Sunday, July 20, 2014

South Philly Crickets

Sing For Ruben
In my routine review of the other sites in Blogfrica, I see headers like "Five trades the Phillies must make" and "When will the Phillies start their fire sale" and "Which prospects will the Phillies promote?"

And it's not even good click bait, folks. The topic doesn't draw page views, or talk radio callers, or much of anything. Because no one in Philadelphia has cared about this team since, um, well... not this year, really. And they care less than last year, and the year before.

People talk about how negative Philadelphia fans are, as if there is anything unique about an Eastern city showing displeasure when they pay top dollar to see bottom performance. (For evidence of this, try watching a Yankee home game when the populace isn't making nice to the dying days of Derek Jeter.) But here's just how low the Phillies have sunk in the collective consciousness: no one really cares if they fire sale off assets, because until the absolute failure that is GM Ruben Amaro Jr. is gone, no one thinks the fire sale will go any better than the current train wreck.

And the striking thing is that, all things considered, things have gone well for the Phillies this year. Marlon Byrd, an aging OFer coming off a career year with a history of PED abuse, has performed well. Ryan Howard got a little hot there for a while and didn't look like he was totally spent. Chase Utley deserved his All-Star berth and stayed healthy. Jimmy Rollins didn't pout or be divisive after the spring training benching. Jonathan Papelbon shook off his first week struggles and reinvented himself; he's been effective. The bullpen isn't the tire fire it usually is, with Ken Gilles actually being the rare prospect who has been worth watching. They haven't been crushed by injuries.

Instead, they've been, well, bad. As usual, as ever, because there is no way that a team with an aging star core that doesn't get regenerated, supported by one of the worst farm systems in baseball, and operated by a GM who seems to think that statistical analysis is for sissies and people who aren't the genius he is, can be anything else. They were predicted to be bad. They were bad last year. They'll be bad again next year, no matter who the GM is, because the earth has been salted, and then Amaro dumped it into the wells, too. .

The amazing thing about this has been the ownership's ability to eat manure and convince themselves that it's caviar. Attendance keeps dropping. Interest and ratings as well. After a period of time where it looked like the baseball team was going to take over, or at least share the crown, with the Eagles, the town has gone to full-time Chip Kelly analysis. No one is excited about the arrival of Maikel Franco, or Jesse Biddle, or interested in whether or not Domonic Brown or Darrin Ruf is going to be worth a damn, or what the club might get for dealing Cliff Lee or Cole Hamels.

Instead, there are crickets, and an apathetic waiting for the end of Amaro, who has a beautiful yard, the largest single-team market in MLB, and absolutely no answers or excuses.

There's a much worse sound than booing, folks. It's silence. And the silence around the Phillies is deafening.

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