By Connor Thomas
Last night during what at the time was another abysmal Phillies collapse to the Marlins, the limited capacity Citizen’s Bank Park crowd was treated to something that we hadn’t seen in Philadelphia for over a calendar year. No, not the Phillies beating the Marlins (well, maybe that too). For the first time since the pandemic shut down full sports attendance in March of 2020, a fan made his way over the railing of his section and onto the field, delaying the game and drawing the ire of the TV broadcast. Honestly, it’s surprising it took that long. It didn’t take nearly as long for it to happen a 2nd time, as another fan ran on the field just minutes later, and promptly joined the previous trespasser in the special section for unruly fans outside of the ballpark. Here’s the thing though; all of the sudden the Phillies started hitting. Following the 2nd fan’s venture onto the field – during the Phillies half of the inning – the team caught complete fire at the dish as the next 6 batters reached base and the team scored 4 runs to take a multi-run lead over Miami.
The Marlins have been the Phillies Achilles heel for the past couple years, inexplicably in fact, since they have not put together a contending roster since their 2003 World Series. But something shifted last night after those 2 fans ran onto the field that begs the question: is fans running on the field a lucky charm for the Phillies? Philadelphia has long had some of the best home field/court/ice advantage in sports thanks to the raucous atmosphere we pride ourselves on here in Philly. We’ve also seen in the past that bullying works in helping teams correct their issues; think the fans that stood outside of the NovaCare complex with a “Run The Ball” sign during the Super Bowl year or the Sixers fans berating the team on Twitter to make changes to the coaching staff and roster in recent years. Maybe the Phillies just need to have that constructive criticism demonstrated in a more obvious way, by having a fan run across the field yelling “hit the ball” or “stop making stupid errors”.
Maybe last night was a coincidence, and the multiple fans delaying the game did not create the rally that won the Phillies a much needed game against the Marlins, but I choose to live in a universe where it wasn’t. I mean, other teams in the MLB have had rally squirrels, or rally monkeys, rally caps, and rally songs. Why can’t Philadelphia have the rally ejection where a fan or two runs onto the field when the team is struggling to completely change the momentum? Hell, let’s even give those fans a discounted fine if the Phils take the lead in the inning following the delay! Sometimes you just have to steer into the reputation of the fan base and use it for your advantage. Honestly, I’m so tired of losing to the Marlins that I’ll accept the nightly annoyance of watching some bozo stumble around shallow left field until security tackles him in exchange for beating Miami. I’m kind of kidding, but I’m also kind of not. In a vacuum, I think a fan running on the field is mildly entertaining at best, and flat out stupid and a waste of time at its worst. I am not really advocating for people to trespass onto the Citizens Bank Park grass on a nightly basis. But when the delay leads to the home 9 going on a 7 run tear in the 8th inning, I’ll gladly bide my time. Ideally one day the Phillies will just learn how to take care of business against lesser teams like the Miami Marlins, but until that day comes, maybe the rally bozo is the short term answer.