There's a certain sentiment among long-suffering Philadelphia baseball fans that the disappointing Phillies and the embittered, endlessly cynical and unremittingly negative community in which the team plays "deserve each other." The argument goes that the team's best players--from Mike Schmidt thirty years ago to Bobby Abreu today--not only don't get the recognition they deserve, but actually become targets for fan and media wrath, usually for lack of "heart" or "hustle," when they fail to deliver in key spots. Arguably the classic example of this is that Schmidt might be better known for his 1-for-20 struggles in the 1983 World Series than for his Series MVP performance when the Phils won the title three years earlier.
We at TGP don't exactly agree with this argument--though we very strongly want to see both a more enlightened decision-making process from the team and a more appreciative and supportive phan base in the community. Maybe it's because most of us first came to love the team as kids during that glory era from 1976 to 1983, when the Phils made the playoffs six times, including the two pennants and one championship, and wish nothing more than for those good times to return.
But we do acknowledge a certain... well, I guess that "ignorance," "arrogance," and "malice" would all apply from a certain corner of the media landscape, at least where Phillies baseball is concerned. That corner is Philadelphia's all-sports talk station, WIP. And none other than former Phils ace Curt Schilling apparently agrees:
"These guys were some of the worst people, and are some of the worst people I've ever met in my life. They have no business being in sports. They have a sports station that tries to be what 'EEI is, and they suck."
He singled out WIP personalities Angelo Cataldi, Howard Eskin and Glen Macnow. "These guys have as much to do with sports as Mother Theresa." He said he was referring in particular to the Philadelphia radio station's treatment of his friend Terry Francona, the Red Sox skipper who used to coach the Phillies.
"It wasn't kind of off-the-cuff, funny criticism. It was bad stuff, horrible stuff." Schilling complained how Cataldi announced he would shoot himself in the head of Francona won the World Series. "I know that they would have sold tickets for that."
"Just gutless people...," he concluded. "They don't talk sports and they don't know sports."
I don't want to take any of the easy shots there at the individual hosts Schilling called out, nor at Curt himself--except to say that this is a guy with an unusual appreciation for the fans (as well as for himself), whom longtime online Phils rooters might remember would subscribe to e-mail lists about the team, chiming in when the mood struck him. We could use more of that kind of interest, even if it comes attached to certain less appealing traits.
But on WIP, he has it right. We understand--trust me, we truly understand--feelings of frustration with the Phils. But these are guys who reflexively rip on Abreu, who have suggested trading him for the likes of Baltimore's Jay Gibbons--and who essentially just seem to lack an understanding of how and why baseball teams win.
Through this site, we aim to offer a fun, at times pointed, probably occasionally heated, corrective to this point of view. That's why we Phight.