Low turnouts and audible grumbling marked opening week at Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park, and the Delaware County Times’ Jack McCafferty thinks he knows why.
The Phillies sold 23 percent fewer season tickets than they did last year. That should not be. That cannot be. No, the Phillies must treat this evident fan-disconnect as a crisis, or be made to explain exactly why it was that they required that new stadium, inches awayfrom the old one.
For now, there is only one reasonable theory: That the time between Years 1 and 2 in the new ballpark was so outrageously misspent by the Phillies™ front office that people decided to rebel at the box office.
Explore, then, this waterfall of intolerable offenses now being reflected in apathy and catcalls, even at a time when there are no Stanley Cup playoffs, the Sixers are about a .500 basketball club … and the Phillies actually don™t have a bad baseball team:
- Despite unfortunate injuries, the 2004 Phillies were within striking range of contention. But they needed a leadoff hitter and a center fielder, and Carlos Beltran was available. Beltran wound up in Houston, which wound up winning a playoff round. The Phillies, shrugging, saying they did not have the prospects at the particular positions demanded by Kansas City, shuffled along to the trade deadline and settled for a couple of veteran relievers and Cory Lidle — too late to make a difference in the N.L. East race.
Meanwhile, they held on to Ryan Howard, Ryan Madson, Cole Hamels, Chase Utley, Brett Myers and Gavin Floyd as if they were the nucleus of the 1966 National League All-Star team.
The fans were disturbed.
- Once it was certain that the Phillies would not reach the postseason, G.M. Ed Wade™s response was to fire one of the most popular figures in the sorry history of the organization. And while a reasonable argument could have been crafted for replacing manager Larry Bowa, whose clubhouse had turned into a depression-treatment center, remember the theme: Fan rebellion.
The customers liked Bowa, even if the players thought him to be miserable. So the customers turned miserable instead.
- During the search for a new manager, Jim Leyland fired in an application. Hmmm, thought the fans. Bowa was fine, but Leyland is a proven champion ..and he wants to manage the Phillies? Do it.
Instead, Wade hired Charlie Manuel, who had been hanging around the joint like a vulture as Bowa struggled. Technically, Manuel did nothing wrong. Again, though, the theme: Why are the fans so ticked off?
Perception matters. And as long as Leyland is sitting there, unemployed, with his cell number on Wade™s speed-dial, there will be a discomfort with Manuel and anything he tries … and an unspoken demand for the G.M. to pick up that phone.
- Surely, after packing the CBP to the tune of 3.3 million, the fans could expect the best free agents — in particular, Beltran.
Instead, they watched two starting pitchers leave and Jon Lieber arrive, and wound up with the 39-year-old Kenny Lofton in center. Frankly, it was the kind of offseason they™d grown used to when the Phillies were using the Vet™s revenue constraints as their excuse for quiet winters.