Apr 052010

by Mike Prince

On the eve one of the most anticipated seasons in Phillies history, the same day as the Flyers won a late-season, must-win game over one of the league’s best, and the same night that many families were polishing off their dinner plates after a holiday feast, the front office that calls itself the “gold standard” once again found a way to get in the spotlight.

But how long will it last?

In what has already been called a public relations-timely move, the Philadelphia Eagles traded away their franchise quarterback just 16-and-a-half hours before Roy Halladay took the mound for the first meaningful time in a Phillies uniform. They traded him to a divisional rival that shocked not only the city, but the entire country.

The Eagles did the only thing possible that could have overshadowed what will be the first of a number of games that should most likely conclude well past a regular season finale with the Atlanta Braves on October 3.

And while Monday’s back page of the Daily News will most certainly focus on the most famous athlete to ever wear number-five in the city of Philadelphia, it will only be a matter of time — possibly even as short as it takes to finish nine innings of baseball — before the Phillies will be back in the limelight.

Three years. Three consecutive division championships. Two World Series visits and one crowing as the “world champions of baseball.”

A Cy Young winner, two former MVPs, an arm in center field that could rival Jim Edmonds’ glove and the best second baseman in baseball.

A deceivingly fast bearded man in right field and an All-Star fan favorite in left. A World Series MVP pitcher, an All-Star closer, a .300-plus hitting third baseman and a catcher that, while it took some time, earned the respect of almost every Phillies fan by the end of 2008.

Add the rest of the 25-man roster and some up-and-coming minor leaguers and you have the recipe for arguably the best Phillies team in franchise history. You have a group of ballplayers that not only should, but undeniably will put fear into any team that steps onto a baseball field to face the reigning National League champions.

The Eagles can trade up for the number-one pick tomorrow. They can fire the current coach and hire a new one. Hell, they can announce a possible move of the team. But until Citizens Bank Park stops filling up for nearly every home game, Jeffrey Lurie’s team will remain second-rate in this town.

A Super Bowl will change things. That goes without saying. But don’t forget — it’s called the “Fall Classic” because it’s played in the fall. By then, Philadelphia fans will just be getting a taste of what the new era in Eagles’ football will look like.

So, while the baseball season may have began with a “what the f***” feeling for Philadelphia sports fans, hopefully, another “World f***ing champions” moment is the way it ends.

Philadelphia will be painted red, not green, for the next six-to-seven months. Some teams — one in particular — will just have to accept that.