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July 16, 2019

Natalie Egenolf: Booing just isn't enough, the Phillies need help

Opinion Phillies
Phillies-Bryce-Harper-fans-boo-071619_USAT Bill Streicher/USA Today Sports

Bryce Harper has gotten his share of boos this season.

When you think of Philadelphia sports, you think of “booing.” It’s as synonymous to Philly sports fans as the Liberty Bell is to Philly. 

Ryan Howard was notoriously booed over his career here in Philadelphia (especially in the later years). At his retirement ceremony on Sunday, he asked the fans to support the current Phillies team the way they supported that 2008 World Series squad. He said, “Dammit, they’re trying.”

I’ve often wondered myself over the years if booing is the most effective way to try and boost a team that’s struggling. I’m of the belief that Donovan McNabb being booed after the Eagles drafted him hung over his head his entire career. It was a chip that never left his shoulder and was evident through his entire love-hate relationship with the fanbase in Philly. 

Ben Simmons was critical of the fans after being booed last year; he later recanted and said he was aware that it only means the fan base cares. Most players are able to use the boo as motivation, but for some it hurts more than it helps.

The “boo” has taken on multiple meanings over the years and each “boo” in particular has its own distinct message. 

When Bryce Harper was booed in the beginning of the season, I asserted that it was a “joke boo.” Sometimes the fans poke at a player to try and get them going. 

Some boos are excessive, though, and the fanbase can go too far. When done too often, it loses its meaning, as there is nothing effective about booing just to boo. 

After last night’s 16-2 loss to the Dodgers, boos rained down on the Phillies players at Citizens Bank Park. And they were more than warranted. The fanbase was using its vocal power to deliver a message to the team — this was not what we were promised in the beginning of the season. 

Andy MacPhail essentially told the fans last week that the Phillies will not be aggressive at the July 31st trade deadline. On the surface, the team has too many holes to fix to be able to justify blowing up the whole farm system. However, the alternative is that nothing will be done and, as an already restless Phillies fanbase begins to realize that this could be the norm for the rest of the season, those boos will only get louder.

You want to believe him when Bryce Harper says it’s “only one game,” but clinging to the second wild card spot is not going to keep the fans quiet for the rest of the season. 

“Dammit, they’re trying” is not going to be enough to appease a fan base that came in with high expectations and the most excitement surrounding a team that was stocked with veterans who were expected to compete. 

Howard is right, they’re trying. But, dammit, it’s not hard enough and no amount of booing will help.


Follow Natalie on Twitter: @NatalieEgenolf

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