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The Philly Phanatic does its little capers

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Know Your Enemy: Philadelphia Phillies

The defending NL champs stumble into a snowy spring

Get a real job, you jerk
| Rich Schultz/Getty Images

It’s early Monday morning and snow is faintly falling upon all the living and the dead, and it seems like a good time for the Phillies to roll into town. This is a laughably grim and gray morning, a cruel Chicago joke after shorts-wearing weather of the weekend, and a proper setting for two teams that seem determined to make a mockery of intentions.

There’s not a lot to rely on, historically, between the teams. The Sox are 8-11 all-time against the Phillies, but took two out of three in their last matchup, which was 2019. Remember the 2019 team? I was at the doubleheader in early July, which was a sweep starting with Dylan Cease’s debut and concluding with a delirious extra-innings walk-off bomb by José Abreu. It was warm, and the crowd was giddy and the team seemed full of promise.

It’s snowing now.

So How Are They Doing, Anyway?

The Phillies shocked the baseball world last year by turning a middling season into a World Series run, never really competing for the division but never really needing to, either. They are stumbling out of the gate a bit, coming to Chicago with a 6-10 record. There is some excuse, though, because a lot of their top players, including Bryce Harper, are injured.

The Phils are waiting to get healthy, but the season is threatening to slip away. After their World Series run, they went for it all in the offseason, signing Trea Turner and Taijuan Walker to big deals. This is a series featuring two teams that are treading water, but seeing the shore starting to recede into the panicked distance.

Are the Hitters Fearsome? Need I Worry About Dingers?

Well, Turner is there, and has gotten off to a decent start. Their guys who have been good for a while, including JT Realmuto, Alec Bohm, and Brandon Marsh, continue to be good. Marsh in particular has been on a tear to begin the season, sporting an OPS of 1.196 and an eye-popping 218 OPS+. If he continues on that pace you’ll have to conclude that Marsh is the best hitter that ever lived. Luckily for everyone’s sanity, he won’t do that.

Kyle Schwarber is going to continue to do Kyle Schwarber things — being Ruthian against righties, and Lilliputian against lefties. Seriously, have you ever looked at his splits? Of his 203 career homers, 173 have come against righties. The man hates southpaws! Or, he loves them, as he simply refuses to hit against them.

And the Pitching Matchups? What of Them?

Neither team in this series has given much weight to the proposition that pitching is important to the game of baseball.

Monday, April 17
Sox: Lance Lynn (0-1, 7.31) has overall numbers that are still marred from a brutal outing against the Giants, and he was OK-middling a week ago against the Twins. We’re on “is Lance OK” watch.

Phillies: Zach Wheeler (0-1, 4.02) has started the season slowly, but each start has gotten a tick or two better.

Tuesday, April 18
Sox: Lucas Giolito (0-1, 6.00) pitched really well against Minnesota. Dammit, I hope that wasn’t a fluke.

Phillies: Bailey Falter (0-2, 4.80), wow, Bailey Falter, huh. I certainly know and celebrate this guy, who I am sure is real! According to his Wikipedia page, which I am sure is not an elaborate hoax designed to mess with me, he pitched a no-hitter in high school. How about that! Anyway, he stunk against the Reds, and again, I am reasonably sure he is real.

Wednesday, April 19
Sox: SP4 (2-0, 2.20) has been our second-best pitcher so far, as the snow is faintly falling.

Phillies: Taijuan Walker (1-1, 4.20) hasn’t ever been great, but Walker has been a solid pitcher and the Phillies are counting on him to really solidify their rotation. But in three starts this season he’s bounced before completing the fifth inning twice. Let’s hope that continues.

Why Do We Hate Philadelphia?

Every idiot who has ever been to Philadelphia runs up the stairs and poses next to the statue of Rocky. That’s the main tourist attraction and source of civic pride in Philly, as the city sees its reflection in a scrappy underdog who might be rough around the edges but rises above it to seek glory. One hesitates to point out that their chosen symbol is, in fact, fiction. Rocky isn’t real, you idiots!

And look, I fully recognize the importance of myth in building a civic or national consciousness; every culture has created heroes to channel the idealized virtues of its people. But the fucking thing is that Philadelphia fans have taken none of the virtues of Rocky. They think “rough around the edges” means being boorish and obnoxious chuds, and never rise above. In fact, they seize every opportunity to sink lower.

Here’s a test, using authentic Rocky-era weapons of choice: Would you break out a switchblade or brass knuckles, or some kind of West Side Story swinging chain, during an argument about how much grease and cheese should be dripping from a cheesesteak? If no, congratulations, you are a human being. If yes, please take the brass knuckles off, you are from Philadelphia.

The myth of the Philadelphia fan is that they are rude, and while there might be a certain laughing grace in throwing batteries at Santa, today’s fans just think it means treating the world like their frat house. There is no wit, no charm, just vomitous excess and endless grotesque behaviors. It’s a show for themselves, to be the idea of the horrible Philly monster they think they have to be, an endlessly degrading piece of performance art, unredeemed by creativity. Their hero is fiction, and all their acts are for show, but at the end of the day they become, as Paul Dunbar would say, the mask they wear, and just really fucking suck.

Why Do We Hate the Phillies?

Here’s a quote in the Philadelphia Inquirer from their owner, a billionaire from a billionaire family, a rich descendent of people who made their money from tobacco.

“Nobody cares about whether I make money or not. If my legacy is that I didn’t lose any money owning a baseball team on an annual operating basis, that’s a pretty sad legacy. It’s about putting trophies in the cases.”

Goddammit, I love this guy, Middleton. It breaks the heart that they have the one billionaire who actually gets it. I don’t care if that was PR or if it came from his heart, that’s the attitude every owner should have. It’s not fair.

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Bad People!

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No, We Do

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