Eric Fisher: Good evening. Welcome to PhillyPhanatics.com’s We-Hope-It’s-Great Sports Debate, featuring our two favorite antagonists, Joe Optimist and Joe Pessimist. The two Joes represent two distinct factions of Philadelphia sports fans, although they often reside within the same mind. By the way, you are sitting in seats from the Spectrum. They are available for purchase after the debate. Without further ado, let’s meet our participants.
Joe Optimist and Joe Pessimist walk onto the stage and shake hands. Joe Optimist is smiling. Joe Pessimist is not.
Fisher: Gentleman, let me remind you about the format. I will ask one of you a question submitted online, via Twitter or from our live audience. After the initial answer, the other participant will have an opportunity to respond. Much to his surprise, Joe Pessimist won the coin toss and will go first. Our first topic is the Eagles. This question comes via Twitter from @StillTheJuan: Do you think that the defensive coordinator was made the scapegoat for all of the Eagles’ problems?
Joe Pessimist: Thank you for holding this debate so I have the opportunity to drill some sense into some of the lemmings’ brains. And thank you @StillTheJuan for the question. Of course, Juan Castillo deserved to be fired. He was terrible. Hello!!!??? Have you ever heard of in-game adjustments? It’s been a month since the last sack by the Eagles. At the same time, I think Castillo was definitely made a scapegoat. His terrible defense was actually light years better than the Eagles’ awful offense. How is firing Castillo supposed to help the offense score more points? How is it supposed to help Michael Vick hold onto the ball? How is it supposed to help Danny Watkins or Demetress Bell block? The real problem is that Andy Reid is still the head coach. The Eagles will never win a Super Bowl as long as he’s the coach.
Joe Optimist: So you were for Castillo before you were against him? Or is it the other way around? I get confused with all of your flip-flopping.
Joe Pessimist: I don’t know what you’re talking about. I didn’t like Castillo as defensive coordinator from the day he was hired.
Joe Optimist: You didn’t like anyone from the day they were hired. At least you’re consistent in that respect. Castillo’s firing was unfortunate. He’s a good man. But his defense failed to generate sacks or produce turnovers. The defense will be better with Todd Bowles in charge. The additional turnovers will help the offense score more points and improve the Eagles’ field position. This team will make the playoffs.
Joe Pessimist: Not with Vick giving away the football like a Pez dispenser they won’t.
Joe Optimist: They’re 3-3. They would be 5-1 without the late-game collapses by the defense against the Steelers and Lions.
Joe Pessimist: They also could be 1-5, or even 0-6. If that rookie linebacker for the Browns holds onto the gift-wrapped interception from Vick in the end zone, the Eagles would have lost their opener. If it weren’t for the replacement refs, the Eagles would have lost to the Ravens. If it weren’t …
Joe Optimist: How much time does he get for this question?
Joe Pessimist: I was only going to add that the Eagles would have lost the Giants game if the Giants hadn’t picked up an offensive pass interference penalty on a dumb play-calling decision.
Joe Optimist: Are you done now?
Joe Pessimist: Not as done as the Eagles are. They’ll never win until Andy Reid’s reign of terror is over.
Joe Optimist: You weren’t calling it a reign of terror when Reid was leading the Eagles to the NFC Championship Game every year.
Joe Pessimist: I certainly did. Even the day after the Super Bowl in 2005 I called it a reign of terror.
Joe Optimist: You did not. You said “terrible,” not “terror.”
Fisher: Gentleman, please …
Joe Pessimist: Check the transcript.
Fisher: That’s enough, gentlemen. It’s time to move on to our next topic. This question is for Joe Optimist. It was sent online from “Wheels@gmail.com.” The question is, “What minor adjustments do the Phillies need to win the World Series next year?”
Joe Optimist: The starting pitching should be fine. After seeing Domonic Brown the second half of the year, I’m confident he will be a big contributor next season. I think the two pieces I’d like to see added to the Phillies’ solid core are a right-handed power bat at third base or in the outfield and a reliable 8th-inning option in the bullpen, although they may already have that 8th-inning guy on their roster.
Joe Pessimist: The entire premise of this question is ridiculous. The Phillies don’t need minor adjustments. They need an overhaul.
Joe Optimist: After missing the playoffs for the first time in six years? After having Roy Halladay, Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Carlos Ruiz on the disabled list for long stretches?
Joe Pessimist: Yes. Howard will never be the same hitter. And he has no plate discipline, especially against lefties. Utley’s got to go to the American League and become a designated hitter. And Halladay will never be a dominating pitcher again. All those innings have taken their toll.
Joe Optimist: So you think the Phillies need a new first baseman, second baseman and third baseman?
Joe Pessimist: Don’t forget shortstop.
Fisher: Excuse me, gentlemen. We have a followup question from a member of our live audience. Go ahead, Charlie.
