Columnist chimes in on Phils' opener
When I obtained a ticket to the Philliesí Opening Day, I was more than excited. Iíd never been to an Opening Day game before, and I expected it to be one of those great memories that I would take with me for a long time. As it turns out, itís just another baseball game.
Donít believe me? Itís true. They play the same game; itís just the first one. Donít get me wrongóI love baseball. I just feel like I got my hopes up for this one game that turned out to be the same as if I had gone to a random game in June. There were more people, and there was more spectacle, but was the overall experience really that different? Not at all.
There was an excess of meaningless introductions and Phana-Vision videos to get everybody pumped up, but it was the same show once the game got started. The game had everything. Home runs, errors, a fight between a Phillies fan and a Braves fan, a fight between a Phillies fan and, well, another Phillies fan and a plethora of boos and jeers for the home teamís leftfielder. Everything.
The game itself was great. Back and forth, extra innings, clutch hitting, even more clutch hitting and one team cracking. Are any of these things exclusive to an Opening Day game? Of course not.
The fans cheered for Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard and Chase Utley. Rollins had a great game, including a home run, but he also struck out in his first two at-bats. Howard had two singles, but the reigning MVP also struck out twice on sub-90s fastballs over the heart of the plate. Utley had a mediocre day and couldnít come through in the clutch, fouling out with two men on and two outs in the ninth. Starting pitcher Brett Myers made the biggest bonehead play of the day, hanging a curve on an 0-2 count that ended up at least 430 feet away to dead center field. Myers received a standing ovation 30 seconds later when he was taken out of the game.
How come these players didnít get booed when they failed? Why are these players exempt? Because they had good seasons last year? Arenít we Philly fans, who boo whenever something doesnít go right?
Instead, Pat Burrell was the recipient of most of the boos, but many of them came before the game even started. Now, Iím as big a hater as they come when it comes to Burrell, but how can he be expected to replicate his 2002 campaign when no one in the stands thinks that he can? The guys that I went to the game with decided to give him a couple weeks to get his act together, and if he shows no signs of growth and improvement, then weíll get on his case. But when he gets introduced for the first time of the season and gets booed, thatís not helping.
I came to the realization that most of the people in the stands booed because they want Burrell to fail so that they can boo him. Whereís the logic here? You donít have to blow the stadium away with applause, but donít savagely boo him when he comes out to play left field in the top of the first on the first day of the season.
The good game notwithstanding, the problem was that there was no electricity in the air, even for a hyped-up team like the Phillies against a division rival. The point is that most of the people who were there are not going to be there in June, and theyíre not going to care until September, maybe August. They went to Opening Day because they have the means to do so, and theyíll be the people who go to the end-of-the-year sellouts and (hopefully) the playoffs for the same reason. Theyíre not the biggest fans in the city, they are just faster on the computer to get the tickets, or have a load of money to buy them at an extraordinary price.
Most of the people arenít really fans, theyíre just there for the experience. Theyíre there to cheer on the players that they hear are good, and to boo the players that they hear radio personalities trash. To be perfectly honest, they can have the experience. Iíll take the games in June with about 20,000 people, including the 500 or so fans who can actually tell the difference between Clay Condrey and Matt Smith.
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