Giving credit where credit is overdue
In this time of unprecedented triumph, we all should stand and offer an ovation to the people who changed the culture. Rise together, please, and thank the Phillies — for our first title in a quarter-century, and so much more.
The Phils have transformed our city into a spawning ground for winners, so much so that we were voted the capital of the sports world in a recent ESPN poll. The Phillies are the best team in baseball, and the best in their history. The Eagles are the talk of football, suddenly hell-bent on winning their first championship in 51 years. And the Flyers are crazed to end their own 36-year drought.
We have the Phillies to thank for this rebirth of spirit. Just when the other teams seemed secure in their contender status, the Phils asked more from themselves, and we all held a parade in 2008 to celebrate that new commitment. They made themselves so good, so captivating, that the other teams have had no choice but to try harder.
During their free-agency frenzy, the Eagles have scoffed at the notion that their new aggressiveness was fueled by the Phillies. My follow-up question would be: Are you human? The Birds owned this city for a generation, and we’re supposed to believe they wouldn’t rebel at losing No. 1 status?
President Joe Banner even had the audacity last week to suggest that the Red Sox are a model for the Eagles because his beloved hometown Bostonians “have a great team and they still go out and get great players.” You mean, like the Phillies acquiring Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Hunter Pence?
There are windows at the NovaCare Complex, and the view shows that more fans than ever are wearing red, not green. More of us than ever are talking baseball, not football. The clamor for Phillies tickets is equal to or greater than the demand for Eagles tickets.
And that’s why the Phillies deserve a show of our gratitude, for new Eagles like Nnamdi Asomugha, Cullen Jenkins and Jason Babin. For Ilya Bryzgalov, Jaromir Jagr and all of the other arrivals during the Flyers’ housecleaning. And don’t forget Joshua Harris, the soon-to-be owner of the Sixers. After what the Phillies have done here, who wouldn’t want to own one of our city’s sports franchises?
In the three decades I have lived in this amazing city, I have never experienced the joys of the past few months. Every day seems to bring a new victory for the Phillies, and new hope for at least one of the other teams. It is the best time to be a Philadelphia sports fan.
That’s why I’m standing and applauding who made it possible. Thank you, Phillies.
Reid’s biggest challenge
Now that the front office has done everything it can to build a champion, the next big question facing the Eagles is not so easily answered. Is there any way Andy Reid can screw this up?
The first hint that there may be trouble ahead came on the first drive of the preseason, when Reid challenged a near-touchdown by Jason Avant. Right after Eagles Television Network flak Don Tollefson chirped that Reid was in “midseason challenge form,” the refs ruled that it was no catch. Midseason form, indeed.
Reid is abysmal at basic elements of coaching — timeouts, challenges, and short-yardage play-calls, to name a few. At the same time, he’s among the best at taking new players and assimilating them into his system, a skill that will prove especially beneficial after the roster shake-up.
Whether Reid’s ability to make his new players comfortable will outweigh his obvious shortcomings on the sideline remains to be seen. But he should know that the stakes are much higher now than at any point in his 13-year tenure.
If we know anything about the Eagles’ hierarchy, it is that they spend their money very reluctantly. The first question they’re going to ask if we don’t have a parade is who was most responsible for the failure. In short, Reid could be facing the end of his long reign. And that’s one decision Reid won’t be able to challenge.
Charlie Manuel can’t possibly stain his legacy as one of the most successful and lovable managers in Phillies history by failing to win the World Series this year. Or can he?
The same question being asked about Andy Reid applies to Manuel, too. With a team this overpowering, is there any way the manager can screw it up? Yes, he can. He most definitely can.
Like Reid, Manuel is far more talented behind the closed doors of the clubhouse than he is during a game. Naysayers point to the bullpen or the bench as fatal flaws on this amazing team. Please allow me to add Manuel’s strategic shortcomings.
Do I have to remind anyone that the Phillies were a better team than the Giants last season? Have we conveniently forgotten the way Manuel blew the pivotal Game 4 by refusing to pitch Roy Halladay on three days’ rest, or by failing to bunt with Jimmy Rollins?
Manuel manages with his gut more than his head, ignoring the able counsel of his bench coach, Pete Mackanin. Manuel burns his bench or his bullpen too early. To this day, people close to the team swear that Manuel won the title in 2008 because he started listening to his top assistant, Jimy Williams.
The Phillies are the Rolls Royce of baseball. Let’s just hope the chauffeur doesn’t get lost on the way to the parade.
– Angelo Cataldi is host of 610 WIP’s Morning Show, which airs weekdays 5:30 a.m. to 10 a.m.
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