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.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=djQZhUc-0U0&w=425&h=349%5D

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Blue Jays clinch playoff berth with Orioles’ loss to Red Sox

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TORONTO — The Blue Jays clinched a postseason berth Thursday without taking the field.

Toronto was assured of an AL wild card berth when the Boston Red Sox beat the Baltimore Orioles 5-3.

If Toronto holds its current position as the first of the AL’s three wild cards, the Blue Jays would open a best-of-three wild-card series at Rogers Centre next week.

“These guys are excited to be in this position,” Blue Jays manager John Schneider said after Wednesday’s 8-3 loss to the New York Yankees. “You’ve got three really good pitchers lined up against a good Boston team, playing at home. So I think it’s more excitement more than it’s nerves or anything. I think the guys are going to come out and be ready to roll on Friday night.”

Toronto became the fourth AL team to clinch a playoff berth, joining division champions Houston, the Yankees and Cleveland. The Astros and Yankees have first-round byes.

The Blue Jays last went to the playoffs in 2020, when they were knocked out with two straight losses to Tampa Bay.

Eight of the 12 berths in the expanded postseason have been clinched: The Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis earned division titles, and Atlanta and the New York Mets are assured no worse the wild cards while still competing to win the NL East. The Dodgers have a first-round bye.