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November 03, 2021

Eytan Shander: The Braves are world champions, and the Phillies should be ashamed

The Atlanta Braves saw an opportunity at the trade deadline and jumped on it. It’s the marking of a quality organization, one that is willing to take risks when things don’t seem at their best. You’ve probably worked in a similar environment and know how vital those decisions can be to “team” morale. The Braves are world champions, and the Phillies should be ashamed.

You’ve probably worked in the opposite environment too. The Phillies environment. One that is led by clueless managers answering to absent owners. People making decisions who are two to three stages removed from the actual business. It’s maddening to be a part of it and even more frustrating if you are invested – be it your money or your time as a fan.

How do you think Gabe Kapler feels? He got out of a toxic situation and was allowed to breathe without ridiculous scrutiny. He was allowed to take risks with the backing of the organization — without fear of that same organization turning around on him. There’s nothing more liberating than leaving a failing and toxic environment, going on and doing better than you were at that place, only to watch it continue to crumble. Trust me, I know.

The Phillies are just afraid. It’s easy to blame incompetence but this is a cap-less sport where you can always spend or take on money via trades. The team and its ownership are just afraid to spend money and take risks when it counts. Signing someone to a huge 13-year deal doesn’t absolve you from future deals. Somewhere along the line they forgot that up top. Ultimately the team doesn’t care about you as a fan because there aren’t enough full-time Phillies fans to matter anymore.

The Phillies are just “something to do” in July. There’s no stupid Red October or any other nonsensical catch phrase you want to attach to a Twitter-themed rally. The reality is you probably didn’t even watch the game you were tweeting about the following morning. The team knows this. They know their numbers and ratings are hollow, that people will turn their backs in a heartbeat if the team stinks, and that they don’t have a built-in fanbase like the Flyers who won’t bail no matter what.

This is far worse than the Eagles situation. Howie Roseman and Jeff Lurie are making decisions for you because they know the game and you don’t. They are the politician telling you how much smarter they are but why you are better off as a result. This sense of self-confidence – grounded or not in reality – guides a team that will never stop being aggressive. The trade deadline on Tuesday was never part of that plan.

No, the Phillies watched as the eventual NLCS MVP, and World Series MVP were traded to the Braves at the deadline. A team in a similar situation was given tools and hope to climb out of their mess and went on to win the World Series. The Phillies management hid under their desk until the day was over, hoping nobody would notice their absence.

You may be upset with this and even call it cowardice – but remember why they sat on their hands. The Phillies know if they take a risk and it backfires, that they won’t have anyone to fall back on in the stands. Bryce Harper is a gem but isn’t single-handedly bringing bodies to the ballpark. It’s the old fallback for front offices of bad baseball teams in a non-capped league – “we don’t have enough fans to make up the bottom line of bad decisions.” Again, you’ve worked here. You’ve heard something similar.

The Phillies aren’t a consistent draw and will never be able to take the risks we saw in Atlanta. They will always fall back on not having enough support to justify a bad decision, which will always keep them from making a smart decision.

And another thing...

• Ben Simmons is reportedly refusing help from the Philadelphia 76ers regarding his mental health. This is disappointing to say the least. It also doesn’t mean Simmons isn’t dealing with issues concerning his mental health. There are plenty of people who refuse help – who need the help – but aren’t comfortable in talking about it, especially with their employer. The problem is that this was given as the reason why Simmons isn’t with the team and has money/fines attached to the reasoning. If Simmons is unable to prove that he is dealing with any mental health issues – as difficult as that may seem – then he should continue to be fined. He doesn’t need to work with the Sixers, but like any medical claim through insurance, should provide some level of proof. People do this all the time through medical doctors and psychologists.

• Mr. Hurts and Mr. Sirianni – This is your mission should you choose to accept it. Go out and be the change you talk so much about during the week. Please show us there were lessons learned from Detroit. Lessons learned from what happened before the Lions game. Nobody is going to remember – if they even do now – that Lions game, but they will remember how far you fell if things look drastically different with the Chargers.

NFL pick of the week

Saints (-6) vs. Falcons

The Saints lost Jameis Winston with a torn ACL but never wavered against the Bucs. They turned around and take on another division opponent in the Falcons. Atlanta is dealing with the loss of Calvin Ridley and a defense that is vulnerable to the run. While the Saints are dealing with QB issues – not really, as Trevor Simean played just fine against the Bucs – they still have one of the deadliest weapons in the game in Alvin Kamara. Plus, the Saints defense will take the Falcons running attack out from the jump. The true line is closer to 8.5/9 but dropped because of the NFC South connection. Take the Saints.

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Follow Eytan on Twitter: @shandershow

You can listen to Eytan on The Middle w/ Brooks, Mayes and Eytan (Mon.-Fri., 11 a.m.-1 p.m.) and on @foxphlgambler (Mon.-Weds., 6-8 p.m.)

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