I will never say that Phillies fans don’t support their team. They obviously do, and with great fervor and zeal. To the extent I take issue with them over their level of support is when Phillies fans lay claim to some sort of Phillies Fan Exceptionalism in which they not only support their team to a higher degree, but that they do so in some qualitatively different way. When they claim not just that they have more fans who show up in greater numbers, but that they are better fans in some way, immune to the hot-and-cold running fandom of other teams.
I take issue with this because, any time you look at the numbers, you realize that it’s not the case. Phillies fans, like everyone else, like a winner and get rather “meh” about things when their team loses. From the Philly Inquirer:
The sale of licensed Major League Baseball merchandise was a $5 billion business in 2011, and the 102-win Phillies, according to figures provided by SportsOneSource, accounted for an astonishingly large share, 16.2 percent … But in this 2012 season, when the club’s run of on-field success has come to a sudden, screeching halt, the falloff in those sales has mirrored the deterioration of its won-loss record.
According to SportsOneSource, a Maine firm that monitors the sale of sports-related merchandise at outlets other than ballparks, the purchase of Phillies-related products has declined by 60 percent.
They’re still second to the Yankees in gross sales, but market share has dipped to 8.9 percent.
Still great, obviously, but evidence that, as a fan base, they haven’t broken old paradigms and that people get more excited about them when they win than when they lose. Like just about everyone else.
The Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on starting pitcher Sonny Gray, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. The Astros have added Charlie Morton this offseason, but the club has been trying to add a big-name starting pitcher to put at the top of the rotation behind Dallas Keuchel.
Gray, 27, was limited to 22 starts in the 2016 season due to a forearm issue. His stats left a lot to be desired, as he finished with a 5-11 record, a 5.69 ERA, and a 94/42 K/BB ratio over 117 innings. Considering how Gray pitched in the previous three years, he’s a good bet to bounce back.
Gray is under team control through 2019, which is a big draw for the Astros. Needless to say, the Athletics would want a haul in terms of prospects. Gray will earn $3.575 million in 2017, having avoided arbitration in his first year of eligibility.
As we noted last week, The Chicago Cubs took the unusual step of not waiting until the summer after winning the World Series to make their customary White House visit to meet the president. They did it today, seeing President Obama a few short days before he leaves office.
Despite the fact that Obama is a White Sox fan, he met the Cubs with diplomacy and grace. It’s almost as if he’s been in that business for the past eight years. In return, he was given some gifts by the Cubs: Theo Epstein presented Obama with a No. 44 Cubs jersey, a tile from the center field scoreboard at Wrigley Field, and a lifetime pass to Wrigley as well.
Obama is staying in D.C. after he leaves office this week, hanging around so his daughter can finish high school in the same place she started. Even so, he’s likely going to be back to Chicago a good bit over the rest of his life, so he’ll likely be able to put the free pass to work. Assuming it comes with, like, six companion passes for his Secret Service detail.