On the verge of the All-Star break, the Philliles abruptly became short-handed after third baseman, Alec Bohm contracted COVID-19. Bohm’s close contacts were also knocked out of competition and left to quarantine including pitcher Aaron Nola. In the days that followed, multiple stories were written with close sources on the Phillies distrust in getting the COVID-19 vaccine. They remained one of the few teams below the needed 85% threshold that the MLB was aiming to get every team to. One week later, the Philadelphia Inquirer is reporting that not only did the Phillies fall short of the 85% threshold, they have not even made it to the halfway mark of 50% vaccinated.
Sources: Almost half of Phillies roster is unvaccinated | Marcus Hayes https://t.co/cGe4qatxzO
— Philadelphia Inquirer Sports (@phillysport) July 20, 2021
“Two sources connected to Phillies ownership and management have said in the past weeks that about half of the 26 players on the current roster have refused the vaccine, a number confirmed by team and league sources Sunday.
This vaccine resistance has left the ownership group and the management team terrified and exasperated. The playoffs are within reach, but a COVID-19 shutdown hovers over the season like the sword of Damocles.”
The 2021 Phillies so perfectly epitomizes the Philly sports fan experience. The team is a truly unlikable cast of characters that has been plagued by mediocrity for the majority of the season. Absent of true major league talent in multiple key positions that puts them at a competitive disadvantage, they constantly have to scratch and claw for each win. Now, their stance on the COVID-19 vaccine creates another competitive disadvantage.
Yet here we were as a collective fan base, locked in to a Mets vs Reds game on a warm Monday night in July. We traded our Philadelphia red hue for Cincinnati red and hung on every pitch of a chaotic 11 inning affair, hoping for yet another Mets collapse. We are deep in pennant race fever with over two months left to go in the season, rooting profoundly for a baseball team we’re not even sure we like. That’s Philadelphia fandom.
It’s not worth it to do the vaccine argument because at this point in the game, you likely have your mind made up. Some guy with a somewhat substantial Facebook following posted a video on vaccine effectiveness, one way or another, and there is no coming back. There is no changing your mind.
But I do want to have an argument with the people who say, “So what the Phillies won’t get the vaccine, that’s their personal choice”. The people beating the drum for “it’s a personal choice” are the same people who are irate when the Sixers sit Joel Embiid or Ben Simmons for load management. Those athletes make millions of dollars! How dare they not take the floor with their teammates in the heart of battle?! The Phillies players make millions of dollars. In fact, they are pushing the luxury tax ceiling despite the roster consistently underachieving. They will still get paid on their millionaire salary when they are forced to miss time due to their “personal choice”.
This city is in a pennant race for the first time in a decade. The “personal choice” of over half of the Phillies roster could hinder them from successfully doing their job on a nightly basis during the season’s most crucial stretch. You can claim you accept the Phillies players’ reasoning of having the right to choose if they want this vaccine. But if you do accept their reasoning, then you stop being a fan who claims this city only cares about winning.