Sure, it was an ambiguous poll to say the least, but the point was players from around the league saw what was going on inside the Phillies dugout during games and wanted no parts of it. Hell, the team even asked that shots of the manager in the dugout during games be limited. No sense putting the dysfunction out there on the airwaves.
Anyway, Bowa said he didn’t care about what the Sports Illustrated poll indicated when asked before a game at the Vet during the 2003 season. In fact, he didn’t care so much that he spent a good portion of the pre-game meeting with the writers talking about how much he didn’t care and how dumb the players were for not seeing his brilliance. OK, he didn’t say it like that in so many words, but he clearly was bothered by his status in the poll.
The funny part wasn’t Bowa’s reaction to his No. 1 status, but the reaction by the players in the Phillies’ clubhouse. When asked about it, most of the players treated the question as if it were a flaming bag of dog crap on the front porch. Rather than jump on the bag to put out the fire, and thus getting soiled shoes, most of the players just let it smolder itself out. They said all the right things, peppering the writers with a steady barrage of jock-speak clichés.
That is except for Mike Lieberthal, another Bowa foil, who gave the best answer of all.
“If I played on another team I’d hate him, too,” Lieberthal said, before explaining how it must look in the Phillies’ dugout to a bystander. Gotta love Lieby… he had trouble figuring out how to use those clichés knowing that his true thoughts were much more fun.
So what’s the point? Who cares about that cantankerous era of Phillies baseball where one never knew what type of land mine rested just around any corner? How about this… maybe there’s something to those polls Sports Illustrated conducts? After all, in a recent issue, the Sixers’ Andre Iguodala was voted to be amongst the NBA’s most overrated players and the Phillies’ Ruben Amaro Jr. was rated as a middle-of-the-pack general manager in Major League Baseball. Make that, second-division, actually. Ruben came in 19th while ex-Phillies GM Ed Wade was 29th out of 30.
Those ratings seem to be a bit off… at least for Wade. Taking his full body of work into account Ed Wade might be a vastly underrated as a big league general manager.
Really? How so? And why does it appear as if I’m talking to myself?
Here’s why Wade is underrated:
Don’t sleep on this factor. In a business where hubris and self-absorption are the norm (see: Amaro, R.) and a sense of humor is viewed as a determent, Wade’s unintentional comedy is nothing to sneeze at. Really, do you have to ask? Wade was the guy who parachuted out of a plane—a ballsy act in itself—only to get all tangled up in a tree in South Jersey. You can’t make that up, folks. Wade just hung there in a tree with a parachute strapped to his back. That’s hilarious on so many different levels. If comedians told jokes about big league GMs, Ed Wade would be like George W. Bush.
Plus, Wade has some sort of fetish (yes, it’s a fetish) with former Phillies players/employees. Now that he’s with the Houston Astros, Wade was signed and hired countless dudes he had in Philadelphia. For instance, not only did Wade trade/sign Randy Wolf, Tomas Perez, Jason Michaels, Geoff Geary, Michael Bourn, Matt Kata, Chris Coste, Mike Costanzo, Pedro Feliz, and, of course, Brett Myers, but also he took former Phillies PR man Gene Dias to the Astros with him.
With moves like this and a run-in with pitcher Shawn Chacon where Wade ended up getting choked, the Astros did the only thing they could… they gave Wade a two-year extension.
OK, we don’t know if this is masterful foresight or just dumb luck, but Wade should get a ton of credit for not trading minor leaguers Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Cole Hamels when he has the chance and everyone pleaded with him to do so. Remember that? Of course you don’t because you don’t want to admit how dumb you were. Still, it’s hard to believe a few folks got all lathered up because Wade refused to make deadline deals involving Howard that would have brought back guys like Jeff Suppan or Kris Benson from Pittsburgh.
With the core group of Howard, Utley and Hamels, Wade’s successors could be bold enough to do things like trade for Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay as well as sign Pedro Martinez, Greg Dobbs and Jayson Werth. In fact, it was Wade who swiped Shane Victorino away from the Dodgers in the Rule 5 draft in 2005. Sure, the Phillies eventually offered him back, but sometimes it counts to be lucky, too.
Make no mistake about it, Wade’s fingerprints are all over the Phillies’ roster. Maybe as much as Amaro’s, who has the strange honor of being one of the only GMs in the history of the game to trade and sign three Cy Young Award winners in the span of five months.
Oh yes, Amaro’s moves have been solid, considering the trades for Lee and Halladay and knowing when to cut bait on guys like Pat Burrell. However, he loses points for giving Jamie Moyer a two-year deal worth $13 million. With that money on hand, the Phillies probably would have had a rotation with both Lee and Halladay at the top and Cole Hamels, Joe Blanton and J.A. Happ filling out the other three spots.
Imagine that… Amaro got all those Cy Young Award winners, but would have had two of them in their prime at the top of his pitching rotation if he had allowed then 46-year-old Moyer to walk away.
Hindsight. It has to be a GM’s worst enemy...
Or best friend.