When I moved from Brooklyn to Pennsylvania in 2007 I could purchase Phillies tickets day of the game at Citizens Bank Park. Practically any game I wanted to attend, mostly when the Mets were in town, I could plan on finding a good seat at face value. I took advantage of this when Reaghan was little; she was 5 during the 2007 season. We went to a few games, sat on the Field Level and enjoyed watching what would become a championship team. Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Cole Hamels and Jimmy Rolllins would lead the Phillies to five consecutive National League East titles. In 2008 they defeated the Tampa Bay Rays to win their first World Series title in twenty-eight years. The days of walking up to the box office and buying a ticket were over. Throughout the Phillies run of division titles Citizens Bank Park was the place to be, selling out 257 consecutive games from 2009-2012. For once Philadelphia wasn’t an Eagles town, the city fell in love with those Phillies teams.
As Reaghan got older I took her to fewer games, our seats drifted further away from the field and we paid more to attend. This hurt even more because as the Phillies rose to prominence the Mets sunk to the bottom of the National League East, the I-95 rivalry lost its’ luster. The Phillies followed their 2008 World Series title with the National League pennant in 2009, losing to the Yankees in the World Series. In 2010 the Phillies lost in the National League Championship Series to the eventual champion San Francisco Giants. This was a big upset at the time; the Phillies were heavy favorite heading into to the series. The 2011 Phillies were the best in franchise history winning 102 games behind the pitching quartet of Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cliff Lee however the four aces couldn’t get out of the first round, losing to the eventual champion St. Louis Cardinals. Their run of five consecutive playoff appearances ended when former MVP Ryan Howard snapped his Achilles on the final out of the series. The Phillies haven’t sniffed the playoffs since that October evening.
My dislike for the Phillies has softened over the years. No sense in kicking a team and their fan base while they are down, especially when it’s as easy to find a ticket at beautiful Citizens Bank Park as ever before! Today I can jump on StubHub the morning of any Phillies game and find a great seat for less than face value. It’s a great time to introduce new fans to baseball when the ballpark is half empty. Nowadays I take Griffin, who at five isn’t concerned where the Phillies are in the standings. He just needs a bucket of Crab Fries and some space to roam Ashburn Alley to make him happy. Chase Utley is a Dodger to him. I’ve noticed that Citizens Bank Park attendants are more accommodating with fewer fans in the stands. Griffin has already met the Phillie Phanatic and was given a batting practice ball. It’s easy to jump on a team’s bandwagon when they are winning Division titles, but I think you become a true fan when you’re at the ballpark with the diehards.
Griffin and I were in attendance for the rubber match of the June Phillies Giants series. With 2010 long in the rearview mirror for both teams the game was an opportunity for one to win a series, a rare occurrence throughout the 2017 season. Former Tampa Bay Rays teammates Jeremy Hellickson and Matt Moore faced off on the mound but neither factored into the decision. The Phillies jumped on Moore early, but the Giants would come back on Hellickson and the Phillies bullpen behind Brandon Crawford’s 6th inning two run home run and 7th inning two RBI single. The Giants 7-6 lead was short lived as the Phillies mercurial centerfielder Odubel Herrera doubled to tie the game in the 7th. The Phillies took the lead for good in the 8th on solo home runs by Maikel Franco and Freddy Galvis. Hector Neris closed the three hour and twenty eight minute affair with a clean 9th inning to give the Phillies their 19th win of the year. Phillies 9 Giants 7