For most fan bases, September provides for fun baseball. With the addition of a second wild card spot, more teams can convince themselves there is a spot in the playoffs for them. Teams currently hanging on to playoff spots must regularly peak at the rear-view mirror in case some go-getting division rival tries to sneak up on them. These teams are often bolstered by the addition of fun, if not truly good, minor leaguers and prospects who can help win crucial late-season games with roster expansion. In short, September is a time of suspense and hope for a significant number of baseball fans.
Nothing in that last paragraph applies to the Phillies. They will not make the playoffs and that particular fact has been true for at least a month now. Their recent additions of Chase d'Arnaud, Ken Roberts, Erik Kratz, Colton Murray, Nefi Ogando, David Buchanan, and Brian Bogusevic neither help the team much in the present nor move the needle in terms of our collective outlook on the future of the team.
So, what can us, as fans of the Phillies, gain from watching them play baseball and wind down the season? I have a couple answers.
1. Street Credibility
It is quite possible, if not very likely, that the Phillies will field a good baseball team at some point, probably even during your lifetime. When that happens, there will be a metric f-ton of bandwagon jumpers-on. Remember 2008-2011 when the entire city of Philadelphia bought Utley/Rollins/Howard/Lidge shirseys and fitted Phillies caps? Those people were sort of annoying. They crowded the stadium, threw up on kids, and made trips to the concession stands multiple-inning affairs.
This is an opportunity for you--yes, you!--to not be one of them when the Phillies are good again. Buy your J.P. Crawford and Jorge Alfaro custom shirseys and a new Phillies hat today. You need to start wearing them in now so they look authentic and worn by the time everyone else catches on and buys one. As an added bonus, your soul will become so calloused from the next month and year that you won't be capable of the giddy joy characteristic of the bandwagon fan.
2. Hipster Fandom
Our friends over at Liberty Ballers have turned Sixers fandom into something of a weird hipster badge of honor. They had hundreds of people go to Northeast Philadelphia to watch the NBA Draft lottery. It sounds ridiculous that cheering for a bad team's chances to have a chance to draft a player who has a chance to be a star on a team that has a chance of being good during his career can be something that is fun and bonds people together, but it is.
Like the Sixers, the Phillies are in their own race for the number one pick in the draft. They are currently 1.5 games worse than division rival Atlanta Braves and have the worst record in baseball. They play six more games against those same Braves in the next two weeks. Losing is the new winning here. Has any statement better captured hipsterism and millennialism than that? I think not.
Perhaps more compelling is the opportunity to reminisce about the likes of Brian Bogusevic, Sean O'Sullivan, Adam Loewen, and Chase d'Arnaud. Not two months from now, no one will remember these players were on the Phillies ever. You, however, will be able to reference them with ease months and years down the road. Your friends will think you're the greatest, coolest, most hip fan ever when you drop a timely Hector Neris reference in 2020.
3. Dudes Who Actually Matter
While 90% of the current roster exists only for the above purpose of becoming a hipster Phillies fan capable of recalling the deep cuts with ease, there are some players who are actually important to the future of the franchise. This is your opportunity to get in on the ground floor. Aaron Nola has already proven to be a mid-rotation starter in the pros. Odubel Herrera is a fun under-the-radar ROY pick and has emerged as a piece of the Phillies future. Jerad Eickhoff, Darnell Sweeney, and Aaron Altherr are all pretty fun too. If you get in now, you can follow their entire careers. Buy low, and all that.
To illustrate the value of getting in on the ground floor of things, let me regale you with a story. About a year ago, my fiancée and I were combing Lancaster County, Pennsylvania for potential wedding venues. Through the grapevine, we heard about this then-underway project to convert an old barn into a rustic wedding site. When we went there, there was a hipster carpenter doing carpentry things, there was a lawn area that was being landscaped to accommodate a fire pit and yard games. In the barn, there was a grain shed, the roof of which would make a great DJ outpost. There was enough room outside to bring in food trucks to cater the reception. It was perfect and, because it wasn't even open yet, it was super cheap.
Long story short, we didn't go with that venue and it never really came together as well as we envisioned it becoming. But that's not the point. The point is that it could have been great and we had a chance to get in on the ground floor. The Phillies too could be great and you can get in on the ground floor.
4. Baseball is Just What You Do In the Fall
This is self-explanatory. While they play baseball in the spring and summer, there is no doubt that fall is the perfect time for baseball. Aside from pumpkin-flavored beers, nothing evokes images of the fall like a baseball game. Plus, if it really gets cold toward the end of the month, you might get to see Freddy Galvis don that full body suit he broke out back in April. And, let's face it, it's not like there are any other popular sports vying for your attention in late September.
As you can see, the case for watching the Phillies play out the season is quite compelling indeed. I formally invite you to join in solidarity the two people sitting in stands each night at Citizens Bank Park and watch the Phillies. I mean, there's certainly nothing better you could be doing.