(Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)
If you would’ve told me before the season that the Phillies would be leading the division in August, I’d have told you that the ball park would be packed every night. I would’ve said the atmosphere would be the same as what it was 10 years ago. Unfortunately, I haven’t felt either to be the case and I cannot figure out where the disconnect is. I have some ideas and I have some theories as to why. However, I can’t quite put my finger on where the disconnect lies.
My number one theory is that the fans haven’t bought in because the front office hasn’t. Yes, they acquired Asdrubel Cabrera and Wilson Ramos. However, they ignored their need for a difference maker in the bullpen. While the bullpen had a great July, it was an inconsistent group until then. If fans saw them make a move for Machado and a closer, I think they would’ve come to the ballpark in droves. Instead, we are still seeing games with attendance less than 30,000 while the team has been in first place for over a month.
Another reason could just be the lack of interest in baseball as a whole. Baseball doesn’t have the star power that it did when I was a kid. The casual fan knew who A-Rod, Derek Jeter, Sammy Sosa, Barry Bonds, Pedro Martinez, and Mark McGwire were. I left out a lot of other names as well. The masses want to see stars. Howard, Utley, and Rollins were stars. This could explain why local ratings for the Phillies are doing well, but attendance at the ballpark is lacking.
Then there is the Super Bowl hangover from the Eagles. The Eagles victory over the Patriots quenched the thirst of a lot of championship hungry fans. However, I don’t find that to be the case. I saw the Sixers at home in the playoffs. The Wells Fargo Center was as rabid and loud as ever. What do the Sixers have that the Phillies don’t? A big star like Joel Embiid. Even when the Sixers were 15 games below .500 two seasons ago, fans were flocking to the arena to watch Embiid. Having a star makes you believe you can win any game no matter what the situation. Hoskins is close, but he isn’t quite at that star level yet.
I truly believe that all of the above have something to do with the fans not coming out to the ballpark. I think the lack of star power has the most to do with it. However, come mid-September I expect the place to be near capacity as long as the Phillies keep up their current pace. The place will be rocking come October, and there is no doubt about that.