Charlie: Um, yeah. Thanks, um, for like having me and all of us here for this, um, debate. I was like kind of wondering how, if, um, you put responsibility for, you know, the Phillies not sort of doing as well as they, you know, like maybe they could have done maybe if everyone stayed healthy or, like, maybe if the GM had provided the, you know, pieces.
Fisher: I think the question is: how much blame do you place on the manager for the Phillies’ poor performance?
Joe Pessimist: He lets the players run the show. He should have dealt with J-Stroll’s lackadaisical attitude long before it got out of hand. He shouldn’t have let Halladay decide when he comes out of games. And his strategy is baffling at times. I agree that Amaro didn’t provide him with good bench pieces, but I have no confidence that he could maneuver them properly anyway. Charlie Manuel should be fired.
Joe Optimist: Manuel isn’t the problem. No manager could have overcome all the Phillies’ injuries this year. Not only does he deserve to come back next year, but I think the Phillies should give him an extension of at least one year.
Joe Pessimist: An extension? You’re out of your …
Fisher: Sorry to interrupt, but we have to move on to the next topic. This question comes via Twitter from @theAnswer: Which player in Sixers history is comparable to Andrew Bynum? And do you think the Sixers should bring back Allen Iverson?
Joe Optimist: To answer your second question first …
Joe Pessimist: Wait a second, isn’t it my turn to go first?
Fisher: No, you answered Charlie’s question first.
Joe Pessimist: I thought that was just a followup to the original Phillies question, which I answered second.
Fisher: No, that was a separate question. It’s your opponent’s turn to go first.
Joe Pessimist: All right. As long as I get my time.
Fisher: You will.
Joe Optimist: As I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted, I’ll answer the second question first. The Sixers should not bring back Allen Iverson. He was a fantastic player, but he wouldn’t fit into the Sixers’ plans. We’ve got to move forward, not look to the past. As for the other question, Andrew Bynum reminds me of Moses Malone. When the Sixers added Malone, it made them a championship team. Bynum could have the same effect. His inside game will make the Sixers’ rejuvenated outside shooting even better because of all the attention he’ll attract.
Joe Pessimist: Well, my opponent and I agree on one thing: the Sixers should not bring back Allen Iverson. As for Bynum, the only place Bynum will attract attention is in the doctor’s office. Two words: Jeff Ruland.
Fisher: We were supposed to have a Flyers question, but the NHL has canceled it. It’s time for closing statements. Mr. Pessimist, you go first.
Joe Pessimist: My opponent has presented a grand vision for Philadelphia’s sports future. It’s a place where the Eagles, Phillies, Sixers and Flyers – if they ever play again – compete for championships every season. But you can only see this future if you wear rose-colored glasses and drink his Kool-Aid. The truth is our sports landscape looks bleak. Michael Vick’s career as a starting quarterback is just about over and Andy Reid’s tenure as head coach should be just about over. With the exception of LeSean McCoy, the Eagles need a complete overhaul. The Phillies also need a complete overhaul. They must stop holding onto the past. Fire Charlie Manuel, get rid of Utley, Howard, Rollins, Halladay and Lee and start over. The Sixers are building around a center who has knee problems at age 24. We’ve been down this road before. And the Flyers, whenever they play again, are saddled with Ilya Bryzgalov’s awful contract. I know it’s tempting to get sucked in and fall in love with my opponent’s grand vision or, as I like to call it, his grand delusion. But let’s look at our past arguments about the Phillies and Eagles. I was right both times. I’m right again this time.
Joe Optimist: I’d like to thank the debate commission and our moderator, Mr. Fisher, for allowing us to express our opinions. I’d also like to thank our audience for their wonderful questions and for listening so attentively to our answers. You have two distinct choices. You can return to the past with Joe Pessimist. Return to a time when Philadelphia sports fans always had a sense of impending doom. It was a time when we couldn’t enjoy anything good because we always feared that there was something bad waiting just around the corner. I don’t want us to go back to that time. I want us to enjoy our teams. I want us to enjoy our sports. We are lucky enough to live in a place where .500, which is what the Phillies and Eagles were these past two seasons, is considered a bad year. In some cities, a .500 record is a good year. We have higher standards here, but our teams won’t reach their potential if we don’t believe in them. We can be the sixth man … or the 12th man … or the 10th man. The positive energy we bring to the stadiums and arenas and ballparks can lift our teams to new heights. As the late, great Tug McGraw once said, “You gotta believe!” Believe in our your teams! Believe in yourselves! Believe in our future! Thank you.
Fisher: Thank you to both Joes. Don’t forget to vote online and via Twitter to determine the winner of tonight’s debate. And don’t forget to purchase your Spectrum souvenir chairs on your way out. Thank you and good night.