From: Gonzalez, John
To: Ford, Bob; Sheridan, Phil
Subject: Philly and Philly.com

I've been wondering: With Dawkins gone, who's Philly's new representative? We always seem to have an athlete in town who connects with the city, either because he's like us or because he understands us. That doesn't mean we necessarily have to agree with everything he says. I think Allen Iverson and Charles Barkley were very much Philly guys, and half the populace couldn't stand them. On the flip side, everyone loves Westbrook, but he doesn't always exude that follow-me enthusiasm Dawkins and some of the others did.

On a side note, I noticed something odd last week. Bob Ford has joined the ranks of Philly.com's comments section. Caught him happily jabbering away on my Globetrotters column. I can't decide whether that's hilarious or a sign that the end is near. But it does explain why his Gonzodermic insults so closely resemble the oh-so-clever digs that often appear on the site.

From: Ford, Bob
To: Gonzalez, John; Sheridan, Phil
Subject: Philly and Philly.com

We have a comments section? Hmmm, news to me.

Philly guy? Let's see. He's got to work hard and not complain. He's got to say every 10 minutes or so how great the fans are. He's got to be a blue-collar, lunch bucket, regular sort of a fellow. He has to have grit, moxie, tenacity, spunk and spirit. Or is all of that a cliche for what a very narrow slice of sports fans in this community wants in its athletes? A kind of a Page 2 caricature of an athlete? Just wondering.

From: Gonzalez, John
To: Ford, Bob; Sheridan, Phil
Subject: Philly and Philly.com

I don't think it's a narrow slice of what people want at all. It's why the '93 Phils were so popular, why Thump & Bump were so interesting, why Dawkins was one of the most beloved athletes in the city's history. And they don't have to tell the fans how great they are, either. Right now, I think Jimmy Rollins is probably at the top of the list, and he told the entire city to go pound sand last year.

Re: comments. Like the Twitterati, I'm going to create a screen name called "The Real Bob Ford." Then I'll use it to sully what's left of your good (?) name.

From: Sheridan, Phil
To: Ford, Bob; Gonzalez, John
Subject: Philly and Philly.com

Funny, because I sense that Chase Utley fits that profile more than Rollins or Ryan Howard - even though both of them are bigger stars in the wider world beyond Our Town. Just as Dawk and, say, Duce Staley were more beloved in that sense than Donovan McNabb, who remains grossly underappreciated for his very real toughness and accomplishments.

So I'd say Utley, for the sake of this exercise.

But McNabb is an interesting case. He's now been with the team longer than anyone. He's reaching that point where fans almost grudgingly begin to warm up. And he's helped by the growing perception that he has been forced to play in a pass-crazy offense without a full complement of weapons. That would be the ultimate irony, to have McNabb morph into Mr. Philly Guy right before our eyes.

From: Gonzalez, John
To: Ford, Bob; Sheridan, Phil
Subject: Philly and Philly.com

Meanwhile, you don't find it even a little strange that Buttons has become a Philly.com comments section proponent? I believe he's the first writer for either paper to go over to the Dark Side.

From: Ford, Bob
To: Gonzalez, John; Sheridan, Phil
Subject: Philly and Philly.com

Just having a little give-and-take with the people who actually pay your salary, Gonzophrenia. Journalism is all about networking and interaction these days. It's a conversation with the community, not a monologue. I'm a cutting-edge kind of guy.