The Phillies proved over the weekend they still have what it takes to brush aside the dregs of the National League. They turned an Opening Day comeback into a pretty easy sweep, and yet even after starting the season 3-0, I get the impression that this is going to be a very tense season unless the Phillies get out to a double-digit lead in the division. Who’s at fault? I’d point my finger at the fans. They appear to have graduated from concerns over whether the team wins to how the team wins. Phillies fans, you are kind of driving me crazy.
After the wild win on Opening Day that will probably foreshadow a dozen similar nail-biters this year, people couldn’t stop complaining about how the Phillies offense had almost not come through. They’d been shut down by Brett Myers (of all people!) for six innings, and then their comeback lacked the flair of a 3-run homer. The underlying sentiment in the win seemed to be, what if they hadn’t gotten those 6 hits in the 9th? Without those hits, off a terrible closer, the team had looked feeble. What I didn’t understand was, all we’d heard was people express concerns over the offense, but that didn’t seem to change any expectations. “Well, the offense isn’t as good, but they still better win every damn game.” Then, they win, with admittedly less than stellar offense, and people seem surprised and almost offended that it happened. Someone please explain that to me…
Things continued when I went down to the game Saturday. The crowd was understandably wild for Cliff Lee. They gave him a standing ovation for a sacrifice bunt, but other than that I was pretty underwhelmed. People were into it, but they seemed to be looking for something more. I think they were trying to make a playoff game out of the 2nd game of the season. And, you can’t do that, it’s impossible. The issue comes from people not realizing there will be a difference. I got the sense, in the middle innings, when the Phils were comfortably ahead, but not much was happening…that people wanted more.
And, I’ve got to say, there seems to be an ever increasing number of total meatheads at these games. We all know that the Phils have been infected with the bandwagon bug, but down at the stadium you really get a sense of it. There are a lot of people there that aren’t baseball fans. They are there to get drunk, scream, hang out a bit, and wear their “ILL” hoodies. I don’t like these people. In the concourse, a good hour before the game started, there was a drunken moron walking behind me, screaming at the top of his lungs, every six steps, “Let’s go Phillies.” And, if makes me a fussy old curmudgeon for saying the guy was pissing me off, then that is what I am. But, you have to settle down. For lack of a better analogy, this isn’t an Eagles game, and you get the sense the guy isn’t screaming for baseball or the Phillies, he’s just screaming to scream.
By Sunday, when the Phillies had moved to 2-0, we started hearing about how they hadn’t hit a home run yet. Sure, it was 40 degrees during the game with a gale blowing in from left, but where were the dang long balls? The Astros had hit a grand total of 1 home run, but everyone is looking around asking, “Is it okay that we’re 2-0, but haven’t hit any homers? Do wins count that way?” Maddening stuff. When Howard and Francisco homered in the 1st inning Sunday, I hope that took a lot of weight off everyone’s shoulders. And, the game yesterday felt like the first one that people were truly satisfied with. Easy win, not too many singles, ok. So, the Phillies are 3-0, but they only have one “ideal” win. I think this is the opposite of a moral victory.
So, what I’m telling Phillies fans to do (and the bandwagon people are included here) is to lose the, “buts.” We won, but…
That’s a totally fraudulent way to follow a team. Stop complaining about everything. The team hasn’t lost yet, and they certainly are going to lose, so what’s the attitude going to be like then? Enjoy the season, act like you’ve watched baseball before, you are driving me crazy.