Phillies, Not Eagles, Are City’s Gold Standard

July 31, 2010 by  
Filed under Fan News

It’s been six years since Jeffrey Lurie armed the Philadelphia media and fans with one of the most explosive pieces of ammunition possible.

Fresh off four straight NFC Championship berths and a trip to the Super Bowl, Lurie kicked off the 2004 season by declaring that the Eagles were the “gold standard” for NFL franchises.

Although the Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots didn’t seem overly offended by Lurie’s declaration, his description was carefully filed away by Philly fans and media members, to be used whenever the franchise fell short of its own precious metal ideal.

Fortunately for Lurie, the city’s love for football and the Eagles’ consistent success over the next few years would maintain his team’s first class status among Philadelphians, but looking back to that summer of 2004, it is now evident that was when the Phillies began gaining on the Eagles in the hierarchy of Philadelphia sports franchises.

That spring, the Phillies left Veterans’ Stadium and moved to Citizen’s Bank Park, and renewed the city’s love for their baseball team.

The Eagles, of course, had moved into their own new playground a year earlier, but Lincoln Financial Field lacked the magical atmosphere of the ballpark across the street.

The Phillies’ stadium is the envy of Major League Baseball, and is currently approaching its 100th consecutive sellout crowd.

Sure, the Eagles are also playing to capacity crowds and securing season ticket renewals at a rate of 99 percent, but the rowdiness of a game at the Linc can not match the overall experience of a trip to Citizens Bank Park.

It should be noted that baseball and football franchises do not always market to the same target audience, but the wholesome atmosphere of a Phillies home game now appeals to a much greater audience than just the hardcore fan (are you listening Eagles management?).

Another trait of a “gold standard” franchise is its image around the league and among its own employees. This is another decisive win for the Phillies over the Eagles.

The Eagles have earned a reputation around the NFL for their cold and impersonal business model.

Their tendency to view players strictly as depreciating commodities has affected their image among current and prospective players.

Even their most beloved veterans are quickly cut loose the moment their price-to-value ratio drops.

The Phillies, on the other hand, are now viewed as an ideal destination. So much so, that their own players have become some of their best recruiters of star quality talent.

The recent acquisition of Roy Oswalt was helped along by Brad Lidge’s personal endorsement of the franchise.

Other players, such as Roy Halladay and Ryan Howard have publicly commented about the level of class exhibited by the Phillies front office.

Speaking of class, the Phillies show plenty of it in their commitment to players and also their willingness to respond to the media and fans. The roster is full of players that fans can identify with and root for.

General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. and Manager Charlie Manuel are also respectful of questions from media and fans, even when they have unpopular answers.

Can the Eagles match this level of class? Well, ask yourself this: Would the Phillies sign a bench player with the character of Michael Vick, just because they thought he might provide some pop as a pinch hitter?

And how many times have you sat through the smugfests known as Eagles’ press conferences (think Andy Reid or Joe Banner) and came away thinking, “These guys really respect my intelligence and loyalty as a fan”?

Maybe none of these factors have anything to do with what makes a team the model for all other organizations. But there is one quality that surely does matter: success on the playing field.

After all, can a team be considered the “gold standard” without outstanding performances on the field?

Let’s compare the results achieved by the Eagles and Phillies over the past three years. Since 2007, the Eagles have made the playoffs twice. They reached the NFC Championship game in 2008, but were blown out in the wild-card round in 2009.

Meanwhile, the Phillies have built the best three year resume of any team in major league baseball (including the New York Yankees). They have reached the playoffs each season, and played in two World Series, with a championship in 2008.

Go ahead and name the top teams in the NFL over the past three years. One would be hard pressed to put the Eagles in front of any of the following: Steelers, Saints, Giants, Colts, Patriots.

Now, list the teams in baseball that have been better than the Phillies over the last three years.


Over the past three years, the Phillies have assumed the role of the city’s gold standard and it didn’t happen during a press conference. It happened through a series of events that made them more than just locally significant.

Certainly, the city has fallen in love with the Fightins, but the organization is nationally relevant on a level traditionally reserved for only the Yankees and Red Sox.

This reversal of roles may dawn on Jeffrey Lurie and company on Sept. 12, when the Eagles open their 2010 season at home against the Packers.

If the new look Birds fall behind or look sluggish, the Eagles brass may hear the name of the baseball team across the street being chanted in the stands.

Then, it may dawn on them that there is a new standard to which they can aspire.


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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

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