August 14, 2012

The Five Stages of Fanhood

Success has changed the way many fans, including myself, watch the Phillies. When reflecting upon the amount of hours I’ve logged watching the team this season with those of yesteryear, there probably isn’t much difference. But in losing seasons, never before have I felt losses, and I mean fist-clenched, red-faced, thrown-remote-at-dog felt losses (apologies to Harry, my pup). In fact my DIRIP (dogs impacted by remotes in play) is exceptionally high in 2012, and believe me the sample is large enough to draw conclusions. But that is beside the point, for after the hope for change, then rage at the stagnancy, then shameless begging, and finally the downward emotional spiral, I’ve learned to accept, and even love this Phillies team. I want to take you across the spectrum of emotions that I, and am sure many of you, have felt across this extremely underwhelming season. This season-long struggle can be documented in Phillies 2012: The Five Stages of Fanhood.

Stage One: Denial

Approaching this season, the Phil’s were favorites to win the NL East and go balls-deep into the playoffs. Fans and players alike were hopeful for another shot at the World Series. After a characteristically slow start, we still held out faith that with the return of sluggernauts Chase Utley and Ryan Howard would come a tsunami of wins to drown the notion of a lackluster ballclub. And when disappointment continued, the denial intensified, and denial intensified into numbness, and numbness into rage.

Stage Two: Anger

"Really? REEALY? Mike Fontenot and Ty Wiggington in the same goddamn infield? And this bullpen-this isn't even a bullpen; no they don't even deserve that, this is a f*cking calfpen. Yeah, I'm talking to you Bastardo. Just cause you don't have a dad doesn't make it OK to walk every friggin’ batter you face. You hear me? Jimmy, would it kill you to take the first pitch every once in a while? And JP Beastmode? What kind of stupid name is that? More like JP BUNTSmode. And Mayberry, I don't remember yayberrying to a right-handed pitcher since like....ever. What the hell happened to yous guys? Win a goddamn game. C'mon."

*throws remote at dog*

Stage Three: Bargaining

The Phillies become sellers Ruben Amaro trades Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino to the Giants and Dodgers respectively, and later Joenut Blanton to the Dodgers for the similarly-built Michelin Man and a couple of hardworking stadium custodians. Hopeful fans cling unreasonably to a miracle comeback. Chris Wheeler continues to be a horrific broadcaster, and all is wrong with the world. I'd give anything to see the Phillies return to their former glory, to remove these AAA players (and announcers) from Citizen's Bank Ballpark, to make the playoffs, to win the NLCS, to win the World Series. Anything.

Stage Four: Depression

Reality sank in. The 2012 Philadelphia Phillies will not be World Champions. They will not be in the playoffs for the first time since 2006. There will be no Red October. There will be no parade. No happiness. No sunshine, ever again. The gravity of this truth places a black hole where the heart of Philadelphia used to be. The beacon of light that once emanated from CBP has burned out and left behind a desolate wasteland permeated by the smell of stale beer, peanut shells and children's tears. The Phanatic, who survives only by the spirit of the fans, can no longer maintain his nutrition and is down to a gaunt 325 pounds. Things are bad in Philadelphia, and they will never be the same.

Stage Five: Acceptance

While this season has gone grim, the Phillies organization did not completely crumble. It was sad to see some players go, but hope lingers in the afterglow of loss. By selling, the Phillies have bought themselves time to retool with new players and reevaluate the current veterans while allowing opportunities for youngsters to showcase their skills. The bandwagon has come and gone, and for the first time in an apparent eternity fans can snag cheap tickets for a night at the ballpark. Perhaps even the ever-smug Ruben Amaro has been put in his place, but that may be looking a little too broadly at the bright side. Regardless, good things are sure to come-if not immediately, soon. 


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