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Ex-Phillie calls Philly fans 'trash,' blames old coach

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Ex-Phillie calls Philly fans 'trash,' blames old coach

Remember Desi Relaford?

If you don't, you certainly know the name now.

Relaford played parts of his first five major-league seasons with the Phillies from 1996 to 2000. The shortstop slashed .234/.315/.328 in red pinstripes for teams that finished in the NL East cellar during three of those five seasons.

He went on to play for six more teams over his final seven seasons.

Let's just say his time in Philadelphia was the worst stop along the way.

Relaford, now 44 years old and the bench coach for the Daytona Tortugas, the Reds' High A affiliate, made that abundantly clear while speaking on "The Jake Brown Show" podcast in an episode that was released Wednesday.

A 1991 fourth-round draft pick of the Mariners who was traded to the Phillies in July 1996, Relaford blasted Philadelphia sports fans and singled out former coach John Vukovich for why he disliked his Phillies playing days. Vukovich, who spent 30 years in the organization and was beloved by many, died in March 2007 from cancer.

Below are some of Relaford's comments, while you can listen to the podcast here. He begins talking about the Phillies at the 18:00 mark.

The fans, they were trash. I have some really good friends there but as fans? Oh yeah, the worst.

It wasn't just me. It's just well known … not only are they hard, but they're just irrational. They boo just to boo. I saw them boo Billy Wagner one night because he didn't throw 100. He threw 100 a few pitches in a row, they're all excited, he threw 98 and they booed the s--- out of him. Or Scott Rolen hitting two home runs in a game and coming up the last at-bat and not getting a hit and getting booed out of the stadium. Or me getting booed before they even announce my name: 'Now batting, your shortstop, *BOOOOOO*.' I get it, I was scuffling, I'm not saying you can't get booed or fans shouldn't boo. Yeah, if a player deserves to get booed, boo his ass, give it to him. But there's a time and place and it shouldn't just be for any and everything, and especially your home team. I can understand booing your home team, but things should be really, really bad before that happens.

The fan thing, you can kind of tune that out, it's whatever. But when you have to deal with someone on a personal basis, day in and day out — and I was young, I got to the big leagues when I was 21. I'm just trying to fit in, I just want to do my job, man, and instead of them (the coaches) making it easier, it was hard.

There was just a coach (Vukovich) that I dealt with there for a while that made my time there terrible. … I didn't have a whole lot of fun there, so I don't claim Philly like that.

He made it not fun. Like, it was dumb s---. Just always treated me ultra rookie and I couldn't even be myself. Say if I was in the clubhouse and I was having a good time, talking, being like myself — I'm not shy, I have a good time. I don't know, I'm not loud, but I'm talkative. I move around, talk to different people, whatever, whatever, but if I was being myself and doing that, then I was a rookie and I didn't know my place. And if I was in my locker with my headphones on listening to music by myself, then I wasn't a team-type guy. Or if I was taking groundballs … say I took 100 groundballs and the last ball, I make a bad throw or whatever, he'd like literally yell at me and tell me I wasn't that good. Or if I went 3 for 4, he would harp on why I didn't get the fourth hit. Like dumb stuff, it was always something.

Bryce Harper meets some Philly sports legends at the Sixers game

Bryce Harper meets some Philly sports legends at the Sixers game

The new big man in town, Bryce Harper, went to the Wells Fargo Center on Thursday night to take in the Sixers game against the Milwaukee Bucks. He rubbed shoulders with some of the previous biggest (little) men in town.

Harper was in attendance and rang the bell prior to tip-off — something he'll surely do many times during Phillies games across the street this summer.

When Harper made his way to his seat in a suite, he was seated alongside Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz. Rhys Hoskins was also in the suite as were all of the aforementioned players' significant others. Talk about some serious Philly sports firepower right there.

And then later in the game, the Sixers shared an image of a couple of legendary No. 3s meeting in the bowels of the Center. I'd love to hear the conversation between Allen Iverson and Harper.

Eagles wide receiver Alshon Jeffery was also in the building, sitting a bit closer to the court. Rapper Meek Mill was also in the building and took a photo with A.I. Which got me wondering: What's the perfect storm of Philly sports stardom in a Rat Pack sort of way? Obviously you had Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid on the court last night. In terms of the Flyers, aside from Gritty, you'd have to go Claude Giroux or maybe a fun-loving guy like Scott Hartnell from years past? Recently retired players that could fit the bill from other teams would have to include Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and maybe Pat Burrell just for fun. Is anyone in recent Eagles memory a bigger name than Brian Dawkins? He'd fill the fedora quotient. Nick Foles could be fun in a clean and wholesome sort of way.

My Philly sports Rat Pack would consist of A.I., Simmons, Embiid, Kendall Jenner, Wentz, Jason Kelce and Gritty. We got a good portion of that in the building last night.

Who is in your Philly sports Rat Pack?

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Nationals fans don’t get to be mad at Bryce Harper

Nationals fans don’t get to be mad at Bryce Harper

They can boo him. They can even hate him. But there’s absolutely no way Washington Nationals fans can fault Bryce Harper.

Sportswriters instructed Nats fans not to show up to the stadium unless they plan to boo Harper. Metro TV personalities smashed a pinata with the six-time All-Star’s photograph. Fans destroyed their No. 34 jerseys and showed up to the ballpark with signs that read “traitor.” The mayor of Washington D.C. took to social media to compare a baseball player to Benedict Arnold.

And yet, on Monday it was revealed in The Washington Post that the Nationals didn't just offer Harper less money and fewer years than the Phillies. The structure of the 10-year, $300 million contract proposed in September would’ve deferred payment on $100 million – 33 percent of the total value – until 2052. Then, in January, the club followed up with an even worse deal: 12 years, $250 million that wouldn’t be fully paid until the year 2072.

Harper would be 79 in 2072, assuming he lived that long.

There’s loyalty and hometown discounts. Then there’s situations that just don’t make sense.

Now seems like a good time to point out the Nationals are owned by Ted Lerner, whose own net worth is estimated to be in the multi billions. The team has done pretty well for itself at the gate, finishing 11th in Major League Baseball in average attendance in 2018 despite some of the highest ticket prices in the game. And while the TV contract is in dispute, the organization will eventually claim hundreds of millions of dollars in right fees dating back to 2012.

The money was there. Even without Harper, the Nationals have the seventh-largest payroll in baseball this season – never mind management’s inability to construct a winning team with that checkbook.

Why is this coming back on the player?

It’s one thing for fans to suggest a professional athlete should consider taking less money. It’s quite another to argue the athlete should sign a contract where a sizable portion of the cash might be paid when he’s living in a nursing home.

On some level, this is all reminiscent of when Jayson Werth pulled a reverse-Harper and left the Phillies to sign with the NL East rival Nationals in in 2011. The Phillies chose to allocate finances in such a way the club decided it would only retain Werth for below-market value, so he left. Fans weren’t happy, and he was booed every time he came to town.

But Werth wasn’t a generational talent. He was a cog, people ultimately understood he got a better deal, plus letting him go meant the Phillies could re-sign Cliff Lee, for example.

The Nationals let the face of baseball leave D.C. without a serious offer, and all they got was the money to sign Patrick Corbin.

Hey, it happens, and Nats fans should boo Harper for all 13 years in red pinstripes, the same as any Philly fan would in their shoes.

Just don’t cry Harper is a traitor. He’s in a Phils uniform because the Nationals screwed up, and the only place fingers need to be pointed is directly at the front office.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

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