It's getting near time for the bell to ring on the regular season. The guys want to play, and most of them -- pitchers excluded -- want the regular season to begin yesterday.
One good late-March distraction is the NCAA men's basketball tournament. Telecasts of its games -- and even those of the NIT and the women's tournament -- have been on clubhouse television monitors for days now, and more eyes will be focused on them between today and Opening Night.
Hence, the time has come for our annual salute to Sweet 16 weekend.
This year, we focus on the Phillies, the favorite team of New York Times baseball writer Tyler Kepner (when he was a young 'un, of course). The Tigers, Giants, Mets, Reds, Yankees, Red Sox and Cubs have been examined through the prism of 16 in previous years. So, you might be familiar with the process. To whet your appetite for ball, we present 16 facts -- or sets of facts -- involving the sweet number and, this time, the Fightin' Phils.
1. Hall of Famer Robin Roberts led the NL in allowing home runs (five times), triples (five times) and doubles (six times). That's 16. But in the 12 seasons involved (1949-60), Roberts won 226 games. Warren Spahn won 244 in the same period.
2. Grover Cleveland Alexander (aka Pete) led the National League in shutouts in 1916 with 16, a career and Phillies franchise high.
3. Phillies players have produced 16 games of seven RBIs, including two each by Cy Williams and Del Ennis and one, in 2002, by pitcher Robert Person. Person, of course, had 16 RBIs in his nine-year career. The franchise record for single-game RBIs is eight, shared by Mike Schmidt, Jayson Werth and the wonderful Willie "Puddin' Head" Jones.
4.Roberts led the NL in intentional walks in 1957 with 16. His personal high, 21, had come four years earlier. The big league record is 24.
5. The 16 highest single-season RBI totals in Phillies history are 130 or more. Ryan Howard is responsible for four of them 149 (2006), 146 ('08), 141 ('09) and 136 ('07). That's a nice four-year run. Chuck Klein has the highest total (170 in 1930) and two others (145 in '29 and 137 in '32). Schmidt didn't make the cut. His career high was 121 (1980).
6. Schmidt and Chuck Klein are the Phillies players who have hit four home runs on one game: Schmidt on April 17, 1976, at Wrigley Field (with the wind blowing out, needless to say), and Klein on July 10, 1936, at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh. Schmidt's fourth homer broke a 15-15 tie in the 10th inning, and the Phils won, 18-16.
But Klein is the lone Phillies players with 16 total bases in one game. Schmidt homered in the fifth, seventh, eighth and 10th innings. But back, back, back, back in the fourth, he singled. So his TBT (total bass total) was a franchise-record - still standing -- 17.
7. Steve Carlton, Curt Schilling and Cliff Lee had 16-strikeout games as Phillies. The franchise record belongs to Chris Short who fanned 18 in a 15-inning start against the Mets in the second game of a doubleheader that ended in an 18-inning scoreless tie on the second to last day of the 1965 season.
Teammate Jim Bunning had struck out 10 in a nine-inning shutout in the first game. Three Phillies pitchers struck out 16 in 13 innings in the second game of the season-ending doubleheader the following day. Ray Culp had struck out merely six while winning a complete game in the first game.
So the Phillies allowed two runs and struck out 53 in 49 innings in sweeping the last four games of the season at Shea Stadium. Payback (much delayed): Twenty-six years later, David Cone, pitching for the Mets, struck out 19 against the Phils on the last game of season, in Philadelphia.
8. From 2005-14, Chase Utley played regularly with the Phillies, averaging 134 games per sesason. In those years, he was hit by pitches an average of 16 times per season. Not an everyday player last season -- he started 87 games total for the Phils and Dodgers -- he nonetheless was hit 10 times. Utley figures to play less frequently this year. But he is all but guaranteed one hit by pitch. The Dodgers play the Mets from May 9-12 in L.A. Enough said.
Video: PHI@NYM: Harvey hits Utley with a pitch
9. Forty-eight (or three times 16) players have worn No. 16 for the Phillies, none so long as Luis Aguayo from 1980-88. Two of those 48, right-handed pitcher Ken Raffensberger (1946-47) and infielder George Jumonville ('41) had 16 characters in their baseball card names. Raffensberger pitched 16 innings in one start in '44, when he was wearing No. 15. Sixteen players wore No. 16 in a 14-year sequence, beginning in 1933.
10. Cookie Rojas wore No. 16 with the Phillies in the 1960s, when he and double-play partner Bobby Wine created the "Days of Wine and Rojas."
11. Jimmy Rollins hit 30 home runs, 20 triples and 38 doubles in 2007, when he won the NL MVP Award with the NL East champion Phillies. That's 88 extra-base hits. Granted this is a stretch, but 8 plus 8 equals 16. And Rollins deserves mention in this four-squared exercise.
12. The Phillies allowed 16 walks in their game against the Cardinals Sept. 13, 1974, which lasted 17 innings (four hours, 47 minutes, not including a one-hour, 41-minute rain delay in the 17th). After allowing 14 walks, 11 hits and only two runs in 16 innings, the Phils gave up five run in the 17th, when they issued two walks (one intentional). They lost, 7-3. The Cardinals had played 25 innings at Shea Stadium two nights earlier, and nine in New York on Sept. 12.
13. In a sequence of 26 seasons beginning in 1919, the Phillies placed eighth (or last) 16 times. Their seventh-place finishes numbered eight (or half of 16) times. And since 1958, they have placed last 16 more times.
14. Including the 99-loss team of 2015, the Phillies have had 16 teams with 99 of more losses. Ten Phils teams lost at least 100 games in a 20-year sequence (1923-42).
15. Ryne Sandberg put together the bulk of his Hall of Fame resume with the Cubs, of course, but the first of his 16 big league seasons came in 1981 with the Phillies.
16. Since Gene Mauch managed the Phillies (1960 through June 1968), the Phils have employed 16 skippers. They are chronologically: George Myatt, Bob Skinner, Frank Lucceshi, Paul Owens, Danny Ozark, Dallas Green, Pat Corrales, John Felski, Lee Elia, Nick Leyva, Jim Fregosi, Terry Francona, Larry Bowa, Charlie Manuel, Sandberg and Pete Mackanin.
Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com.