Baseball is back! Okay, well not quite but the anticipation of Spring Training is out of control. Aces & Catchers set to report to Clearwater, Florida this weekend. As tough and as costly it can be to acquire Phillies tickets these days every penny is worth it. I have been a Phillies phan my entire existence and can remember as a little boy attending many games at the Vet. No matter how great or how poor our team was it was always exciting to be at the stadium. From Mike Schmidt bat day (I am still kicking myself for losing that bat) and the Vet tours I use to go on with my dad where I was able to meet Larry Bowa and John Vukovich, those childhood memories are engrained in me (That’s me on the right with my brother Scottie, sister Sherri, and Vuk. Yes the haircut is timeless I know).
Now we call Citizens Bank Park, aka “The Bank” our home. Nothing can compare to the unbelievable moments I have been witness to in the last few years. Game 4, need I say more, Cliff Lee’s dominating complete game performance in Game 1 of the 2009 NLDS, Game 5 parts 1 and 2 in the Jetro parking lot. Although I wasn’t able to be inside The Bank I was determined to be as close to the action as possible. The atmosphere and partying on Broad Street that ensued was unfathomable. We spent all night and all morning walking around the city reveling in our first major title in 25 years! Yes I am a little bit biased but no baseball park in the world compares. From the rockin’ Liberty Bell in center field, to Harry the K’s, it is THE place to watch a baseball game.
The days of the Vet were far from a full house, granted the seating capacity was closer to 60,000 for baseball games. Today the 43,647 seat Citizens Bank park can hold close to 46,000 when need be and there is rarely an empty seat in the house. The Phillies average an estimated 3.1 million fans annually, since moving to Citizens Bank Park in 2004, and have sold out 123 consecutive home games. The success of the Phillies in recent years including 4 straight division titles, 2 League Championships, and 1 World Series Championship in large part can be attributed to the phans and the energy they bring to the ballpark every single game. In the 2008 playoffs the Phillies were a perfect 7-0 at home. Yes I know that phans do not win titles players and coaches do but ask anybody who has ever put on a Phillies uniform and they will tell you how much the phans mean to the success of this team. I mean hey WE are the reason Cliff Lee is back!
Entering Citizens Bank Park in October there is an unmistakable buzz that is impossible to duplicate. The sea of red flooding Ashburn alley, the rally towels being waved relentlessly set the tone for the playoffs. Teams fear this park and it was evident in 2008 as a not quite good enough Tampa Bay Rays team trembled in the Philly limelight. Coming from St. Petersburg, Florida where fans have to be instructed on the game of baseball to Philly is quite a cultural shock I am sure.
The national spotlight is constantly on Philadelphia and we are hated and labeled as drunk and violent fans. I can remember a game in 2010 vs. the Boston Red Sox when an old lady, a Sox fan, asked me before the game started if I was the “violent Philly fan” type because if so she would switch seats with her husband. It is this ridiculous, underserved reputation that undermines our passion and love for our teams. I believe that any professional sporting event you go to you are going to encounter drunk and/or violent fans, we just happen to always be the goat. But one thing is certain you will not find a more passionate, loyal, in love with their team phan base than the one in Philadelphia. That is a gurantee!
Hey there are worse things than being the most hated and ridiculed fan base in all of sports; you could be a Mets fan. The Mets struggling so hard to sell tickets have cut ticket prices in 2011 by 14%, including giving out a free ticket with certain package plans. You couldn’t pay anybody in Flushing to watch that mess. Even the recent departure of GM Omar Minaya hasn’t prompted fans purchase to tickets to their new park in Queens. Realistically with a new GM and manager things may be finally looking up for the Muts, or at least no longer spiraling downwards. But I guess according to Angel Pagan the Mets are going to win the East this year (pause for laughter).
Subsequently in Philly, a REAL sports town, you can barely get your hands on tickets unless you are a season ticket holder. Stubhub Standing Room Only ticket prices for opening day to see Doc take the mound are over $100 and will continue to rise. Season ticket plans, as well as partial season ticket plans now require a waiting list. It is safe to say that our consecutive sell-out streak will continue to grow in 2011.
If you are looking for a politically correct point of view about our city well look somewhere else. This is Philly, we are not frontrunners or fair-weather. We are not polite or unaggressive. If you come to our house wearing other colors you are going to hear about it and if you act stupid you are most likely going to feel it too. We are also passionate and proud. We LOVE our teams through thick and thin and when our teams don’t play up to their potential they will hear about it too. Welcome to Philly, the City of Brotherly Love, home to the greatest PHANS in all of sports.