Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Aftermath Analysis | As A Citizen's Blog points out today, the papers' Citizens Bank Park reviews come off as expected. Given the high profile of the stadium's inaugural official game, a larger than usual media presence was on hand, and since the ballpark analysis really already happened, during that weekend exhibition series with the Indians, there's plenty of focus today on the underwhelming on-field product.

In the Inquirer, Phil Sheridan doubtless had scores of fans spitting out their morning coffee with his column uncomfortably linking the early 2004 Phillies with the disastrous 1987 team managed, albeit briefly, by Where Is He Now? Poster Boy John Felske. Jim Salisbury strikes the right balance, I think, between the need for perspective as a long season gets underway and a realization that at some point the Phillies need to wake up and realize they were built to win now:

The Phils didn't look good in spring training and it was dismissed as, well, just spring training. They look bad now and it can't be dismissed. They'll get a lot of attention this season because of their spiffy new ballpark, but even the fans saw through that yesterday. They booed the boys several times, especially at the end of the game.

Fans have a right to be impatient -- especially when they're paying an average ticket price of $28 and forking out big coin to park.

Players have a way of being less edgy.

The refrain in the Phils' clubhouse is still, "It's early; don't panic."

Yeah, it's early. But it's still almost surreal to see this club 1-6, especially after a winter of hype.

The Phillies were supposed to be better than this, weren't they?

Were we all fooled?

The Daily News is more subdued, with Paul Hagen's exploration of Larry Bowa's futile lineup shuffle serving as the only critical look at what's been happening with the Phillies. There are other sidebars and columns, but mostly they're puff-piece fillers. It's a shame Bill Conlin is away for a while; his acerbic and perceptive viewpoint would have produced an entertaining piece.

For proof that the Phils are basking in a far brighter spotlight these days, note that the thoughtful if occasionally snarky writer Allen Barra filed a piece on the team and the ballpark late last week in Slate's Sports Nut column. If memory serves, Barra is something of a local, perhaps from Princeton or thereabouts, so his musings on Philadelphia and the Phillies, like those of Jayson Stark (who has his own rambling but fun look at yesterday's festivities), carry much greater weight than most national pundits'. When Barra writes "I don't know how far a new stadium and a winning team can go toward relieving a 100-year inferiority complex, but this century is sure starting off better than the last one," I can take a deep breath and recover a small scrap of the optimism which lies crumpled up like a used hot-dog wrapper.


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