Balls, Sticks, & Stuff
Mind Over Matters
As a yoot (coalspeak for "youth") I was a fan of all of the Philadelphia professional sports teams. Living in the South prevents me from appreciating hockey (an ice storm shuts Richmond down for a week, so they aren't about to watch a game played on ice) so the Flyers are off my radar. As for the 76ers, I lost interest when Charles Barkley left, and like most white suburban males in their early 30's, I now find the entire NBA to be unwatchable.

That leaves the Philadelphia Eagles and Phillies, all of my eggs being in two baskets. The Eagles have enjoyed a high (higher but not the highest) degree of success for the last few years. And, in the grand scheme of things, if you look at the entire history of the Phillies, the last four season have been relatively good as well (simply because over the last four years they won more games than they lost). But yet my attitude towards these two teams could not be more different.

For instance, recent articles in the Philly papers illicit two completely different reactions in my head. In the Sunday edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Bob Brookover details the Eagles' long-term plans for securing Brian Westbrook. After I had finished the article, I came away thinking the same thing I usually do after reading an article that contains the words "Andy Reid": Wow, these guys really have it together, they really seem like they know what they are doing, I'm sure they will make the right decisions. After all, in this era of the NFL, to have been to the NFC Championship game three years in a row and to be favored to do so for a fourth time and still have the third most room under the salary cap of any NFL team, you have to be reaching genius proportions. Not only are the Eagles extremely competitive this year, but I expect them to be so for several more years at least. The future's so bright, I gotta wear shades.

Switch gears. The Phillies. If it was any other team in any other city with any other history, the fan base - including me - would be encouraged. Seriously, looking at just the numbers, both statistically and financially - mentally erase the Phillies masthead and the players' names on whatever website you consult - and you would think the team is headed in the right direction. You would see several good players signed to large but manageable long-term contracts. You would see some help in the farm system on the way to help offset the large contracts. You would also see a new ballpark in a large northeast city with the potential to be a consistent and fruitful revenue stream for years to come. Now, add the "Phillies" to the mental image I just described and immediately, you start to wonder if it will be possible to become a champion. My head says, "Keep things in perspective, they are on the right track." On the other hand, my heart says a lot of four letter words.

So, as the Eagles ponder what to do with players like Brian Westbrook, I sit back just enjoy every Sunday during the season. And as the Phillies search for a manager, I contemplate sending letters pleading for logic to win out over Grady Little and Don Baylor. My head says it will, but my heart...

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