Opinion

Phillies fans should recall the words of “Hoosiers” coach Norman Dale


Millville, New Jersey native Mike Trout will reportedly finish his career playing home games on the west coast. (Arturo Pardavila III/WikiCommons)

In one of my all-time favorite movies, 1988’s classic high school basketball film “Hoosiers”, there is a memorable speech delivered by Gene Hackman as coach Norman Dale.

He is a controversial new coach at the school and his star player has decided not to play that year in order to focus on class work. As the coach stands at center court to introduce his 1952 team, the crowd begins to chant for their star player.

Coach Dale’s response to the crowd is one that should be drilled into the minds and hearts of every team fan base at every level in every year:

“I would hope you would support who we are, and not who we are not.”

These six individuals have made a choice to work, a choice to sacrifice, and put themselves on the line 23 nights for the next four months to represent you, this high school. That kind of commitment and effort deserves and demands your respect. This is your team.

There has been much excitement and speculation surrounding the potential for the Philadelphia Phillies to sign local product Mike Trout when he was due to become a free agent following the 2020 season.

Phillies fans have wanted it to happen for years, and recent free agent signee Bryce Harper only fueled the fires after he signed with the club earlier this month.

I’m making $26 (million) a year, something like that, so I think that’s gonna be able to bring some other guys in as well that will help this organization win. I know there’s another guy (Trout) in about two years who comes up off the books. We’ll see what happens with him.”

That excitement was warranted. Trout is the best player in the game today. The argument is beginning to be made that he is one of the greatest players in the history of the game. You would have a hard time winning if you chose to argue against that point.

Trout is also a native of Millville, New Jersey. The town is just 45 miles southeast of Philadelphia. Trout grew up as a Philly sports fan. He tailgated at the 2008 World Series, has frequently attended 76ers games, and is a long-time Eagles season ticket holder.

It seemed like a natural fit. But it will not become a reality. Numerous reliable sources are reporting today that Trout and the Los Angeles Angels are now finalizing a 12-year, $430+ million contract that will likely keep the 27-year-old playing home games on the west coast for the remainder of his career.

Mike Trout has apparently made his choice, and that choice was to not play for the Philadelphia Phillies. Bryce Harper made his choice. That choice was to play for the Phillies. He and his wife chose Philadelphia to build and raise their family.

Trout had $430 million great reasons to choose to remain in Los Angeles, or more specifically in Anaheim, where the Angels actually play their home games some 26 miles southeast of Hollywood. You cannot really blame him. But fact is, it was a choice, and he made it.

There is no need to boo Trout at Eagles games. He remains a great player who is from our area, and we should remain proud of that fact. I am quite certain that he still has and always will have great affection for the Philly-South Jersey area. But where baseball is concerned, that is no longer the point.

The Phillies have done a fabulous job in building a contender for the 2019 season and beyond. Harper, Jean Segura, J.T. Realmuto and Andrew McCutchen join homegrown stars Aaron Nola and Rhys Hoskins to form the core of the team for the next few seasons.

The focus of Phillies management should now be on putting together a contract extension for Hoskins and Realmuto. And then in future seasons they will be able to focus their still strong financial position on other areas of need as those are revealed.

Phillies fans, it is time to stop dreaming about Trout to the Phillies. It is time to focus on the team that will actually take the field on your behalf. Many of them, including Harper, McCutchen and reliever David Robertson specifically chose to play here. They deserve our respect and affection. They are who we are on a baseball diamond. Trout is who we are not.

 

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