Richie Ashburn. Bobby Clarke. Mike Schmidt. Dr. J. Dick Vermeil. Buddy Ryan. It’s not a long list when you really think about it. The list of those icons that anyone over 21 within a 50 or so mile radius of Philadelphia would be able to identify on the street. True icons. Sure, Ashburn, Clarke, Schmidt are legends in the archives of American Sports. A Dick Vermeil, however, is no Vince Lombardi by any stretch, but in this town, he will be loved by every sports fan for the rest of his life.
This is simply because the fans in this town want more than just hall of fame qualities and rings, rings rings. What we want is a 210 pound bulldog of a pitcher to dive for a ball and flip it widley in his best attempt to get a runner no matter the result. We want a first baseman there with his glove dancing with the catchers as he fields a fly ball in a crucial World Series Game in the event he loses control. And yes, he did lose control.
This is a very interesting time in Philadelphia sports as a potential baseball dynasty is being built and a football implosion continues. As professional sports teams go, their first and only goal should obviously be world championships. The Phillies have learned that by spending where they need to spend, and taking huge risks while standing on the edge of a Cliff, that they have earned a place reserved for the Clarke’s, Schmidt’s and Erving’s.
And of all the superstars and hugely popular role players on this team, the man whose face will adorn the legacy monument in the most significant way is Charlie Manuel. Put away your wallet, Chuck, you will never pay for dinner again in this town. Could the Phillies have chosen a proven manager and still won the World Series and be on the verge of a 2nd? Sure. But this is a man who brings an air of…well, happiness where ever he goes. And we all know it. Once he puts his boys on the diamond, there is little left to do, yet he is the one who will define legend in this town.
Across the street, a dynasty was in reach. Even without being crowned champions of the world, the Eagles gave us one hell of a run. While Donovan McNabb has left in a cloud of resentful dust, he should be celebrated for his commitment to winning and the consistency of power he generated. Andy Reid, however, has become a figure of resentment and the way it appears, will end his tenure here with that mildly rusty badge. Call it arrogance, call it whatever you will, but we need to know you Andy and after 11 years, we have not a clue. Add to this mix the face of the franchise has just become the face of defenseless animals as they are horrifically destroyed. I’m not sure which of the two guys I want to get to know more? I think neither will do fine for me.
There are those who say Michael Vick did his time and deserves a second chance. Well, he really doesn’t. Does he deserve to walk the streets of America a free man after serving his time? Of course. Does he deserve to coach quarterbacks at Texas A & M? Of course. Does he deserve to represent me as a resident of the Delaware Valley as the face of a team that I pay to exist? I don’t think so.
Two teams pile up win after win after win. One will go down as the most celebrated franchise in Philadelphia history. The other will simply go down.