The most maligned fans in the entire sports landscape deserve a standing ovation today for an accomplishment that has gone completely unnoticed, a feat that even the best baseball cities cannot approach.
The Phillies have sold out 88 consecutive games — more than an entire season on the home schedule. Bravo. The mecca of the sports world, New York, can’t make that claim with either of its teams, nor can the Cubs with historic Wrigley Field, nor the White Sox, Dodgers, Giants, Rockies or Rays. Only the Red Sox have a better attendance record — over 600 straight sellouts — but they have the smallest ballpark in baseball.
Two things happened in the past few days that placed into perspective for me just how amazing this achievement is, and how it hasn’t registered nationally. Of course, this should surprise no one in Philadelphia, where somehow our passion has always carried a negative connotation.
First, the Phillies took a visit to “baseball heaven” last week — St. Louis — which has long been regarded as the best baseball city in the National League. In the four-game series, a total of 15,781 seats went unsold, creating vast expanses of unoccupied areas in the upper decks. Apparently, baseball heaven has some openings these days.
The other odd twist was that Houston pitcher Roy Oswalt, in the midst of intense trade discussions with several teams, said he would offer a better contract deal to the Cards because, hey, it’s St. Louis.
Oswalt needs a reality check. Yes, we do demand more in Philadelphia. Truly great players embrace that passion for winning.
And it’s not just baseball that stirs our interests and loosens our purse strings. The Eagles haven’t had an unsold ticket since 1997, and the Flyers have been among the NHL leaders in attendance for decades. The Sixers? Hey, nobody’s perfect.
I present this record of fan achievement today only because no one else ever does. When Philadelphia sports fans get attention, especially in the national media, it is always because a fan got Tasered or a Dad snatched a ball in the stands that Jayson Werth was trying to catch. Those are isolated incidents. In the big picture, they mean nothing.
What does have meaning is a full ballpark — in 100-plus heat on national TV, with the fans roaring on every hit. I watched every pitch of Saturday’s game, just as I watched the games and the empty seats in St. Louis.
I may be wrong, but I think baseball heaven has relocated.
– Angelo Cataldi is host of 610 WIP’s Morning Show, which airs weekdays from 5:30-10 a.m.
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