By Johnny Jones, Contributor
It's September 30th 2018, Phillies Fan Appreciation Day, the very last game of the regular season. The third place Phils, are playing a meaningless rubber match against the Braves, the NL East Champs. I am disgusted to even acknowledge that simply because, like the Phils, the Braves are a young, up-and-coming team who obviously did something right this season that the Phillies did not do.
As I walk into the third Base gate alone, because I could not find one friend who was willing to buy a ticket for this so-called "disaster" of a season. I received my giveaway at the enterance, a Nola fathead and 2019 schedule at the gate, which I faithfully get every year to track the W's & L's of the season.
I proceeded up the escalator to my nosebleed seat behind home-plate. The game hasn't started yet, but minutes after taking my seat, Rhys Hoskins comes out of the dugout and conducts an epic speech. One of the topics he talks about, is the ups and downs of the season and how the one, consistent thing this season was the fans showing up. I chuckled, because according to the boo-birds on talk radio (the same boo-birds who constantly bash our rookie manager), attendance was at a record low, but the truth is that we drew in 250,341 more than last season, so shove it!
Hoskins in my opinion is the best power pull hitter in baseball on the verge of having a very promising career. There is no better Phillie that could've made this speech, a humble man, a player that kids can look up to, a silent leader in the clubhouse and a not-so-silent leader with his bat.
As I sit in my nosebleed seat for a few innings, Caesar Hernandez hits a leadoff homer (8th leadoff dinger of his career) and his 15th homer of the season (his career high). Then, Jose Bautista gets a base hit, steals 2nd, gets batted over to 3rd on a groundout. Slamtana comes up, brings Bautista home on a sac fly. Ok, game on!
In my opinion, these three players deserve stay on the team. They're all clutch as far as getting on base. Sure, each one of them slump, but that's baseball. Santana has so many walks, I just wish he got batted in more often. I've always watched him in Cleveland, he has proven to be a big bat in the big game. There's also the whole clusterfunk of him playing 1st base, because we all know that Hoskins belongs there. It's a shame but I wouldn't mind if he got traded to make that happen. Then there's Bautista, who fell off a bit after being a superstar player just 2 years ago, there's gotta be something left in the tank!
So anyway, I decided to take my journey through the ballpark, I walk by the High & Inside club, it's packed with people watching the Eagles-Titans game. I am unaffected by this because I came to watch a meaningless Phillies game and I'm rooting for my beloved team to win, plus I'm more concerned with who clinches or ties throughout baseball, it's game 162 damnit!
Im gonna fast forward to the fifth inning. I've managed to sneak down a few rows from the field, third baseline. Acuna had knocked one in with an RBI double in the third, but who cares! Even though I drafted Acuna in my fantasy league, I hate him cause he's a Brave. When I think Braves, I think the 90's and how they completely dominated the NL East. Screw them, screw Glavine, Smoltz, Chipper Jones and screw Acuna! At least they aren't the Mets, but what difference does that make right now because meanwhile, Hoskins drives in Bautista in the bottom of the 5th to make it 3-1, Joey Bats comes home AGAIN, I like this guy!
So now it's the top of the ninth, Im a few beers deep, thanks to section 420 winning $18 worth concession credit (perks of getting lucky on fan appreciation day). There are two outs left in the game, Dominguez is closing it out. I have enough faith in him to close out this rubber match, and this season, that I decided to beat the crowd to the subway and leave...or maybe I just didn't want to see him blow it, I've seen worse being a fan of this team since the mid-80's.
As I make my way outside of the third base gate and across 11th Street, I hear HK singing High Hopes on the PA system. I turn around and smile as I look at the stadium for one last time, Harry's voice always puts a smile on my face, sometimes to the point where I get chocked up. I was also happy that SerAnthony didn't blow the save, I trusted him.
I walk down Pattison towards the subway, with a meaningless series win against the Braves on my shoulders, I have high hopes (thanks Harry) for next season. With the glimpse of resiliency this Phillies team have showed us this season, ya gotta believe that good things are right around the corner.
We are approaching an off-season that I have been patiently waiting a couple years for, there's a chance to make this team so much better with this immense pool of stud free agents. Let's just hope that the front office has been looking forward to this as much as I have. Keep your hopes high Phillies Phaithful and don't be a boo-bird!
"Obviously it's a little disappointing the way that the season has ended. I'd like to promise you that we will learn from it. We will get better from it, and we will be better and ready when 2019 comes around." - Rhys Hoskins addressing fans before the game.