Despite what the national media would have you believe, its really not THAT hard for players to get Philly fans on their side. Just pander to us. We love it. We may act cynical as heck, but if you’re a player who caries yourself like you’re #FromHere, fans will get behind you.
It even works for non-players. Take Gritty for example.
A few years ago, the Philadelphia Flyers seemed to randomly decide that they needed a mascot. What did they unveil?
This thing should have been dead in the water. If Philadelphia fans were truly as awful as people say, Gritty would have been savaged by fans. Every appearance at the Wells Fargo Center would have been booed so severely, that the team would have had no choice but to send Gritty to the great graveyard mascot next to Hip Hop.
But before the fans could unleash their fury, the tweets came.
Sleep with one eye open tonight, bird. pic.twitter.com/wLmGBa0Oyh— Gritty (@GrittyNHL) September 24, 2018
Talking crap to the Penguins? You have our attention. What else you got?
Hey, would you look at that: Gritty is funny! Sure he might look like he would murder us all, but that’s part of his charm! It sure as heck beats a giant penguin.
Apparently, Bryce Harper paid attention. Realizing that he was going to be in Philadelphia for a long time, Harper made a lot of effort early on to
pander to connect with the fans.
COLORFUL DEBUT: Bryce Harper’s debut on Thursday afternoon filled Citizens Bank Park with electricity. He created more buzz when he walked on the field wearing Phanatic-like shoes. I loved it but don’t believe I want a pair. (Miles Kennedy photo). #phillies pic.twitter.com/twCVFzXAA7— Larry Shenk (@ShenkLarry) March 30, 2019
Harper wasn’t the first newcomer who made obvious attempts at getting the fans on his side. Remember when Chip Kelly convinced us he was one of us by holding up placards of the Phillie Phanatic and Rocky Balboa, and saying things like, “We’re from Philadelphia and we fight!” Most fans were all, “Yes! Pump that directly into my veins!”
Archie Bradley certainly made note of that. The first thing he did on social media was to say the same thing most Phillies fans have been saying all offseason.
He didn’t stop there.
Can you say new fan favorite? He also posted a picture of himself wearing a Ric Flair sweater, and although the Nature Boy doesn’t have any real connection to the Phillies, it’s just another sign that he’s an ordinary guy like the rest of us.
It should be noted that our love can be very fleeting. For example, in less than three years the city’s mood has gone from “Howie Roseman is a genius” to “If Jeff Lurie doesn’t fire Howie Roseman, I’m cancelling my season tickets!” We may love Bradley now, but we’ll see how long this goodwill lasts if he doesn’t pitch well. Would Brandon Workman or Heath Hembree been better regarded had they made more of an effort to connect with the fans?
“Sure, they blew tons of leads, and acted like they were getting paid by the home run allowed, but come on! They’re #FromHere! Let’s cut those guys some slack!”
Somehow I doubt it.
So welcome to Philadelphia, Archie! It’s good to have you, and we appreciate your efforts to get on our good side. But please remember: The line between “beloved sports figure” and “pariah who gets objects thrown at him” can be thin if you don’t back it up on the field. So let’s be careful not to blow too many saves, okay?