A sure sign that it's February in the sports world are the manufactured controversies that often lack substance but are designed to stoke responses. For example, take the faux outrage accumulating over the use of Tug McGraw's immortal 'Ya gotta believe' on the freshly painted walls that adorn the Phillies' hallway at Spectrum Field in Clearwater.
Note that Phillies beat writer Todd Zolecki for MLB.com didn't seem to find anything amiss about the location of the famous quote. Yet as Tyler Kepner for the New York Times writes, McGraw's saying actually originated as a rallying cry for the Mets in 1973, a fact that some outlets are beginning to seize upon for a good laugh — including the NL East rival itself.
Phillies redecorated the hallway leading into the clubhouse at Spectrum Field. pic.twitter.com/7KN8i5CVq0— Todd Zolecki (@ToddZolecki) February 14, 2017
There's no denying McGraw first uttered those words while he was a member of the Mets. Check.
Although, as Kepner points out, McGraw continued using the slogan for years after joining the Phillies in 1975, to the point where it became a personal mantra of his. In fact, the words are inscribed on a plaque in the home team's bullpen at Citizens Bank Park. Check.
But wait, there's more!
Even though McGraw made the words famous as a Met, the Phillies have a better claim to his legacy. McGraw pitched longer for the Phillies than he did for the Mets and made his home in the Philadelphia area, working at a local television station in the 1990s and serving as a spring instructor for the Phillies.
And while McGraw was a vital member of the 1969 Mets, he did not actually pitch in that World Series. In 1980, with the Phillies, he had a win and two saves against the Kansas City Royals, and struck out Willie Wilson for the final out.
The Phillies may not own McGraw's quote, but the Mets sure as heck don't, either. It's safe to say the walls at Spectrum Field are perfectly acceptable just the way they are.
Associated Press photo