Sports is supposed to be fun.
Those of you who come to this site to read and converse about the Philadelphia Phillies take this game very seriously, as do we. Baseball is important to us, and we care deeply about how well the Phils are doing, their progress during the rebuild, and the men that wear the laundry that says "Phillies" across their chests.
We care about these things. It’s what makes us good fans.
But it’s also important to remember that sports is supposed to be fun. It’s not politics, where debates about abortion, gay marriage, Clinton vs. Trump, etc., are serious business. And sometimes, in sports, we get moments like we saw at Citizens Bank Park on Tuesday night.
Chase Utley returned. And he did this.
Utley hit two bombs, a solo shot that put his team up 3-1 in the 5th inning and then a grand slam in the 7th that pushed the lead to 13-2.
And after each home run, each magical dinger, Phillies fans gave him a standing ovation.
But that wasn’t all. They went one step further. They gave him a curtain call, something not seen in Philadelphia since Johnny Bench’s final game in the city back in 1983.
And yet, there are those who took issue with this. There are those who feel like one should never cheer for an opponent, even one with as long and rich a history with the hometown team like Utley, no matter what.
You’re not a "true fan" if you do.
People who call into question the strength of another fan’s "fandom" are generally smug, nosy busybodies who feel like their interpretation of right and wrong are etched in stone. And in this case particularly, the opposition to Utley’s two curtain calls is especially misguided.
Last night was not about the Phillies playing the Dodgers. Despite those who think the Phils really are still in the wild card picture (now 7 1⁄2 games out, by the way), last night’s game truly did not matter in the standings. It was an otherwise-meaningless mid-August game, just one out of 162 games the Phillies will play this year.
The only thing that made last night special was Chase Utley’s return.
That is why people watched.
That is why people cared.
And that is why they cheered and cheered and cheered until Utley popped his head out of the dugout twice after amazing us all once again.
Look, if you didn’t feel cheering Utley’s home runs last night was the right thing to do, I can respect that. Despite the incredibly unusual circumstances, if that rubbed some fans the wrong way, that’s fine. I don’t agree, but that’s fine.
But don’t call into question another fan’s love of their team simply because they didn’t measure up to your bloated and, in this case, unreasonable expectations.
People did not go to last night’s game to watch the Phillies try to beat the Dodgers. People did not watch on TV to see Vince Velasquez duel Kenta Maeda.
Everyone’s eyeballs were fixated on Citizens Bank Park for one reason... to watch Chase Utley.
So if you are someone who is only happy if you’re watching your team win and can get no other kind of enjoyment out of sports, that’s a little sad, but fine. Just don’t tell others that’s the way they have to enjoy the game, too.
Because that is truly being a bad fan.