I cringed at the sound of the voice. Even before I turned around, I knew who it was: Joe Pessimist.
Sometimes Joe Pessimist lives inside my head, along with the recently MIA Joe Optimist, just as he does for many Philadelphia sports fans. Sometimes he sneaks up on me, as he did on this day.
Joe Pessimist: Did you get my phone messages?
Fisher: Yes. You’ve called every day for the past two weeks.
Joe Pessimist: So, do you think you can set up another debate with Joe Optimist? You know, just like the debate we had in 2012.
Fisher: Look, Joe, it’s not going to happen.
Joe Pessimist: Why not? The last debate was fun. And you even got a good column out of it.
Fisher: I did. Thank you. But Joe Optimist doesn’t want to do it – at least not right now.
Joe Pessimist (chortling): I don’t blame him. I wiped the mat with him in 2012, and the Philly teams were a lot better off back then than they are today.
Fisher: I concede that you won the debate, but it wasn’t as lopsided as you make it sound.
Joe Pessimist: Not as lopsided as I make it sound? It was like the Warriors vs. the Sixers. Or practically anyone against the Phillies.
Fisher: As usual, you’re putting an extremely negative spin on everything.
Joe Pessimist: I’m not spinning anything. I’m just being realistic. Go ahead. Tell me something I should be positive about.
Fisher: Nerlens Noel scored a career-high 30 points Friday night. He’s improved a lot since the All-Star break.
Joe Pessimist: All that does is make Noel a more valuable commodity when Sam Hinkie decides to trade him away to move up in the draft or acquire some more second-round draft picks. Isn’t that what you wrote in your Sixers Notebook?
Fisher: Um, yes. And thanks for reading. Didn’t you find some positives in the Eagles offseason?
Joe Pessimist: No.
Fisher: You don’t like the DeMarco Murray signing?
Joe Pessimist: Let’s see how good Murray is without the Cowboys offensive line in front of him.
Fisher: The Eagles’ offensive line is pretty good.
Joe Pessimist: Was pretty good. They’re not anymore. Herremans is gone, and Mathis is going to be gone before the season. Once Jason Peters gets injured – again – the offensive line is going to be, at best, mediocre.
Fisher: Murray led the NFL in rushing. That wasn’t all due to the offensive line.
Joe Pessimist: You’re right. Some of it was due to defenses having to defend Dez Bryant downfield and having a quarterback who can throw the ball deep, which the Eagles don’t have.
Fisher: I admit the Eagles don’t have a deep threat at receiver, but they’ll address that through the …
Joe Pessimist: Through the draft? They’re not going to find a receiver who can play right away and spread the field.
Fisher: I also think you’re underestimating Sam Bradford.
Joe Pessimist: I wasn’t referring to Bradford. I was talking about Sanchez.
Fisher: Sanchez is the backup.
Joe Pessimist: He’ll be the starter after Bradford tears his ACL again.
Fisher: Did you get your medical degree since last time I saw you? I tore my ACL 21 years ago and never tore it again.
Joe Pessimist: How did you tear your ACL?
Fisher: Playing football.
Joe Pessimist: And you never tore it again?
Joe Pessimist: Well, that already puts you ahead of Bradford. He did tear his ACL again. … Hold on a minute. Did you ever play football after having surgery to fix your ACL?
Fisher: No, not tackle football.
Joe Pessimist: Well, Bradford’s not going to be playing two-hand touch next season.
Fisher: Did you like any of Chip Kelly’s offseason moves?
Joe Pessimist: I like that he makes the offseason interesting. But I don’t think he has any idea of what he’s doing.
Fisher: Why not?
Joe Pessimist: Because the Eagles weren’t even pursuing Murray until Frank Gore backed out of his deal. Kelly is flying by the seat of his pants. Eventually, he’ll crash and burn. And then he’ll go back to college and the Eagles will have to start all over again.
Fisher: Temple is in the NIT semifinals. You’ve got to give them credit for a tremendous turnaround from last season.
Joe Pessimist: I’m supposed to be excited that they’re going to win the losers’ tournament? The NIT is for teams that weren’t good enough to be among the 68 invited to the real tournament. Give me a break.
Fisher: You can’t find anything positive to say?
Joe Pessimist: At least the Owls aren’t chokers, like Villanova. Is that positive enough for you?
Fisher: Not really.
Joe Pessimist: Please don’t tell me you picked Villanova to reach the NCAA title game.
Fisher: No, but I had them in the Final Four in one pool and out in the East Regional final in another pool.
Joe Pessimist: What a sucker. I had them out in the second round. Until Villanova makes it to the Sweet 16 again, I’m not picking them to win more than one tournament game.
Fisher: I’m guessing you’re not optimistic about the Flyers.
Joe Pessimist: With expensive contracts for unproductive players like Lecavalier and Umberger, the Flyers aren’t going anywhere.
Fisher: With Steve Mason and their young defenseman developing, you don’t think they can return to the playoffs next season?
Joe Pessimist: Are you channeling Ed Snider? They’re not going to be contenders next season. They don’t have the talent and they’re going to be starting over with a new coach.
Fisher: Which brings us to the Phillies.
Joe Pessimist: Hah! Even Joe Optimist isn’t predicting a winning season for that pathetic team. They waited too long to trade Cliff Lee, and now they’re not going to get anything for him. The same thing probably will happen to Hamels.
Fisher: I guess you don’t have anything positive to say about the Union, either.
Joe Pessimist: They haven’t won a game yet, have they? They’re a perfect fit with our other sports franchises.
Fisher: Joe, I’ve got to go. Our conversations always leave me feeling depressed.
Joe Pessimist: Glad I could help. And if you see that coward, Joe Optimist, let him know I’m ready to debate again.
Fisher: Unfortunately, I don’t think we’ll be seeing Joe Optimist until the start of football season, but if he surfaces during the NFL, NBA or NHL drafts, I’ll let you know.