More Sports:

June 04, 2024

Eytan Shander: The Phillies and Philadelphia are on sports' center stage right now

The Phillies should bring some Philly flavor across the pond this coming weekend when they face the Mets in London.

Sports Opinion
Phillies-fans-Rhys-Hoskins_060424_USAT Eric Hartline/USA Today Sports

The Phillies are one of the most intriguing and popular teams in baseball right now.

Is Philadelphia the center of the sports world right now? At least in this country — they just might be.

The Phillies are far closer to winning the World Series than they are at risk of suffering a massive collapse (like so many teams have in recent memory here). In fact, they are set to represent the entire league on an international stage this weekend in London.

Gone are the days where Philly teams are unpopular, for whatever reason the Philadelphia sports landscape has changed from being ignored – or worse, exploited – to being celebrated. The Eagles are heading to Brazil – a new venture for the most popular sport in this country (by a mile). 

The Union and Sixers garner attention from their respective leagues, the NBA loves a primetime game with Joel Embiid, and even the Flyers got love late as their almost-playoff run caught more national attention. They have one of the more outspoken coaches in all of sports, so that’s a similar magnet like Embiid. 

We are no longer able to call out why the national media turns their back on us, or disrespects us with scheduling or TV times. We are the story, Philly – get used to it. Much like we’ve already seen with the Philadelphia Eagles becoming one of the most popular brands in the NFL, that’s taken place already with the Phillies in baseball. 

Call it whatever you want. The Bryce Harper effect or just a bunch of happy guys having fun playing baseball. The Ranger Suárez effect or simply a dominant force that’s connecting dots at the plate — earlier this year than most. That’s why they are headlining the London series.

We travel. 

We make the effort.

We do everything that’s necessary to bring Philadelphia to any opposing stadium or neutral ground. Mets fans are probably not going to be traveling in hoards this season. It’s not easy to pick up and head to London to watch a team struggling to be mediocre. 

We travel for Harper. Wheeler. Alec. Ranger. The whole damn team.

Baseball knows it. They put us on center stage last year in the playoffs to highlight this crowd — with every start in primetime. They saw it again last night with some amazing support for Rhys Hoskins in his Philly return — as he hit a homer in a Brewers loss. It’s way more than love we show to former players like Hoskins, it’s truly about how loud and palpable it comes through your TV. Nobody carries an event like Philadelphia fans, and nobody is dominating the National League like the Phillies. 

This isn’t an NFL move; sending a terrible Jacksonville Jaguars team over the pond to initially get things going in England. This is the NFL move of sending your best product to initially get things going in Brazil.

Make no mistake. The actions are correlated even if they weren’t brought together on purpose. The Phillies are heading to London to represent their sport – the Eagles are heading to Brazil to do the same. 

Both teams are super popular, but carry a fanbase that brings a different level of excitement and experience. Anyone sitting in the stands in either Brazil or England will experience something they would never with any other team in either league. 

Let’s just be real about this. Fans from the Cowboys or 49ers bases may travel, they may show up in their freshly bought Emmitt Smith or Jerry Rice jerseys, but could never duplicate the loudest or wild experiences mirrored by Philly fans. 

I can’t wait to watch the Phils destroy the Mets on a different continent. I’m more excited to see how strong the showing is and all of the broadcast shots around the stadium. Props to MLB for getting this one right. It’s not hard to see what we bring to the table, no matter the city or country. 

Eytan Shander is a long time radio and TV personality in Philadelphia. In addition to his weekly column, you can currently listen and watch him on Fox29’s Good Day and other sports shows. He’s giving betting advice on OddsShopper. A lifetime Eagles fan, Eytan lives just outside the city with his wife.

Follow Eytan on Twitter: @shandershow