In an article that is both a back-handed compliment to Phillies fans and a front-handed slap in the face of everyone who has ever lustily booed a professional athlete in Philadelphia, Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles’ Times interview with new Angels closer Ryan Madson is quick and direct in its loath fulness of Phillies fans.
In what might be record time for every lazy journalist in America, DiGiovanna waited all the way until the second sentence of his feature on Madson to bring up the holy trinity of Philadelphia sports “ugliness.”
That’s right, snowballs at Santa, D batteries at J.D. Drew, and cheering at a nearly-dead Michael Irvin.
It took only a short time before he experienced the wrath of Philadelphia’s sports fans, who are notorious for booing Santa Claus, pelting then-St. Louis outfielder J.D. Drew with D-batteries and cheering when Dallas Cowboys receiverMichael Irvin lay motionless on the field after suffering a neck injury.
-Mike DiGiovanna, Los Angeles Times
Bravo, and well done sir. Bravo.
The interview was designed to show how the merciless beating Ryan Madson routinely took at the hands of the bloodthirsty and maniacal fans of Philadelphia has actually made the lanky right-hander the pitcher he is today.
As a Phillies rookie in 2004, Madson reeled off 21 consecutive scoreless innings in relief, lowering his earned-run average to 1.84 in July before giving up a two-run home run to Chicago Cubs slugger Sammy Sosa in a loss at home.
“They booed me off the field,” Madson said. “I was like, ‘Oh my goodness. It doesn’t matter. It’s what have you done for me lately?’ That makes it tough. You can’t rest on your laurels. Every day, they demand that you be at your best regardless of how many days in a row you’ve pitched, how you are physically.”
Over eight seasons in Philadelphia, Madson came to a surprising realization about that harsh treatment: He loved it.
“There couldn’t have been a better environment to become the pitcher I am now,” said Madson, who signed a one-year, $3.5-million deal with the Angels. “The fans might have been critical, but that’s good. You don’t want to go out there not caring.”
Now, I don’t think there’s a single Phils fan that remembers what game these two guys are talking about, but here it is. And if everything went down as Madson describes it, it was probably unreasonable for Phillies fans to be as vociferous in their displeasure as they were. Still, one must remember the state of the franchise at this time.
Yes, that had just moved into a new stadium, but the culture of the team was still one of a bunch of losers trying to figure out how not to be lousy anymore. It was a tense time.
And I don’t think we’re breaking any news here when we report that Philadelphia sports fans can be downright idiotic at times, thanks mainly to a heapin’ helpin’ of the witch’s brew.
The good news is, Madson eventually flourished in Philadelphia.
And it’s great to know that he doesn’t hold a grudge, either against the city, or the team that seemingly had signed him to a contract before the 2011 season only to rip it away from his cold dead fingers.
“I don’t have any hard feelings toward Philadelphia or point the finger at anyone,” Madson said. “There’s something to be said for that saying, ‘We can make all the plans we want, and God laughs.’ Maybe it wasn’t meant to be.”
So, we now have confirmation that Ryan Madson is cool. As if we needed it.
What we don’t know is who pissed in Mike DiGiovanna’s corn flakes.