Oh, Phillies…

Phillies’ pitchers and catchers began their spring training workouts yesterday in Clearwater, Florida.  Isn’t that exciting?

Unfortunately it’s not.

I’m excited to get back to the ball park.  I’m excited for spring.  I’m excited for baseball.  It’s a shame, however, that my team’s hope for any more than seventy wins (I’m being optimistic here) is really just that.  Hope.  What’s worse is that this season “hope” is only a word.

A lack of movement from the front office, a clubhouse devoid of excitement, and management’s definition of total transparency has already taken its toll.  Fans have little else but certain disappointment and an uncertain future to grapple with—and spring training’s only just begun.

If you’re like me, a person who’s been excited for the Phils’ return every year through more bad years than good, it may be time to slip back into the mindset that made us Phillies fans in the first place.  I’ve constructed a brief list of things to help remind you why we came to love this team all those years ago.

1.) They’re Underdogs Again

Everyone loves an underdog—okay, not everyone, but those who don’t are either soulless or in denial.

Perennial winners are boring and pretentious.  They win all the time and when they lose they still somehow win by acquiring the pieces that will make them champs again sooner rather than later.

The losers, however, the forgotten louts, the spoilers, they are the bootstrap-few who are driven by their limitations and a healthy dose of spite.  When they win it’s special.  It means something.  It makes each game worth watching.

2.) Their “P” is Special

I’m a punk rock fan.  I wear punk rock apparel.  I drape myself in Bad Religion, Descendents, and Kid Dynamite gear.

Do you know what the best part of being a punk rock fan is?  No one cares that I’m a punk rock fan.  Punk rock is all mine.  And other punk rock fans give a nod—or sometimes a courteous middle finger—when we pass each other on the street.

Granted, being a sports fan may tarnish my punk rock credibility…But I digress.

The Phillies “P” holds more stock for us now because it means nothing to others.  It’s all ours.  We don’t wear it because it represents success, we wear it because represents exactly who the hell we think we are.

3.) They’re Your Team

Remember the pet you loved but no one else could stand?  The pet that stunk, that made your house reek, that scraped its butt on the carpet, that scared neighbors, that growled at guests, that tracked mud all over the floors, that slept on your favorite spot on the couch.

That was your pet, man.

You loved that filthy thing because it was yours.  It made a bad day good by just sniffing around your house.  It made you laugh when you were sick by getting freaked out by its own reflection.  It sat next to you all quiet and cute…sometimes. That disgusting beast always made the carpet stains and the Febreze buzz worth it.

Despite the Phillies’ nationally reviled status, their abysmal lineup, and their almost assured failure, they’re yours.  They’re yours because you love them.  And that counts for something.  Even when they suck.  Terribly.

As such, ladies and gentlemen, I’ll see you this spring in the stands all dressed up in red.  And you’ll see me in the parking lot after the games all piss and vinegar like a real fan.

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