During his Tuesday press conference, defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz was asked about having both Malcolm Jenkins and Jordan Hicks together on the field at the same time during the opener against Atlanta. To answer the question, Schwartz mentioned Frank Tanana.
Frank Tanana. Angels win the West!
"I think there is a silver lining to the fact that those guys haven't been on the field. We have had to do a lot of different things and cover a lot of bases," Schwartz says. "It's given us a little bit more - a few more pitches, I guess you would say, to use my baseball analogy.
"I'll take you back. (Former Major League Baseball pitcher) Frank Tanana could throw some heat, and he hurt his shoulder or elbow or something and became a soft-toss specialist. He played forever. It was all about control and things like that.
"So I think - boy, that's a really bad analogy. But when you are lacking something, it does force you to try to find another way to do it. There is nothing like having that fastball."
Tanana played 21 seasons in the Major Leagues, boasting a 240-236 career record and a 3.66 ERA.
But the southpaw is not the first baseball player to be brought up by Schwartz during his media availability over the last two-plus seasons. In fact, Schwartz has proven to have an encyclopedic knowledge of America’s pastime, and even more so when it comes to his hometown Baltimore Orioles.
So now it’s time to tighten up those batting gloves and dig into the box, as we hearken back to some of the other baseball references that Schwartz has dusted off in his time as the Eagles' defensive coordinator.
July 2016: Eagles D-Line Rotation Compared To A Major League Bullpen
“It's a little bit like those (baseball) relievers coming out of the bullpen that are heating it up at 98 and 99 (miles per hour). It's hard to do that for seven innings, but you can do it for a couple innings, and that's what we expect from those guys.”
December 2016: Eagles Defense Goes On A Cold Streak, Not So Different Than Former Orioles 1B Lee May
“He was a streaky hitter. He was that guy that when he was hot, it didn’t matter, you could throw him an eye-high fastball and he was hitting it, change-up, curveball, the ball was probably a beach ball to him and he was just stroking.
“But he could also go into some wicked slumps. Just some awful slumps. … When it’s not going good, it looks like a seed. You’re not hitting it. He had a famous quote one time. They wanted him to take extra batting practice. He said, ‘Who’s going to be pitching?’ They said the pitching coach. He said, ‘I’m not having a problem hitting him. I’m having a problem with those other guys.’”
December 2016: Guys Have To Be Ready To Play Every Single Game
“I sort of envy the NBA, the way they can sit guys for a game and even Major League Baseball. You look up and your name is not in the lineup that day because it's a day game after a night game or something. Football is not that way. We've got to give each game the respect that it deserves."
August 2017: Fletcher Cox Learning To Hit When Teams Pitch Around Him
“Let me put it this way, when offensive line coaches gameplan against us, I don't want to speak for them, but I'm sure they start with No. 91 and say, 'OK, how do we keep this guy from wrecking the game?’ The next step to being a great player - and Fletch is - is being able to meet that and be able to still get a hit when they're pitching around you.”
May 2017: Players Performances In The Spring Are No Different Than Spring Training
"You guys all know I'm a big baseball fan. I remember hearing Jim Palmer talk about - pitcher for the Orioles ... I'm sorry, some people need that - talk about Spring Training and he would have like a 10 ERA in Spring Training. I heard him speak at a banquet after that and he was like, 'Well, I threw nothing but curveballs that whole time,' or 'I threw nothing but change-ups. I was working on that pitch.' And it didn't matter to him. He had enough confidence. It didn't matter if he gave up six runs in an inning. He was working on individual things. Our guys are going through the same thing now. They're working on their individual skills. We're working as a defense to try to improve and add some new wrinkles and trying to bring all of that stuff together."
December 2017: Eagles Come Away With A Sloppy Win Over Giants, Looks Like A Clean Single In The Box Score
"The bottom line is somehow we were able to come out with a win. It didn't look pretty. Clean single in the bloop to right field. That's my last baseball analogy."
(Editor's Note: It was not his last baseball analogy.)
July 2017: Once Again, The Eagles Have Fresh Arms Coming Out Of The Bullpen On The D-Line
“The thing here is we rotate so many guys up front that you don't have to conserve your energy. You can play wide open, and you guys get tired of my baseball analogies, but I always compare it to guys coming out of the bullpen. You can throw a lot different if you're only throwing one inning than you can if you're a starter and you're out there for 100 pitches.”
Bonus Hockey Reference, September 2017: The Eagles D-Line Shifts Are Not Like Line Changes
"Oh, now we're going to hockey? I don't have as much hockey. You had the Skipjacks (originally named the Baltimore Clippers), EHL. We used to go just to drink beer and watch the fights. I think that's all anybody goes to the EHL for."
According to cornerback Avonte Maddox, Schwartz keeps the baseball references out of defensive meetings, which is probably a good thing since Maddox didn't know the names Tanana, Palmer, or May when asked.
The Eagles' defense has been Aaron Nola-like dominant over the last season-plus (4th in scoring defense in 2017 through Week 1 of this season, as well), and if Schwartz's baseball references have anything to do with that success, then keep 'em coming. Maybe we'll get an Elrod Hendricks, Tippy Martinez, or Doyle Alexander reference at some point in the near future.
We can only hope. Play ball.