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from afar - philly2philly

Following the Phillies from afar

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Remember when the Philadelphia Phillies won 11 games in June?

Remember when the Philadelphia Phillies won 11 games in June?

When they became World Series Champions in 2008?

 

When they hit a remarkable 224 home runs in 2009?

 

Alternatively, what about when they beat their fierce rivals, the New York Mets, 5-0 and 10-7 back in September?www.nbcphiladelphia.com

 

Now imagine that you were watching all the joys and sorrows from the comfort of your own home – it would feel rather different, right?

 

That is the reality for some.

 

The world is becoming increasingly interconnected, so while 30 years ago, it would have been commonplace to support sports teams local to one’s area – or at least within the same country – the accepted norms have changed.

 

There is an increasing trend of baseball fans in the UK following teams from across the pond.

 

On the face of things, it is tempting to argue that support from abroad requires less commitment.

 

Those fans do not have to pay a minimum of $2,754 for a season ticket, take time to queue for the SEPTA or deal with the humidly hot Pennsylvanian summers and freezing winters, along with wet Autumn and Spring periods.

 

And yet, delve a little deeper and there are some areas in which following from distance requires more commitment to offer support for stars like Bryce Harper, who is revered in Philadelphia.

When we follow teams domestically, the matches tend to occur in social hours – in the afternoon or evening – but when abroad, time distance comes into play.

Most of the Phillies’ home encounters started at 12:05 AM UK time, so those committed must maintain their dedication whilst balancing their work, school or college schedule.

 

Some watch the first two innings, but then get emotionally hooked and try to sneak in one more and suddenly it can be 2am, with little more than a third of the game gone.

 

It is easier for fans to keep track of games over the weekend, but still it can be difficult to stay awake – nodding off can mean missing the rest of the match, or a large proportion of it.

 

Sometimes, of course, the fan in question simply cannot stay up for a game involving the Phillies, who are +2000 with Betway as of 14th April to win the 2020 World Series.

They undergo an unusual situation of waking up without knowing what the outcome of it has been.

In some cases, the fan will find a way of avoiding finding out the score, so they can watch the highlights over breakfast as if it were live.

 

Local Phillies fans will know how a good result – like their most recent recorded victories, 5-4 and 9-3 wins over Marlins – will positively influence their mood, while a bad result can be tough to take.

 

In their case, they can take time to relish the victory over a cheesesteak sandwich and a Black Cherry Wishniak, or stew in frustration at defeat.

 

For UK fans, they experience the same emotion at results as natives but, if catching up in the morning, the aftermath of either outcome can interfere with their work and life schedule.

 

A win could give the fan an upbeat, can-do frame of mind, even if they do not get time to celebrate or fellow supporters with whom to do so.

 

A loss for the side, managed by Joe Girardi, who replaced Gabe Kapler last year, will take some time – often the initial hour or two of work – to get over, without the saving grace of being able to sleep on it.

This pattern could, theoretically, be quite destabilizing – some might prefer to keep a greater distance between work and sport.

Equally, when Phillies games are not playing so late in UK time, they can be the perfect after-work treat to enjoy with dinner.

The unique challenges foreign baseball fans face in terms of staying connected with their teams means that there is respect between them, regardless of allegiances.

There is banter as well as a playfully competitive dimension to their support, as is natural in any sport, but nothing intense or fierce.


The UK Community is also very well interwoven, with fans showing their love of their teams on social media and meeting up at London Series and MLB UK Community events – which may resume after the lockdown – as well as trying to grow the sport in Britain.

 

Social media is especially important for fans abroad because, while soccer – and to an extent cricket and rugby – are popular topics in UK communities, baseball is not a prominent discussion point.


Fans abroad now, at least, have places to look for the latest news and views.

 

This might be the latest take on Girardi, who brings plenty of pedigree to the job having succeeded for over a decade with the New York Yankees.

 

Alternatively, it might be economic news about how the Phillies and other MLB teams are faring financially during the lockdown.

Foreign supporters can look further afield for people with whom to share their enthusiasm, but there are lots of ways in which their commitment to and love of their team matches that of a lifelong local.

Register NOW with Philly2Philly!  

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Photo: nbcphiladelphia.com

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