I'm still recovering from a few days away, and while I was gone everyone became even angrier at the Phillies and Ruben Amaro than they'd been before. Which is amazing, considering the level of anger that was already there.
Then this morning Amaro went on WIP and had a chat with Angelo Cataldi, and a whole new wave of anger was unleashed. Here's part of what he said, from the Philly.com story:
"We may have to step backwards to step forwards and that's also part of the plan here, is to understand that-listen, we may not be a contender in '15 and '16," Amaro said to host Angelo Cataldi. "And to try to get back to where we need to be in '17 or '18. It may just be a one year, you know, glitch. It may be two years, but we are open and really understand that the fact that listen, we have not played well. We have not done what is necessary to be a contender this year. We're going to have to make changes to get better."
It's a shock to the system to hear Amaro being honest. Well, at least a bit more honest than he's been in quite awhile. (I call it "honest-ish".) And there's a lot to unpack in that statement about where the Phillies are and where they could be going.
But when you get down to it, it's not like what Amaro said is news. Yes, he said that the Phillies may not contend in the next few years. Uh, doy. He knew it, and we knew it. The bigger news is that he said that in front of a live microphone that was attached to a popular radio broadcast. So I'm curious -- why are people losing their minds about Amaro's fairly obvious statement that they're not contending? Why is there a new wave of hand-wringing and teeth gnashing and garment rending?
I mean, I'm not blind. I'm not trying to pretend the Phillies are great, because they're not -- there isn't a lot of good right now. And it feels really, really great to let those feelings out. I enjoy writing angry, yelly, bitchy Phillies posts just as much as most of you enjoy reading that stuff. But there's a difference between being constructive/analytical and constantly giving a knee-jerk reaction to the news. I have to remind myself of that difference every time I start to write, because it's so tempting to keep saying the same things over and over again, because let's face it -- some of the decisions they've made are very bad. If I could, I'd mention how fucking terrible the Hunter Pence trade was every single day. But those bad decisions are in the past. They'll affect the team for years, even decades to come, but those choices have been made and cannot be changed.
It's tough to look at these Phillies with fresh eyes every time Amaro opens his mouth, or the front office makes a trade (or a non-trade, as it were). But it's actually kind of important to at the very least *start* there. Context is vital, but it might prevent us from seeing what's really going on. I'm not saying that we ignore everything the Phillies have ever done. But when you're trying to evaluate a move or a statement in the midst of all this Phillies-related shit, it might get in the way of forming an honest opinion.
Have the Phillies earned the benefit of the doubt? In reality, they haven't. In a just world, Amaro would be gone, David Montgomery would be an entirely different human being (probably not named David Montgomery but instead named Good Decisions McGillicuddy), and we'd be in a completely different place. But as they say, thieves get rich, saints get shot, and God don't answer prayers a lot. We don't live in a just world, and we have to watch our franchise do stupid, stupid things. But not everything they do or say is worthy of yelling and derision.
Listen, I know where people are coming from. I just got back from a phenomenal week in Houston at the SABR 44 conference, where I saw a mind-blowingly awesome baseball game and witnessed three Astros executives talk about their team management strategy. I didn't leave feeling good about the Phillies. At all. In any way, shape, or form. Hell, even the Phillies ballpark giveaways suck compared to most teams! (What is with that 14 and under ridiculousness, guys. Stop it.) And our own GM admitted that the team is going to be bad for at least a few more years.
But the only way out is through. And the only way through is to remember the future is a big, bright, blank sheet of paper, waiting to be written on. Yes, a tiny bit of that future is already written. The contracts of Howard, Lee, and Papelbon still loom large on a payroll that is long on declining veterans and short on young talent. But if there's one thing that sustains me, is this: the front office has tasted winning, and they desperately want to again. They will do anything they can to get back there. They may not do it the way that you or I want them to, but there isn't just one path to the top.
So let's all calm down about the Phillies. There's nothing new under the sun. Unless it comes out that Amaro is actually a cleverly disguised emu, we should all save our anger for news that deserves it. If that leaves you disappointed, remember this -- Ruben Amaro and David Montgomery are still running the Phillies. News that is deserving of your anger can't be far away.