Sexy swingers: Fans have a sweet spot for these Phillies
In a city consistently named the ugliest in the nation, there is a group of men so attractive that their hotness quotient is unparalleled: The boys from CB Park.
IN THE LIVING room with the television on or in the dark corner of a seedy bar, women hope these men get to third base. They beg for them to reach home. And they scream their names while they're doing it.
In a city that is consistently named the ugliest in the nation, there is a group of men so attractive that their hotness quotient is unparalleled by their peers. They are the boys from Citizens Bank Park.
Most women can name at least five Phillies players they would pay to watch read the back of a cereal box, let alone play an incredible game of baseball.
Rabid, lifelong Phillies fan and Center City resident Toni Brownstein can name 10.
"We have the best-looking team in baseball. I mean damn, we look good on the field!" she said. "I watched the ALCS Sunday night and apart from [Alex Rodriguez] A-Rod and [Derek] Jeter, they're pretty ugly.
"Not as ugly as the Boston Red Sox, but still."
Of course we have Cole Hamels, J.A. Happ and Ryan Howard, but the attractiveness of the Phillies does not just come from their good looks. In the last few years, they've developed a quiet confidence that's been undeniably captivating.
"Confidence is sexy," said Leslie Sokol, Philadelphia-based co-author of "Think Confident, Be Confident." "Confidence is when you get up to bat, when you throw that pitch, when you hold that glove in the air and you know you are capable."
Sokol said confidence is sexy because it puts others - including the fans - at ease.
"We don't like to be stressed out. That comes from feeling you could be in danger," she said. "Confident people are not stressed. They have an aura that makes you feel safe and we all like to feel safe."
Garret Kramer, founder of Inner-Sports, a life-coaching business for pro and high school athletes in North Jersey, said attractiveness goes hand-in-hand with success.
"If you look at the most successful people in any endeavor, it's not that they have a secret weapon, it's people who live a contented life," Kramer said. "It's an understanding of what life is all about - that problems don't exist in the outside world, they only exist in your own thinking."
Eric Darr, executive vice president and provost at Harrisburg University of Science and Technology, whose background is in organizational dynamics, said the lack of egos among the Phillies is also attractive to fans.
"It's not as if you have Manny Ramirez, who's a big pain in everybody's butt," he said. "You have Ryan Howard, who's like a kid who supports his teammates as much as they support him.
"It's almost like the little league teams you were on as a child," Darr said. "The love of your teammates and the love of your game comes first. It's about the entire group and not about one trying to stand out above the rest."
Darr said that the team's ability to take feedback and criticism without complaining is also alluring.
"From guys that are making millions of dollars for playing a game, whining is not attractive," he said. "This team takes the good with the bad like the rest of us working stiffs.
"It makes them more human because they behave as if they know they're not perfect."
But for rabid fan Brownstein, who watches between 120 and 140 games per season, they're pretty close to perfect. And while their skills and principles come first, the way these guys look makes the game that much more fun to watch, she said.
"J.A. Happ - I would pay money just to kiss him," she said. "He has the most gorgeous mouth I have ever seen."
Here are a few of our favorites and a few reasons why:
Ryan Howard: The Spiritual One. Whether it's the way he places his head to the bat while in the on-deck circle or the way he raises it to size up the pitcher before each swing, Howard seems perpetually Zen. He's noble in his cool confidence and we wouldn't mind getting a hug (or several) from him either. Age: 29; height: 6 feet 4.
Cole Hamels: The Pretty Boy. Sure, Hamels could have pursued a career in male modeling, but he chose baseball instead, and we have to respect him for that. Age: 25; height: 6 feet 3.
Chase Utley: The Boy Next Door. In last week's episode of "It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia," co-creator and hometown boy Rob McElhenney, in character as "Mac," reveals that he's written a man-crush love letter to Utley. We want to write Utley a letter too, asking him to move in next door to us. He can bring Jen and the pets if he'd like. Age: 30 Height: 6 feet 1.
Jamie Moyer: The Father Figure. Like George Clooney, Moyer seems to get only better with age. Although he hasn't been in the playoffs because of an injury, he's still an important presence on the team. Plus, there's something about an older man with the stamina to stick it out with younger players. Age: 46; height: 6 feet.
Carlos Ruiz: The Flexible One. Not only is Ruiz flexible in play, serving as both an incredible catcher and a formidable batter, but he's also got to be literally flexible to stay bent in those catching positions for extended periods of time. It may mean he is flexible in other arenas as well. Age: 30; height: 5 feet 10.
Shane Victorino: The Nice Guy. When Victorino's bat slipped out of his hands during a swing in Game 3 of the NLCS his body language said it all - he was mortified and concerned for the safety of the crowd. When cameras and sound equipment caught him telling a bat boy to also give away the bat he subsequently used to get a walk, our hearts melted. Plus, he didn't hit that Cubs fan who poured a beer on his head, which is more than we could say for ourselves. We would definitely take this Pineapple Express for a ride any day. Age: 28; height: 5 feet 9.
Jayson Werth: The Bad Boy. We have no proof that Werth is actually a bad boy, but he damn sure looks the part. Scruffy and rugged, you hope he's the kind of boy you can take home to meet mom and dad, but you may have to tell him to just stay in the car and wave. Age: 30; height: 6 feet 5.
Cliff Lee: The New Man About Town. Like the new boy who moved into town and sat right next to you in physics class, it's hard to believe Lee is here. His pitching in Game 3 of the NLCS was even more striking than his attractive face and we look forward to him bringing both his arm and his mug to Game 1 of the World Series this year. Age: 31; height: 6 feet 3.
Jimmy Rollins: The Optimist. Before anyone else dared to utter the words or even be-lieve it themselves, Rollins knew we were "the team to beat." His enduring optimism, infectious smile and jokester nature (have you seen his Baseball Fantasy Camp video with Ryan Howard on Funny or Die?) are important in a city that can get down on itself because the wind's blowing in the wrong direction. Age: 30; height: 5 feet 8.
Charlie Manuel: The Silver Fox. With his Southern accent and cool nature, Manuel is the distinguished lady's choice. Harriette Gubel, 95, a Phillies fan now living in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., loves watching him blow bubbles with his gum. Not only does she keep a photo of Manuel by her bedside and one in her purse, she got to meet the manager in August. "He has a way with him," she said. Age: 65; height: 6 feet 4.
The Phanatic: The Cuddly One. He's funny, he's fury and he doesn't talk. Nuff said. Age: 31; height: 6 feet 6.