One more Philly-disser

Even their own fans know how improbable the Arizona Cardinals' journey to the Super Bowl has been this season.
Even their own fans know how improbable the Arizona Cardinals' journey to the Super Bowl has been this season.
Posted: January 23, 2009

Mike Freeman hates you. He thinks you're insignificant. He thinks Philly is the same as Pittsburgh. Worse, he thinks Philly is the same as Phoenix.

Shy of adding another crack to the Bell, you really can't deliver a more damaging blow to the city than lumping us with Pittsburgh (our slow cousins to the west) and Phoenix (a place populated by people who think using diesel fuel to burn "Go Cards" into someone's lawn is a ripping good time).

Don't know who Mike Freeman is? It's cool. I didn't either until recently. Turns out he's a national columnist for CBSSports.com.

Freeman's latest piece addressed something we've probably all been thinking: The Super Bowl is going to . . . well, The Inquirer won't let me use the word. Just rearrange the last three letters in Bowl, and you'll get the idea.

"Now comes the oddest Super Bowl ever: the Arizona Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Steelers," Freeman wrote. "Yuck. . . . Pulling nose hairs, a Vulcan mind meld, a severe case of shingles are all more entertaining than this mess will be."

Freeman gets points for being right (but not for the strange Vulcan/nose hairs bit). I couldn't be less excited about the Super Bowl if the NFL had decided to scrap the game and broadcast four hours of the Blowfish, minus Hootie.

So what's my beef with Freeman? After calling the Phils' World Series "a rank ratings disaster akin to the Chevy Chase Show," he goes on to add: "The problem with Steelers-Cardinals is the same issue faced by last year's World Series. The storylines aren't all that compelling."

While it's true that the World Series was the lowest rated in history, it's also true that Fox earned its highest numbers of the year during the Fall Classic. And maybe no one watched in Tampa, but television viewership in the Philadelphia area was robust. Don't blame us. Philly carried its weight. Comparing Philly, the fourth-largest media market, with Phoenix (12th), Tampa (13th) and Pittsburgh (22d) is like comparing Minka Kelly with Kelly Clarkson. There's no contest.

It's also ridiculous that Freeman thinks the World Series storylines were somehow as bland as the forthcoming Super Bowl. I won't defend Tampa and its mad cow(bell) citizens, but Philly had plenty to interest national audiences: A 25-year championship drought. A shortstop who called his fans "front-runners." A leftfielder who hobbled around like Kirk Gibson. And, sadly, a centerfielder who lost his grandmother and a manager who lost his mom.

To say nothing of the fact that Philly has a rich reputation. It's both the birthplace of our nation and the home of crazy, unrepentant fans. Dig the history or hate the attytood - doesn't matter. We can play the underdog heroes or the villains everyone loves to loathe. We're versatile.

Pittsburgh's claim to fame? Stuffing cole slaw and French fries into sandwiches. That and lucking out geographically by not being in West Virginia. Phoenix, meanwhile, is a sprawling suburb full of transplants that only garners attention when Charles Barkley gets boozy and goes looking for the ladies. How can Freeman toss us into the bog with that bunch?

"I know," Freeman wrote at the end of the piece, "I'm the bad guy. Go ahead and hate me."

Good idea. You can do so by visiting his online column page (http://tinyurl.com/freeman-feedback).

There's been a lot of talk about money lately - specifically whether Ryan Howard deserves the $18 million per season he's reportedly seeking. It made me wonder who or what I'd pay that kind of scratch for:

Straight answers from Andy Reid for one year: No mumbling. No obfuscation. No tired talking points. Just truth. It would be worth the cash.

Watching someone take a cookie sheet to the face: There are a lot of journos who would like to smack Deadspin editor (and Philly native) AJ Daulerio in the face with a baking pan. Because he lost a bet to a Cards fan, you can now watch that very thing happen on Deadspin (http://tinyurl.com/face-bash). If it wasn't free, I'd totally drop $18 mil on it. Funniest thing since T.O.'s publicist said he had "25 million reasons to live."

Landing safely in the Hudson: This one comes courtesy of Bob Ford. If you're on a plane that hits a flock of geese and the engines go dead, your pilot would be worth twice that.

Another parade: The last one cost us 25 years, not to mention our sanity. By comparison, $18 million is a bargain.

Uniting Ray Lewis and Terrell Owens: Remember when T.O. was with the Eagles and mocked Lewis' sack dance? Remember when he went on television and reminded everyone that Lewis was involved with a double murder case? Yeah, well now Jerry Jones is trying to make Lewis a Cowboy. I would happily pay $18 mil to watch the Lewis/T.O reunion.

A study released by the University of Oregon says that playing the Madden NFL video game increases your football IQ. Jeffrey Lurie should spring for copies for the whole team. . . . Anyone interested in ESPN's current "Mount Rushmore of Sports" promotion? Yeah, me neither. . . . "Meet the Phillies" will air live on Comcast SportsNet tomorrow morning at 11:30. Among others, Cole Hamels, Chase Utley, Brad Lidge, and Shane Victorino are scheduled to talk about the World Series run and the 2009 season.


Contact columnist John Gonzalez at 215-854-2813 or gonzalez@phillynews.com.

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