Gonzo: As the Eagles flounder, the Phillies sail smoothly on

Just another day at the ballpark: The Phillies and their fans celebrate a game-winning home run by Jayson Werth.
Just another day at the ballpark: The Phillies and their fans celebrate a game-winning home run by Jayson Werth.
Posted: September 26, 2010

Who needs sex when dysfunction and disorder sell just as well?

The latest Eagles episode - a love/hate quadrangle featuring two quarterbacks, a head coach, and a city - has already had so many unexpected twists that it might be more fascinating than that crazy, season-long tiff between Terrell Owens and Donovan McNabb. You'll no doubt stay tuned to find out how this particular saga ends. We all will.

But in the process of following the Eagles, we sometimes take it for granted that, across the street from the Linc, there's a better and far more stable team. They win a lot. They have a plan and stick with it. Everyone smiles. No one really worries. Not much, anyway, and certainly not by comparison. We have expectations, and the Phillies, more often than not, meet them.

They are a contrast in almost everything, these two organizations - from how they deal with the fans and the media, to how close they are to championships, to the styles of the men who ultimately lead the way. Reid comes across as a micromanager and a bungler and worrier. Charlie Manuel? He lost a lot of weight, but it wasn't from sweating.

The Phils had rough stretches this season - injuries and protracted hitting slumps and more than a few bullpen-related issues. Along the way, Manuel did his Manuel thing. He got after his players now and then for being complacent, but mostly he stuck by them. He let them play and acted as though everything would be fine.

Someone recently asked Manuel if he thought this turnaround was possible, if he expected the Phils to work back from seven games out of first place in late July to a team that looks as if it has a real shot to host another parade. Yes, Manuel said, he did think it was possible.

That wasn't the answer some of the reporters were looking for - so they pressed him. That's a little trick we sometimes try in the media. When we get a square answer for what we've already predetermined as a round hole in our stories, we just re-ask the question.

So, Charlie, are you sure you believed?

"Wanting to can take you a long way," he said.

Some reporters tried to get him to change his answer or at least work up a little doubt for their stories. Manuel didn't go for it. He said he always had faith in his guys. It was the same sort of nothing-to-see-here, don't-worry-about-a-thing calm Manuel has always exuded. If a nurse had come along just then to check his blood pressure, he might not have registered a thing on any monitor.

The Fightin's have the same sensibility. When the club struggled early this year, Shane Victorino urged everyone to remember what the team had accomplished the last few seasons and, more important, how it did it. And he was right. The players remained calm. Then they got hot. And now here they are - same as they ever were, in good position to go deep into the playoffs, much to Philadelphia's delight.

As the quarterback storm hovering over the NovaCare Complex gathers strength and threatens to tear the Eagles apart, Citizens Bank Park and the Fightin's serve as the eye of the South Philly sports complex - an oasis where the people are happy and seemingly unaware of all the football fuss swirling around Broad and Pattison. It's a place for the fans to take shelter and feel that, in the end, all will be well - because that's how it usually goes.

Solid start suggestions last week: Jay Cutler, LeSean McCoy, Michael Vick, Visanthe Shiancoe. Bad benchings: Tim Hightower, Johnny Knox. Not bad on the whole. Here's hoping this week's advice helps you have a better weekend than Kevin Kolb.

Start

QB: Michael Vick, Jay Cutler, Brett Favre

RB: LeSean McCoy, Darren McFadden, Clinton Portis

WR: Jeremy Maclin, Donald Driver, Malcolm Floyd

Flex (WR/RB/TE): Dez Bryant, Mike Tolbert, Marcedes Lewis

Bench

QB: Josh Freeman, Carson Palmer, Matt Ryan

RB: Tim Hightower, Jonathan Stewart, Jerome Harrison

WR: Dwayne Bowe, Pierre Garcon, Mike Wallace

Flex (WR/RB/TE): Lee Evans, C.J. Spiller, John Carlson

Sunday Sixer

(Home team in CAPS)

Last week: 2-3-1

Redskins -31/2 over RAMS: Andy Reid said he's excited about having two quality signal callers. I can think of one guy who's even more giddy about Philly's quarterback situation.

49ers -3 over CHIEFS: San Fran can't lose them all, and K.C. can't win them all. Probably.

Cowboys/TEXANS, over 471/2: First NFL coach to get fired: Wade Phillips or . . . um . . . yeah, it's probably going to be Wade Phillips.

Bengals -3 over PANTHERS: Jimmy Clausen will be a black eye for Carolina this weekend. (Too soon?)

SAINTS -4 over Falcons: New Orleans will be without injured running back Reggie Bush. Now that he has free time, how long till he's back with Double K?

Eagles -3 over JAGUARS: Bigger gap: The one in Cumberland or the one in Andy Reid's credibility?


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

Follow him on Twitter: www.twitter.com/gonzophilly

comments powered by Disqus
|
|
|
|
|