Monday, November 16, 2009

A FEEL For the Game...

This is an entry by guest blogger Allen Schatz. Allen may be familiar to some of you as "raschatz" on twitter and Facebook. Allen is a fiction writer and is currently shopping a murder mystery set on a baseball canvas. Those in the business may wish to click here, to find out more about Allen's work.


Much has been said and written about how the Phillies have turned a corner in recent years, how they finally seem to "get it." I was reminded of that after another day of Eagles football came and went with a hauntingly familiar result. The Birds have taken over as Philadelphia's -- hell, maybe ALL of professional sport's -- Groundhog Day Team.

You know, they do the same thing over and over and expect something different to result. Phil Sheridan of the Philly Inquirer hit on it in his assessment of their latest loss...

"The veteran head coach has to take some of the heat for the way some very good drives fizzled..."

"The Eagles' inability to (insert appropriate failure here) remains a mystery..."

"...another winnable game gets away... the Eagles are just a mediocre football team..."

Those comments -- and I swear I've seen them before at some point every year for the past ten or so seasons -- got me thinking about how much these two teams have traded places and even more so, WHY that has occurred. For me, it boils down to one simple aspect:

The Phillies have a FEEL... the Eagles do not.

The Birds are led by men (Andy Reid and his bosses) entrenched in a mind-fart of epic proportions, unable to deviate from a stubborn and insane belief that their system is the be-all, end-all of perfection and if repeated often enough will lead to success. Unfortunately, as much as the system, it is these mens' definition of success that is the failure. They just don't get it.

Contrast that with the Phillies. Professional sports' most successful loser, the team suffered for years as a "second tier" organization run by a management group more intent on controlling the level of debits over credits than wins over losses. Like Lurie/Banner/Reid now, the Phillies front office had no FEEL for success, not really. They liked to try to get you to believe they did, but we knew better.

A couple close calls were made worse by a lack of action when action was called for. The elusive ring was right there, but we were told it was unreachable.

And then something changed...

Someone woke up and Ed Wade was banished to the abyss, destined to make another franchise suffer his indignities. Pat Gillick was presented to us and we were told he got it, he had a feel, just look at what he'd done in Toronto and Seattle. Pat gave us Charlie Manuel, a West Virginia bumpkin on the outside, but a fierce competitor on the inside. We were told Charlie had a feel, and we just had to trust him, we'd see.

At first we were reluctant, but as time passed we saw something in their eyes and heard something in their voices, something different. Off-field moves once thought impossible became commonplace. On-field moves questioned at first soon spawned results. The close calls became championships. A division out of nowhere. Then another with a pennant and a world title. It became a three year run unlike any before.

And best of all, it promises more to come. Not because that's what the mindless dolts tell us will happen, but because we can FEEL it. Watching the Eagles, more and more of us feel nothing. There is no look of a champion, no innate sense they are destined for something other than more of the same. If nothing else, the Phillies have proven more of the same is no longer acceptable. Watching them, despite a World Series defeat, we feel good.

As the off-season settles in, anticipation for the future is high. The Fightins' still carry the look of a winner, the look of a champion. The new season (now more than ever given the Eagles awfulness) can't get here soon enough.

Can you FEEL it?

I knew you could...

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