This past week, as it does every week, a national media outlet (omission of the name is intentional, although I’m sure you either know which outlet I’m referring to, or could find it rather easily) handed out its weekly power rankings. Now some may not buy all that much into power rankings, as a co-working of mine has said numerous times, but I personally take them seriously. And the reason I take them seriously is because they are often a temperate gauge of the national perspective of a particular team.
So when I see blatant errors in power rankings, and the lack of love lost between the national media and the Phillies is apparent, I need to set the record straight. Before I dive any further into this, here is this week’s power rankings of this outlet.
1. Boston Red Sox
2. Houston Astros
3. New York Yankees
4. Los Angeles Dodgers
5. Chicago Cubs
6. Cleveland Indians
7. Oakland A’s
8. Arizona Diamondbacks
9. Milwaukee Brewers
10. Atlanta Braves
11. Philadelphia Phillies
That is utter disrespect, if you ask me. Now, as someone who has been a member of the sports media for the better part of six years now, I hope that I’ve come across as unbiased as possible. I write with passion, but I attempt to abstain from matters of the heart when I write. Yes, I am a life-long Phillies’ fan, but I am also a journalist. And journalist take biases out of the equation when they write. But I may need to drop my guard for a moment to explain this to you. Moreso, I actually may not have to do that, because this should be objective enough because this outlet’s rankings are simply wrong.
The top of the rankings are genuine. The Red Sox are the best team in baseball, followed by the Astros and Yankees. Fair enough. The Indians, A’s and Diamondbacks have been criminally undervalued this year despite the fact that the A’s have ripped off a tremendous winning streak recently. The Indians are still a team to be feared with the pitching staff assembled in Cleveland. The Diamondbacks just beat the Phillies last night, and will look to take a two game series lead later tonight.
Okay. The list is fine thus far. The inclusion of the Cubs and Dodgers ahead of the Phillies, while not terribly convincing, is justifiable by the two teams’ talent.
And then you get to the egregious part. The country of origin is error. The capitol city is atrocious. The Atlanta Braves are ranked tenth, while the Phillies sit 11th. In what conceivable world, especially the current one we live in, are the Atlanta Braves, who, at the time of the publication of the list were 1.5 games back of the Phillies, better than Philadelphia on a power ranking? Are we in Bizarro World? Have we jumped dimensions? Or maybe just this particular outlet has done so. Because, if so, I’d like to know how I sign up for inter-dimensional travel. I’d like to see the world in which the Braves are justifiably better than the Phillies on any front.
The outlet stated the trade deadline as examples for both teams. Did the Phillies or Braves have a better July 31? The Braves acquired Kevin Gausman, Brad Brach and Darren O’Day from the Orioles, as well as Jonny Venters from the Rays. The Phillies made a deal with Tampa Bay as well, acquiring Wilson Ramos. They also brought in Asdrubel Cabrera and Aaron Loup from the Blue Jays.
So did the Braves have a better deadline? It depends on what you’re qualifications are. They solidified their biggest need. The Phillies, adding a starting pitcher notwithstanding, did the same. It comes down to talent acquisition. I’m a big Gausman fan. He could help tremendously down the stretch. Bullpen arms are always important. Cabrera has been successful since being acquired by the Phillies. Ramos has yet to play due to injury. With all this, I would not argue if you said the Braves had a better deadline. But it wouldn’t be by much. And it certainly would not be that much better to leap the Phillies in a power ranking.
So here’s what it boils down to. If you want to tell me to remove my soapbox from the sidewalk and take my boastful, and slightly impacted pride somewhere else by the end of this than so be it. But my justification for the decision comes down to reaction, and more importantly, ratings. National media outlets know that anytime they need to get viewership, rating, etc., Philadelphia is one of the markets to go after. It’s a large market that cares about its sports teams. When you say something negative about Philadelphia, Philadelphia fires back. But when the city fires back, it first must view the content in which you are providing. Winner, winner, chicken dinner. The city, in droves, I might add, just did exactly what the outlet wanted them to do. It’s the old adage that “All publicity is good publicity”.
I get it. It makes sense, formulaically. But with so little separating the two teams, especially since they are both in the NL East, the only thing that makes sense is to look at their records. Not head-to-head, not common opponent, but strict wins and loses. And right now, at the culmination of this article, the Phillies are still holding a divisional lead over the Braves.
I’ll get back to being a writer now.
Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports