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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.

You can follow Bob on Twitter, and get all your HBT updates here.

Sonny Gray was denied insurance coverage for the World Baseball Classic

MESA, AZ - FEBRUARY 22:  Pitcher Sonny Gray #54 of the Oakland Athletics poses for a portrait during photo day at HoHoKam Stadium on February 22, 2017 in Mesa, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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The San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser reports that Athletics’ right-hander Sonny Gray will not pitch in the World Baseball Classic after failing to meet the necessary criteria for insurance coverage. He missed 70 days on the disabled list with forearm tightness and a back strain in 2016.

According to Oakland GM David Forst, Major League Baseball tried to persuade the insurance carrier to waive the requirements for Gray to pitch for Team USA, but the request was ultimately refused. Without coverage, Gray will be unable to participate in the competition, though Forst adds that the 27-year-old is still in perfect health as Opening Day approaches and should benefit from a slower spring training schedule without the added commitment on his plate.

Injuries complicated a down year for Gray, who pitched to a career-worst 5.69 ERA, 3.2 BB/9 and 7.2 SO/9 rate through 117 innings in 2016. His 1.4 HR/9 and 17.8% HR/FB rates suggested that he felt the effects of the home run spike more than most, capping a disappointing follow-up to his All-Star campaign during 2015.

While Gray works up to a healthy and productive start to the 2017 season, the Athletics will still see two players on WBC rosters next month: right-handed reliever Santiago Casilla, who is scheduled to pitch for the Dominican Republic, and fellow righty John Axford, for Team Canada.

Report: Josh Hamilton likely to undergo another knee surgery

ANAHEIM, CA - JULY 24:  Josh Hamilton #32 of the Texas Rangers in the dugout before a game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on July 24, 2015 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Jonathan Moore/Getty Images)
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Rangers’ outfielder Josh Hamilton is scheduled for another knee exam on Monday, according to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Hamilton left camp last week after feeling some pain in his left knee and received a PRP injection to alleviate the symptoms. Wilson notes that both Dr. Walt Lowe and Rangers’ assistant general manager Mike Daly noticed little improvement in the days following the injection.

More drastic measures could be necessary if the 35-year-old intends to return to the field this year. MLB.com’s TR Sullivan adds that the Rangers are considering arthroscopic surgery for Hamilton, which would set him back at least 4-6 weeks and eliminate any real chance of his making the Opening Day roster in April. Until they see the results of the surgery, however, the Rangers won’t rule out Hamilton’s potential return to the big leagues in 2017.

Hamilton is looking at his third major procedure since the end of the 2015 season. He missed all of the Rangers’ 2016 campaign after undergoing reconstructive knee surgery last spring and has not seen a full workload in the majors since his 2013 run with the Angels. Should he make a full recovery this season, he figures to see some time at first base/DH or the corner outfield.