Wednesday, October 06, 2004


Did anyone really expect this whole thing to end peacefully? Already the recriminations have begun with Larry Bowa claiming the Phillies lied to him while the rest of us, spectators and commentators alike, take sides if not shots.

One of Bowa’s biggest gripe appears to date from the nadir of the season when for all intents and purposes the Phils fell out of contention following a road trip that began with five losses in six games only to recover with five victories in six games on the West Coast. Speculation was rampant locally and nationally that Bowa’s dismissal was imminent and that the recovery in LA and San Diego literally saved his job. Then came the disastrous 1 – 9 home stand from which they never recovered despite eventually going 21 – 9 in the last month of the season. Apparently Bowa still feels this late turn-around and distant second-place finish merited another season at the helm.

What angered Bowa the most, however, were the leaks just prior to the last two games of the season clearly indicating the decision to fire him had already been made. This is the point at which he confronted GM Ed Wade and demanded to know the truth. Informed the leaks were true and that the club still wished him to finish out the season, Bowa told them what they could do with that request and forced the public announcement of his dismissal. Shocking, isn’t it? There actually were leaks from within the organization, a revelation that must rank up there with Claude Rains “discovery” in Casablanca there was gambling at Rick’s cafe. (“Your winnings, sir.”)

No one has come out of this mess unscathed but the consensus is senior management has badly mishandled nearly everything at every turn. It hardly can be said I am an apologist for Ed Wade and company but this much is clear: the GM and his staff cannot have known when they signed Pat Burrell to a long-term contract following his monster year in 2002 that he would suddenly lose all comprehension of the strike zone along with his swing somewhere between the on-deck circle and batter’s box. Nor could they have imagined Billy Wagner would twice land on the disabled list for long stretches. And they couldn’t they have guessed pitcher Randy Wolfe, an experienced veteran at this point in his career, would be so ineffective and prone to injury.

On the other hand, Wade and his staff have never impressed this observer with their trading abilities or skill at evaluating pitching. The trading deadline pickups over the last few seasons of pitchers such as Turk Wendell and Doug Jones are the lowlights, but there are many other examples. I would imagine all around the major leagues GM’s salivate when they see Wade’s number come up on their Caller ID. This off-season free agents will likely be glad, too, but for entirely different reasons.

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