When the Yankees came to town, it used to electrify the city and thrill the home team.
That time has passed.
The Yankees showed up Monday in Philadelphia for their first regular-season interleague date at Citizens Bank Park since 2006. They arrived with 50 wins, and atop of the American League East, thanks in large part to their large hitters: 6-foot-7, 282-pound right fielder Aaron Judge, who entered having hit 71 home runs in his last 223 regular-season games; and new left fielder Giancarlo Stanton, who's 6-6, 245 and the reigning National League MVP, with 78 home runs in his last 233 games. Citizens Bank Park was filled to the brim, and half of the patrons supported the players without names on their backs.
There were plenty of Yankee fans at the yard Monday night, who delighted to the 4-2 Yankees win, but there was no Yankee buzz. Not like there used to be. To paraphrase former Phillies pitcher/philosopher Curt Schilling, Mystique and Aura have long deserted the Yankee brand.
Of course, that brand is bound to diminish when you spend more than $3 billion in payroll and win only one World Series in 17 years.
"Obviously, the Yankees are one of the best teams in baseball. We're pretty excited about the challenge," said cornerstone Phillie Rhys Hoskins, who has yet to play a full major-league season. "As an American League team, you trade for the National League MVP — I'd say that brand is the same."
No, it's not. Not when Hoskins says, in the same breath; "It's a good chance to play another good team."
Another good team? Yes. That's exactly what the Yankees are to Hoskins' generation: another good team.
He was 7 when the Yankees won their third consecutive World Series, in 2000. The next year Schilling, having moved on to the Diamondbacks, helped Arizona erased a three-games-to-two lead in the 2001 World Series, a series before which Schilling boldly said of the Yankees' mystique and aura, "Those are dancers in a nightclub."
Schilling was right. As a member of the Diamondbacks and later the Red Sox, he helped diminish the Yankees. They have appeared 40 times in the World Series, and they have won it 27 times, but they have appeared just three times since 2000 and have won it just once, in 2009, over the defending champion Phillies.
Not only have most of these Phillies never seen the Yankees as invincible, they also spent Sunday night in Washington, playing their chief National League East rival in Major League Baseball's prime-time showcase game.
"It was nice to be put on a national stage [Sunday] night," Hoskins said.
The Yankees on Monday night? Yawn.
You can't blame this generation for not sharing the previous generation's awe. Hoskins was 8 in 2001 and 15 in 2008. He's 25 now. Hoskins spent his formative years watching the Yankees try to buy rings while the Red Sox and Giants won three World Series apiece.
So did rookie infielder Scott Kingery, 24. He ripped an RBI single to left field in the seventh to cut the Yankees' lead to 2-1. Just another night's work.
"The drive to the park, everything, was exactly the same," Kingery said. "We're going to go through the same routine and play the same way we play every day. It's no different with the Yankees coming in. It's just another big series. Hopefully, we can take a couple of games and win the series."
This was not always the case for all Phillies players, and even now the Yankees mean different things to different players.
Third baseman Maikel Franco, who is 25, remembered how giddy he was when the Phillies visited the Bronx on June 22, 23 and 24, 2015. That giddiness translated into three home runs, a double and 10 RBI on six hits in the first two games, all in front of Alex Rodriguez, who, like Franco, is of Dominican descent.
"I remember I did really good, man," said Franco, who hit a solo homer off Aroldis Chapman in the ninth inning Monday. "Going to Yankee Stadium. You know the stories. A-Rod was still playing that year, and he played third base, too. I was really excited."
Reliever Pat Neshek, 37, was a little too excited his rookie season with the Twins at old Yankee Stadium in 2006.
"If you ever felt like the baseball gods or spirits were around, it's that place," Neshek said. "I gave up a homer to A-Rod. [Derek] Jeter never bothered me, but A-Rod took me deep in the black [batter's eye in the centerfield stands] that game."
Judge took Phillies starter Vince Velasquez deep Monday night, but Velasquez also struck out both Judge and Stanton.
The Phillies played like the grounded, solid team that they are. They played as Franco thought they would play.
"You can get too excited. I know that can happen. You always hear about the Yankees, but it's the same: baseball. We have to make 27 outs," Franco said. "They're human beings. We're ready for anything. We have to go out with the same mentality. If we do that, we'll be fine."
They were fine. It was the Yankees, but they were fine.
As Neshek said, "It's different now."
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