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June 18, 2019

Al Morganti: Do sports fans deserve a 'bill of rights?' And what is Flyers' GM Chuck Fletcher doing?

Opinion Phillies
Phillies-Nationals-rain-delay_061719_USAT Tommy Gilligan/USA Today Sports

Phillies fans who drove to Washington had a pretty lame night on Monday.

The Phillies suffered through a horrible weekend in Atlanta, losing two of three games, and then got a respite on Monday night in Washington when the game was postponed because of rain.

Well, the Phillies got a respite, but not baseball fans who showed up for a game in Washington delayed for about three hours, and eventually postponed until Wednesday afternoon. It’s just the latest example of a professional sports team taking advantage of a fanbase handcuffed to the organization because of a passion for the team and the sport. It’s simply a disgrace that baseball teams often drag out these rain delays to preposterous lengths.

In the meantime, fans have paid to get to the game and paid to park. Fans have also filed into a stadium – having gone through the whole process of getting through security, and then consumed concessions while they sit and wait.

The situation on Monday night was even more maddening, especially for fans from Philadelphia who drove down for the game, and then sat through long stretches of clear weather. Didn’t seem to matter, because some radar screen showed rain was on the way….eventually.

So, fans spent money on burgers, fries, beer and whatever, and got abused for three hours.

To be fair, the home team offered vouchers.

Nice gesture, but it should not be a goodwill gesture. It should be mandatory if a delay lasts more than an hour, or another reasonable time limit. There should also be rules that concessions should be provided at a discounted rate, and all fans get a parking voucher for a future game.

If a team can have a dollar dog night, it certainly should be able to execute some sort of discounted rates for a crowd that shows up for a game and then is forced into what could be a forever delay with no game.

Fact of the matter is that all sports fans should demand some sort of bill of rights. It is incredible that fans put up with as many absurd situations as a matter of course.

The best example is the absurd acceptance of this simple equation:

Preseason games cost the same as games during the regular season, but postseason games are sold at a premium. Makes no sense. It is literally being paid both ways. Even more maddening is the notion that a team will charge more to park for a postseason game than a regular season game – as if the parking lot raised its game.

It’s about time fans be accorded the most basic respect and not be expected to wait hours for nothing.

On the field

In matters on the field, the Phillies might be wise to consider the following suggestions:

• Make Scott Kingery the leadoff hitter, and take advantage of his bat and wheels.

• Forget the hopes that Vince Velasquez will be an effective starting pitcher.

• Admit they need another third baseman because Maikel Franco is just not dependable over the course of a season.

Win now

The Phillies should also be advised to start thinking in the short-term rather than taking the long view. The best example of this took place on Sunday in Atlanta when manager Gabe Kapler skipped a start by Jake Arrieta to use Velasquez and the bullpen.

The Phillies had suffered a hurtful loss on Friday night, and then won on Saturday, setting up a game that would decide the series on Sunday. Mind you, this was a series against an Atlanta team that had run them down and passed them in the standings.

Instead, Kapler and the Phils took the long view for the entire season. Well, after an off-season of acquiring talent by free agency and trades, and given the bonus of a full building, the Phillies should be thinking about right now – no later.

Figuring out the Flyers

Maybe the best news for Flyers fans so far this off season has nothing to do with their own upgrades as much as the problems of the Pittsburgh Penguins. The team that Flyers fans love to despise is in a summer mess. It’s a mess that includes the general manager wondering about locker room leadership, and star forward Phil Kessel reportedly blocking a trade to Minnesota.

No matter how great a leader and how great a player they have in Sidney Crosby, he cannot be expected to heal all of the club’s problems. The result should be a lesser team in Pittsburgh, which is good news for the Flyers.

On the other hand – the Flyers made a curious trade with Washington when they sent defenseman Radko Gudas to Washington for veteran Matt Niskanen. Gudas was the Flyers' most consistent defenseman last season, and on the other end the Caps now have a double edge of physicality with Gudas and Tom Wilson.

The Flyers also watched as the New York Rangers traded for Winnipeg defenseman Jacob Trouba and star defenseman Erik Karlsson decided to stay in San Jose.

Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher has a whole lot of work to do, and that workload starts now.

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