Ruben Amaro Jr. can look to the recent Mitt Romney video leak to illustrate what he is dealing with relative to the expectations of Phillies fans in 2013.
Romney (now famously) said that 47 percent of Americans pay no Federal income taxes.
He did not stop there. Romney went on to describe what he sees as the significant portion of the voting public “who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that’s an entitlement.”
However you feel about Romney’s words, and whatever your political persuasion, it is not a stretch to say that Romney’s words can easily be tweaked to describe the current relationship between the Philadelphia Phillies and their fanbase.
Substitute “Phillies” for “government” and “Phillies fans” for the people Romney was talking about as a starting point. Substitute wins, division titles and world championships for health care, food and housing, and you see where you end up.
Phillies fans, after five years, five division titles, two pennants and a World Series ring, are feeling entitled.
Like the wide swath of the population that Romney threw a belittling net over, the entitled Phillies fans can be found just about anywhere you look, or listen.
They are waiting in line at the Dunkin’ Donuts, griping about how Ryan Howard’s recent grand slam came with the team already up 12-1—typically empty production from him. They are calling into Philadelphia sports talk radio, trying to talk themselves into Chase Utley as a third baseman and John Mayberry Jr. as an everyday major league outfielder.
And, for now, they are still showing up to the ballpark. Of course they are. 2012’s tickets have already been sold. If you responded to the recent playoff invoice the team sent out, well, hopefully you did not make plans around October baseball at Citizens Bank Park.
In about six weeks, Romney will find out what the electorate thinks of words that he has since admitted were not “elegant.” It is difficult to imagine that he will not pay some price at the polls.
In about six months, RAJ will find out what the ticket-buying public in Philadelphia thinks of the team he created, a team that did not deliver on its promise in 2012. It is difficult to imagine that he will not see fewer season ticket renewals, fewer games sold out before the season even begins…in sum, fewer people willing to buy the 2013 Phillies on faith.
Using the team’s attendance history as a guide, it may not be 2013 that sees the fanbase turn on the Phillies. Even in abbreviated seasons following the 1993 pennant, the Phillies drew over 2 million fans in 1994 and 1995.
But by 1996, the fans had had enough, and the team did not draw over 2 million again until 2003.
So will the fans turn on the team in 2013 if it is another disappointing year?
If not in 2013, then soon enough thereafter.