I keep telling the Phillies: You don’t want to tick off the baseball gods.
But they won’t listen. Never have. They got so close in ’64, but got full of themselves and ticked off the gods. They traded a Hall of Fame second baseman because… Oh, forget it, let’s not dig up old bones.
But this here? This isn’t digging up old bones; this is downright in your face, kiss-off, go scratch your butt-of-an attitude toward the baseball gods. And somebody will pay!
I’m talking about the handling of broadcaster, Chris Wheeler. The baseball gods loved Wheels. And why not? He was honest, forthright, hard working, decent, and presented the game over the airways in a way that pleased the gods. All those years of explaining what he saw on the field made the baseball gods chuckle with delight. Wheels actually taught people the game and for that he got tossed out like a ball that’s been in the batting practice bag too long.
Here, we don’t need this one.
And Wheels criticized the players too, you bet your ass he did — which is nothing to sneer at. You try criticizing a 22 year old zillionaire, then sit three rows from him on the charter flight to Milwaukee. Think it’s easy? And Harry? Oh, everybody loved Harry. But I never heard Harry criticize a player. Never. And when Wheels did, he’d say something like: “Uh, huh.”
Now, you might say: “But Ron, he didn’t get fired. He’s still in another capacity with the club.” True, but after all the years Wheels gave to the people of Philadelphia, he was cut loose like a third string shortstop with a bad arm. No respect. That’s what I’m talking about. And that’s what has the gods up in arms.
And here’s something else the baseball gods don’t appreciate, either. Over the years, Wheels had his critics. Who wouldn’t, being on the air day in and day out? Petty little men, jealous because Wheels forgot more baseball than they know — like the big mouth on morning radio. Ever listen to his radio show, or listen to the dimwits that call in? Makes you want to puke.
And this is not about the three former players they hired to replace Wheels and Sarge, either — Moyer, Stairs and Schmitty. The gods aren’t mad at them. They get a free pass and we hope they do well. But I know, at least in the beginning, I’ll be comparing them to Wheels, and that won’t be pretty.
“What the hell did he just say?” Besides, they’ll be teamed up with McCarthy, ole talkathon himself.
So here we go into a new season, and already, two young Phillies’ pitchers are on the shelf with sore shoulders. The young third basement took a fastball high and tight and got plunked on the wrist. The Cuban pitcher can’t find the plate. I know, I know, this is stuff that happens in baseball. It’s normal this time of year.
Just don’t say I didn’t warn you!