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Controversy swirls around R-Phils rebranding

Reading PhilliesWith the Reading Phillies (Class AA; Eastern League) set to announce a new team identity at the end of the week, fans and some folks close to the organization are apprehensive about any changes.

Fans have taken to the team’s Facebook page to protest any changes; a potential team name leaked to the public — Reading Fightin’ Phillies — has been met with derision by those with the loudest voices. Now, we’re not taking the negative comments very seriously — a lot of social-media postings are pure noise — and just because one can scream the loudest doesn’t make them right. It’s easy to yell loudly when there are no consequences to your actions.

Notable among the detractors: Dave “Frenchy” Bauman, who says he’ll quit as the P.A. announcer if the new team name is too wacky. Frenchy has been behind the FirstEnergy Stadium mic for 35 years, so folks will tend to listen to what he says, even if he’s not a full-time member of the team. From a Facebook posting: if the new name “is anything close to what I fear it could be, I am done, through, over, finished. I will not sell my pride, dignity and self-respect for some silly contrived nickname, an insulting cartoon-ish logo.

“I will never be seen on Centre Ave. again. If I want to see a ballgame, I live less than a mile from the ballpark in Lancaster. I’m sorry it had to come to this, but sooner or later everybody reaches their breaking point.”

On the one hand, fans react because they care, and the R-Phils braintrust probably should have anticipated some pushback to any changes to one of the most popular teams in Minor League Baseball. On the other hand, it’s really not up to the P.A. announcer to attempt to dictate team management (it looks like Frenchy is out; the team has scheduled tryouts for a new P.A. announcer), and detractors should probably wait until the new team identity is actually announced before going nuts. It’s not uncommon for a team to shift rebranding efforts in the face of fan derision — remember the New Hampshire Primaries? — and acting all huffy before a new brand is even announced doesn’t accomplish anything.

RELATED STORIES: New for 2013: The Reading Fightin’ Phillies?; R-Phils to change team name


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