Sunday, October 4, 2009

An Ode To Phillies Phans

A few days ago the Philadelphia Phillies won their third straight National League East championship; a feat they also managed in 1978. The playoffs start in a few days. Although they were ahead most of this season, the team’s sometimes iffy performance had their fans on pins and needles much of the time.
They have always had great fans. Rowdy and raucous, they were always ready to cheer good performance, and also to ver-boo-ly let the team know when performance was not up to expectations. But their loyalty never wavered. And how has the team repaid them?
They have won the World Series twice: once in 1980 and again in 2008. It’s not hard to stick with a winner, but the Phillies fans deserve a special tribute because of some of the more trying times. A few examples follow:
1.)                          Phillies fans are forced to listen to sportscasters who have not learned one simple rule: When you have nothing to say, stop talking.
2.)                          In 2009, the closer the team was counting on to put out the fires of the opposing teams appeared to throw gasoline instead of water on the flames. He went into 41 games with a lead, lost eight of them, and blew another three. If he had saved all of them (a feat he accomplished in 2008), the team would have clinched the pennant at least a week earlier, and the fans would still have fingernails.
3.)                          In 2007 the team presented the fans with a very special first: It was the first team to lose 10,000 games. Admittedly this was due to a history of 100 years with a management that didn’t want to spend money for top talent in the early years, but it still was a dubious first.
4.)                          Need I mention the phamous phall of 1964? With 10 games to play the Phillies were 6-1/2 games ahead of the Cards. They lost all 10.
5.)                          Now I’m going way back to a game that I attended. In 1939 the Phillies were beaten 1-0 by a semi-pro team from Manheim, PA; semi-pro meaning the guys on the winning team kept their day jobs and received $5 to $10 per game on weekends and the occasional weekday exhibition game. In all honesty, since the Phillies were only 45 and 106 in the NL for the season, beating them was not such a big deal. To show how seriously the Phillies were considered even in Manheim, the winners fired their managers five days after the game because they didn’t win enough league games. Incidentally, the Phillies did better in 1940 – they again won 45, but had only 105 losses, with one tie.
Throughout all these and many other times that try fans’ souls, they have been loyal. Sellouts at Citizens Bank Park are almost routine. Hats off to them.

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