We Really Ought To Know Better

The Atlanta Braves rained on the Phillies parade, preventing a sweep and stopping the Phillies modest three-game win streak. Still, the Phillies should feel good after going 7-5 in a difficult stretch against some of the toughest teams in baseball. Only a rare blown save by Billy Wagner prevented the Phillies from taking all four series against front-running teams. The Phils are still in last place, but only hard-bitten pessimists could fail to appreciate the spark they have shown of late.

Game three of the Marlins series was as close to it gets to a must-win in May. Even though the Phillies showed signs of turning the season around by winning back-to-back series against the Cardinals and Orioles, everyone was bitterly disappointed by the losses against the Marlins. In a fit of delirious frustration, many fans flatly declared the season lost. Others even called for the owners to blow-up the team, going so far as to suggest firing everyone but the Phanatic and trading Jim Thome to give Ryan Howard a shot and dealing Bobby Abreu while his value is still high.

Please! That's nothing but sheer lunacy. No one likes the fact that the Marlins slap us around like a schoolyard bully, but trading Thome and Abreu to rebuild is about as sensible as moving to New York just to become a Yankees fan.

The Phillies could have curled up into a ball on the heels of such a bitter loss. The good news is that the Fightins did not succumb to the negativity that consumed the fans and media. Rather than blowing up the team, the Phillies did make an overdue move to improve the club, demoting painfully ineffective Terry Adams to AAA and replacing him with Amaury Telemaco. Then they shook off the tough loss and won the final game of the series against the Marlins, 8-5.

They followed that up by winning the first two games against the Braves. Only a sloppy, rain-soaked 7-2 loss on Sunday prevented the Phillies from sweeping the Braves for the first time in four years. Sure it rained for both teams, but the loss was less lopsided than the final score indicated due to heavier rain in the late innings. If ever there was a game to toss out, this was it. The Phillies and their fans shouldn't think twice about this loss. Let it go. There are many more positive things to think about as the Phillies leave Atlanta.

The bullpen looks poised to shake off the early bad start, notching ten straight shutout innings after the blown save by Wagner before the rain and the Braves washed the streak away. On Friday Jim Thome crushed a home run to dead center field, a sure sign that his stroke is back. Pitcher Cory Lidle basically carried the team with three huge wins over the last two weeks. Jason Michaels had an especially strong week, playing his best game all year in the crucial win against the Marlins. Placido Polanco had four hits in a win against the Braves. David Bell and even Mike Lieberthal showed improvement at the plate.

Now the Phillies find themselves looking at a stretch of thirteen straight games at Citizens Bank Park, starting with a three game set against the Giants. Hopefully the fans realize that the Phillies are a team on the rise and greet them accordingly. The incessant boos are enough to test the mettle of even the most grizzled veterans. Confidence, as the Phillies have been saying, is everything. If you want to help, go the game and cheer them on. Otherwise, stay home and boo the television or radio. This team works hard. The effort is almost always there even if the results are not.

I've always wondered why fans feel they have the right to boo. Do we have the right to litter because we pay taxes for street cleaners? No. Do we have the right to talk loudly on a cell phone in a movie theater because we paid full price for a ticket? No. What is it with thinking that booing is okay? Why aren't we more ashamed of ourselves? Are we really that phrustrated with life? Sure, there are always a few bad apples who will boo no matter what, but many of you boo along with them when deep down you know better. Like little Pinocchio, you thoughtlessly mimic the donkey-eared Lampwick.

The Philadelphia Fan (Phanaticus Boodacious) has a reputation for being the most obnoxious in the country. We have lustily booed some of the greatest athletes the world has ever seen, including Hall-of-Famer Michael Jack Schmidt, the cornerstone of the only Phillies team that won a championship. When a fan drops a foul ball, we boo him. When children on a pre-game Easter egg hunt come up empty, we boo them. Singers of the National Anthem, beware lest you strike one false note. We hold our boo-breath, waiting to exhale. Hey Santa Claus…duck!

It's not a reputation we enjoy, despite how often the media likes to harp on it. Some will say we boo as a way of showing how passionate we are. That just makes us sound as stupid as we are obnoxious. Booing doesn't show we care any more than the blind cheering of the Cardinals fan. If you have to boo, don't be lured into booing anything but a blatant lack of effort. We are the most knowledgeable fans in the country and we ought to know the difference. If the effort is there, then please, boobirds button it. This is still a game played by human beings and no matter how much they are paid they still deserve a modicum of decency and respect. If you weren't raised any better than that, we'll know it when you senselessly boo. It's just another way of loudly saying that your parents didn't do a very good job raising you.

The next time you're late for work, just imagine hearing a chorus of boos from the people on the street on your way in the door. The next time you miss a payment on your credit card, imagine hearing all your neighbors booing you as you head for the mailbox. As if the late fees weren't enough!

Meanwhile, we all know what this town can be like when we field a winner. Let's all go to the ballpark and act like we deserve one.

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