Take a look at this image and tell me what you see?
Do you see a butterfly with a sinister look on its face? Or maybe a bat about to attack? Or two lions springing from a bunny rabbit?
Or maybe it's a veteran Phillies pitcher who is so disloyal to the team that he doesn't want to play in Philadelphia anymore and instead is hurting the team's chances of trading him so they can improve in the long-run.
Or, rather, maybe it's a veteran Phillies pitcher who has such a burning desire to win that he wants to move to a better team while also helping the only franchise that he has ever known improve in the future.
Welcome to the Phillies Media Rorschach Test. Today, Cole Hamels is caught in it for his comments about wanting to be traded. To my fellow TGP'er John Stolnis, we shouldn't be mad at Hamels because he just wants to win, which should be the defining trait of our best athletes. But to Bob Brookover, Hamels' comments are horrible because they hurt his trade value. No doubt there are fans calling WIP today complaining about Hamels' disloyalty and telling him to suck it up because he signed the deal to play for this franchise.
But what if Hamels had said the opposite? That he just wanted to stay in Philadelphia to play out his contract, no matter what the team does?
We'd be in the same boat. There would be those who defended Hamels, saying that his loyalty to Philadelphia is admirable. Others would point to Hamels as a role-model, explaining that Kids These Days (TM) could learn a thing or two from an athlete who sticks to his commitments through thick and thin.
Others would completely disagree. Hamels would be a loser who doesn't have that burning desire to win. He would be a traitor who would be obstructing a trade to help the team because he is making it publicly known that he wanted to stay here, making it harder to trade him to a team on his no-trade list.
In other words, damned if you do, damned if you don't. Those who like Hamels, like those of us here at TGP, will defend him no matter what he says (except when he's sexist and playing on homophobia, in which case we won't). Those who listen to WIP and think Hamels has been a weak link in the Phillies' recent success will criticize him no matter what.
There is no doubt in my mind that whatever Hamels says between now and when he's traded will fall victim to this Phillies Media Rorschach Test. Same goes for Ryan Howard this year. Is there anything he can say that will not be taken as a horrible slight against all that is holy by a significant section of the Phillies fanbase?
Chase Utley may be immune from the Test, as he has a god-like status here despite being one of the least fan-friendly players the franchise has seen in a long time. Carlos Ruiz may also be immune, as he talks to the media so rarely. (And he loves ice cream, so how can you complain about that?) But, given the team's certain failures this year, I wouldn't be surprised if these two also get dragged into the Test's nonsense.
Given this reality, is it any wonder that most athletes just spout boring cliches all the time?