Can you identify more then two of these Phillies? pic.twitter.com/kuBbeaFuOA
— Angelo Cataldi (@AngeloCataldi) April 3, 2017
Angelo Cataldi posted this photo from the Daily News’ Phillies preview, and not one person who responded to him got all of them right. And when I retweeted it, only (@mattrappa) and (@danbergvall) did.
Phillies beat writer Ryan Lawrence responded to my Tweet, somewhat incredulously, and seemed surprised that real fans wouldn’t know all of these guys. We went back and forth a bit, with me arguing that even lifelong Phils fans who wept in 2008 and can recall specific games during the Steve Jeltz and Randy Ready years might not be able to do this, and Lawrence arguing that real fans should be able to, especially since a few of the guys in the back row are top prospects.
I think this speaks to a larger issue about Phillies fandom of late, and maybe sports fandom in general. Lawrence’s role of covering the team on a daily basis hasn’t changed between, say, 2011, when the Phillies were the thing in Philly, and now, when they’re, well, not. The wins and losses have changed, the players have changed, but the trade hasn’t. Lawrence saw Andrew Knapp this spring likely as much as he saw Cliff Lee in the spring of 2011 (probably more). But with the exception of the most diehard fans – a very tiny subset of “Phillies fans” – most people aren’t paying nearly as close attention as they were then. Part of the reason is that the Phillies stink, and part of it is that there are so many other entertainment options nowadays. I spent two hours last night watching YouTube videos – on my TV – when just a few years ago I would’ve been steered toward watching Sunday Night Baseball. The YouTube videos were much more enjoyable than the Cubs-Cardinals game. As a further example, six years ago, a post with just the Phils Opening Day lineup would’ve gotten more views than this post will.
Sports are still premium entertainment, when you’re watching a quality product. But whereas even 10 years ago your viewing options, especially in the summer, were limited, and a live Phils game, regardless of the team’s winning percentage, represented the best option, now you are hardly forced into watching a team that is, say, 10 games under .500 in August. I don’t think it makes you less of a fan or a bandwagon hopper if you choose something else. It makes you a normal, well-adjusted person. Time is limited, and there have been better options than watching the Phillies in August… or the Flyers over the past three months.
Additionally, I don’t think we, as sports fans, ask for much. Even when the Phillies feigned competitiveness for a few weeks last spring, that was enough to draw many people back in– hey, fun baseball! But when they were getting 10-run-ruled in July, who wanted to watch that shit?
This site has always been geared towards a more mainstream fan, and not those are who are very much in the weeds with each team. In other words, most people. I’ve never once considered that to mean bandwagon. There’s a knee-jerk reaction, especially in a town like Philly, to label people that way if they tune out when the teams become dreadful. But I don’t think that’s fair.
Anyway, I can’t name all of those guys. I got Nola, Franco, Eickhoff and Crawford. I think. Find out who they are, after the jump.
Left-to-right (top): Nick Williams, J.P. Crawford, Jorge Alfaro, Jake Thompson
Left-to-right (bottom): Aaron Nola, Maikel Franco, Jared Eickhoff
Got that? There will be a test.