Why Is Angelo Cataldi Mad at Me?

What happens when you piss off a Philadelphia sports commentator

Dear Angelo Cataldi:

I hear that you’ve been telling people that I’m an asshole.

Gosh, Angelo, this makes me awfully nervous. We hardly know each other, and I’m wondering what you’d think if you really got insight into my character.

Your problem with me seems to stem from a few questions I asked you. This summer, I was writing a profile of Joe Banner, the Eagles president, for this magazine. You have been … a little hard on Joe and the Eagles over the years on your radio show. For example, back in ’03, when the team was opening their new stadium, they initially banned fans from bringing in even small packages—for security reasons, Banner claimed. Oh, you had a field day with that one, Angelo, claiming that Banner and the Eagles were so cheap, they wouldn’t let fans bring in their beloved hoagies, that the team was determined to make a few extra bucks off of concession stands. You also said this, on-air:

“If the Eagles are given the opportunity to choose the security, I totally expect them to wear swastikas on their arms.” You got suspended for two days for that, as I’m sure I don’t need to remind you, Angelo.[SIGNUP]

When I asked you about it, you said I was really reaching, if “Hoagiegate,” as it was known, was all I had on you.

This is where things get dicey, Angelo. Because you’re right, I don’t have anything more on you, except what we all have. When I called you this summer, you said to me that when you discuss Lurie and ReidBanner and Andy Reid on-air, it’s a critique of how they run their football team. It’s not personal. I suggested to you that something else is going on, something patently obvious to anyone who has managed to get past the third grade: You go after Lurie and company with an attitude and tone that indicts them as, well, assholes.

You hung up on me, when I said that, Angelo. I didn’t take it personally, though. I really didn’t.

And maybe I should just drop it. The problem is, you keep popping up. Yesterday, I was having an annoying morning. I discovered I was about to overdraw my checking account, so I had to borrow my wife’s bankcard and drive to Wawa at 5:20 or so to get cash from her account. On the way, I turned on WIP — you were chatting with Big Daddy Graham, whose show was ending. You seemed a little annoyed with Big Daddy. You said you needed to get your daily dose of Big Daddy ripping Andy Reid, and that Big Daddy hadn’t come through for you. “Why didn’t you rip Andy Reid?” you said. “I want Andy Reid ripped every day.”

Hey, Angelo, I know what you’re thinking — that exchange with Big Daddy hardly makes you Jack the Ripper, not in the world all of us live in now. And maybe I’m just getting old, Angelo, but here’s my problem: This is sport to you — ripping people on the air — just as it’s sport to every other Howard Stern wannabe ex-writer pulling in a ridiculous amount of money to spew crap he may or may not believe.

Rhea Hughes, your sidekick, has said that your morning show is shtick, that it is pointedly, obviously over the top. Your on-air buddy Al Morganti told me he doesn’t believe what you say affects what anybody really thinks — which is the same point as Rhea’s. You guys are just fooling around, and it certainly is quite entertaining.

Or maybe your opinions are heartfelt, Angelo — such as something you wrote in the Metro after the Eagles failed to resign safety Brian Dawkins before last season: “My hatred for the Eagles right now goes beyond even the stupidity of this decision and the total disdain it shows for the fans. My hatred also stems from the way the Eagles do things — as always, so devoid of simple human feeling.”

Do you see my confusion, Angelo? That sounds like real passion. And it sounds kind of personal, too, especially that “so devoid of simple human feeling” business.

But I think I do understand something. A lowly writer like me (Christ, I don’t even make six figures) asking you about this stuff — is that why you were so upset with me, Angelo?

The Asshole