Giants pitcher Jeremy Affeldt is retiring from the game of baseball after 14 years of being one the most consistent lefty relievers in baseball, particularly when it comes to playoff games. Affeldt has one of the best postseason ERAs (0.89) of all time and is no stranger to performing in hostile environments.
But there is one city in particular that Affeldt will not miss traveling to. The southpaw dished to Sports Illustrated on Thursday about what it was like to pitch in Philly and his account feeds into the reputation of their fans being some of the meanest and nastiest in the world of sports.
Here is part of what Affeldt wrote:
"Nowhere else in this country—again, based on my experience as a 14-year major leaguer and the conversations I've had with other players—is the opposition treated in such a repeatedly vile and borderline threatening manner.
We are out here to play a game, and even though we are paid handsomely to do so, professional athletes should not be subject to vulgarity, personal attacks or epithets. Sadly, in Philadelphia, this kind of fan conduct is far too typical. The irony is, while Phillies fans succeed in making many players dread traveling there, they also (not surprisingly) impact the decision-making process of those same players in free agency."
His last line may be the most interesting of all. He suggests players may not want to sign there based on vitriol from their fans. It does, of course, make plenty of sense. If a fanbase treats a player terribly, what would make that guy then want to go play for their team?
I've personally talked to several Nats relievers over the years who say Philly is the hardest place to pitch. Complicating matters is the fact the visitors bullpen is embedded in the right field stands. It allows fans to yell anything they want within an earshot of a team's relief staff.
Affeldt's comments could be something to keep in mind in the coming years. The Phillies are rebuilding, but at some point could decide to accelerate that process by signing free agents. Money talks, of course, but Affeldt probably has good reason to throw that out there.
Click here to read Affeldt's full story, which has some great insight about what it's like to play in the big leagues.