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Championship Series - San Diego Padres v Philadelphia Phillies - Game Five

I know the fly spot where they got the champagne: Phillies vs. Reds series preview

The Phillies hope that a return to Citizens Bank Park will cure their early season woes

The Phillies will be happy to see their hometown fans
| Photo by Matt Thomas/San Diego Padres/Getty Images

The dream of a fast start to the 2023 season is officially dead. But starting off with six on the road against two teams that could find themselves in the playoffs is a tough task. Hopefully, a return to Citizens Bank Park, to play some less-imposing teams in front of the home fans will help the Phillies turn around their season.

Cincinnati Reds

Record: 3-2 (Third place in National League Central, 1.5 games behind)

The manager

The Reds manager is the answer to the popular question of “Who was the last Phillies player to hit for the cycle?” His managerial career has been about as successful as his playing career with the Phillies was: Not very. Coming off a 100-loss season, and with not much reason for optimism regarding 2023, this could very well be his final season with the Reds.

The last time they met

The Reds visited Citizens Bank Park for a four-game set in August 2022, and the Phillies had their way with them, winning all four games.

What’s the deal with the Reds?

As mentioned, they lost 100 games last year, and when a bad team’s marquee offseason additions are Wil Myers and Kevin Newman, it seems likely that they will continue to be bad the following season. The team’s main goal this past offseason appeared to be cutting down on payroll, which they did accomplish.

This is one of those teams where I could list some of their players and mix in some fake names, and nobody would notice. The pitching staff contains names like Graham Ashcraft, which sounds like the name of a personal injury law firm you’d see advertised on billboards, and Buck Farmer, which sounds like the stage name for an adult performer going after a specific niche market. (Perhaps he should pursue that, since he doesn’t seem to be especially good at baseball)

They don’t even have franchise icon Joey Votto at the moment, as he’s recovering from shoulder surgery.

In the early going, they’ve gotten surprisingly good hitting from first baseman Jason Vosler. Feels like he’s a lock to hit one out against one of the Phillies’ relievers. (It doesn’t matter who, just know that it will come at a bad time.)

A hero’s welcome?

The home opener usually sparks feelings of positivity in fans, especially when the team is coming off a pennant-winning season. However, most defending league champions don’t start off their home schedule having already lost five games. Will this affect how the players are greeted?

I’m confident that members of the 2022 team will be immune from any negative reactions. Players like J.T. Realmuto and Kyle Schwarber will assuredly receive loud ovations. But the same might not be true for newcomers who are not off to strong starts. It seems possible that Cristian Pache and Gregory Soto might get the Juan Bell treatment when their names are read during pregame ceremonies.

It will be interesting to observe the atmosphere at home games this season. Thanks to the team being forced to play its final ten regular season games on the road, followed by four more away games in the postseason, there was a quantum leap in fan energy between the Phillies’ appearances at Citizens Bank Park. They went from, “Sigh...another season out of the playoffs” to “Hell yeah! This is our year!” in an instant.

When a team goes on a playoff run, that tends to attract a healthy amount of bandwagon fans. By nature, bandwagon fans don’t have much patience for slumps and losing streaks, so we’ll see how many people stick around if the Phillies don’t snap out of these early-season doldrums soon.

Smarty’s tournament of randomness

For road series, I’ll be giving you MCU villain comparisons, but for home series, I wanted to do something different. Thus begins my tournament of randomness! I have taken 16 random things, seeded them, and placed them in a bracket. Some of these things are Phillies-related, most are not.

Each home series, I’ll present to you two random things, and you, the readers will get to decide who advances to the next round. Why am I doing this? Why not?

Here’s our first matchup...

#8 The Delaware Memorial Bridge

Want to get from Jersey to Delaware? Why not take the Delaware Memorial Bridge? It’s not the longest or nicest bridge in existence, but it gets the job done.

Traffic crossing the Delaware Memorial Bridge. Photo by: John Greim/Loop Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

#9 Alf (in pog form)

Remember ALF? He was the wise-cracking alien who took America by storm in the 1980’s. Years later, he would make a brief comeback...in pog form. (At this point, maybe I have to ask if people remember pogs.)

Now it’s up to you to decide what moves on to the next round!

Poll

Which random thing should advance to the next round?

This poll is closed

  • 61%
    #8 - Delaware Memorial Bridge
    (33 votes)
  • 38%
    #9 - Alf (in Pog form)
    (21 votes)
54 votes total Vote Now

Closing thought

It’s too early to panic, but the slew of injuries the Phillies are dealing with is worrisome. It’s starting to feel like this team might underperform and say, “Wait until we get healthy!” except they never actually get healthy. Hopefully injured players like Darick Hall and Ranger Suarez can find their way back to the roster soon and aren’t joined there by others.

Gamethread 2/29: Phillies at Blue Jays

2024 season preview: Four All-Stars in the infield?

Rise and Phight: 2/29/2024