Tuesday, August 8, 2023

Philly. Proud.

Trea Turner's message to the fans.

What happened this past weekend? Has Philadelphia gone softer than a pretzel floating in the Schuylkill? Are we going to start saying "waht-er" now? Will we put flowers in the hands of the Rocky statue?

Fuck no, and youse are fuckin' nuts if youse think so. We just had a moment of understanding. A moment of, dare we say, clarity? You might have heard of the standing ovation that rocked the world. The baseball world, at least. 

The Phillies had just gone 4-3 on a quick, 7-game road trip to Pittsburgh and Miami. Sounds respectable, right? Well, after losing two of three to a Pirates team that started the series 12 games under .500, the Phils bounced back to take three of four from the Marlins in Miami. Losing two to Pittsburgh is unforgivable, but the lone loss in Miami is what stung the most: an extra-inning clunker in which the Phils bullpen blew save opportunities in the 9th, 10th, and 11th innings. The game, and potential sweep of a division/wildcard rival, belonged to the Phillies. Except... 

With two out in the bottom of the 10th, Trea Turner missed a routine grounder that allowed backup Marlins catcher Jacob Stallings (a 6'5", 225-pound ghost runner) to score from second to tie it at 8-8 after Alec Bohm knocked in Rudolfo Castro to give the Phils their second extra-inning lead, 8-7. A 1-2-3 top of the 12th by the Phillies paved the way for the Marlins' 9-8 victory.

After the game, Turner offered no excuses and accepted responsibility for his poor play - something he has had to do far too frequently during the first of an 11-year, $300 million contract. Over the road trip, Turner hit 3-29 with 7 strikeouts and made his 13th fielding error of the season, which ties for second-most in his career. 

Rob Thomson has tried dropping Turner down in the lineup, given him days off, and even benched the superstar - all in hopes of providing a jump start. Nothing seemed to work. After the loss in Miami, fans back in Philly began to whisper... 

Maybe the boos and insults aren't working, either. Maybe we, as a fanbase, need to show our support. Maybe that will help Turner break out of this funk...

While credit has been given to WIP host Jack Fritz for the idea, it appears that several Phillies fans tossed around the notion of giving Trea a standing ovation when he returned to Citizens Bank Park. The fans in Philly are so genuine, so knowledgeable, and so passionate, that maybe if we take Turner into our embrace and wrap him in positivity, he'll start to feel better. If he feels better, perhaps he'll play better. If he plays better, perhaps the Phillies won't lose to the fucking Pirates or blow three saves in one game.

But why would we cheer for a man making $300 million? Why would we tell him it's all going to be ok? What the fuck is this world coming to? We didn't tell Ben or Carson that all was going to be ok. That's not our style. We hold our professional athletes to account, dammit! We spend our hard-earned, blue-collar dollars to watch these "professionals" win games. We don't care about their feelings. But, maybe we should.

Trea Turner has sucked this year. We already told him so, and he's already admitted it. And that's what separates him from our love/hate relationships with certain athletes in the past: He owns it. He wears it, just as he wears that "Philadelphia" across his chest. And if there's one thing about Philly, it's...

Philadelphians love Philly. We love who we are and we don't apologize. We love our sports franchises because they represent us. Anyone who wears our city across their chest will be loved as well. We only ask that athletes take as much pride in being here as we do. They do that by working hard, owning their mistakes, and fighting for each other no matter what. 

So Turner got his ovation. Despite all the arguing on sports talk radio, where callers lamented participation trophies and Barbie movies and PC culture and... despite all that, the fans in attendance for the Phillies-Royals game last Friday, August 4, 2023, did something that defied all logic, all that is known about Philadelphians: when Trea Turner came to the plate with 1 out in the bottom of the 2nd inning, the fans stood and applauded. They told him "You're our guy. You're one of us. We got your back." 

Turner lined out. Each time he stepped to the plate, Phillies fans cheered. In the bottom of the 6th, Turner singled to drive in Bryson Stott. Phillies fans cheered. The Phils ultimately lost the game to a terrible Royals team, but the fans won by doing the exact opposite of what everyone outside Philly, and many of those within, expected. Expects. From Philly fans.

"That was pretty fucking cool." Trea's reaction sums up how the standing ovation felt. After the game, Turner said the fans "have my back... wish we could have come out with a win." Turner's mother, who was in attendance, said she was so touched by the gesture, she cried. She also admitted to booing her son earlier in the season. 

Turner's double play partner, Bryson Stott loved the fan ovation too. "This is Philadelphia. This is why we love playing here."

Bryce Harper took it even further. During a postgame interview following Sunday's 8-4 win over KC, Harper went on for more than a minute about what playing in Philadelphia means to him: 

"I wish I started my career here."

Bryce gets it. The young Stott gets it. And now, Trea Turner gets it: just how special it is to be a professional athlete in the City of Philadelphia. Make us proud, Trea. Do your job, we'll do ours, and we'll walk together forever. Just ask Nick Foles. 

Ain't nothin' soft about that!