Monday, August 29, 2011

A Slightly Aimless Rant about...Phillies Management

The people who run the Phillies have done an incredible job turning this team into probably the most respected team in the sport. They won a championship in 2008, and instead of taking the accomplishment as a chance to fall back into obscurity (figuring they had a decent grace period owed to them), they went ahead and made the moves that would assure them long-term dominance. The moves probably don’t need to be retraced since they have been talked about ad nauseum in the year’s since, but let’s do a quick version anyway: they went out to get Cliff Lee to try and repeat in 2009; they got rid of Lee, but went out and got a superior ace in Roy Halladay; they traded for Roy Oswalt when they realized how stupid it was to get rid of Lee; realizing that Oswalt was not quite enough to replace Lee, they simply said “F*ck it,” and went out and reacquired the lefty; satisfied with having the best rotation in baseball, but realizing that their team would struggle to score runs in the postseason without a competent right-handed bat, they went out and recalled Hunter Pence from their quadruple-A minor league affiliate, the Houston Astros. Bottom line is the Phillies have done what it has taken to build a franchise that is second to none.

And the fans have responded in kind: They sell out the ballpark every night. They go to opposing fields and take them over like rebels would an Arabian dictatorship. They buy team merchandise like it is some sort of Pavlov’s dog reflex reaction. They stand in line for innings at a time to buy roast pork sandwiches from the vendors in Ashburn Alley. They pay seven dollars for Miller Lite even though you should probably be arrested for doing something that criminally stupid. The fans of this team are currently making the owners of the franchise rich beyond their wildest dreams. Which makes what happened on Saturday even more ridiculous and shameful.

The other day, the Phillies tried to get a game in at 1 p.m. even though a freaking hurricane had touched ground in North Carolina at 10:30 in the morning. Are you f*cking serious? Look, I know the Phillies are running out of off days and they need to get some of these games played, but there was no way in hell they were getting this game in and they, in my opinion, knew this. Roy Halladay wasn’t going to start a game that was almost sure to be cancelled by the third inning. Were guys like Placido Polanco, Chase Utley, and Raul Ibanez - already gimpy - going to play on a sloppy, slippery, rain-soaked field? Ruben Amaro, who usually comes to the ballpark in a suit or a polo at the very least, was out there talking to the grounds crew in a red Quiksilver shirt and Puma sweats like he just jumped out of bed. With the reports they had on the weather (and these guys have access to the most advanced tracking information), they should have licked their wounds and cancelled this game far before people got on the road.

Instead, they waited until 1:20 to cancel the game. What does this mean to them? Well, there’s the parking revenue. Everyone who drove to the game and parked in the lot spent at least 15 non-refundable dollars, out of which the Phillies get a sizeable kick. The people in the park waiting to see if the game would be played surely spent money on beer and food, which goes straight into the Phillies owners’ pockets. Some people probably chose to get out of the rain by heading into one of Citizens Bank Park’s many merchandising venues. KACHING! Some folks probably pre-gamed at McFadden’s and chose to stick around later, which means more bucks for the home team.

Let’s forget for a moment that the Phillies basically fleeced their loyal fans: They also inconvenienced them and, potentially, put them in danger. What if the serious rain had come while the Phillies were tap-dancing until it was fiscally sensible to call the game? Now you’ve got people, some of which have been plied with drink, driving home in a torrential downpour. If they were wise enough to use public transportation, who’s to say they don’t get completely stranded when SEPTA, who will take any excuse for a delay, goes haywire. These are just hypotheticals, of course, since the Phillies did postpone the game well before the big stuff came. I’m just saying: There was no way this game was being played and none of these people should have been in the area of Broad and Pattison unless they lived around the corner.

The Phillies are a class operation. I am proud to call myself a fan. However, on Saturday, when they basically robbed their fan base out of their hard-earned pay, a franchise that has become known for hitting majestic, Ruthian home runs of management success basically pulled a Jayson Werth. They struck the f*ck out.

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