The answer: Not at all. There is almost no connection between this weekend’s championship game and the Philadelphia Phillies. Did that stop me from writing a Phillies-centric preview of the game? Absolutely not!
Please join me as I talk about the Phillies’ history in Miami, share a few commercials, and at the end, Matt Klentak drops by to give his prediction for the game!
Welcome to Miami
Super Bowl LIV will be played in Hard Rock Stadium in Miami. You may also know the stadium by one of its former names: Joe Robbie Stadium, Pro Player Stadium, Sun Life Stadium, Dolphins Stadium, Dolphin Stadium (Yes, they bothered to change the name from plural to singular), Landshark Stadium, or New Miami Stadium.
The Phillies are no strangers to Hard Rock Stadium as it was the home field for the division rival Marlins from 1993 to 2011. The stadium was often inhospitable for the Phils as they had a cumulative record of 74-78 there. The nadir came in 2003 when the Phillies went a meager 2-7 in Miami, which was a major reason why they fell short of the playoffs.
The first Phillies to hit a home run in the stadium was Darren Daulton. The all-time Phillies leader for home runs in Miami is Pat Burrell, who went deep 13 times, outpacing Ryan Howard who did it 11 times. Considering Miami’s renowned nightlife, I wouldn’t have necessarily expected Burrell to have great numbers there, but the former Hurricane star had a career OPS of .845 at Hard Rock.
Patrick Mahomes vs. the Phillies
You may know that Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes is the son of an identically-named former baseball relief pitcher. Mahomes the senior spent eleven years in the majors, but because the majority of his career came in the American League, he didn’t have much history against the Phillies.
However, he did spend the 1999 and 2000 seasons with the Mets, and made five appearances against the Phils across those two years. He was rather effective, going 1-0 with a 2.31 ERA. So if you’re a die-hard Phillies fan who holds really insignificant grudges, you should be pulling for the 49ers this Sunday.
The Philadelphia Phillies football team
If the big wigs behind Major League Baseball ever want to get serious about marketing their sport, they’d find a way to tie baseball into Super Bowl weekend. Maybe they could have each major league team form a football team and hold a tournament. (There’s actually some precedent for this, as there once was a Phillies football team.)
If this brilliant plan ever came to fruition, which Phillies players would make the cut? The first choice is obvious: J.T. Realmuto. With his laser arm, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that he was a star quarterback in high school.
As for the others, Roman Quinn seems capable of filling the DeSean Jackson role of speedy wide receiver who can’t stay healthy. Rhys Hoskins and Jake Arrieta both seem to have the size for offensive line - and Arrieta definitely has the bristly demeanor for it.
As for the others, Nick Williams might not be able to make the starting lineup in baseball, but he probably could do so in football. And while I don’t know if he’s ever played before, Didi Gregorius is so multi-talented, he’d probably be able to pick up the game quickly.
For many fans, the best part of the Super Bowl is the commercials. And I have to admit: After watching the same ads over and over again throughout the baseball season, it’s kind of nice heading into an event knowing you’re going to get something new and exciting during the breaks in the action. I realize that baseball’s 162 game schedule makes repetition inevitable, but I could definitely go without seeing another W.B. Mason commercial ever again.
If the Phillies want to improve the quality of commercial, they could take a hint from the Mets who produced this beauty:
Or maybe they can take some hints from the past, like this 1990 commercial which Charlie Hayes may or may not have been forced to record at gunpoint:
At the very least, maybe they can just show Erik Kratz’s old turkey bacon commercials:
Prediction time with Matt Klentak
Last year, I asked Phillies general manager to predict who was going to win the big game. While he correctly guessed the winner, he was a bit off with his estimate of the final score. I decided to check back in with Matt to see if he could offer us another prediction.
Smarty: Hey, Matt! Thanks for joining me again.
Klentak: Hi, Smarty. You know how much I love talking football.
Smarty: So what do you think about Sunday’s game? Do you think the 49ers have a chance to pull the upset?
Klentak: Definitely! Especially if they keep running the ball effectively. All season long, I was really impressed with the way San Francisco’s offensive line opened holes for their running backs.
Smarty: Although they weren’t as big as the hole currently at the back of your rotation.
Klentak: What was that?
Smarty: I asked what you thought of Andy Reid.
Klentak: I’m a big fan of his. He’s always been a great leader, and it shows how important it is to hire the right coach to lead a team.
Smarty: Good to see you figured that lesson out...eventually.
Klentak: I’m...detecting some snark.
Smarty: What? No, you’re imagining that. Anyway, can you give us your prediction for the game?
Klentak: As you know, my prediction for the score last year was WAY off. And I realized that although my calculations were correct, the data wasn’t being communicated properly. But we’ve eliminated that problem, and I feel confident in picking the Chiefs to win by a score of...5-2!
Smarty: Are you sure about that? Feels like you might need to do some adjusting.
Klentak: Of course I’m sure. My formula is perfect and should absolutely not be adjusted in any way. Unless Mr. Middleton said I need to change it. Wait - Did he say something?
Smarty: As long as your prediction falls under the luxury tax, I’m sure he’ll be okay with it.
So there you have it people: The Chiefs will prevail by a score of 5-2. Enjoy the game, everybody, and remember: Only 11 more days until pitchers and catchers report!