The Phillies problem with history – or is it personality?

They say it on Twitter. They say it on talk radio. They likely say it on Facebook, but I pay little attention to the platform that…oh, never mind. The Philadelphia Phillies are unlovable. That’s the point.

With no winning season since the record-setting 2011, Phillies fans don’t like their team, the one that just moved to five games over .500 and are challenging for their divisional championship or a Wild Card of some sort.

How will the Philadelphia Phillies ever win over their disappointed fans?

People in Philadelphia don’t seem to understand, but people in Pittsburgh, Detroit, Kansas City, Baltimore, and for that matter, the North Side of Chicago would kill for a 69-64 record at this point in the season. And love the team with that record.

However, one of the most expensive teams in Major League Baseball is perhaps the least lovable, despite having a couple of bona fide superstars, one arguably the NL MVP this season, the other the best catcher in MLB, as well as a former MVP and colorful fellow who has survived two ACL repairs, a host of embraceable role players, and quality young players who supposedly weren’t even in the team pipeline from the minor leagues.

For those who need translation, that’s Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto, Andrew McCutchen, Ronald Torreyes, Brad Miller, Nick Maton, Luke Williams, and Rafael Marchan. Oh, and Jean Segura, one of baseball’s best hitters for the past decade.

The begging question, then, is: What is wrong with Philadelphians?

Well, there’s the team history, which only briefly – for roughly ten years at the beginning of this century – took a pause from general disaster. But the question is: Why doesn’t a city full of baseball fans, who understand baseball very, very well, embrace this Phillies team?

What is it? Are they not as “fiery” as Pete Rose and Shane Victorino? Or not as stoic as Mike Schmidt and Chase Utley? The contradictory matter of the above choices says a lot. A fan in Philadelphia is very much like Joe Btfsplk, the ancient character in the Li’l Abner cartoon strip.

Joe always had a rain cloud over his head and the look of doom on his face.

Yeah, a historically bad team is one thing, but how can the embrace of contrary types like Schmidt and Victorino be explained? It seems to be that Phillies fans doubt the notion of success for their baseball team no matter the year, or the people in the red pinstripes, because history says that what a sensible person does.

That’s a shame because the current team is fighting hard against numerous injuries, COVID suspensions, and lots of other matters designed to give manager Joe Girardi ulcers – the injury elimination until 2022 of a power-hitting first baseman, for example, and some awful fielding lapses.

But there’s the persistent accusation that the team has “no personality,” which brings us back to the question above: Whose personality is needed – Rose’s or Utley’s?

The sad fact of the matter seems to be that Phillies fans won’t believe anything good is possible until it has happened – meaning, at least a divisional championship. There has never been a Phillies team analogous to Villanova’s 2018 national championship basketball team – a team common sense dictated should have won because they were the best team.

No, wait. What about the ’11 team, a club that won 102 regular-season games?

Right. They ultimately lost. Don’t even begin to think about the cries of “he has to go!” in Philadelphia if this year’s team posts a winning season but gets no Wild Card, or loses a Wild Card game.

Or, as the Twitter account known as “Did the Phillies lose?” declared early on Sept. 3, “The Marlins are starting a pitcher [tonight] with a 7.19 ERA, which is a nightmare scenario for the Phillies.”