Monday, September 15, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Expectations at all-time low for a generation of Phillies fans

The Phils will make a pit stop here this weekend for a preseason set of games, and then head off to Texas to start their season amid all sorts of doom-and-gloom speculation.

Expectations at all-time low for a generation of Phillies fans

Phillies fans hold up a sign reading "It´s Ruben´s fault" during a game at Citizens Bank Park in August 2013. (Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
Phillies fans hold up a sign reading "It's Ruben's fault" during a game at Citizens Bank Park in August 2013. (Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)

The often incoherent, grammatically challenged ramblings of a man who has watched too much sports, listened to too much music and devoured too many club sandwiches.

A little warning here at the start that the road ahead is unpaved, filled with potholes and might lead nowhere. So, begin reading at your own risk – and the same warning could be given for the start of the Phillies’ 2014 season.

Leading off, there is a whole generation of Phillies fans who have never faced a season with less optimism. The Phils will make a pit stop here this weekend for a preseason set of games, and then head off to Texas to start their season amid all sorts of doom-and-gloom speculation.

This is a new launching point for a lot of fans that were not so tuned into baseball before the era of we-should-make-the-playoffs was launched, resulting in an expected trip into October and a World Series championship.

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Expectations are low, and the Phillies have wisely begun marketing campaigns to try and keep the ball park filled, It will be a difficult task, especially on either end of the summer months, and even those months will be a hard sell if the team has a horrible April and early May.

You can only sell the glory of Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins and Carlos Ruiz for so long, and then the glow of winning fades. The Phils’ mistake has been keeping players around too long and not generating enough excitement about the next generation.

Every franchise should get what you might call a “Jeter” card – the temptation to keep a veteran player because he is just ingrained in the city’s fabric. In the case of the Phillies, they used that card in the form of a huge paycheck to Howard, so there should have been a decision to move Rollins, Ruiz or Utley – if not all three.

And with the vision of 50/50 hindsight, wouldn’t the Phils have been better off spending what they deemed ridiculous money on Werth, rather than on so much pitching and aging stars?

The net result here is the anticipation of a wrecked season. Most alarmingly, general manager Ruben Amaro has already spoken openly about what would have to be done if things go wrong, and that is hardly the way to start a campaign.

So, you are left hoping that the 2014 Phillies can turn into an ornery pack of veterans looking to prove that they can get it done one more time. And if they can’t, you will have plenty of elbow room at the ballpark all summer.

***

All right, let’s get this straight: DeSean Jackson is under all sorts of scrutiny about his status with the club, and there is plenty of speculation that it is his off-the-field demeanor that’s causing the biggest problem.

And in the middle of all this, he decides it’s a good idea to use social media to distribute a picture of himself firing a pistol at a gun range (above).

Mind you, it’s perfectly legal – and even more perfectly stupid.

Just sayin’.

***

Dumb as that looked, it didn’t look any more stupid or pitiful than the sight of the mayor of Philadelphia, Michael Nutter, heading a contingent of local leaders in trip to Rome to convince the Pope to have an event in Philadelphia.

It turned into a beg fest as the Pope didn’t have time for a private meeting, and he had to meet the group for a few minutes in front of thousands of people. You want to talk about lack of respect. This is the mayor of a major American city – Philadelphia, basically groveling in front of a crowd to get acknowledged by the Pope.

But it might work because the mayor did give the Pope a little replica of the Liberty Bell. Now, that should win him over. Wonder why he didn’t just hand over one of the Phanatic dangles hats?

***

The Flyers have now lost two consecutive games, the last occurring at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night when the Rangers snuffed them out. MSG has turned into a house of horror for the Flyers, and they had better get their game back online Fright night in Philly against Toronto or all the gains of the past two weeks will be forgotten.

In the meantime, the NHL had better start writing some rules about replay in the very good chance that a puck gets lost in Sean Couturier’s beard.

***

Does it really make any sense that it can cost more to park a car at a sporting event than it does to attend the sporting event?

***

And finally, we come all the way around the bases because no matter how worried you might be about the fate of the Phillies, after this winter, how nice is it just to anticipate a warm night and cold beverage at Citizens Bank Park?

Nuf Ced.

Al Morganti is a member of the WIP Morning Show (94.1 FM) weekday mornings from 5:30 til 10 and a hockey analyst for Comcast SportsNet. His twitter handle is @nufced.

Al Morganti Philly.com
About this blog
Al Morganti is a contributor at Philly.com and writes about sports and entertainment. Reach Al at nufced04@gmail.com.

Al Morganti Philly.com
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