It's one thing when Phillies fans are cranky about 12 straight years without a postseason berth. It's something else when the team contends until the final weekend and attendance still declines by 600,000 from 2004.
Ed Wade, who was fired from his post as Phillies general manager Monday, went eight years without producing a playoff club, despite some big payrolls. He became a symbol of the fans' discontent. Some of the criticism -- like the personal attacks on WIP radio and the fire-Ed-Wade Web site -- crossed the line to tasteless and borderline cruel.
Oddly enough, Wade got canned after a pretty good year. The Jon Lieber and Kenny Lofton free-agent signings worked out nicely, the Ugueth Urbina-for-Placido Polanco trade was hailed as an inspired move at the time and Wade's decision to refrain from trading Ryan Howard paid off when Jim Thome went down for the season with an elbow injury. But when the Phillies lost out to Houston for the wild card, management hauled out the time-for-a-change rationale for the sake of credibility.
Where do the Phillies turn now? Maybe Pennsylvania native Gerry Hunsicker. Maybe Cleveland assistant GM Chris Antonetti, who is generating plenty of buzz. Maybe internally, to the capable Mike Arbuckle. Or maybe club president David Montgomery will think big and try to lure Brian Cashman from New York.
Given the public perception that Wade was subservient to Montgomery in running the club, some bold thinking is definitely in order in Philadelphia.