Making The Best of Bad Baseball: The Phillies Fan’s Perspective

“We love Philly sports, and we love Philadelphia. It’s called The City Of Brotherly Love; regardless of whether we're doing good or not, it's still love.” - Jamel Major, 29, of Conshohocken, PA

The 2017 Philadelphia Phillies aren’t your typical bad baseball team; not only are they the worst iteration of the Phillies in recent memory, but with a predicted end-of-season record of 51-111, they also stand to be one of the worst teams in modern times. How does such a status impact life at Citizens Bank Park, and the views, literal and figurative, of the fans, who stick with the team, for better or worse?

Aidan Devlin, 6, watches the Phillies play the Braves at Citizens Bank Park on July 29th, 2017. Devlin has been going to games since he was born; asked how he deals with the Phillies' recent record, he simply shrugged and said "if they lose, I'll still come."
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Citizens Bank Park, as viewed from the 300 level behind home plate.

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Fans watch Phillies starting pitcher Jerad Eickhoff warm up near the bullpen before facing the Atlanta Braves at Citizens Bank Park.

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David Richards, 49, of Canterbury, CT, speaks with his wife during the Phillies' game against the Braves at Citizens Bank Park on July 29th, 2017. "It's been 45 years of suffering," he said of being a Phillies fan. Of the new period of Phillies awfulness, he says that we've been through it before. "We've had all the tragedy before '80 and '08; it's like being Cubs or Red Sox fan before the championships." 

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Fans take in the sunset as the Phillies play the Braves at Citizens Bank Park.

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A group of tailgaters socializes as Citizens Bank Park looms behind, on July 29th, 2017.

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Phillies reliever Jesen Therien makes his Major League debut at Citizens Bank Park.

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Gavin Sheetz, 10, with his mother Yvette Sheetz, 43, watch the Phillies play the Braves at Citizens Bank Park on July 29th, 2017. The Sheetz family comes to games from Reading, PA, two or three times a year, and more often go to Reading Phillies games, and wait for minor league prospects to crop up at Citizens Bank Park. "It seems like every time we make the trek they lose badly, and then they win big the next day," Gavin said. The Phillies won the game 4-3 in extra innings.

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Dominick Giuffrida, 23, and Chris Santori, 23, both of Norristown, tailgate near Citizens Bank Park on July 29th, 2017. Santori has been going to games since he was a child, but goes much less frequently now. "2008 obviously was magical," he said. "Sue me, but I don't want to go to see them get creamed."

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Two crowd members exit a half-filled section on the 100 level of Citizens Bank Park.

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Phillies starting pitcher Jerad Eickhoff warms up in the bullpen before facing the Atlanta Braves.

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Jamie Kemm, 44, Roxborough, Chase Kemm, 11, during a tailgate near Citizens Bank Park on July 29th, 2017. The Kemms had season tickets from '07-'11, but don't miss having season tickets. "Doing it with kids is tougher," Jamie said. "Plus, the baseball isn't as great."

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Jack McConaghy, 70, speaks to a fan as the Phillies play the Braves at Citizens Bank Park on July 29th, 2017. “Fans are a lot better when they're winning,” he said. “You obviously see a lot more smiles when you leave the stadium." McConaghy used to work for Mobil as an accountant before starting with the Phillies. “There was a hole I needed to fill,” he said. “And working here filled that hole.” 

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Young fans strive to catch a ball thrown to them by a Phillies pitching coach before the Phillies play the Braves.

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Fans walk along the main concourse as lone fan writes in the Hall of Fame Club at Citizens Bank Park.

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Fans celebrate after an eighth inning extra-bases hit as the Phillies made their way to an 4-3 extra-innings win at Citizens Bank Park on July 29th, 2017.

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Dave and Reba Prendergast, of Delaware County, tailgate near Citizens Bank Park on July 29th, 2017. They've been season ticket holders for around a decade, through the best and worst of times. "The ballpark has emptied," Reba remarked. "We walk in and they upgrade us." 

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Phillies outfielder Aaron Altherr strides back into right field as the sun sets at Citizens Bank Park.

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Evan Barker, 33, Southampton NJ, at his tailgate, complete with grill, near Citizens Bank Park on July 29th, 2017. Barker and his longtime tailgating friends met because of the proximity of season ticket seats. When asked why he still tailgates, he said "We still love to see each other, and we still love baseball. It's still America's pastime."

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Attendees drink and socialize at the tailgate of Evan Barker, of Southampton, NJ, near Citizens Bank Park on July 29th, 2017. Barker and his longtime tailgating friends met because of the proximity of season ticket seats. When asked why he still tailgates, he said "We still love to see each other, and we still love baseball. It's still America's pastime." 

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Jackson McNair, 5, talks to his father Matt McNair, 34, before the Phillies play the Braves at Citizens Bank Park on July 29th, 2017. The McNair pair are new to the area; this Phillies game is their first.

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Fans watch Phillies starting pitcher Jerad Eickhoff and catcher Cameron Rupp warm up in the bullpen below before the Phillies play the Braves.

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Fans watch Phillies starting pitcher Jerad Eickhoff and catcher Cameron Rupp warm up in the bullpen below before the Phillies play the Braves at Citizens Bank Park.

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Young fans wait by the Phillies' dugout in the hope of getting baseballs and other paraphernalia signed, before the Phillies play the Braves at Citizens Bank Park.

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Phillies catcher Cameron Rupp warms up in the bullpen before the Phillies play the Braves at Citizens Bank Park.

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Fans relax and converse as the Phillies play the Braves at Citizens Bank Park.

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Phillies starting pitcher Jerad Eickhoff stares down home plate as the Phillies play the Braves at Citizens Bank Park on July 29th, 2017.

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The sun sets over Citizens Bank Park, silhouetting attendees sitting in the 300 and 400 levels of the ballpark.

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