Sunday, August 10, 2014

On And Off The Field

Last night at Citizens Bank Park nearly everything wrong with the Phillies was prominently displayed.

On the field, the bats were silent again wasting another fine outing by Cole Hamels, the only reliable starter on the staff.  For the second time in a week Hamels' mates were AWOL as he stifled the opposition.  Hamels has two no-decisions to show for his outstanding efforts.

Also on the field, the Phillies celebrated the induction of former manager Charlie Manual into the teams Wall of Fame.  It was all folksy and joyful as befitted the inductee.

Off the field, we can look at the events cited above and find nothing to celebrate with the Phillies' alleged brain trust.  Indeed, Hamels' plight can be laid directly at the feet of GM Ruben Amaro and whichever of the myriad owners actually has a say in the day-to-day operations.  Amaro took over a squad that was at its peak and tried to squeeze a few more titles out of it while emptying his farm system.  Injuries and age undermined his goal, but not nearly as much as his ruinous trades, reckless contracts, and general inability to judge talent did.  Until as recently as two months ago Amaro insisted the Phillies could be competitive.  Right now they long as the Houston Astros provide the opposition.

But the night really revolved around Manual.  After leading the Phillies out of the wasteland and to consecutive World Series appearances and one win, Manual was saddled with these aging, injured and overpriced players and could no longer work miracles.  Was Manual a genius?  Hardly.  He had his issues with in-game strategies and was less than impressive as a judge of pitchers.  But Manuel was a players' manager and was successful in getting the most out of those players while he could.  So, what was his ultimate reward (Walls of Fame notwithstanding)?  He was fired late in the season with a little over a month or two to go.  Instead of telling Charlie they were going to let him go at the end of the season, they fired him with time remaining.  It was a decision not only lacking in class, it sent a message that this alleged brain trust had little regard for its valuable employees.

We should not forget Dallas Green here.  Green was no genius.  On top of that, he was a loud-mouthed jerk.  But he won a World Series after an even longer period of wandering the wilderness and was rewarded with a lifetime job, even after he left briefly to head the Chicago Cubs and succeeded in fleecing his former employers by wrangling Ryne Sandberg from them.  What goes around.....   Sandberg had a Hall of Fame career in Chicago and then returned to the Phillies organization only to become the manager who succeeded, you guessed it, Charlie Manual.  Meanwhile, Green has some senior advisory role with the Phillies, possible Loud Mouth For Life.

I'm not quite finished.

In addition to firing Manual instead of seeing him gracefully retire, the Phillies also fired long-time television and radio commentator Chris Wheeler.  In Wheeler's case the Phillies allowed him to finish the season, but after signing a huge new deal with Comcast, the alleged brain trust decided to unceremoniously cut Wheeler loose.  Wheeler had his detractors.  He made the phrases "middle in" and "no doubles defense" raise more than a few hackles among listeners; but, he was informed and passionate and devoted.  For this he was dumped very unceremoniously and replaced by two media neophytes, Jamie Moyer and Matt Stairs, who are charitably the worst commentators in the booth this viewer has ever endured.  I haven't tried this duo as the cure for my chronic insomnia but I might force myself to tune in late one night for a trial dose.

So, there you have it.  The Phillies' alleged brain trust has screwed up the product on and off the field, and they have done it without apology.  They aren't good at their jobs and they have no class in the process.

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