Phillies fans barely got a taste of the season before the coronavirus halted it. Here’s how they feel about restarting.
“They oughta just cancel baseball season”: With recent COVID-19 cases among Phillies employees, fans wonder if the season should even continue.
Bob and Joe Trucksess weren’t surprised that the Phillies postponed their weekend road series against the Toronto Blue Jays. In fact, they wouldn’t be surprised if more games are delayed because of COVID-19 concerns.
“They ought to just cancel baseball season,” said Joe Trucksess, an Orlando resident in Philadelphia for the week to visit his brother. “The season doesn’t really mean anything at this point.”
The recent postponements follow the Phillies’ series last weekend with the Miami Marlins, who so far have had 17 players and two coaches test positive for the virus. After the games, daily testing revealed four positive cases among Phillies employees, prompting a temporary closing of Citizens Bank Park. On Saturday, the park reopened for a team workout after no new cases were reported from Friday testing.
As of Saturday afternoon, no Phillies players have tested positive for the virus. The team currently has three games against the Blue Jays and four games against the New York Yankees that need to be rescheduled.
Even with the daily testing efforts, the Trucksess brothers aren’t sure baseball can overcome pandemic-related challenges this year. Still, “we’ve got to see something,” said Bob Trucksess. “No sports at all is crazy.”
Rosemary Haas, a Chesterbrook resident shopping for a sports-themed birthday gift for her husband at Shibe Vintage Sports in Center City on Saturday, agrees. Though she hopes for a return to normalcy, she also thinks “it wouldn’t hurt to rethink plans” around baseball right now.
She and her husband typically go to a couple of Phillies games every summer, and watch a lot more with friends and family from home. While she “misses joining other Phillies fans” and joining in that community, she doesn’t feel angry about the season being interrupted by the pandemic. “It’s more unfortunate than anything,” Haas said.
Andrew Palagruto, an assistant manager at Shibe, thinks it simply “might not be the right time” for a baseball season. He says he knew positive tests and game postponements were coming, especially as COVID-19 cases continue to rise across the country.
That has him worried for the postseason. “We’re going to run out of time if cases keep going up.”
To complete a full 60-game season, the Phillies have to play 57 more games by Sept. 27, just 56 days away. That seems unlikely, considering the Phillies have yet to schedule any new games since reporting positive cases among employees. Major League Baseball might then choose to determine playoff spots by winning percentages instead of total wins this year.
Even though Palagruto has doubts about the future of this season, he misses the community of Phillies fans. He would often watch games with friends, or on the television that played them live for customers at Shibe. Now, that television is dark. “It really hits home to lose part of the season,” he said.
George Brooks, a Center City resident, is upset, too. He thinks that bringing the Marlins to Philadelphia was a bad idea, since Miami is one of the hot spots in the recent surge of COVID-19 cases. “That was very poor decision-making, letting them come,” he said.
While Brooks knew the season would look different this year, he says he still looked forward to being able to watch baseball again. He wants to adapt to the changes by buying fan cardboard cutouts of himself and his friends to help fill the seats at Citizens Bank Park, and enjoying more games from home. Nonetheless, Brooks says that “as all fans were, we were hoping [for a normal season], and it’s another disappointment of this crisis.”
Both Brooks and the Trucksess brothers also have concerns about what these disruptions mean beyond baseball. “I think this will definitely affect football,” said Brooks, noting the start of that season is a little over a month away.
Bob Trucksess, a self-proclaimed “big Eagles fan,” also worries that preventing COVID-19 spread will be more challenging for football than it is for baseball. “There’s less social distancing,” he said, pointing out the high-contact nature of the sport.
Brooks agrees, and emphasized that he doesn’t want baseball or football to move forward until players are safe and healthy.
“There are a lot of things that are more important than this,” he said. “But sometimes I’m like, How many more movies can I watch on Amazon Prime?”