On The Edge Blog

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

A friendly and gentler fan base?

I don’t really understand what is happening in the Phillies Nation. There was a strange joy on Sunday evening, which, despite a 4-1 loss to the Atlanta Braves on opening night, did not go away as the evening progressed.

This was the third consecutive opening day that I have attended, and all three of them ended in defeat (I’m not a jinx!). However, for some reason, I didn’t see the same look of despair on the 45,000 fans leaving Citizens Bank Park that I saw the previous two seasons.

Maybe it was because this year’s loss wasn’t the result of a bullpen meltdown that helped the Phillies snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Or maybe it is because winning a World Series after an up-and-down season has given fans a little perspective and the knowledge that every game and every at bat isn’t life and death. The one downside to this was that, unlike after last season’s opening day, I wasn’t handed free tickets to the following game by a dejected fan!

Starting at the beginning of the evening, I walked into Citizens Bank Park on Sunday with an unknown feeling. I felt very content with last season, and watching the red 2008 flag rise above Ashburn Alley (at an even height with the American Flag, which I’m pretty sure is against the law), I was filled with mixed emotions about the 2009 season. All the normal season-opening emotions were there on Sunday night except the rage. We had the first pitch, the first reference to the movie Major League, the first opposing homer thrown back onto the field, the first Ryan Howard strikeout, and countless other firsts of the season, but no anger. Maybe the World Series has made me a more mellow and rational fan.

Even the fact that three Braves players were tied for the league lead in homers after Sunday night’s game couldn’t bring me down and make me boo. That’s right! I decided that I’m not going to boo our Phillies until at least May, because it is a long season, and as I realized through a text message conversation with a Mets fan, it’s not how you start the season, it’s how you finish.

Midway through opening night the Phillies trailed 4-0, and my friend, who is a die-hard Mets fan, texted me to say, “If only baseball was a one game season.” To which I accurately replied, “We’re not an April team,” and he responded saying that it is “more important to be a September team.”

After seeing smiling faces leaving Citizens Bank Park on opening night, maybe that is a lesson that myself and thousands of other Phillies fans have learned, even though yet another season has started with a notch in the loss column.

Quick observations from opening night:

* Why hasn’t Ryan Howard learned that every 3-2 pitch he sees will be knee-high on the inside corner, and after he watches it go by, the umpire will call it a strike? He also has yet to learn that every one-strike pitch he sees will be in the dirt.

* Brett Myers didn’t actually pitch as poorly as people think. If he gave up two runs in the third inning and two more in the sixth inning, nobody would have complained about his outing. People would have even praised it a “gutsy” performance if the Phillies’ offense had actually scored a few runs and won 5-4.

* How sharp did the Phillies’ bullpen look? Jack Taschner, Scott Eyre, Chad Durbin and Brad Lidge combined to toss three perfect shutout innings, picking up where the 2008 bullpen left off.

Like the “On the Edge” Blog? Hear more of my opinions about Philadelphia sports every Friday at 3:30 p.m. on WBCB 1490 AM during the Coffee with Kahuna show, where, this week, we will talk about the first week of baseball, and the Flyers’ push for the playoffs.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, they're kinder this year. I guess you missed this:


April 11, 2009 6:38 PM  

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Name: Matthew Fleishman, Yardley News Editor
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