The Phillies Are Juicing

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www.allproreels.com — Washington Nationals vs Philadelphia Phillies, at Nats Park, Washington DC, May 13th, 2021

I think a lot of people have it all wrong in regards to the Phillies’ home field advantage.

It’s not about rowdy fans disrupting the rhythm, timing, and general chutzpah of opposing players (although it’s a worthwhile, and sometimes successful, strategy). I think we too often forget that these world-class athletes are also pretty darn good at stress management. And with that in mind, I think it’s ironic that Philly has a reputation for being belligerently tough on opposing players— because it’s the exact opposite force that gives the Fightins their edge.

It’s all about good vibes.

Fans can boo and/or taunt opposing players all they want, but pro athletes are (mostly) trained killers who’ve built up an immunity to the tomfoolery of angry mobs.The Minor League system is for improving baseball skills and acclimating to stronger competition, but it’s also about having your physical appearance ridiculed by an elderly Isotopes fan your very first day in Albuquerque. Players don’t particularly like complete strangers shitting on them, but they’re used to it. What pro athletes will NEVER be impervious to, though, is feverish, aggressively obsessive admiration and support. It’s what the Phillies get every time they take the postseason field at Citizen’s Bank Park. It’s far more accurate to call it a performance-enhancing drug than an “advantage.”

These players routinely talk about the energy at CBP and feeding off the fans, and it would be a mistake to dismiss that as platitudinous athlete-speak. What they’re really doing is confessing. They have an edge. After yesterday’s 10-0 defeat to the juiced-up Phillies in the NLCS, Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo disagreed:

“[The fans] were about what we expected… to be honest with you, the final game against the Dodgers at Chase Field, when it was rockin’ with 50,000 strong… I was proud of our fans, and it was about the same… same intensity, same volume.”

I’m sure it was loud that day at Chase. The Dbacks have a proud, rich 26-year history in the community, and that counts for something. It’s cute that Lovullo would say this, but I’ve seen fans get tased on the field at CBP. Before that, I heard seating sections at Vet stadium talked about like bad neighborhoods. There’s a lot of excitement in Phoenix, but the excitement in Philadelphia borders on madness.Therein lies the edge.

There’s a reason the Phillies seem to kick it up a notch in the postseason; it’s because the fans are raising the bar, and every single Phillie gets their fix of auditory PEDs. They’re all doping. And it makes sense, intrinsically. If all of my neighbors came over to cheer me on as I shoveled the driveway, there’s no doubt I’d put up one of the top five driveway-shoveling performances of my life. I’d be consistently getting the icy bottom layer on the first scoop, artfully launching into snow piles that resemble the majestic rolling hills of Tuscany. And without that support, I’d need a couple beers and AirPods blasting a podcast explaining Brexit just to drunkenly half-ass my way through it.

That’s why it was so important for Philadelphia to take Game 1 of the NLDS against the Braves in Atlanta. It stole home field advantage and gave Philly fans a powerful say in who would win the series. Allowing Philadelphia to close things out at home was like that scene in “A Bronx Tale”— the Phillies and their fans locked the door and said, “Now youse can’t leave.”

It’s just different here. Lovullo doesn’t get it because he’s in the wrong dugout. He’ll hear their boos, and they’ll roll off his back, but he’ll never understand what it’s like to feel their adrenaline-boosting love.

Other fans support their teams, but Phillies fans give them drugs. It’s a trip.

This content was originally published here.

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