At this point, the cardboard fans in the stands at Citizens Bank Park appear to have more fight than the Phillies.
Fourteen games into this shortened season, the Phillies find themselves in last place in the division. They got swept by the rebuilding Baltimore Orioles, who lost 108 games last season, and have dropped five of their last six games.
Of course, it’s easy to blame the bullpen, which was so bad Thursday night the team tossed infielder Neil Walker on the mound. Nearly a quarter of the way through the season, the bullpen’s ERA is a whopping 10.29 and has allowed 48 earned runs in 42 innings.
“I’m introducing legislation in Congress to outlaw the Phillies bullpen,” Rep. Brendan Boyle (D., Pa.) wrote on Twitter the other night.
On offense, what was billed as a deep lineup heading into the season has proven to be a two man show — Bryce Harper and J.T. Realmuto, whom the Phillies don’t seem in any hurry to resign. Overall, the duo have combined for nearly half of the team’s 67 RBIs.
It’s hard to blame the team for being lifeless. After all, players and coaches are suffering through this pandemic just like the rest of us. Worried if they’ll be the next to test positive. Wondering where they’ll send their kids to school in the fall. Considering if its right for society to prioritize their coronavirus tests over doctors, teachers, and just about everyone else in society who doesn’t happen to be a professional athlete.
Remember when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the return of baseball would be “a great morale boost” for the country? Obviously he hasn’t been watching the Phillies, where tuning into games has been a energizing slog each and every night.
The team’s not helped by baseball’s meandering style, which doesn’t exactly play well on television without fans in the stands. Lacking the immediate and constant action of basketball or hockey, Phillies games are jarring to watch — especially when we hear fake crowds cheering as the camera pans across a sea of empty seats.
I just hope EA Sports provided the Phillies a wide variety of booing sound effects to make it through the season. At this rate, 60 games are going to feel like 162.