Five things for Phillies fans to be grateful on this Thanksgiving Day

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The Phanatic and the beautiful Citizens Bank Park are among many things for which Phillies fans should be thankful

 

Despite an eighth consecutive season without a winning record or postseason appearance, there remain a number of things for Phillies fans to be grateful when it comes to their favorite ball club on this Thanksgiving Day 2019.

In that spirit of gratefulness which most of us are examining on this uniquely American holiday, here are five things in no particular order which I believe all Philadelphia Phillies fans can agree on being blessed to experience.

ACTIVE, DETERMINED OWNERSHIP

It has become clear over the last two decades that few members of the Phillies ownership group are more interested and invested in winning than John Middleton.

Over the last five years in particular, Middleton has taken a more active role, becoming the public face of that ownership group. Three years ago, Middleton was elected as the club’s “control person”, making him directly accountable to the commissioner’s office.

Last off-season, it was Middleton’s direct involvement in the Bryce Harper negotiations that finally lured the young superstar to Philadelphia.

The owner has proven his willingness to get personally involved, and to write the big checks necessary to lure the biggest names to the Phillies. For that, we fans should all be grateful.

FRANCHISE HISTORY

This could be laughed off by anyone who wishes to point out that fact that the Philadelphia Phillies have suffered more losses than any professional sports franchise in American history.

However, most of that massive losing took place in the 1930’s and 1940’s. For the last four decades or so, the Phillies have given fans much to cheer, including 11 division crowns, five National League pennants, two World Series championships.

The Phillies have also become one of the best teams in all of baseball at celebrating their history. Numerous reunions and other celebrations and memorials of players and other significant figures are frequent and always well done.

The Phillies Wall of Fame has become a particular highlight. Established in 1978, there are now 41 individuals enshrined on the wall. Each year, one new person is added. The coming years will see many recent-era favorites join their ranks, with historic celebrations to honor those players and their teams.

CITIZENS BANK PARK

There are few more beautiful ballparks in all of Major League Baseball than this now 15-year-old shrine in South Philadelphia.

The facility itself is gorgeous on the outside, but it is even more so once you enter. From many sections you get a panoramic view of the downtown skyline. The open concourse allows a view of the game action from nearly everywhere you walk. Sight lines and seating angles are perfect no matter where you purchase.

The food options at Citizens Bank Park are the envy of baseball, in fact, of all sporting venues in the nation. From traditional Philly fare such as cheesesteaks and soft pretzels to traditional baseball fare such as hotdogs and Cracker Jack to pub-style bar food and sit-down restaurants, the ballpark has it all.

Chances to purchase all manner of clothing, paraphernalia, and memorabilia abound. You can find these items as well as the great food selections around the concourse, or along the outfield in the gathering spot known as Ashburn Alley.

There is plenty to keep the kids occupied. At the outfield section known as “The Yard” they can experience a miniature version of the ballpark, challenge themselves with a rock climbing wall, and more. In the Phanatic Phun Zone, smaller kids can lose themselves in a Phillies-themed playground.

And then there is that favorite of Phillies fans of all ages, the Phillie Phanatic. The big green fuzzy guy has entertained fans for more than four decades, and has become a beloved, and still fun, institution.

NEW GENERATION PLAYERS

When the Phillies began to turn the page from the winning decade of the 2000’s, the process of moving on from a host of fan favorite players was excruciatingly slow.

However, over the last year or two, new players have emerged from the farm system to become favorites to a new generation. The club has also swung a few key trades and made free agent signings to bring in more popular players.

Homegrown favorites include pitcher Aaron Nola, first baseman Rhys Hoskins, and versatile Scott Kingery. Trade acquisition J.T. Realmuto and free agent signee Bryce Harper were the two best Phillies players during this past 2019 season, and promise to  remain fan favorites for years to come.

Management and ownership are now under a mandate from the fans to continue adding to this new base of favorites, bringing in a few more players to finally push the team over the top and back to consistent contending status.

Oh, and of course, I would be remiss to not mention that we have a new manager with a mostly new coaching staff. Joe Girardi is a proven winner who did so in the media and fan crucible of the Big Apple. He was the Phillies fans choice, so again, someone for whom we should be grateful is now on board.

HOT STOVE ANTICIPATION

Just as with a year ago when the Phillies were considered leading contenders to land either Harper or the other major free agent, Manny Machao, this off-season finds the club again under the ‘Hot Stove’ spotlight.

Both general manager Matt Klentak, whose future may be directly on the line over the next three-to-four months, and Middleton have publicly stated that rebuilding is over, and the time to win is now.

That management and ownership knows that they have a solid base of players already who put together a .500 season this past year. Now their job is to find the pieces to make it a winner.

There are any number of free agent starting pitchers who would improve the Phillies rotation, from ace-caliber arms to mid-level experienced pitchers. The club needs to add two of these hurlers, and that process will keep fans interested over the coming weeks and months.

With needs beyond just starting pitching – at least one more starting caliber position player, a couple of proven veteran bench options, maybe even another bullpen piece – there will be much to keep fans interested during the long, cold winter to come. For true baseball fans, that is always something for which to be thankful.

 

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