Just one year ago, it was impossible to hear anything but Eagles talk over the local airwaves. But on 610-WIP radio -- the station whose logo is written in the same typeface as the Birds -- sports discourse has slowly shifted toward Phillies baseball.
I’m still getting a good laugh at how Bobby Abreu won a Gold Glove award.
I’m not saying this in a heavy-handed sort of way, but it’s one of those moments in baseball history that will forever bring a smile to my face. He wasn't even the best right fielder in his own division. In fact, he was probably the worst.
NYM: Cameron (.890 ZR)
WAS: Guillen (.888 ZR)
ATL: Francouer (.887 ZR)
FLA: Encarnacion (.884 ZR)
PHL: Abreu (.852 ZR)
The best piece of comedy I’ve heard in quite a while came Tuesday morning on 610-WIP, a song about Bobby Abreu’s defense by Philadelphia sports impersonator Joe Conklin. In it, Conklin spoofed Harry Kalas with a call we’ve heard before:
"Ball hit deep to right field ... Abreu goes back ... Oh no! He"s turning the wrong way!"
It’s probably the only light-hearted piece I’ve ever heard about the right-fielder on 610, including opinion that gets down-right nasty during the drive home. It's probably why this particular piece resonated so much, even though it centered on a player's shortcomings.
In general, I've noticed that Phillies talk is starting to creep back into the discourse more and more on 610, a station that has gained a reputation for vilifying the local nine.
Some of this, I feel, has to do with an Eagles team that has started to crack. Considering how the rest of the division improved, it’s unlikely the Eagles will take this city for the same ride it did in 2004. In addition, last year at this time, the Eagles were coming off a Super Bowl appearance, and T.O. was the hot topic most callers wanted to discuss.
Part of the shift also has to do with the Phillies themselves. Homegrown talents, like Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, have ushered in the new guard, while pushing aside the old guard – Pat Burrell, Mike Lieberthal, Abreu – players some fans associate with a disappointing era.
Baseball talk of all varieties is fine by me, but I’m picky. I don’t like how many trivial issues -- like fussing with the batting order, and singling out Abreu -- occupy so much airtime. It happens even when the lineup is producing.
Most of all, I didn’t like how Aaron Rowand’s catch became a springboard to bury Abreu even more. Statistically, Abreu will go down as one of the team’s best run producers in the long history of the organization, but that fact is largely overlooked by the personalities on the station.
"Generally when folks criticize Bobby, they never criticize his actual production, but rather what they believe his production might be if he played the way they think he should," said Beerleaguer poster, pawnking, in yesterday’s thread. "I contend that he has shown he produces well, and considering his track record and indeed, his current production this year, shouldn't be overly criticized for his approach to the game."
This season, the host that seems to mirror my own take on the Phillies most is Anthony Gargano, who sees a good team that should compete for a playoff birth.
Gargano has taken issue with Abreu in the past -- as have I -- but wonders why Pat Burrell does not draw the same level of criticism for similar reasons.
In the past year, 610 seems to have taken active strides to beef up the Phillies content. Obviously, the team itself is most to blame for failing to produce a winner, giving fans nothing to talk about at all.
John Marzano has been a great guest addition to the broadcast team. His expert take is not dissimilar in style to Ray Didinger for the Eagles. Two Saturdays ago, following Cole Hamels debut, Rhea Hughes hosted a morning show that was almost entirely dedicated to the Phils. It was an outstanding show. In addition, Glen Macnow, near the end of spring training, hosted a series of shows designed to get fans revved up about the season.