Are Phillies fans — gasp! — going soft?

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Philadelphia sports fans probably get more attention and take more heat for their behavior than any group of their kind in U.S. sports.

Whether it’s selling sex for World Series tickets, booing Santa Claus (and robots!) or various other acts of tomfoolery, Philly fans have built a reputation as being, well, a little bit tough.

I’m hesitant to paint such a wide group of people with such a narrow brush, and will even defend Phillies fans in some cases – that robot was pretty dumb – but the body of evidence seems to suggest that the reputation is not completely without merit.

There are some, however, who disagree. Take Frank Fitzpatrick, of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Fitzpatrick writes that while Philly fans used to be among the toughest in sports, they have lost their edge.

I have always believed Philly fans were among the toughest, most demanding in sports.

They rewarded and scolded the deserving with equal fervor. No player or team got a pass simply for wearing the home colors. They didn’t worship. They respected.

But I’m beginning to have doubts.

Fitzpatrick cites affectionate signs being held in the stands (“We Love You, Charlie M!”), as a signal of the unconditional fan love that will “drag us down to the level of St. Louis or Memphis.” He asserts that Philly fans aren’t questioning their heroes anymore, just worshipping them.

The columnist then continued on writing about the Flyers and their fans, and how they are suffering a similar fate. Luckily, since the Flyers are irrelevant to this blog, I will spare you any details. Besides, that was about the time my eyes started to glaze over.

So what say you, Phillies fans? Have you gone soft? Has all the success of recent seasons gone to your heads and turned you into mindless drones who root for your team without question or criticism?

I’ll be curious to read what you have to say in the comments section below (no batteries, please!). But feel free to finish your Chase Utley love letters first, of course.

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The Braves are banning outside food. And they’re probably lying about why they’re doing it.

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Here’s a thing a lot of people don’t realize: there are a lot of ballparks that allow you to bring in outside food.

Not all of them, but a lot do. They don’t publicize it, obviously, because they want you to buy their expensive food, but if you go to the concessions policy page on most team’s websites, you can get the scoop. It often lists “soft-sided coolers” under “permitted items,” which is code for “yes, you can bring your own food in.” Some may specifically limit THAT to sealed plastic water bottles, but for the most part, if you can bring soft-sided coolers into the park, that means it’s OK to bring in grandma’s potato salad and a few sandwiches. They may check your coolers, of course, to make sure you’re not bringing in alcohol or whatever.

The Atlanta Braves have always allowed food into the ballpark. But thats going to change in shiny new Sun Trust Park. The AJC reports that the Braves have announced a new policy via which ticket holders will not be allowed to bring in outside food. Exceptions will be made for infant food and for special dietary restriction items.

Which, OK, it’s their park and their rules. If they want to cut out the PB&J for junior and force you to buy him a $9 “kids pack” — or if they want you to forego grandma’s potato salad to buy that pork chop sandwich we mentioned yesterday — that’s their choice. Everything else about the Braves new stadium has been about extracting money from fans, so why not the concessions policy too?

My beef with this is less about the policy. It’s about their stated reason for it:

The changes are a result of tighter security being put into place this season throughout the league, said the Braves spokesperson.

This, as the French say, is horses**t.

We know it is because not all teams are prohibiting outside food. If there are tighter security measures across the board, other teams are implementing them without the food restriction. Even the Yankees, who take security theater to extreme heights as it is, are still allowing fans to bring in their own food.

The Braves, I strongly suspect, are using these measures as an excuse to cut down on competition for their concessions. Which, like I said, go for it. Just be honest about what you’re doing and stop blaming “tightened security” for your cash grab.

Yadier Molina says Adam Jones “has to apologize to the Puerto Rican people”

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After the U.S. won the World Baseball Classic on Wednesday night, Adam Jones told a reporter that he and his teammates were motivated in part by the fact that Puerto Rico already had championship t-shirts printed up and plans for a parade/celebration in Puerto Rico in place beforehand.

Which, OK, whatever you need to motivate you, Adam, but all of that seems complicated by the fact that (a) ALL teams playing for a championship have pre-printed gear, thus enabling them to be put on moments after the final out; and (b) Puerto Rico’s celebration plans were not contingent on winning or losing. In fact, they went ahead and had a parade/celebration even though they lost. The WBC was a big deal to them in ways it simply wasn’t to the U.S., so it makes sense.

Yadier Molina of Team Puerto Rico did not take kindly to Jones’ comments. He tells ESPN Deportes this:

“Adam Jones … is talking about things he doesn’t know about,” Molina told ESPN. “He really has to get informed because he shouldn’t have said those comments, let alone in public and mocking the way [preparations] were made . . . He has to apologize to the Puerto Rican people,” Molina said. “Obviously, you wanted to win; he didn’t know what this means to [our] people.”

Kind of a messy little controversy, eh?

My feeling about it is that Jones probably didn’t know the whole story about Puerto Rico’s plans and misinterpreted celebration for arrogance. I also suspect that most players motivate themselves in all manner of irrational ways like this, but we just don’t hear about it all that much. Jones can do whatever he wants to psych himself up, but it changes the equation a bit when you talk about it to the press. Perceived slights that an athlete uses internally can seem petty once exposed to the light of day.

Either way: Jones does not have a reputation for being insulting or disrespectful, so I seriously doubt that was his intent here. I also think that, while Molina has a right to be miffed, the “he must apologize to the Puerto Rican people” thing is laying it on a bit thick. Maybe Jones can just text Molina and some P.R. players and say he was sorry, followed by a “we’re all good, man” and this can end? That makes the most sense.

If not, well, the Orioles do play the Cardinals in an interleague series this summer, so maybe we’ll see some fireworks.