Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Wagner Sends Mixed Messages

Billy Wagner officially signed with the New York Mets this week. In doing so, he left behind a franchise that has been struggling over the past few years to overtake the Braves and become the team to chase in the National League East.

Wagner leaves Phillies fans, however, confused as to what he really thinks of the Phillies organization. Granted, to read the
Philadelphia Inquirer article seems to leave little doubt about his opinion. He is quoted as saying such things as "There's a difference between winning and being competitive... In the end, I thought [the Phillies] were more interested in being competitive than winning." He also says that the Phillies were too worried about his age and his health. He said that the Mets are an organization committed to winning a World Series.

Not so fast, Billy.

I will agree that the Phillies most definitely have had a tough time competing, let alone winning. I can't dispute that you would know better than me what is going on behind the scenes in South Philly.

But I can't understand your angst, given that you talked extension with the team this summer. I can't understand your frustration when you said that you were looking for
a place for your family to live and you would prefer that it wasn't New York. I can't understand your believing that you have a better shot at winning the World Series with the Mets. Look at how much money they throw around and look at where it gets them. Carlos Beltran is the best example.

At the end of the article, you allude to the fact that anyone would have taken the money. You're probably right. I would have. But let's not confuse issues here. If you want the money, fine. Leave. You throw 100 miles per hour and someone is willing to pay you a ton of money to do it. Good for you. But don't say you are leaving because the Phillies don't have as good a chance to win the Series as the Mets.

Truth is, Billy, at this point, neither team has a chance.

Monday, November 28, 2005

How Did It All Go So Wrong?

Will the Eagles' loss end up being the Cowboys gain?

Now that Terrell Owens’ career in Philadelphia is officially over, I’m still baffled at how the relationship between the star wide receiver and the Philadelphia fans went so bad so quickly. Even though I’ve lived in New York City for the last five years, having grown up in the Philadelphia suburbs I still share and understand the passion and frustration of Philadelphia sports fans. Owens seems to me like the type of player that Philadelphia should love to love, but just the opposite has occurred.

Consider the Terrell Owens era in the context of another Philadelphia athlete of Hall of Fame pedigree, Allen Iverson. The city has embraced Iverson to the point that his name is now synonymous with Philadelphia. But, remember all of his off-court problems? Domestic disputes, illegal weapons possession, controversial rap lyrics. And what about his on-court problems? Missing and showing up late to practice, his infamous “it’s just practice” press conference and mediating by Pat Croce to convince Larry Brown not to trade him to Detroit. All Owens did try was to get more money from his employer. Owens wasn’t personally asking each fan for a hand-out. He said some things that people found a little offensive, perhaps because they fear coming to grips with the reality of the franchise quarterback. He parked in Andy Reid’s parking spot one day. Certainly no disrespect is meant to Iverson, but Owens’ “problems” literally pale in comparison to Iverson’s, which is why I find the fans’ about-face toward him so perplexing. Where did Philly fans’ sense of humor go? Parking in Andy Reid’s spot is funny.

Many more "problems" than Owens

Somehow the local and national media, the fans and Eagles’ management converged to create the perfect storm of hostility, powerful enough to sweep Owens’ out of town. Led by captain ignoramus, Howard Eskin, fans actually buried an effigy of Owens in a coffin. That is ludicrous. Frankly, I thought Terrell Owens was fun. Remember all the TD celebrations, the wing flapping, the Monday Night Football promo with Nicolette Sheridan, the Superbowl? Those are reasons to like Owens, not vilify him.

Owens’ contribution on the field is indisputable. He simply made the Eagles a better team. And now that he’s gone they are a worse team, perhaps when they will need his abilities the most. The NFC East division that the Eagles have dominated for the last five years has gone through a power shift. The Giants, Cowboys and Redskins are all legitimate playoff contenders and the Eagles aren’t even as good the 2003 version that reached the NFC Championship game by the 4th and 26 miracle and only managed three points against Carolina.

What if?

Eagles management profoundly botched this situation. Iverson’s former boss Pat Croce has been vocal in the past about the fact that he wanted to buy the Eagles, but Jeffery Lurie beat him to it. We can only dream about how the patience and finesse with which Croce likely would have handled Owens and how a more diplomatic approach might have kept T.O. in Eagle green and, like Iverson, in the Philly fans’ good graces.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Bloch-Head! Arbitrator Rules Against Terrell Owens

Independent arbitrator Richard Bloch ruled against Terrell Owens and in favor of the Philadelphia Eagles today, upholding the suspension.