Philly Front Office

Over the last week, I’ve been absolutely obsessed with the new Netflix show from Japanese Decluttering Expert/Precious Magical Gelfling Marie Kondo.  Wielding a seemingly infinite number of small storage boxes, Kondo’s KonMarie method has tons of people throwing away just about everything they own in the name of Joy, and I’m completely fascinated.

It’s been a few big years of Philadelphia sports, full of both good and bad memories, a revolving door of signings and trades and releases. We’ve laughed. We’ve cried. We’ve argued – we’ve argued so, so much.  There’s no better way for us to ring in the new year than with giving our sports fandom a much needed cleaning. While so much of Philadelphia sports gave me the spark of joy in 2018, it’s time to decide what needs to go.

Stanning Robert Covington

Seventy five percent of Sixers fandom since 2014 has been debating and defending Robert Covington. True Process heads understood his incredible value. From joining as an undrafted FA to becoming one of the best defenders in the NBA, Cov was the very embodiment Sam Hinkie’s Process. Going into this season, Cov was still under constant debate due to his performance in the playoffs and was even given the “overrated” tag by people that don’t know what they’re talking about.

This season, Robert Covington was traded as part of the Jimmy Butler deal – a bittersweet moment for most of us. Despite RoCo no longer being a Sixer, the debate continues to rage. Did the Sixers truly win the trade? Will RoCo thrive in Minnesota? We RT any picture of him in a Wolves uniform with frowny emojis. It’s like checking on your college ex on Facebook just to see what their current partner looks like. It’s like we don’t know what to talk about with RoCo, and quite frankly, we no longer get joy from the Robert Covington debate. This is an easy call.

Robert Covington, you have brought me joy. I love you and thank you for being a 76er, but it’s time to let you go.

Decision: DISCARD

Vikings/Eagles Fan Rivalry

They “took over” Philadelphia and did their stolen “SKOL” chant (a rip off of our famous FOLES chant) in front of the art museum. They showed up cocky and already thought they had a home field Super Bowl on lock. Nick Foles danced on their friggin faces and dashed their polite midwest hopes. In the weeks proceeding and following the Super Bowl, they whined and whined about how shocked they were that opposing fans were mean to them. They threatened to petition the league to have the Eagles removed from the Super Bowl because some kid screamed at an old lady trying to lecture him about football decorum. The Eagles, of course, had the last laugh by winning the Super Bowl 44-33 in Minnesota (which featured Nick Foles catching a pass and Tom Brady dropping one). I assumed we were done with whatever this rivalry was.

The rivalry briefly sparked again in the regular season, a game in which the Eagles choked away a win to Kirk stinkin Cousins. OK – they had some kind of revenge. But then there was week 17 – oh boy there was week 17. I don’t need to go into full details again, but the Vikings choked and the Eagles didn’t, resulting in the Eagles making the playoffs and the Vikings (and their fans) missing out.

Since then, Vikings fans are absolutely wild on Twitter – even supporting their biggest division rival because fans were mean to them. Could you imagine rooting for the Cowboys because you traveled to Seattle for a playoff game and fans were mean to you? Couldn’t be me. Instead of being mad their team gave Cousins a guaranteed contract for 80 million dollars, they’re back to re-litigating their experience with Eagles fans. They’re a joke of a fan base, and that sparks so much joy in me.

Decision: KEEP                      

Gabe Kapler slander

We get it, Kapler shifts his infield around, plays matchups, and sometimes changes pitchers at a rate that it feels like a game will never end. But as we learned in the last few months of the 2018 Phillies season, this was a team that was not particularly good. They didn’t hit well. They were historically bad on defense. Their bullpen went through streaks where they couldn’t buy an out. In retrospect, the majority of Gabe’s “weird decisions” were designed to compensate for these problems – and on a team with a better roster, they probably would have worked.

To compound the issue many in the fanbase have with him, Gabe Kapler is very much a “player’s coach.” He doesn’t scream and yell and carry on. He’s not a heavy-handed disciplinarian or a guy that will stress “unwritten rules of the game.”  He’s a coach that inherited a team that was young and extremely flawed, and all of the screaming and yelling wouldn’t suddenly make Mikael Franco an elite talent. He’s also a departure from a guy like Charlie Manuel. Gabe is cosmopolitan guy who is more comfortable being seen holding a protein shake then crushing a beer and so deliberate with his speech that he comes off as aloof. It’s very easy to see why many in Philadelphia were calling for his firing six games into the season.

