I've seen enough. Have you? Let's face facts: The 2013 Phillies are a bad baseball team. Well, that may be too strong, and though it's not yet April 10, the ceiling sure looks like mediocrity, don't it? The pitching has been borderline fraudulent. The hitting has been, but for some rare glimpses, inconsistent and, for vast stretches, somnolent. Its manager appears to be sundowning. Its announcers - and note, as this is important - before this blog even entertained it, even with a series away in Atlanta - have discussed Civil War generals. Oh, they may not be eyeball-scorchingly bad like the Marlins, mind you, but have you seen anything so far that leads you to believe that, come October, they won't be among the vast majority of baseball teams on the outside looking in at the grandeur of Playoffland?
So it's time to debase the coinage. For those of you new to this, let me assure you that it hurts the worst the first time. But the quicker you adjust, the more fun you can have. And trust me: You can still have fun being a Phillies fan. After all, the weather's getting better. It's still baseball.
Still, there are some problems in Phan Land. Having attended the game on Saturday night, I found more than a few things that need some readjustment. Most likely the cause of these things are the last few seasons of tremendous success, a period (depending on how you measure such things) that has been the most successful Phillies era ever, that have left our expectations wholly out of whack. You might, for instance, know of people who unironically say, "Wait until Delmon Young joins the club," to which I reply, "Exactly." But here are some more recent examples:
- Phillies fans streamed for the exits Saturday night after Jimmy Rollins' fly ball died on the warning track to end the eighth inning with the team down 3-1. This was poor situational fandom, as nothing was happening of note in the sports complex that would unduly snarl traffic, it was Saturday night, and, although it was a little chilly, it remained in the realm of possibility that the Phillies would at least have a shot or two to at least tie the game in the ninth.
- Lots of fans (though mercifully, not many who contribute regularly to this site) really seem to be coming down hard on Dom Brown. These folks need to be reminded of the descriptor "the wrong side of 30." Players who are over it, like Chad Durbin, are fair game for abuse. Their record is pretty well cooked at this point. Others who aren't yet 30, but mill around the big leagues as if they are (like Delmon Young) are also fair game. But give the guys until their age 28 season to ride them hard. Don't eat our young! Unless it's Delmon. Or Michael.
- For Kids' Opening Night on Saturday, the Phillies commissioned child artists for colored-pencil renderings of the team rather than their head shots. And some of them were mind-blowingly awesome. But they only did it for the first time through the lineup, and apparently, I cannot now even buy a t-shirt or a coffee mug with these same renderings. Once again, the Phillies marketing and merchandising arm fails to capture the youth market, or realizes what to do when a Hipster Bird unloads on your windshield with the best shit ever. The Phillies, as is their wont, blithely wash it away. Sigh. Opportunities, people!
Mind: I am not criticizing fans who had children who had bedtimes to get to, were running out of medication, faced a two-plus-hour drive home, or were out under the open sky, where it was far colder (though thankfully, there wasn't much, if any wind). I am after those of you who dyspeptically turn to you game dates/buddies, and say, angrily, "Let's go," and stomped up (or down) the steps. You know who you are.
Check yourself. Where does that reaction come from? Are you not fan enough to take the loss? Has this successful period enflabbened you to the character-building aspects of losing baseball? Are you so inured to the joy that lurks all around you, results be damned?
Take action. Here's what you need to do to get off the Angry Wagon and climb aboard the Sufferin' Busload of Phaith:
- Consider drinking. The beer selection at Citizens Bank Park is among the best in the country.
- As I did no Saturday, you too can consider using StubHub to snap up real bargains, or at least consider screen shots as illustrations for your Econ paper on "market collapse."
- Get baking! Recipes are still needed for Delmon Young's Lemony Low-Cal Good Luck Cakes, and Dom Brownies, which Tastykake apparently doesn't have the balls to produce. Their loss equals your gain.
- There are entertaining minor leaguers out there who are worth checking up on during the minutes you waste watching Laynce Nix, Humberto Quintero, Ezequiel Carrera, or Chad Durbin. In a similar way, you may split that time with deserving family members. Your spouse or your mother may well be the biggest Laynce Nix fan from now on because she'll know when to expect a call from you.
- You can consider being friendly again with Mets fans. You could even consider a date. They've been waiting for us for the past few years to get our off high horses, and really, no other fan base, as annoying as the team they support is, does baseball black humor better. Maybe Giants fans, but they're currently on a microbrews-and-ED-drug bender, and you're the sadsack who shows up late to their Dodger-hating party. Leave them be for now.
- As a fanbase, we've gotten too prone to believe that the teams that come in to play are collections of untalented nobodies. That dynamic's changing, and now really talented opponents are showing up who should, by all rights, beat the hell out of this batch of burned-on-the-bottom Phillies. But keep in mind that some of these guys have real character flaws, statistical or otherwise, that need pointing out, over and over again. These players, furthermore, have short memories and need reminding, in multiple modalities. Do your homework, people, and be creative. There's a lot of good invective you can hurl without using profanities or the word "suck."
Finally: Don't take this season so serious, bud. It ain't nohow permanent.