Can someone please explain what exactly is in the drinking water in Philadelphia these days? Why does its team’s managers and coaches seem to have lost a grip on what the real world is all about? In the last six months, Eagles coach Andy Reid and Phillies manager Charlie Manuel have made some of the most asinine and disrespectful comments I have ever read.
Over the years Andy Reid, along with the entire Eagle’s front office, has enjoyed their fair share of the fans and media’s wrath. Their holier than thou attitude displayed, despite not having the championship pedigree to back it up, has alienated many.
When Charlie Manual was hired as Phillies manager back in 2006, it was not a move fans loved. The Phillies front office “claimed” they held their most extensive managerial search ever, yet ended up hiring the candidate everyone knew would replace Larry Bowa the moment he was hired as “special advisor” during Bowa’s final season.
Since winning the World Series in 2008 and returning to another in 2009, fans have fallen in love with Manuel. They have taken to his managerial style, his southern tongue and his way for sticking up for his players—whether it’s with umpires or radio personalities like Howard Eskin.
However, no matter what either man has achieved or failed to on the field, each man has shown he lacks a grip on reality or what is truly important in this world.
Back in January when the Eagles lost to the eventual Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers in the Wild-Card Playoff game at Lincoln Financial Field, Reid, in his post-game press conferences, made references to David Akers missing two field goals. “We can all count. Those points would have helped,” he was quoted as saying.
I found it odd that day when I heard Reid basically blame the entire loss on the shoulders of his kicker, when it had never been his style. All of us fans have gotten so used to (and tired of) his day-after antics, usually saying nothing more than “I need to do better” or “it’s all on me.” The one time Reid decides to hold a player accountable, it is David Akers. Which is fine. You want to blame your kicker for missing two crucial field goals, that is your choice and you must live with it.
However when it comes out just weeks later that Akers had found out the Friday before the game that his toddler required surgery to remove cancerous cysts—and that Reid knew about it—fans were left more disgusted with the man than any NFC Championship game loss could. Akers missed two field goals, fine.
He failed when the team needed him, but his mind was elsewhere, on his daughter who could face a lifetime infertility, or worse, due to her condition. David Akers was a frightened father and deserved better.
When I opened the newspaper today—or, as circumstances have it, the online version—I was equally disgusted with Charlie Manuel. Roy Oswalt returned to the team yesterday, and is scheduled to start for the Phillies on Sunday.
He had been away for over a week, tending to his family and hometown after a devastating hurricane ripped through their land and destroyed much in its path. Instead of praising Oswalt for standing up for what is most important in his life, Manuel blasted him for failing to make baseball his priority, and saying he understood Oswalt’s need to put his family first “to a certain degree.”
I love baseball and football as much as anyone. I had a hard time sleeping after the Phillies lost the NLCS last year to San Francisco and after they lost to the Yankees the year before. I hate seeing the Eagles constantly make the playoffs and go no farther each season. However none of that compares to what’s really important, what really matters.
When my infant daughter was diagnosed with a brain bleed shortly after her birth and could have potentially faced a lifetime of hardships it was devastating, and no Phillies, Eagles, Sixers, Flyers or even lottery victory could have made it any better.
Thank god she is all right today (she’s 15 months now) and doing well. We watch the Phillies and Eagles together as often as we can, and I still hate it when they lose. And I know she will too when she’s old enough to understand. However, what is more important is that she is safe, healthy and happy.
“Baseball is a gift that you’re given to play, but this comes third or fourth on my list,” Oswalt is quoted as saying in the Philadelphia Inquirer. He is right; baseball is a gift and a great one. It has brought him (and other players) fame, money and joy. But it is not the most important thing in his life, nor in mine. If Charlie Manual or Andy Reid cannot understand that, than I guess it is easy to see why Reid’s children have made headlines for all the wrong reasons.
To David Akers and Roy Oswalt: the fans are behind you and we all expect your priorities to be your family, their health and safety, and not some child’s game you make a lot of money to play. Continue doing what you’re doing and God bless.