What struck me the most about tonight's game was that it was a ghost town. No, I'm not referring to the ghost of Jimmy Rollins who was caught stealing or the ghost of Ryan Howard at the plate or the ghost of Cliff Lee getting hit hard on the mound or the ghost of an elite defense who should have had three errors instead of just one.
No, I'm referring to the ghost town that was Citizens Bank Park tonight. It started in the parking lot. I got to the parking lot about 7 minutes before the game started. With the season ticket holder parking tag, I got to drive to the preferred parking area. Over the past several years, getting there that late would have meant parking 12 or 15 rows from the stadium. But tonight, I had my pick of spots in the three rows closest to the park.
Getting through the turnstiles took no time. Walking through the concourses to get to my seats, I barely ran into another person. There was room for everyone there to pass easily by one another. Once in my seats, I was looking out to a sea of blue. And I sat down about 10 seconds before first pitch.
Citizens Bank Park was, relative to the recent past, empty. The announced attendance was just under 25,500, but I would have bet that the actual attendance was much closer to 20,000. The place was not half full by any stretch. It was an incredibly unusual feeling.
But in some ways, it was a very familiar feeling. Tonight's game had the feel of a late 80s or late 90s Phillies game. People were there having a good time, but not because of the product on the field. They were enjoying themselves because it was a beautiful night, they were there with friends and family, and they were watching a game that they usually enjoy watching, even though the product on the field was not so good.
Which is exactly what the Phillies brought to the table tonight, in all facets of the game. The pitching wasn't good. Cliff Lee was supposed to be the stopper, putting an end to the team's three game slide. Instead, he was incredibly hittable. Almost every ball seemed to be hit hard. He left the game after 6 innings giving up 8 hits and 3 runs. He was replaced by a bullpen that quickly gave up another 3 runs (thank you Jeff Manship and Jake Diekman).
The hitting wasn't good. Marlon Byrd had a second inning home run and a couple of walks and a couple of singles in the sixth scored another run, but other than that, it was lackluster performance all around. Twelve strikeouts against 3 walks and 6 hits isn't good.
The defense wasn't good. The Phillies were officially credited with only one error (another Cody Asche special), but they should have had two more. Marlon Byrd dropped a catchable ball down the line in right field that led to the Brewers' first two runs. Chooch also threw wild to second on a fielder's choice. Neither was called an error thanks to very generous scoring.
All in all, this wasn't a good game of baseball. And the more we watch, it seems that this isn't a good baseball team. Which explains why it was a ghost town at the stadium tonight. The market works. Fans don't want to pay for this product. They'll pay for the occasional night out watching baseball, but they're not paying to watch this team, day in, day out.
That's not to say I didn't have fun tonight. I was there celebrating my mom's birthday. I was with my kids and my wife and a couple of friends. It was a beautiful April night. So I enjoyed myself.
But definitely not because of this Phillies team.