The era has ended. Officially.
Well, it’s hard to mark the end of any arbitrary period of time with the official stamp, but if you would have asked me, say, two years ago, “What will the end of days look like?” I would have said something along the lines of: Cole Hamels will be on the trading block, Doc will be in the midst of an extended DL trip, Cliff Lee will have trouble pe be a Phillie again WTF?!, Howard and Utley will become shells of their former healthy selves, Shane Victorino will throw temper tantrums, Jimmy Rollins will continue to make smug remarks, David Montgomery will be forced to defend Charlie Manuel, Jonathan Papelbon will be a Phillie and throw unruly fans out of the bullpen, Dom Brown– still in the minors, and the team will be 37-50 at the All-Star break.
Yeah, my crystal ball is dope. Anyway, all that is happening. The building is burning. There’s barely time to save the women and children, let alone read long-winded ledes. Grab what you can and come with me as we survey the damage.
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In the big news of the day, CSN’s ace Phillies reporter, Leslie Gudel, who we once compared to Jeff Daniels’ character in Speed (years of applaudable work and now a reduced role, but still available for the big interview or to run into a booby trapped building), had the conversation that every other Phils reporter wanted to have: a one-on-one with Cole Hamels.
Hamels, candid as usual, made it clear that he really likes Philly, but the prospect of being a free agent and finding out his “true value” is intriguing. He addressed the two most talked about scenarios – being traded and signing with the Dodgers – and his answers were rather interesting: [CSN Philly]
LG: When it comes down to it, if it’s the Phillies and Dodgers and the money is the same, what are you picking?
CH: “That’s a tough question, because I have a lot of more positive influences here, and just with everything we have, with our foundation needs and how well we’ve been able to do in the community and how much the community has supported us. I think that’s a huge factor.
We obviously live here, so I think that makes it a lot easier with kids and once they start getting into school, the choices you have to make there… I don’t think you can beat this organization just in the way they treat their players and families. It’s outstanding. So, ultimately that’s probably the highest positive you could ever have is what your value is to a team… what you know versus the unknown. And when things are good, you don’t ever leave when things are good.”
LG: So let’s paint the scenario. Is there a possibility you could be traded and then come back to sign with the Phillies in the off-season?
CH: “Of course! That’s something I would never doubt, because of the situation [with the team struggling] and us obviously not being at the front of the pack. I can always leave and come back. When a team gets rid of you, I don’t think anybody looks at it as a slap in the face. I know Cliff didn’t. He pretty much showed the prime example of getting traded off before a [full] season and then coming back. I think that’s always a great possibility.
It’s an organization and I understand the business side and I won’t be offended. I think you need to know your players and because I think I’ve been here long enough, I think [the front office] pretty much understands my personality and they know that if something had to arise, I wouldn’t be offended and I still would give them the benefit of the doubt and come back, because this is one of the best organizations I’ve ever seen. It has the best fan base I’ve ever seen. It’s a great place to play baseball and there are a ton of great guys to play baseball with.”
Hamels also added that he thinks this is just a down year for the Phillies and not a sign of things to come.
You can read the full interview here.
Now, if we flip that candid coin over to the opposite side, where the mouths are nearly closed and the answers are smug, we’ll find Jimmy Rollins, the team’s supposed leader, who refused to speak about the sinking ship:
Jesus. Bill Zane’s character showed more compassion on the deck of the Titanic.
Some media folks lined up to – rightfully – get their shots in on the inaccessible Phillies:
Shane Victorino: As expected, some folks took issue with our previous post – Victo at a club and Wawa late Friday night – but we stand by it. And we’ll add to it.
Reader Adam sends along an email:
I happened to come across your tweet and immediately thought to email you. I was in the Margate Wawa really drunk with two of my friends. In the photo you have my friend Jon is the guy in the blue button down next to Shane. Shane's eyes seemed a little, "glazy" as in blood shot. I drunkingly told him Im a diehard and Ill always believe but its very difficult at this point. I also asked him if we has a shot. He didn't really seem to care what me or anyone else was shouting at him. It frustrated me he went 0-4. Maybe he shouldn't have been out until 4 am. Interesting tweet.
Reader Hilary sends along a Tweet:
Neither of those thing are that big a deal. But, when your season is going to shit and you're getting benched for either throwing a hissy fit about the batting order or being down about your performance, then driving to the beach in the middle of the night, partying at a club and eating late-night hoagies probably isn’t the ideal preparation for a game scheduled just 15 hours later in 102 degree heat. As such, maybe Shane just needed a nap when he stormed out of the clubhouse before yesterday’s game:
We have more photos of Jonathan Papelbon preventing a fan from climbing into the bullpen: [via reader Cait]
David Montgomery gave a State of the Team to the Daily News. Most notable, his answers regarding the manager: [Philly.com]
Q: I'll give you a for-instance. Completely hypothetical. A guy like Domonic Brown could use a shot at the majors, but a guy like Juan Pierre gives you a better chance to win on a nightly basis. His contract is going to be up at the end of the year and obviously he isn't a long-term future guy. If you do get to a point where the playoffs are unlikely, at least you would have a half-season to find out about Diekman and Brown and guys like that. But if a guy like Manuel is thinking, "Well, I've got to win to save my job … "
A: I would be surprised if Charlie would think that.
Q: You would?
A: Yeah, I would.
Q: Have you told him that?
A: I'm just saying, I talk to Charlie frequently. His focus isn't about his job, his focus is about winning a game. You may say, well, that's the correlation. My point is, if we're all doing our job, that stuff literally takes care of itself. This is a different challenge than Charlie has had, there's no question about that, and we've talked about that. We've been a good second-half club, and it's because we've pretty much been a together clubhouse. So hopefully, in addition to providing a little help on the field, some of the key elements of that clubhouse returning are helpful from that standpoint.
Q: Is a managerial change something that you can rule out?
A: That's certainly not anything we're focusing on. Our focus is of much more immediate concerns as to as how do we play better baseball and who are the best components to have on the field … We're all being judged by people like you and people who email you.
Read the full interview here.
So there you have it– the end of days. Cole Hamels on the trading block, pissy former speedsters, David Montgomery answering questions about Charlie Manuel’s future with the club, angry media, and crazed fans. This was all predictable. For the last five years, as the Phillies feasted on success, the front office, players, manager, and even the PR staff could get away with anything. Don’t feel like being held accountable today, superstar? Fine. Dumb baseball moves worked out because the team is loaded with overpaid All-Stars? All good. Ignoring the fringes of the roster and the farm system to sign another big-name player? Awesome! The organization as a whole being able to get away with a lack of transparency, complacent cockiness, and condescending public relations? All good, we’re winning!