince Velasquez returned to the hill after his biceps strain and the offense exploded to support him in an 8-0 victory over Diamondbacks in Arizona (see game story).
But that doesn’t change the fact the Phils have gone just 7-19 in the month of June and have seen the good vibes from the season’s surprising start evaporate. The midseason malaise has renewed the call of fans for the club to bring up some of its talented prospects from the minors to try and inject some life into the struggling team.
Those fans got their wish as two prospects debuted Monday night… well, kinda. Their debuts didn’t take place at Chase Field in Phoenix, rather they took place in Tampa, Florida. And they didn’t happen on a baseball diamond, but instead in the middle of a wrestling ring on WWE Monday Night Raw.
Yep, Carlos Tocci and Mitch Walding got the call-up from Single A all the way to the big leagues of Raw. Well, sports entertainment fugazi Carlos Tocci and Mitch Walding, that is.
Ok you’re probably confused by now, so allow me, a nerd who blew most of his life’s savings at Wrestlemania in Dallas a few months ago, to break this whole thing down.
Raw was at Tampa’s Amalie Arena last night, just a short drive from Clearwater, home to Bright House Field, which houses the Phillies during spring training and is also the home yard of the Phils’ Single A affiliate, the Threshers. Tocci, a centerfielder, and Walding, a third baseman, both currently play for Clearwater.
Last night on Raw, there was a squash tag-team match, which is wrestling lingo for let’s bring in two random dudes with fake names no one has ever heard of and pay them to get their asses kicked on worldwide television by two established stars to make the established guys look good. Fascinating stuff, I know.
Last night’s established stars were Enzo Amore, a delightfully annoying wrestler with a New York accent who will remind you of your kid on a vicious sugar rush, and Big Cass, another New Yorker who’s 7-foot tall and calls everyone “S-A-W-F-T. SAAAAAWWWWWFFFTTT.” So basically, they trash talk their opponents like you would in your local Philly rec basketball league but then kick their faces in, legally.
Last night’s two random dudes were named Carlos Tocci and Mitch Walding. No, really. Here’s a vid to prove it. Listen as announcer Michael Cole clearly says their names right before the fake Tocci and Walding get beat down quickly. (h/t Nick Piccone on the vid.)
I have no idea where that whole idea came from or what it even means, but it’s still kind of amazing to have wrestlers named after two random Phillies prospects.
Here’s where things get more interesting. Last night’s results on wwe.com have the wrestlers listed as “Carlos Hersey” and “Mitch Walden.” But go back to that video and you can tell Cole clearly says the names of the Phils’ prospects.
Why the switch? I have no clue. Maybe there was some sort of issue or something. But that doesn’t change the fact Carlos Tocci and Mitch Walding wrestled on my TV last night.
For those wondering, Tocci, whom MLB.com had ranked as the Phils' 14th-best prospect before the season began, is hitting .286 with six homers and 27 RBI this year while Walding is batting .266 with nine homers and 37 RBI.
Anyway, I’ve had my investigative reporting shoes on since this all went down on TV last night and here’s what I’ve come up with as the *bulletproof* explanation: Vince McMahon is a huge Phillies fan. Case closed. Thanks for reading.