The Funny Thing About the Nats Not Wanting Philly Fans to Take Over...

The Funny Thing About the Nats Not Wanting Philly Fans to Take Over...

Washington, DC is known as a city of flip floppers. So it's no surprise they were for bringing Phillies fans to Nationals Park before they were against it.

Much has been made in the past week or so about the Nationals' campaign to "Take Back the Park," an effort to keep Phillies fans from taking over their ball park by limiting individual ticket sales for the first month or so to only residents of DC, Virginia, or Maryland.

It wasn't too long ago, just three short years to be precise, that representatives from the Nationals organization were reaching out to Phillies fans to try and assist them in bringing as many Philadelphians down to DC for a game as we could round up.

The following is an excerpt of an email sent to Matt and myself from a Washington Nationals employee attempting to help us organize a group of The700Level.com readers making it down to Nationals Park to watch our Phillies. We removed the emailer's name because he was a friendly guy.

Hey Enrico and Matt,

My name is [redacted] and I work for the Nationals … [sentence deleted] I recognize your influence in the Philly sports scene and I know how hard it will be to get tickets to CBP this summer.

I was wondering if you all might want some assistance in planning a group that would want to do a trip down to Nationals Park for the first home series here against the Phils. (4/13, 4/15, 4/16). The 700 Level would get a huge shout out at the game and there are some special things we could put together for you all.   Those games are during the week, but I’m sure there are a ton of diehards that will want to make the short trip down.  I’m sure you all would love to see a bunch of Phanatics overtake DC.

Let me know.

Thanks.

-[redacted]

Washington Nationals Baseball Club
Nationals Park
1500 South Capitol Street SE
Washington, DC 20003-1507

And we no doubt took advantage of the hospitality shown to us, organizing a small group of Phillies fans in an outfield section -- we even helped their local economy! -- of what we now often like to call Citizens Bank Park South.

Sadly, that was the same series that Harry Kalas passed away at, but Phillies fans still showed their love.

It's too bad the Nats organization appears to have changed their tune on how to handle Phillies fans wanting to see the class of the NL East play down in DC. As I mentioned before, the effort to keep us away by making it tougher to purchase tickets will be fruitless in the end.

If anything, it could just further stir up the rivalry in a negative way; there is enough fan-on-fan issues in sports today. Hopefully this doesn't create another.

Record-breaking crowds flood the Parkway for NFL Draft Experience in Philly

Record-breaking crowds flood the Parkway for NFL Draft Experience in Philly

Who needs to the Pope when you have Ginger Jesus?

The NFL Draft Experience joined a long list of wildly popular events in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and all along the Ben Franklin Parkway.

The NFL announced today that nearly 100,000 fans enjoyed the experience, the most-ever for a draft-related event, on day 1 of the draft alone.

Fans flooded into the Experience with people from all across the country in town to support their respective teams. Eagles fans clearly dominated the crowd, however, as you couldn't go a few minutes without hearing an E-A-G-L-E-S chant. 

ESPN also showed some love all night long. SportsCenter's Scott Van Pelt called the story of the night in Philadelphia the city of Philly itself. Adam Schefter called it the "wildest, most raucous crowd in draft history." Jon Gruden called Philly "one of the greatest football towns on the planet."

Aside from not being totally in love with their first pick Derek Barnett upon first blush, Philly fans showed off wonderfully. Even the booing of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell came off as cute.

The Draft Experience is open again on Friday from noon until 11:00 pm and on Saturday from 10:00 am until 6:00 pm. It's free for all fans.

Try the games, avoid the cheesesteaks. And bring some sunscreen (ugh).

By the numbers: Jeremy Hellickson legitimately among NL's best the last year

By the numbers: Jeremy Hellickson legitimately among NL's best the last year

Unless you're a die-hard Phillies fan, you might not grasp just how good Jeremy Hellickson has been since the start of 2016.

Hellickson, who allowed one run in six innings Thursday to improve to 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA this season, hasn't just been solid — he's legitimately been one of the best pitchers in the National League.

Some stats to back it up:

• Hellickson has a 1.11 WHIP the last two seasons. That's a better mark than Noah Syndergaard, Johnny Cueto, Cole Hamels, David Price, Dallas Keuchel, Jose Quintana and Chris Archer have.

• Over the last calendar year, Hellickson's 3.29 ERA ranks ninth-best in the NL. Over that span he has a lower ERA than some really good pitchers like Jake Arrieta, Zack Greinke, Carlos Martinez, Hamels, Quintana and Rick Porcello. It's almost identical to Chris Sale's 3.26 ERA over that span.

• Hellickson over the last calendar year has walked 2.03 batters per nine innings. That's fifth-best in the NL behind only Mike Leake, Bartolo Colon, Madison Bumgarner and Syndergaard. (Jerad Eickhoff is a spot below Hellickson at 2.05 and then comes Max Scherzer at 2.08).

• How has Hellickson been so effective with so low a strikeout rate? He's thrown exactly 250 pitches since 2016 on the low-outside corner and low-inside corner. That's fifth-most in the majors, behind only Jon Lester, Zach Davies, Keuchel and Kyle Hendricks. Paint.

This stat refers to zones 17 and 19 in the image below.

Of course, Hellickson has done this with an extremely low strikeout rate. He's never been a big strikeout guy, but he did say Thursday he's been a bit surprised to have this much success in 2017 with his lowest career K rate. 

Hellickson has a very low batting average on balls in play which will regress closer to his career average, but it's not as if luck is the sole factor here. As mentioned above, he's hit spots as well as almost anyone in the majors. 

And the changeup, his elite pitch, gets some swings and misses but more often results in weak contact and quick outs. The worm will turn at some point, but Hellickson shouldn't be expected to fall off a cliff and revert back into a pitcher with a high-4.00s ERA.

The Phillies did well with this acquisition two offseasons ago and may have been fortunate things with Hellickson worked out the way they did. He has even more trade value now than he did a year ago.