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Phillies’ PR department deserves Pistachio Girl

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When you refuse to bring your PR department into the 21st century, sometimes you get what you deserve.

MLB: Atlanta Braves at Philadelphia Phillies Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

During spring training in 2015, I made a huge push to get The Good Phight credentialed by the Phillies. We didn’t need those credentials to do what we do here, but I wanted them for us because that recognition was important to me. We did, and still do, excellent work here at TGP, equal in many ways to coverage of other credentialed blogs and news outlets. The Phillies giving us credentials would mean that they recognized that.

The Phillies’ VP of Communications, who I will not mention by name here (but I will link you to the Phillies front office page and you can guess who it is), was not very welcoming. She questioned our professionalism, so after a long conversation I convinced her to give us a multi-game trial period during spring training. If that went well, we could discuss a credentialing arrangement for the regular season. Eric Chesterton would attend several games in Clearwater with credentials, and we’d see what happened from there.

Eric did a stupendous job in every way possible. He was professional, willing to learn, and wrote great stuff from spring training using his clubhouse access. But that wasn’t enough. Without reading our stuff, they declared that Eric, and by extension me and the rest of the blog, didn’t use his credentials well enough. He hadn’t written enough stories with clubhouse content (he had written at least two, one for each game he attended), which seemed like straight-up bullshit. So I called the VP of Communications and demanded an explanation. She admitted that she hadn’t really read Eric’s stories on The Good Phight, so the explanation we had been given was in fact bullshit. Then the real reason came out: she told me she was unhappy at some of the imagery used in our previous stories, and continued to be worried about our professionalism and abilities.

For the record, here are the stories that Eric wrote from Clearwater. He wrote one piece about Aaron Harang’s late-career revival, and one on non-roster invitees. He didn’t write any straight gamers, because we didn’t feel like that was the best use of his time. The point of clubhouse access is actually getting a chance to talk to the players, and so that’s what I wanted him to do. And here’s the story that offended her, written independently and without clubhouse access, where Eric refers to a trade offer for Cole Hamels as a “gently-used condom.” And considering the trades that people were proposing for Hamels at the time, it was an entirely appropriate comparison.

I will never forget how this woman spoke to me, like I was a three-year-old girl in need of a scolding. “Do YOU think Cole Hamels likes being referred to that way?” Because I’m not a three-year-old girl, and I haven’t needed to be scolded for quite awhile, I didn’t feel like taking this. I told her it’s not my job to think about how athletes feel about what we’re writing, especially if it’s meant as a joke. And furthermore, if she’d actually read the story, she’d see that Eric wasn’t actually referring to Hamels like that, but to the trade packages, arguing that his value is much greater than many perceive it. I said that it’s clear that the Phillies are going to continue to be hostile to bloggers, and so I wasn’t sure why she wasted all of our time with the farce of giving us credentials to begin with. Things did not end on good terms.

I’ll admit this: the Phillies are under no obligation to give us credentials. They didn’t, and still don’t, have to do it, though doing so would recognize it’s no longer 1995, and that blogs are a legitimate outlet for commentary and analysis. But they also didn’t have to yank us around. If they didn’t want to give us credentials because they think we’re too risqué (*eye roll*), they could have just said it instead of giving us false hope and wasting our time.

So why am I telling you this story now? It’s not just to illustrate that the Phillies are an organization stuck in the mid-1990s. (I’m not kidding, their PR office has zero clue about the digital world or the realities of the internet.) It’s to show everyone a clear-cut case of karma. Because a year and a half ago, the Phillies denied The Good Phight credentials because they were afraid we’d make them look bad and unprofessional. And now Pistachio Girl has come along, giving the Phillies PR office the nightmare they were afraid we would cause them. In the time since they’ve denied us credentials, we’ve done nothing but continue to publish quality commentary and analysis about the Phillies, being appropriately critical where necessary, but expressing unbridled hope for the future. In the same amount of time. Pistachio Girl has started following in the footsteps of Tila Tequila, and has been spouting some truly disturbing rhetoric.

Make no mistake: Pistachio Girl is a bigoted idiot, and I really, really hate her ballpark schtick. Every time her “LOOK AT ME LOOK AT ME” yelping gets close to my section, I leave, or I contemplate throwing something at her to get her to stop. She’s not fun and she’s not funny. She’s a distraction, a vendor trying to pull attention away from the game and make everything about her. And her senseless attention grabbing and shameless self-promotion is continuing now with her involvement in the white nationalist movement.

Continuing to employ her is a mistake, because her views are abhorrent and now those views are being tied in with her employer. She advertises herself as a Phillies ballpark vendor, and now as a white nationalist who was recently applauded by former Imperial Wizard of the KKK David Duke. However, she’s actually employed by Aramark as a union employee, which complicates things. But there’s no way she should be hawking pistachios or any other ballpark foodstuff while wearing a Phillies logo, not if the Phillies want their ballpark to continue to be an inclusive place where all can come to watch baseball without fear. But I’ll also point out they’ve seemed to have no problem with the other stories written about her over the years, and they may have even encouraged some of that coverage, since it’s an easy and cheap way to get positive PR. Well, it WAS a way to get positive PR. Now it just looks like they’ve been encouraging a bigot.

I’ve kept my mouth mostly shut about the TGP credentialing ordeal for a year and a half, for various reasons. But as I look back on how I was treated by the adult woman in the Phillies PR department, I can’t help the spiteful part of my brain from thinking — from knowing — they deserve this PR nightmare. They were afraid that we’d make them look bad, when all we wanted was to be accepted by them. I hope the PR office is enjoying Pistachio Girl, because she’s the nightmare they deserve.