Ah yes, as the new baseball season beckons on the horizon, we prepare ourselves for another year at ballpark. We thought this would be a good time to break down the three types of fans you may see at there.
Many will watch and attend games. But, for better or worse, there are only three groups that will be defined as fans.
The Bandwagon Fan:
This isn't a new concept. But since the Phillies have reached record-breaking levels in fandom over the last few seasons, this group of attention-seeking – and attention-getting – fans has become the stereotype for the evil Philly fan.
Gruff. Drunk. Dirty. All words used by the national media in their portrayal of Phillies fans. As we know, most of that is untrue. However, there are some bandwagon folks who, with their actions, help perpetuate that description. But there's more than one type of bandwagon fan.
There's essentially two offshoots of this painful fan-appendage.
There's guys like Mark from Mergers and Acquisitions. He's the slightly metro middle-management type who always wears a Phillies hat (basic plain red with white "P" Twins Franchise, or New Era adjustable) as a stylish accessory to his Seven jeans and two-button black Banana Republic long-sleeve cotton polo. He says he's a Phillies fan. He watches all the games – on his 47-inch 1080p HD television – and somehow manages to always score the company seats in section 135. But he doesn't really know the sport. When you ask him about Halladay's cutter, you get a response like: "Yeah Royboy was really throwing fire last night. I love Chooch."
You wouldn't call Mark rotund, but his fitted attire makes him seem as though he's in better shape than he really is. He uses this to his advantage when he goes out after the games. He's a little bit above McFadden's. He's more of the Cuba Libre type- have you tried their mojitos?
Of course, Mark is at the other end of the Spectrum from who we typically associate with as the bandwagon fan. This other person is essentially Pukemon, Matthew Clemmens.
You can spot this other type of person at the ballpark most every night… always wearing "ill" shirts. They are – as you well know – typically seated in the upper deck or found standing around the ballpark. They yell incoherent and out-of-context things like, "Raul is boss!" "Shaaaaaane." And "Lidge sucks! Fuck Lidge."
After-all, their first first-hand memories of the Phillies were from the 2009 season.
They look like this:
They don't watch the games. They just cheer. Or boo. Most of the time, they are turned around talking to their friends, leaning on one of the many standing-room rails in the lower-level. They drink Bud Light aluminum bottles in excess. These are the folks who do dumb things like throw-up on fans, fight, and perform other general acts of debauchery.
You hate them. I hate them.
The 2008 Apologists:
This second group is an evil cousin of our third and final group, The Lifelong Fan. Most of these folks are true fans. They do like baseball and, in most cases, have grown up rooting for the Phillies. However, whether it be the lack of an adequate social life or the fact that Chase Utley's "World Fuckin' Champions" speech was the first time they ever had a non self-induced orgasm, this second group can't seem to move on from 2008.
They love baseball and that specific team so much that they have trouble looking at things objectively, the way the typical lifelong fan does.
The visions of Utley's speech, Brad Lidge dropping to his knees, Cole Hamels’ flowing playoff locks, Carlos Ruiz's Choochtober, and Joe Blanton's home run prevent them from viewing the current team in the proper light.
They fail to acknowledge the fact that Utley is on the down side of his career (something I struggle with, as well). Or to see that Lidge has been nothing more than mediocre over the last two seasons, and, thanks to FOX's successful attempts to dampen their undies with a flamed 96 M.P.H. radar gun in the playoffs, that Ryan Madson isn't a closer.
This group, out of all, may be the most vocal and engaged- via Twitter, Facebook, sports radio, etc. (they will be the ones who take exception to this in the comments). A lot of that stems from the fact that, like with all fans, 2008 was a watershed moment in their lives. More so than it should have been, however.
For better or worse, it covered up painful memories of childhood bullying and deep-seated insecurities. These fans are the outliers excluded from the control group. Somewhere along the way, a variable pushed them outside the norm, and now they negatively impact the slope of regression.
But they're baseball fans, though. They know the game and love it. There's something to be said for that.
The Lifelong Fan:
Despite two sections of assholery, most fans (as much as 60-70%), most readers I'd venture to guess, fall into this last group. Philly has always been a baseball town. Most of us love the game and love the Phillies. Unfortunately, years of ineptitude made it hard to really express that fact.
The Vet was often empty, the team was often awful, and the organization was often blasé.
For this group, 1993 or the late 70s and early 80s (if old enough not 2008) – depending on age – is the cornerstone for their Phillies fandom. They've grown up going to games. Many had season tickets during the lean years at The Vet. Todd Zeile was kind of a big deal.
This group often chokes-up at the mere mention of Harry Kalas, or when watching Video Dan's Phillies "Home Companion" tapes.
2008 was the payoff for suffering through years of filth, but it doesn't define who they are as fans. They are knowledgable and appreciative enough to know this is a time unlike any other in Phillies history. There will, and in some cases has, come a time to cut ties with the heros of '08.
Members of this group can take many forms. Most are normal, everyday people who simply love baseball. They grew up here. Their families grew up here. Baseball is a familial-tie as much as it is a sport. Phone calls were made before beers were drank on October 29th, 2008.
This person can be your mid-twenties fan who attends games with family and friends, enjoying the ambiance and amenities offered by the new ballpark. Or this can be Shirley up in section 419, who has kept score for every home game since 1987, a year when all the AA batteries in the world weren't enough to make her bed rock the way she dreamt Bedrosian could. That scorebook is only missing one game- the day she had to attend a birthday party for her nephew. But don't worry, she turned the game on inside while everyone else splish-splashed around in the pool of her slightly more successful younger brother. Shirley's alright.
It's these fans, the lifelong fans (which we all claim to be), the Shirleys of the world, that are the lifeblood of the Phillies. At the end of the day, the other fan groups, the team's ability to spend money, the atmosphere at the ballpark… none of those things would be possible without this final group. Simply put, they don't suck.
Who are you?