Now that the Phillies are back to being nothing special and the attendance figures are reflecting their new-found mediocrity, Jimmy Rollins is being proclaimed a sage for saying, years ago, that his team has “fair-weather fans.” Sorry, but there’s a big difference between being bandwagon-jumpers and just plain discriminating.
Last week, during a sequence of excessively long, painfully boring contests, crowd totals were barely more than half of the capacity turnouts achieved just two seasons ago. And even the 23,000 who did turn out were not committed to the entire game, as evidenced by entire sections of empty seats in the final innings.
In the mind of Rollins and his many minions, fans are supposed to cheer themselves hoarse for players barely hitting above .200 (Domonic Brown) or pitchers who cannot throw a strike (Antonio Bastardo). Maybe in St. Louis, but never in Philadelphia. Here, you have to earn the city’s support, and that doesn’t make the fans “fair-weather.”
The sad truth is, these Phillies are hard to watch. The decline of once-elite players, the failure of young players like Ben Revere and Brown and the obnoxious attitude of ingrates like Jonathan Papelbon — it’s all just so depressing. There is no logical reason to bust the house budget for a night watching this dead team’s march into oblivion.
One of the first lessons an athlete needs to learn when he comes to Philadelphia is that this is truly the big leagues. You make big money here, and you have big responsibilities to match your paycheck. If you don’t fulfill those duties, you pay the price with empty seats and a hostile reception.
That’s not being a fair-weather fan. That’s being a smart one.