Being Phil Cokeovich
Disclaimer: This post requires a departure from character. If you cannot tolerate this sort of thing please read no further.
One week ago I met Phil Coke.
Chris Iott, Tigers beat writer for Mlive and one of my favorite tweeters, set up the meeting and wrote a terrific story about it. The story lays out how everything happened, but I thought I would throw a few more or things from my perspective.
The first indication that my little enterprise had gotten back to Phil was about half way through the 2011 season. A tweeter, who’s name I’ve long forgotten, said he asked Phil about it and the response was not positive. The tweet wasn’t real clear and I brushed it off along with a couple of others the remainder of the season.
There was a game that year where I walked past the parking garage and I saw Phil’s vehicle stopped as he was signing some autographs. I thought, “I’m going to do it, I’m going to go up to Phil and say something about this.” As I walked across the street I began to process. What am I going to do? Am I going to just walk up to him and be like, “Hey Phil! I’m your brain!” One of two things could happen. One, he and the people around him will have no idea what I’m talking about and I’ll look like a complete tool. Or two, he’ll know exactly what I’m talking about and be pissed about it. Neither outcome seemed very good so I slinked back across the street and went home.
During Spring Training 2012 things got real. I heard through back channels that Phil was asked about the account in the clubhouse, and then, sure enough, Tom Gage published THIS. My first response was to laugh out loud. My second response was, “Oh no, this isn’t real good.” You see, when I started this I figured everything with the Tigers was out of my reach. I figured no one would pay any attention. Well, now someone was.
This takes us to the playoffs last year when Chris floated the idea of setting up a meeting. I also started to get the impression that Phil was asked about the account more that a couple of times.
My bride and I planned our trip, we flew to Florida, and the appointment was set. Honestly, this sounds weak, but didn’t sleep real well the night before. I rehearsed in my mind what I was going to say, what he might say, and what I might ask him.
I walked around the fence and the guy wearing a Tigers polo and a radio gave me a nod instead of chewing me out for entering restricted territory. Phil walked up with his always distinctive strut and asked, “So, do you have something to tell me?”.
“uh…I am…Phil Coke’s Brain on the internet”
Phil gave a grunt and a nodded with a sinister smile and raised eyebrows. After some additional introductions and moments of awkwardness we had a bit of a conversation.
There wasn’t a lot of back and forth because, honestly, I had my tail tucked between my legs most of the time. This is his turf and his meeting and I am…well, just a guy who pretends to be him on the internet.
To say it is hard to get a bead on Phil is an understatement. I do believe he is legitimately annoyed. If not with my shenanigans directly then certainly with the questions he gets asked. People do really think it is him. We both agreed these people are stupid. Phil said, “I have people in camp asking me if it’s me. ‘How do you do it? How do you do it during the middle of the game? How do you do it when you’re in the bullpen? Where do you have your phone?’ What do you think I have a wire coming out of my ass?!”
I told him I am sorry, and I really am. I will have to do even a better job of reminding people that I am not really Phil Coke. If you do see him, don’t mention it. I don’t mean this to be a problem for anyone.
On the other hand there were things that he seemed pretty mad about that I think he played up. For instance, he heard I tweeted a picture of him licking a window and seemed peeved. I told him I had no idea what he was talking about. He said, “Yeah, there were a bunch of us riding on a bus and I was licking the window”. That’s when I remembered…it was this picture by Samara:
I smiled and told him I remembered the picture. I let him know that I didn’t make it but I did share it. I braced to be chewed out. That’s when he said his wife saw it and she thought it was hilarious.
I got trolled by Phil Coke.
Yes, Phil Coke is hilarious. What you see in interviews is a lot of what you get. You aren’t quite sure where things are going. Most of that comes naturally but I think some of it is calculated and enhanced. Phil told us that his wife says no one can keep up with him, and I could tell there was more than a hint of pride in the statement. I think his wife might be right and he should be proud. No one can keep up with him.
I told him that if he were to get on Twitter he’d have a 100,000 followers in a week or two. He demurred and said he’s not into that stuff. But felt I owed the Internet the duty to ask.
So, even after two years of following a guy and pretending to be his brain I can say with more confidence than ever: there is only one Phil Coke and it is The Phil Coke.