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All That is Wrong With Philly Sports Journalism in One Article

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Jim Salisbury hasn't been the Inquirer's Phillies beat writer for a while now.  So you'd think he would be freed from the job's seemingly required obsequiousness to write a hard-hitting piece after a terrible loss.  Rip the entire team and organization to shreds, showing their deficiencies in toto.  Right?

Wrong.  Instead, we get this horrible piece in yesterday's Inquirer about the brutal loss to Atlanta.  Much of the so-called analysis in the article is along the lines of no one can believe the loss, it was hard on the team, they are shocked.  Really?  Wow.  This kind of hard-hitting journalism is why I subscribe to the Inquirer!

In a piece entitled "This one never should have gotten away," you'd think you'd see some kind of analysis about the players, the team, the coaching, or the management.  Instead, when Salisbury's not giving the players and Manuel column-inches to express their disappointment (again, wow! Thanks Jim!), he offers up these explanations for the loss, starting about halfway through the column:  bad breaks, offense left guys on base (but scored 8), can't expect relievers to get 12 outs (with a 5 run lead), Myers was sorta wild but almost pulled it out, and Roberson may have possibly played poorly.  But even those last two criticisms are couched in maybes and probablys and ifs and all sorts of equivocation.  What's so hard about directly calling out a player on bad play?  Not to mention calling out the coaches and management?

Our own jonk did a nice job breaking down some of the problems with Wednesday's game in his piece about Manuel yesterday.  But in case Salisbury is looking for a list of the real reasons "This one never should have gotten away," here's the list that should have been published:

  1. Roberson was horrible in the field.  It wasn't a case of probably or maybe.  It just was awful.  He should be called on it loudly.  And it's not just that he was playing too shallow; it appeared he even broke in on the ball, like a little leaguer does when not sure where a ball is hit.  That split second cost him the catch.
  2. Manuel inexplicably used a 39 year old pitcher who has shoulder problems and had pitched two days in a row to hold the lead.  Yes, Gordon should have held it, but Manuel's decision was indefensible.
  3. He has no options, you say?  That's Gillick's fault.  He may be a good dumpster diver, but he's proven a horrible general handyman.  The problem with this team has been clear for years.  He inherited the problems from Ed Wade.  He has done a terrible job at fixing them.  Particularly the bullpen.  Antonio Alfonseca and Jose Mesa?  Wake up Pat, it's not the 1990s.  He has given Manuel nothing in the bullpen.
  4. And while we're at it, Wednesday's game should be another indictment of the medical mismanagement of this team.  The thin bullpen is a direct result of Ryan Madson, Jon Lieber, and Freddy Garcia's injuries.  Keeping players healthy is a skill that the Phillies have lost as a team.
  5. Bret Myers failed.  He didn't just barely almost succeed.  He failed miserably and spectacularly.  Coming in in the 8th inning with bases loaded and throwing a wild pitch?  Walking guys in key situations?  That's the kind of thing that critics routinely say is the result of not having a closer's mentality or not being ready for the prime time.  I don't buy that kind of analysis, but I'd be fine with anything criticizing Myers for Wednesday's performance.  He sucked, and the game analysis should be written that way.
Writing the critical analysis of Wednesday's game should have been easy.  There were many actors to flay.  But instead, what we get around here for critical analysis is "awe shucks, that sucks for us" and "maybe he could have done better."  Games like that call for repeated hard hits.