Philadelphia is a football town. Always was, always will be. I get it. That’s why when the local sports stations are still dissecting yet another disappointing Eagles season in mid-March, I’m OK with it. When one of my Facebook friends makes a remark that he would rather watch paint dry than go to a Phillies game, I shake it off. Baseball isn’t for everybody. To each his own.
But I draw the line when I hear self-proclaimed “fans,” some more loudly than others, laugh about how there is nothing exciting about the Phillies this year. Or how the Phillies front office doesn’t know what it’s doing because prospects like J.P. Crawford aren’t starting the season in the majors. Most infuriating, I even heard someone question how they’re expected to watch a team when their best player doesn’t even speak English.
That’s not OK.
If you can’t rally behind a player like Odubel Herrera, who shows just as much enthusiasm for drawing a first-inning walk than a walk-off homer, then baseball just isn’t for you. Players like Herrera give fans somebody to root for even during the worst of times. It doesn’t matter how many games under .500 the Phils are, my four-year-old cousin stops what he’s doing every time he hears that Herrera is coming to the plate. He doesn’t care that he doesn’t speak English. All he sees is a player who loves the same game he does and is good at it. While you are writing the Phils off, fans are enjoying the start of something new.
Don’t you wish you could’ve been there for Chase Utley’s first at-bat where he hit a grand slam? You can. On any given night, one of the Phillies young players can etch himself into Phillies’ lore.
Journeyman Brock Stassi made national headlines after his genuine and sweet reaction to making the opening day roster. While he is certainly a player to root for, he isn’t the only one. The days of slotting Charlie Morton in for Game 2 are over. Instead, we get to watch Jerad Eickhoff, who has grown from a trade throw-in to a consistent and often dominant pitcher. Maikel Franco is playing to prove he deserves to be a cornerstone of the franchise. Vince Velasquez can strike out guys before they even get the bats off their shoulder.
As for the prospects everybody is calling for? They’ll be here. Maybe not in April, but that’s a good thing. The Phillies are in a fortunate place. They have the flexibility to continue to test Freddy Galvis and Cesar Hernandez while giving the likes of Crawford and Nick Williams more playing time in triple-A. If it’s August 1 and you still haven’t seen Crawford, it means that the Phillies are playing well and can afford to give him more time. It’s a win-win.
It’s perfectly alright to not care for baseball. It’s perfectly alright to want to wait until the Phillies have a winning record to spend $50 on a ticket and $25 for parking. It’s not alright, however, to say the Phillies aren’t worth watching. It’s you, not them.
Let’s face it, the Phillies likely aren’t making the playoffs. It has been well-documented. I’m not here to convince you that the Phillies are something that they aren’t. Instead, I’m here to convince you of what they are. And that is a team worth rooting for.