I'm moving to http://t.co/qLpzA0W403 this week. I'll be covering the Eagles. I'll tweet out more info — links to my work, etc. — soon.
— Phil Sheridan (@SheridanScribe) August 12, 2013
And in his final ink column, he criticized sports fans for being too smart.
On his Twitter, Phil Sheridan announced that he’ll be moving over to ESPN.com to cover the Eagles (the Worldwide Leader will employ one writer for every NFL team— yay football!). That’s a good move for Phil because, well, any move to get away from the sinkhole that is the Inquirer and Daily News is probably a good one. But he’s been a columnist for years– now he’ll be back on the beat, for a well-read website. There are several other, younger folks, used to writing for the web, who probably would have been a better fit (that’s not to imply they were interested in the job). In no particular order: Tim McManus (Philly Mag), Sheil Kapadia (Philly Mag), Eliot Shorr-Parks (NJ.com), Matt Lombardo (97.5, Rant Sports) and Jimmy Kempski (Philly.com, Bleeding Green, elsewhere), all of whom are more football-focused and better suited to the 24-7 web style writing. Sheridan has been writing a column per day for some time now. He just… doesn’t seem like the right fit to be an Eagles blogger for ESPN.com, perhaps in part because of paragraphs like these, which appeared in his final column in the Inquirer:
Fans identified with the ’93 Phillies as players who were fun to watch, not pieces with contracts that needed to be off-loaded at the first sign of a slump. That team quickly disintegrated because of big contracts for physically declining players such as Daulton and Lenny Dykstra, and because the big piece that was added, Gregg Jefferies, didn’t produce.
Those deals would have been endlessly scrutinized today just as Utley’s new contract has been. It isn’t enough that a favorite player will likely finish his career with the home team. The length of Utley’s deal, and the conditions under which it can be extended, have to be weighed against the odds that his knees go bad and the other possible ways to allocate payroll.
That has always been what GMs do, or should do. It is now what even casual fans do.
I realized that was true of a lot of coaches and GMs. And now it seems to be true of many fans, too. Instead of enjoying what McNabb and Ryan Howard and other stars can do, we obsess over what they can’t do. Next thing you know, it’s time to move everybody at the trade deadline and add new pieces we still see through Rhodes-colored glasses.
An exaggeration? Think about how quick fans are to advocate tanking to improve their team’s position in the next draft. That may be the ultimate example of transactions trumping game action.
Yeah, the guy just hired by ESPN to be a blogger wrote his final newspaper column complaining about how fans are getting smarter. The disdain for advanced analytics is mostly understandable, but complaining about how fans now have realistic views about players and teams (how quick fans are to advocate tanking)… that just sounds a lot like an old guy screaming at well-behaved kids to stop voluntarily cutting his lawn.
Agree or disagree with his views, Sheridan is a good columnist. But someone might want to remind him that the online audience he’ll be writing for on a daily basis is the same one that thrives on the sort of analysis that Sheridan seems to dislike so much.