Yes, the Phillies stink.
Yes, our summer is going to feel way too long once the Sixers’ and Flyers’ drafts are over. It’s going to feel way too long until the Eagles hit the practice field for training camp in late July.
Yes, we know this. But we’re still going to give the Phillies their props when they deserve it. And, this time, they do.
In the Washington Post‘s D.C. Sports Blog, Dan Steinberg wrote about a fan, Pete Van Vleet, who is actually a Houston Astros fan. Growing up in Virginia, Pete didn’t have a team, so he had to settle on the Astros. His daughter chose to root for the Detroit Tigers. And now, Van Vleet decided that for his newborn son, he was going to try and ask all the MLB teams to give him reasons as to why his son should choose them to root for.
“Jack can be a fan of whoever he wants to be,” Van Vleet said. “Then it kind of dawned on me: Why not let the teams have a say in this?”
So during his daily train rides between Ashland and Arlington, Pete composed letters to all 30 baseball teams, on Jack’s behalf. The main message in each letter — which ran about a page and a half and included some personalized details based on the recipient — was the same: Why should my newborn son root for your team? Sports franchises are zillion-dollar enterprises that often feel distant and impersonal, at least from afar. The standard rooting logic — root for us, because we exist in your city — doesn’t involve a lot of thought. Maybe a letter could identify some bit of soul more important than geography.
“And once I had the idea, I couldn’t not act on it, even though in my mind I thought nobody was going to respond,” Van Vleet said. “Baseball’s such a huge part of my life. It was my first love, and I want Jack to experience that as well. And it’d be nice if it was reciprocated in some way. I wanted him to have a very strong connection, and I guess you do things for your kids that you wish had been done for yourself.”
Sounds like an… well… interesting idea, at least. Kind of lame wanting to have teams buy your fandom, and it wasn’t even his! It was his son’s.
Ah, I digress. I thought everything about this was lame until I saw the Phillies’ response. Check out the Cubs’, Nationals’ and Pirates’ responses below, and then check out the Phillies’. [via Twitter @dcsportsblog]
Awesome. Fake? According to Van Vleet, no.
Of course Steinberg would sign include this in his article:
The Phillies cut through the good feelings with a brief unsigned e-mail; “We do not try to ‘sell’ fans, rather we allow them the opportunity to choose to follow the Phillies for their own myriad of reasons,” read the note, which really ought to have been signed with a booooo.
Anyway, kudos to the Phillies. They don’t try to sell to fans. They actually don’t try to sell anything. No tickets. No baseball. Nothing. The best part about going to Citizens Bank Park this year is the food. And they won’t even be a good baseball team until Pete’s son is in high school.
You can follow Nick Piccone on Twitter (@nickpiccone) and e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Subscribe to his podcast on iTunes here and listen live on WildfireRadio.com every Friday at 6pm. Click here to read his pro wrestling articles on PhillyVoice. Follow Philly Influencer on Twitter (@PHL_Influencer), Facebook and Instagram.