Phillies pumped to hear the fans: ‘We're getting our lives back somewhat'


Joe Girardi's first opening day as a player was in 1989 at Wrigley Field against the Phillies. He's been a part of 15 as a player and 13 as a manager, and he says this one feels different than any of the 28.

Opening day is here and there should be 8,800 fans in attendance this afternoon at Citizens Bank Park for Phillies-Braves.

The last time the Phillies opened the season at home in front of fans was March 28, 2019, also against the Braves. It was a 10-4 Phils win that began with a first-pitch, leadoff home run from Andrew McCutchen and included a Rhys Hoskins grand slam. It was the loudest Citizens Bank Park had been in a while.

The Phillies went 81-81 that season and 28-32 last year. This year, they have a better and deeper roster with even higher expectations.

There is hope that as the season progresses, the maximum occupancy for outdoor events in Philadelphia will increase, provided vaccinations continue and COVID cases continue to decline.

“I’ve been through a number of opening days. They’re always exciting, there’s always butterflies. I don’t know, I feel like this one is different,” Girardi said 30 hours before first pitch.

“Your first one is different as a player, your first one as a manager, but I feel like this one is different because we didn’t have fans last year. It just has a completely different feeling. 

“I’m really looking forward to as the season progresses, we’re allowed more and more fans and it really gets back to normal. When you see people come through the turnstiles and in the seats tomorrow, it’s just going to feel like we’re getting our lives back somewhat. To see fans in spring training was really, really nice. Not have to pumped-in crowd noise. It was just, it felt like we were alive again. It felt like it was baseball.”

If there's any major-leaguer born to perform in front of a crowd, it's Bryce Harper. He spoke last week about how eager he is to hear real cheers again.

"Me and Archie Bradley were actually driving in today, we were talking because we grew up together playing each other, it’s his seventh year and my ninth year, third in Philly," Harper said. "I told him, 'Man, I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.' I absolutely love this fanbase, the people, I just really enjoy coming to the ballpark every day.

"And we're actually going to have fans this year. Once you get on the line and the anthem’s playing and you see the fans, you start getting that itch."

It all starts at 3:05 p.m. Aaron Nola for the Phillies, Max Fried for the Braves. The Phillies are 15-14 the last two seasons against Atlanta, a team that nearly made it to the World Series last season and only added to its core over the winter.

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