I always find the national perspective on Philadelphia sports to be an intriguing topic. In some cases the national media provides an objective view in a way local reporters who follow one team every day for six months cannot. But what the national guys offer in objectivity they lack in the genuine knowledge that only comes with the investment of time.
Reading box scores and watching highlights does not make someone an expert. Peter Gammons may be the ultimate baseball guru of all-time, but he will never be more knowledgeable about the Philadelphia Phillies than the local reporter who watches each at-bat, attends each press conference, and patrols the locker room daily.
Andy Martino was once one of those local guys as the Phillies beat reporter for the Inquirer in 2010, but he now works for the New York Daily News as their national baseball insider. He wrote a piece recently on Ruben Amaro and here is how he opened it:
If you have covered Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., even a little bit, you know that look: Eyebrow cocked, grin parting his lips, eyes glinting with the joy of imagined trades or signings. This little devil loves to do big things.
I want you to look at that last sentence again. It is an extremely well formed sentence by a clever writer. Martino is able to infer that Ruben Amaro is a type of idiot savant baseball genius who finds a way to make the blockbuster deals nobody else is able to make.
Later in the article he relays a conversation with Ruben and asks him:
“So you’re going to be your usual creative self and explore all crazy possibilities?”
It once again insinuates that Ruben is the creative mind in a room full of zombies and that he is the only one with the guts to take the big risk.
Martino has the luxury to be affable with his comments because he doesn’t have to deal with the aftermath. I’m sure the national media loves Amaro because he makes headlines. It doesn’t matter if it is a shrewd move as long as it gets ratings and hits and likes and retweets. Therein lies the nature of the national reporter: it is all about sensationalizing and listening to the voices in their ears telling them what is trending.
There is nothing inherently wrong with the national media, but they follow a different mantra than the beat reporter.
Martino's piece conjured up similar feelings to those with Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb. We were constantly told that Andy Reid was a lovable and amiable man who players, coaches, babies, and little fuzzy bunny rabbits, loved dearly. If we only knew the real Andy Reid we would understand. Easy for them to say – they didn't have to endure the other real Andy and his billion "I gotta do a better jobs" and a multitude of condescending answers and patronizing glances.
We are also scolded by the national media for not appreciating Donovan McNabb. Almost every Eagles fan, including the most staunch McNabb haters, acknowledge he is the best quarterback in Eagles history – that is appreciation. But the ESPN's of the world want us to erect a statue to thank him for all of those great seasons. The fact that he lost three NFC championships in which his team was favored is apparently beside the point.
I guess we should similarly thank Ruben Amaro for all of the blockbuster moves he made, right? No, ESPN should thank him for that. We can thank Pat Gillick for not making those moves and instead for giving us a damn good parade.
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