Amaro Says Sorry For Comments About Fans
Ruben Amaro Jr. acknowledged the firestorm he caused today in Philadelphia following comments he made about Phillies fans, saying they “don’t understand the game” and “then they b—- and complain because we don’t have a plan.”
He apologized before today’s game against the Mets at Citi Field.
“I’m a fan myself,” Amaro said. “I understand the passion and the knowledge that our fans have for our game and the other major sports, all the other sports in Philly. The comments weren’t meant to disparage our fans by any stretch of the imagination. I probably used my words incorrectly or poorly. I want to apologize for that.”
The crux of the comments in a CSNPhilly.com story centered on some fans’ desires to see the team’s top prospects promoted to the big leagues in a projected 97-loss season. Amaro has said repeatedly those prospects will not be rushed to the big leagues.
“I’m as excited about seeing them in the big leagues as anybody else,” Amaro said. “But there’s a process they have to go through. There’s a process and a plan in place. And I think that was more of the point. I understand why the fans would want (to see them) because we’re not having a ton of success at the Major League level right now. But I think it’s incumbent upon the organization to make sure we do it at the right time and do it with the right plan in place.”
But Amaro’s harsh comments resonated loudly among a frustrated fan base. The Phillies have been losing more and more since they won a franchise-record 102 games in 2011, despite remaining among the top spenders in baseball. They finished 81-81 in 2012 and 73-89 the previous two seasons.
They entered Tuesday 19-28, which is the fourth-worst record in baseball.
The organization finally initiated a rebuilding plan once Pat Gillick became team president last August, but that has not removed Amaro from the hot seat.
Gillick has publicly supported Amaro, but Amaro’s contract expires at the end of this season and Gillick has said Amaro’s status will not be addressed before then.
It is not a stretch to think Amaro’s comments this week could come back to haunt him.
“The biggest thing that bothers me about it is how the organization is perceived – not me personally,” Amaro said. “We’ve always been one of those organizations, at least as long as I’ve been in the front office, to understand the fan and understand that the fans are the people who pay our salaries and support us. Am I worried about it for me? No. I’m worried about it for the organization, because they shouldn’t have to suffer because I made a bad quote.”
Amaro spoke Tuesday with Gillick.
“We had a discussion about it, and he said it was unfortunate and thought it was taken out of context,” Amaro said. “If you look at the breadth of the story … our job is to make sure the fans love this club for a long time, and we have to do what we can to put the team in a position for the fans to enjoy it. Sadly, that point gets lost because of my quote.”
Amaro said the Phillies will continue to develop their prospects at what the organization considers the appropriate speed. Aaron Nola, who many fans are clamoring to see, has made 20 Minor League starts. That is fewer than Max Scherzer (30), Cole Hamels (36), Clayton Kershaw (44), Matt Harvey (46), Sonny Gray (53), Shelby Miller (78) and other frontline starters made before their big league promotions.
“We have to build these guys in a way that prepares them to be Major Leaguers,” Amaro said. “We have a process and a plan in place to make sure that we protect them and develop them in the right way so when they get here to the big leagues … one, they’re physically protected. Two, they’re mentally prepared to be in the big leagues. Three, we develop them at the right pace, so that they can be the best players they can be when they get here.”
That part of the message makes sense, but can fans get past the other part?
“We’re fan-driven,” Amaro said. “This is an entertainment business, and we need the support of our fans, and we’ve gotten tremendous support. I apologize for the context or the words that I used. I think the thing that bothers me the most about this stuff that happened today and the quotes I made is that I don’t want to detract from the fact that there are some really positive things happening here in a way that the fans can focus on those. Hopefully they can focus on the progress as opposed to my misguided quotes.”