But when you look around Major League Baseball, the Kapler style is winning out. Front offices are getting younger and are leaning hard into analytics. We’re seeing one inning “openers,” closers by committee, and a wide variety of shifts being employed that have dramatically changed the way the game is played. The days of great pull hitters and starters going a full 9 are over. The debate over the pace of the game is definitely one worth having at some point, but for now, the league is what it is, and Kapler is just a byproduct of that. If the Phillies don’t get Machado or Harper, it won’t be because of Gabe Kapler.

As I hold my draft “Gabe is gonna have Bryce pitch the 8th” tweets in my inbox, I realize that it is time to let go. Thank you, Gabe Kapler slander. I love you, but it’s time to say goodbye.

Decision: DISCARD

Claude Giroux

The Flyers are, as Marie Condo would say, a gomi yashiki (trash mansion). The old GM regime, as well as He Who Must Not Be Named But Should Have Stayed In College, have done a number on this organization. Despite offseason moves designed to forever keep the team hovering at an 8 seed, it’s time for this team to rebuild and regroup. There are a ton of negative things you can say about this team, but Claude Giroux’s performance is not one of them. I’ve always felt that Giroux has never gotten the props he’s deserved in Philadelphia. He’s an elite player, he’s one of Philadelphia’s longest-tenured athletes, and he seems to actually be improving as he gets older.

His downside? He’s been on mediocre to bad teams, which is sometimes the kiss of death for a star athlete in a city.  It’s not even an Andre Igoudala situation where the city turns on a good-but-not-great player who is forced to be the star of a bad team. Giroux’s an All-Star caliber player who would be elite on any team he plays on. When all is said and done, he will rank right up there with the all-time Flyers greats. As bad as this season is, and as rough as it may be for the next couple of years, Philadelphia needs to really appreciate Claude Giroux for the remainder of his time here. In a season during which there isn’t much to be happy about, Claude definitely sparks joy.

Decision: KEEP

Brian Dawkins Jerseys

OK, I’m going to get killed for this one, but let me explain.

Right off the bat: this isn’t about Brian Dawkins himself. This isn’t about how much he means to the fan base or the team. It’s about the sea of Brian Dawkins jerseys that seem to overwhelm the number of jerseys of current Philadelphia players.

Dawkins jerseys made sense a few years back when the team was devoid of real superstars and hadn’t won anything. But this is a team with a bonafide star (Wentz) and several all-pro caliber players (Ertz, Jeffery, Kelce, etc) as well as a bonafide hall of famer (Peters) and, lest we forget, Nick frickin Foles!! Dawkins will always be part of the Eagles, but get a new jersey. There are just so many worthy guys on the championship squad to honor instead. As great as Brian Dawkins is, he represents an era where the Eagles were good but not good enough. He was the ultimate hero for a sad sack fanbase that was seemingly never going to get over the hump. That’s not who we are anymore.

I’m holding my own Dawkins jersey in my hands as I write this. I love it. It has brought me great joy – but it’s time to say goodbye.

Decision: DISCARD 

Markelle Fultz’s People

Markelle Fultz, by all appearances, is a great kid. His teammates seem to love him and really root for his success – but he seems to have aligned himself with people who have absolutely no idea what’s best for him. This has resulted in the Fultz camp holding the Sixers hostage for a year and a half.

Fultz news is a cloud over every accomplishment this season. Fultz is always “early next week” away from diagnoses/prognosis. It reminds me of the Andrew Bynum will-he-or-wont-he situation. I am rooting for Fultz to succeed; but at this point, I think it needs to be somewhere other than Philadelphia. This is a sad situation that is almost beyond repair, and it’s coming at the expense of a kid who seemingly just wants to play basketball. Markelle Fultz will never live up to the hype in Philadelphia. He has missed too much time, and quite frankly, he’s in a redundant role. Our best hope at this point is for a clean bill of health and another team willing to send anything over. This should have never gotten to this point, and this situation has sparked zero joy in me.

Markelle Fultz, I loved your potential and what you represented, but we all need a clean slate.

Decision: DISCARD

Congratulations

I’m very proud of you. You have graduated the KonMarie method and have cleared out the negative things that have been cluttering your Philadelphia fandom. Enjoying a clutter-free fandom is an ongoing task, but for now, let’s try our best to make sure that this fandom always brings us joy*

*Unless the Eagles lose. Or the Phillies don’t get Machado AND Harper. Or the Flyers continue to exist.

FanSince09 is a former recipient of the prestigious Philadelphia Pen and Pencil Club Award and Takesman Emeritus of Philly Front Office. Call him an idiot on twitter @FanSince09

Steve Starkins

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