The Philadelphia Daily News’ Bill Conlin talks about something everyone can relate to : receiving far too much email and at what point do you forward several hundred angry messages to the owners of the Phillies.
The Ed Wade Era ended with the onetime Phillies public-relations department intern lashing out at critics during a bitter rant where he all but said he had been lynched by a small segment of a hostile media.
Asked about the criticism, Wade responded: “I think the personal attacks, obviously … anybody who is in my position and received some of the personal attacks from people who never came to the ballpark, never asked a question, never did an interview, but yet seemed to know the pulse of the ballclub and have a feel for what I do in my job, people whose frame of reference goes back into the early ’80s and before, and think they know what a 21st century general manager’s responsibilities are, obviously that created an environment where attacks became personal, and I did not appreciate it.”
I looked around the media conference room in the bowels of the Money Pit. The only one I could find there who went back to the “early ’80s and before” besides me was Phillies PR vice president Larry Shenk. I don’t think Wade meant The Baron.
The pulse of the fans came to me unsolicited. After the Phillies folded for the second straight season and Wade fired manager Larry Bowa, I started getting a new kind of e-mail. These were not mindless rants filled with bad grammar and obscenities. These were complaints from a broad spectrum of literate fans upset by the general direction of the ballclub under Wade. Many said they would not renew their season tickets in the wake of Bowa’s firing. I began forwarding this long laundry list of grievances to Shenk and Montgomery.
Others, involving personnel matters, I sent to Wade. As the offseason lengthened into winter, the e-mail volume increased.
I found myself responding to upwards of 200 a week. I could no longer keep up with the avalanche after the interviewing process to hire a new manager ended in the Charlie Manuel dog-and-pony show. Fans were outraged that ready, willing and able candidate Jim Leyland was passed over for the likable but hardly high-profile batting coach who came to the Phils as an obvious pot-sweetener when Indians protege Jim Thome was signed.
The Phillies never indicated they took this steady drumbeat of fan outrage seriously, choosing to regard it as a small but loud percentage of WIP callers and Internet forum yahoos. But the e-mails never let up. They continued through the season, peaking around the July 31 trade deadline. I did not start the FireEdWade.com Web site, by the way. Nor have I ever visited it. Since Oct. 1, I have answered more than 100 Phillies-related e-mails and was in the process of replying to a fan dropping out as a season ticketholder after 19 years when word of the 4 p.m. news conference clicked into my mailbox.