Brotherly Love: CNBC's Jim Cramer Talks Philly Sports, Including Tough MLB Season
During his numerous appearances across CNBC programming, JIM CRAMER often makes reference to his unbridled love for all things Philadelphia sports. The "Mad Money" host makes it a point never to miss a Phillies' telecast and to always be in his suite for Eagles' home games, often arranging his TV schedule around the contests. During the second part of a Q&A with Cramer, he discusses how the Phillies' collapse this season has affected his mood, his optimism regarding the 76ers ownership and whether MLS can make serious inroads in the Philly sports landscape. Also see yesterday's issue, where Cramer opines on other sports business-related issues.
Q: Tell us a little about your first job -- selling Coca-Cola at Philly’s Veterans Stadium.
Cramer: Well I started out with Coke because they didn’t think I was experienced enough to sell ice cream. But I eventually graduated to ice cream, and there was a real trick to selling it at the Vet. The stadium was a real bummer kind of place to sell, especially with the old cookie-cutter stadium sort of set up …but what I did was I'd give the main ice cream vendor a big tip every night to let me be the only seller on the 700 level. It was kind of like an antitrust issue. But I had an unbelievable franchise. It was a license to print money. I just couldn’t believe the amount of money I made … I would just marvel at the piles of quarters. So getting off Coke, where there’s a lot of competition, and going toward ice cream, where there was just nobody, was a home run.
Q: Which pro team owns the Philadelphia sports landscape in '12?
Cramer: Well it’s funny. If you look at the Philadelphia Inquirer these days, it’s almost as if the Phillies aren’t even playing -- which I completely understand. And having been, quite frankly, a huge fan of the Phillies and the Eagles for so long, I am kind of stunned at what’s happened to the Phillies this year, and kind of depressed about it. It’s funny, whenever I talk with my friends, they can all detect that I’ve been down about it all summer. Because I watch every Phillies game. I talk about the games afterward with my dad -- who’s 90 and lives in Philadelphia -- almost every night. And you can only have so many horrible conversations. So I don’t want to give up. I was kind of furious at the (OF HUNTER) PENCE trade. I have a No. 8 jersey for (former Phillies OF SHANE) VICTORINO. So I’m cursing them, and what am I doing at the same time -- I’m watching them. … Frankly, the Eagles and 76ers give you more hope than what I see from this older Phillies team right now. But I am just possessed about how depressed I am about the Phillies at this point.
Q: How did you feel about the six-year, $144M deal given to Phillies P COLE HAMELS? Is that sort of deal indicative of contracts being out of control in MLB?
Cramer: It is out of control. I love Cole, but it’s not like he’s a 20-game winner. And there are better players around the league now. With all of these trades that went down, I feel like so many other teams upgraded and we didn’t. … This first-to-worst thing is very hard emotionally. When you win 102 games the season before, you expect to put the game on and watch a win, or maybe some come-from-behind victory. Then you get this kind of action. It’s so scary. Going into a weekend series with Atlanta at the end of July, I was literally trying to figure out what I would do with my schedule around my show if the Phillies made some sort of great comeback. I’m such a sucker. This team has made me more of a sucker than perhaps any team I’ve come across. And I remember the 1964 Phillies as a nine-year old. I even made my dad get World Series tickets that year. I haven’t cried about the Phillies for a long time, and if I weren’t a grown man, I’d be shedding a tear this year. I know I’m giving you granularity here, but this is all I think about. My team at “Mad Money,” we’re just driven by games. Any time there’s a day game, it’s going to be on. We’re all fans of the stats.
Q: Clearly the Phillies are a passion of yours. Where do the Eagles stand?
Cramer: I am indeed not only still a season-ticket holder, but I hope to be for life. I get good sideline passes for training camp in Lehigh. I have a terrific box (at Lincoln Financial Field) where I invite all my friends. I even invite Giants fans. It’s very painful. I can’t poison them because I might be eating the same food. I am bigger Eagles fan than a Phillies fan. … If (QB MICHAEL) VICK is healthy, we have every weapon we need to win. But I’ve also reduced my expectations after the Phillies because I just don’t want to have my heart broken again. … I obviously over-emphasize sports. I let them control my mood. You do not want to be near me when the Eagles lose on Sunday. I’ve had some fabled meltdowns in the box when we’ve lost. But I try to control my temper.
Q: How would you feel if the Eagles took one of their regular-season home games and brought it to London for the NFL’s annual trip to the U.K.?
Cramer: What are you out of your mind? Why don’t you just cut my heart out and serve it up like from “INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM.” You want to take one of my home games? Take a Jacksonville Jaguar game for heaven sake, not one of my home games. … We’re not going to London. That’s like far away. I’m trying to get to Pittsburgh for the Steelers game this season. That’s a schlep. London? No. No. No.
Q: What are your thoughts on the new 76ers ownership and the efforts they’ve made to re-engage fans?
Cramer: I love ‘em. I love ‘em. I love ‘em. It’s great. You can totally e-mail them. (CEO) ADAM ARON is totally sensitive to what’s going on. That franchise is really a blast. They have a young team, which I like, versus the Phillies, which are now an old team.
Q: Can the MLS Union make inroads in a four-team town like Philadelphia?
Cramer: No. We’re just not a soccer town. But am I encouraged by how soccer has really come on in the New York area. And I happen to like it. I watch almost every big soccer game and I’ll send notes to Disney on how well they’re covering it. … Just as an example though, I’m reading “Next Man Up” by JOHN FEINSTEIN. The book is around 400 pages too long, but I’m reading it in preparation for NFL training camp. But this sort of thing reminds you of the national nature of football. I’m reading a book about the Baltimore Ravens for heaven sake. I can’t really drum up excitement for my home team’s soccer games, but here I am reading an 800-page book about the Ravens.