Phillies Are Simply Hard To Watch

As the Phillies limped out to a disappointing 9-12 start through their first 21 games, it is hard to point fingers at the droves of fans who have stayed away from the ballpark in the season's first month. The team hasn't seen the playoff light in 12 seasons and has shown no sign of seeing it in the near future. They have made only two playoff appearances in the last 25 seasons and are the owners of several 100-plus loss seasons over that time.

Make no mistake, only the most diehard fans are fit enough to be called Phillies fans.

The 2006 edition for this franchise of laughable losers is no exception to the long tradition. In fact, it upholds it lineage well. The fact is that this team is very lucky to be 9-12 and holding down second place in a pathetically weak National League East. In a town with exactingly hard fans and sportswriters, a franchise that treats its home crowd to an 0-6 opening homestand and splits its last two series with the lowly Marlins and Rockies will do little if anything to endear itself to the paying customers.

It's not even the 9-12 record that draws the ire of true baseball fans, but the way they have amassed that ledger that evokes anger and rage from the attuned observers. They have made mental mistakes, not been fundamentally sound, and been downright out of it and embarrassing at times this season. Most fans can remember game one of the Sunday double-header against the Dodgers when Jimmy Rollins, Aaron Rowand, and Bobby Abreu all misplayed or dropped routine fly balls to give the Dodgers the early lead. What most people forget is that a misplay by J.D. Drew in right field allowed the Phillies to get within one run and set the stage for Abreu's dramatic ninth-inning walk-off homerun.

Fans are also quick to ignore that the Braves looked more like the Marlins en route to the Phillies winning the middle game of that series by a 7-5 score. The Braves made many similar mistakes in that game that the Phillies have made all season long. The Braves lost. The Phillies will lose if they continue to play that way.

While it is hard to see a half-filled Citizens Bank Park eerily reminiscent of the skeleton crowds that walked the halls of Veterans Stadium during the last, dark years of the Phillies time there, you have to fully understand the fans' perspective. Why would they pay top dollar (and the Phillies are charging top dollar) to watch a game at Citizens Bank Park when you could attend one of the myriad minor league teams in the immediate vicinity and see the same quality of play for a quarter of the ticket price?

The fans are fed up with the Phillies inferior performance on the field and are showing their displeasure at the turnstiles. The team needs to show signs of life to reestablish its connection with the diehard, ravenous baseball fans who are all over metropolitan Philadelphia. Until ownership understands that the fans are not to blame for not showing up, the team is, relations will never be soothed with the frustrated fan base.

Hopefully, Bill Giles and his cronies come to this realization sooner rather than later so that the great fans of this city can support a quality baseball team. A team that gives them a reason to come to the ballpark as well as something to cheer about.

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