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The Ryan King: I Love the Phillies and There is Nothing They or You Can Do About It

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It’s taken me nearly as long to formulate these thoughts as its taken me to recover from the Phillies’ (not-so shocking, but that’s a story for another time) NLDS loss to the Cardinals. Over the past two weeks or so I’ve seen oodles of articles come out of absolutely nowhere bashing the team, bashing the offense, bashing Jimmy Rollins, bashing management, even, god forbid, comparing Charlie Manuel to Andy Reid. With that last jab, we’ve gone too far.

I would probably call myself a hardcore Phillies fan. I would call myself a hardcore USF Bulls fan, or perhaps even Iowa State Cyclones fan (if only because they have no fans), but the Phillies are an entirely different kind of monster. Once April comes around we’re treated to a Phillies game virtually every night. It becomes a tradition, really. Few things can make three hours of studying seem more attractive than the promise of watching a Phils game. If they win, it’s an added bonus to my night. If they lose, it doesn’t induce the same kind of week-long depression with which football fans are all too familiar. Simply put, the Phillies make me happy.

There are still people in Philadelphia that claim the city pledges allegiance to the Eagles, which baffles me. How can the Eagles, a team with flawed management, a severe lack of discipline and a history of underachieving*, capture the city’s heart more than the Phillies? I would be beating a dead horse to criticize the Eagles at this point, but really, the only things the two teams have in common are the city and overweight coaches. (Did I just compare Manuel to Reid? My bad.)

I don’t love the Phillies as much as I love watching the Phillies, as much as I love making the Phillies a part of my life. I don’t mind so much if they lose as long as there’s the promise of the next game tomorrow. It’s this reason why I could handle a season without the NHL or NFL or NBA (which apparently actually won’t have a season next year, but no one cares) or even college football, but never the MLB. It’s this reason that USF– essentially my Eagles, if I haven’t made that clear enough– can lose to UConn for the third straight year and force me to think of various ways to drink bleach, but the Phillies can lose the divisional series and strangely, I forgive them.

It’s because, strangely enough, I can relate to the Phillies players. I love seeing them interacting as much as I do seeing them play. I could tell you who the pranksters on the team are (Shane Victorino, Wilson Valdez, Hunter Pence, among others). I could tell you the players who won’t crack a smile until they’ve won (Chase Utley, Roy Halladay, Carlos Ruiz). I could tell you which players make the most unattractive faces when they’re playing (Ryan Madson, Ben Francisco, and for real, Kyle Kendrick needs to do something about his). I could tell you that Ryan Howard calls Jimmy Rollins “Young James” even though the shortstop is several years his senior. I could probably tell you what Vance Worley would say in response to a knock-knock joke from Cliff Lee, but no guarantees there.

So what if I’m more perturbed by the the fact that I have to wait five months to see the team in action again than by the fact that they fell well short of a World Series and face several crucial decisions in the offseason? Does that make me a less-than-hardcore fan, like I mentioned earlier? Maybe. But I have more than enough teams to get upset over. I’ll stay like this until April, happily following Ricky Bottalico on Twitter and chuckling every time Charlie Manuel attempts a press conference. The Phillies have rarely been this good for as long as I’ve followed them, and I’m loving every minute of it. I suggest you do the same.

* I told you so:

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The Ryan King: I Love the Phillies and There is Nothing They or You Can Do About It