It wasn’t long ago that nobody wanted to come to Philadelphia and play for the Phillies and key players wanted to leave. Sure, nobody expects the 2015 Phillies to contend, especially Las Vegas. Yes, the season and the not too distant future looks about as bleak as the Francona years. But the difference is that the players most fans identify with aren’t anxious to leave.
Curt Schilling and Scott Rolen each put guns to the head of then general manager Ed Wade during the waning years of Veterans Stadium baseball.
They helped push Wade’s hand as he gave away his marquee players for mere bodies. One of the few silver linings for the Phillies heading into the 2015 campaign is that Cole Hamels and Chase Utley aren’t screaming for a trade.
Hamels, who is the Phillies lone big bargaining chip, seems content to either go to one of a handful of contending teams or stay with the only organization that he’s ever known. Last spring Hamels was asked about how he felt being locked in with the same franchise for so long.
“I have no complaints,” Hamels said. “I look at it like this. I came up just as this franchise was turning the corner. I’ve experienced a lot of success with the Phillies. It’s been rough losing the last few years but I love being a Phillie.”
Hamels loves Philadelphia. He lives in the area during the offseason. So does former Phillie Vance Worley, who pitches for the Pirates. Vanimal, whose wife is from Roxborough, hoped that the Phillies were going to take a flier on him last year when he was available.
“I really love Philadelphia,” Worley said. “I’m from California and I’ve been around a bit and I think a lot of players love it there because the fans are so great. It’s a great ballpark. You see how they responded when the Phillies won. I’m not surprised that guys don’t want to leave. I’m happy where I’m playing now but I didn’t want to leave Philly.”
It’s a very different vibe from the forgettable Midre Cummings era when players were exiled to Philadelphia.
“I remember that period well,” former Phillie Rex Hudler said. “I played back for the Phillies when no one wanted to wear the red pinstripes. But I had a great experience there. The fans were amazing. But things are different now. No matter what, you have that beautiful ballpark, you’re only a few years removed from that great run they had. They built something that will never be as bad as the Vet during the ‘90s. Even when the Phillies were losing a lot of games, they still draw 30,000 fans. That’s a lot of support. It’s not hard to see why guys want to be there.”