It is now official. The worst job in Philadelphia sports is manager of the Phillies. Ryne Sandberg is trapped between bosses in denial and players in decline. He is hopelessly out of contention for anything meaningful this season, and yet he is still trying to win games. And now even his job security is in question.
With the Phils 15 games under .500 and 11 games out of the final wildcard playoff spot at the time, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. declared last Thursday that his priority was to win baseball games, not develop young players. He said there would come a point, perhaps, when that focus would change, but not yet. Definitely not yet.
Is he insane? Has Amaro watched his dysfunctional roster sputter through game after game, week after week, for two seasons now? Or are he and president Dave Montgomery so chained to the past that they cannot see the obvious truth?
As a result of this bizarre win-now edict, Sandberg has been under instructions to play Ryan Howard at the expense of Darin Ruf, and to retain Jonathan Papelbon as closer while Ken Giles loses valuable experience in the role. Journeyman Jerome Williams, 32, is starting games, instead of . . . anyone, really. Dom Brown is still clogging the lineup most days, for no good reason.
There is incompetence, and then there is what we’re witnessing right now with the Phillies. In recent weeks, Sandberg has become a prime target of critics. There is even talk that the first-year manager needs to go, too, in a clean sweep of the decision-makers at the end of the season.
Well, if Ryne Sandberg does get fired, it will not be a cold-blooded execution. At this point, it will be a mercy killing.
- Curtis Marsh is one of the worst pass defenders in Eagles history. Just check the tape of last Friday night’s game in New England. If this overmatched cornerback makes the team, the Birds are in big trouble.
- Former Phillie Jayson Werth was arrested last week for reckless driving after being clocked at 105 mph in a 55-mph zone. He might have gotten celebrity treatment, but apparently none of the Virginia law-enforcement officers recognized him under all that hair.
- Maine governor Paul LePage sent a letter last week to Roger Goodell ripping the NFL commissioner for the two-game suspension of Baltimore running back Ray Rice, angrily questioning the culture of a league so forgiving of domestic abuse. Meanwhile, not one feminist organization has offered any response yet to the outrageous decision. Why not?
- Cary Williams apologized last weekend to Bill Belichick for calling the New England coach a cheater. Since Belichick was fined $500,000 for Spygate, exactly what was the Eagles cornerback sorry about – telling the truth?
- Eagles tight end James Casey is boycotting the Philadelphia media this season. Just one question: Is it still a boycott if nobody wants to talk to you?