There is a narrative among some Phillies fans and Philadelphia sports fans.
It has no basis in reality. It’s never been confirmed, and every piece of that narrative is based purely on shaky circumstantial evidence, a hometown and a favorite football team.
It’s that Mike Trout, the best baseball player on the planet, signs up with the Phillies the second his contract ends with the Los Angeles Angels after 2020.
Trout has never really done anything to further this narrative. So what if he’s the biggest celebrity Philadelphia Eagles fan there is, grabbing the mantle from Bradley Cooper? So what if he’s become BFFs with Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz? He’s never said anything in interviews – and boy, has the Philadelphia media tried to make him slip up and say something – that he cares in any way to come to the Phillies. Not only has Trout never done anything the fuel the story, but also none of his friends or family members have said anything that’s leaked out either.
Doesn’t matter. There is a growing group of Phillies fans that seem to have Google alerts set up for “Mike Trout Phillies” so they can savor every morsel of Trout-to-the-Phillies information they can get.
The Phillies know that group is out there. So do the Angels. So does Trout. Which makes this non-story of an announcement Tuesday morning so weirdly interesting:
The #Angels have scheduled a conference call for Mike Trout so they can accommodate all the requests for Trout to talk about … the Philadelphia Eagles.
— Bill Shaikin (@BillShaikin) January 23, 2018
First of all, any reporter that gets stuck with this assignment … I feel for you. We’ve all been there before, sitting on ridiculous conference calls for stories that you’ll be able to bang out in 15 minutes because they’ll be so stupid. This … this is one of those calls.
The Angels obviously set this up because they have been overwhelmed with requests for Trout’s time, so instead of making him do 15 different interviews where he’ll say the same thing in each one, they set up a conference call, which happened Tuesday. Standard operating procedure, no big whoop.
So, in the press conference, someone of course asked him about if he wants to join the Phillies. This was his answer:
“I’m an Eagles fan, and I grew up a Philly sport fan, but I love playing in Anaheim, and obviously I have a couple more years on my contract. I love the city of Anaheim, and I love the West Coast.”
Oh boy. Talk about gray areas.
We know that this surely furthers the narrative of Mike Trout’s eternal fandom loyalty to Philadelphia. And by proxy, it gives that local Trout Truthers group more gasoline to spread the Trout-to-the-Phillies fire that has no basis other than Trout’s South Philly sports preferences and his circle of Friends. The “I have a couple more years on my contract” answer doesn’t necessarily help push things the other way.
That said, the fact that the Angels set this up instead of just saying, “He’s not doing interviews,” or releasing a benign, blanket statement that Trout would never even bother reading, they actually let him face the media, who of course asked the question: “Do you want to be back in Philadelphia?”
That reeks of confidence to me on the part of the Angels. Their PR department basically threw it in our face and saying with a laugh, “Sure, go ahead smart guy. Ask him whatever you want.”
No one wants Trout to be a Phillie more than me. And it’s going to be a long three years until we find out the answer one way or the other. But until 2020, let’s all avoid overreacting to any quotes.