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August 30, 2023

Eytan Shander: Have the Phillies turned into the Eagles?

The Phillies are the best of what Philly has to offer right now.

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The Phillies are a vibe.

I couldn’t help but laugh out loud as Trea Turner crushed a ball into the Citizen Bank Park outfield seats, thinking back to a text message from my buddy Sean Richert, saying just that. 

This Phillies team is a lifestyle. Our lifestyle. 

Not much in this city, outside of maybe the Eagles, truly encapsulates what we are as fans like this Phillies team. It’s like they play to our heart, tugging on the strings, knowing exactly what we will do in the process. 

Go down early just to troll us, knowing they will bounce back with a barrage of homers to emphatically storm back. With each comeback victory, they continue to force us to check that old style “Negadelphia” mentality that’s long gone. Although it does sneak its way back after Aaron Nola or Michael Lorenzen give up a ridiculous long ball. Either way, things have changed, and they seem to walk hand in hand with how we live our lives as baseball fans. 

No lead is safe against the hottest team in baseball, pummeling opponents with each home run. Bryce Harper has taken over at the plate, like how his presence dominates this team and clubhouse. What an amazing time to watch a team that is just never out of it no matter the circumstances yet can still frustrate the ever-living hell out of you with one bad inning or stretch of games. 

This has the 2008 feel all over again, despite it coming in different ways. There is no “Big 5” rotation here, although guys like Christopher Sanchez and Taijuan Walker have stepped up in their respective rotation spots more often than not. There is no Doc or Cliff, just Zack and Aaron. There’s no Ryan or Chase. There’s certainly no Jimmy.

But they have a Bryce, which seems to be all they truly need to keep this thing together. The best part is that he’s not going anywhere. He’s become fully integrated into the city of Philadelphia. From the gear to the pandering of fans, to dropping WIP in a post-game comment, Harper is about three big games away from calling into Marks & Reese. 

The team seems to be responding to just about everything around them, be it the weather, a new arm that struggled just last night, or a caller on the local sports station. This is just a different vibe and it’s one hell of a ride. 

Baseball isn’t meant for stuff like this to carry over a season. The ups and downs of a long year usually get lost as other stuff comes across our radar. The Eagles are back. The Sixers are a mess. Something or someone from Philadelphia did something cool and is worth a mention. Stuff like that easily derails a long season that is devoid of hope or any true prospect. 

The Phillies are the anti-baseball team. They provide excitement and drama – some good, some bad – every single night. There’s a storyline, there’s a soundbite, there’s a clip of some fan. It doesn’t matter if Wheeler or Nola or anyone else gives up a surge of runs in the first inning, the game isn’t over. It doesn’t matter if the team knocks out 15 dingers and is leading by 20, we still watch to the very end. We want more. 

This is the first time in 20+ years of living and working in Philadelphia that the Phillies have turned into the Eagles. For so long the rebuttal of people going crazy over something that happened in May was to calm down and not treat this like a 17-game schedule. That’s changed. We have no choice and the Phillies are to blame – or in this case – thank. 

Thank you to Harper and the rest of this Phillies team for showing us what having fun looks like, providing the dramas of everyday life, and standing behind teammates no matter what happens. The ovation for Turner was a microcosm of something much bigger and should be looked at as a true representation of how a team catches its own back.

The buzz of this team remains so long as Harper is in town catching the latest callers on WIP. It stays so long as the team is willing to spend money for big name pitchers – yes, that means keeping Nola. It never leaves just like the passion shown every time this team plays a game. 

The Phillies are Philadelphia’s team like no other in this city. They represent their city like no other team in the league. The best part is they are not alone, and the Eagles start next week.

Go, Philadelphia.

Follow Eytan on Twitter: @shandershow

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