Your Guide to Watching a Bad Phillies Team

The Phillies are going to be out of contention down the stretch for the first time in a decade. Deal with it.

You came pretty recently, but you became a big fan quick. You have a hat and a shirt—maybe a whole bunch of them. You celebrated the 2008 World Series victory on Broad Street and went to the parade, you argued with friends over free agent contact signings and you cheered when the Phillies re-signed Cliff Lee. You became a Citizens Bank Park regular. You might even have a bobblehead.

You thought it’d never end. But now your beloved Phillies are losers. Terrible, even!

The Phillies weren’t playing well, but they hovered around .500 until recently, losing 10 of 11 games before the All-Star Break even though they got Ryan Howard and Chase Utley back. They’re now 14 games back in the division, 10 in the Wild Card race and virtually assured of missing the playoffs for the first time since 2006. 2006! We were all babies then.

With the Phillies assured of not even being in the wild card hunt for the first time since 2002, newer fans might be wondering how you can deal with watching such a bad team. But never fear! Philadelphia natives who grew up sports fans know exactly what it’s like to watch a terrible Phillies team. If you’re interested in sticking around, here’s a guide on how to watch the season’s second half.

You can stop watching if you want.

The Phillies gained a lot of new fans in the past few seasons, and it’s probably best if you stay. But if you really can’t take it, why not be a front-runner? Sports fans like to act as if fair-weather fans are affronts to all that is great and holy about sports, but there’s no medal of valor for watching a team as rebarbative as the 2012 Phillies.

There’s no test to check if you kept watching if the Phillies make a miracle run to the playoffs. Why wouldn’t a team have more fans when they’re winning? And there are advantages for hardcore fans when people are fair-weather, too: Cheaper tickets at the ballpark, more comfortable rides on the Broad Street Line down to the stadium and the chance to educate an army of new or returning fans when the team gets good again.

If you’re headed out, you can stop here. We’ll welcome you back.

Drink heavily.

With alcohol from New Jersey to make it extra special! That’s really all you need, but teetotalers can keep reading.

You don’t have to pay attention all that closely.

A common complaint about baseball is that it’s boring. Truth is an affirmative defense to that claim, of course: Baseball is boring. But that’s exactly the point. One of the great charms of baseball is that it can be on in the background, hovering behind you while you do more important work like looking up the Wikipedia entry for Diabetes detection dogs. If you miss a single to left, you probably know what happened. And if you want to check, there are DVRs and Internet highlights and GIFs to fill you in. Trust me, I’ve half-watched bad Phillies teams’ games for most of my life.

Make fun of the announcers.

The Phillies two main announcers are Tom McCarthy (play-by-play) and Chris Wheeler (color). Wheeler has been unpopular among much of the fanbase for a long time; there’s still a glossary of his favorite terms you can do a drinking game to.

Tom McCarthy, though, has recently become the target of fan ire. The main issue with McCarthy is that he’s just too damn cheerful. It was bearable, of course, when the Phillies were winning 90-plus games a year and dominating the division. Now that they stink, his cheerfulness in the face of loss after loss makes it seem like he smokes meth inbetween innings. Making fun of the announcers unites a Phillies fanbase otherwise torn on who to blame for the terrible season the team’s having.

Find friends with the same scapegoat as you.

That reminds me! The Phillies are bad this season for a variety of factors, from injuries to bad off-season moves to an aging lineup to an atrocious bullpen to curious managerial decisions. But that’s no fun. What you need to get through the second half of the year is a single scapegoat to blame all the woes for. Is it Charlie Manuel? Ruben Amaro? Goofy smilin’ Donovan McNabb Hunter Pence? It can be any of them. Usually this could lead to arguments, so keep it quiet until you find the guy who really hates the way Ty Wigginton plays as much as you do. Then you can rip into the poor rich athlete, and feel as if the Phillies have won the game they just blew to the Mets or whatever.

Hold on to the good moments.

One of my favorite Phillies moments over the past few years was when Roy Oswalt played left field in the 15th and 16th innings in a game against Houston. The Phillies lost that game. But just because the Phillies stink doesn’t mean they can’t do something enjoyable. Before he was traded, Jim Thome had a memorable walkoff homer. If you enjoy baseball, stick around and the Phillies will make you smile. Just not as much as usual.