But you only need to watch one inning from the City of Brotherly Love to see that the Philadelphia Phillies are a whole vibe.
Specifically — trust me on this — tune in to any plate appearance by right fielder Nick Castellanos, a hitter whose look appears designed to let everyone know “I hate buttons and my life’s mission is to use as few of them as possible.”
I should also note that Castellanos often chooses to forego wearing any kind of shirt or baselayer top under his jersey. Apparently, MLB’s normally rigid uniform regulations do not require him to wear an undershirt.
This is perhaps the greatest loophole in sports history.
It’s also worth mentioning that during his brief but brilliant time with the Chicago Cubs, Castellanos was known as “Big Nick Energy.”
Make of that what you will.
Defector’s Kelsey McKinney did a deep dive into how Castellanos’ chest-baring style, and his adoption of the “faux-front” stitched jersey, gradually spread through the Phillies clubhouse, encompassing teammates like Alec Bohm, Trea Turner and Bryson Stott.
As McKinney concluded, “They were all becoming sluttier! They were having so much fun.”
If the Castellanos and the Phillies were able to unbutton their jerseys any further, the National League Division Series would be presented by Sean Cody.
In fact, sluttiness is only a part of this phenomenon, albeit likely the most appealing one. The 2023 Phillies are all about serving unique looks and body positivity.
Consider how Castellanos impacted rookie outfielder Johan Rojas. During his time in the minor leagues, Rojas also wore his jersey unbuttoned. When he got promoted to the big league club, he decided to button it all the way up in baseball’s classic rookie tradition of trying not to draw attention to himself.
Then after a month in Philadelphia, Castellanos approached Rojas as the Phillies were about to take the field before a game and undid his top jersey buttons.
“The message, according to Castellanos, was to ‘loosen up and chill out,’” the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Alex Coffey summed it up. “Rojas has taken it to heart. He is comfortable here.”
As the gesture symbolized, the way to fit in with the Phillies is to let go of your inhibitions, and the best way to do that is to embrace your body and show off as much of it as possible. It’s as if the Phillies are being managed by Queer Eye’s Tan France.
Of course, the Fab Five might have a thing or two to say about how the Phillies have also adopted overalls to celebrate and show off every body type from Castellanos to beloved large adult son Kyle Schwarber…
name a more stylish team. we'll wait. pic.twitter.com/lEWTKZVMsQ— Philadelphia Phillies (@Phillies) August 31, 2023
And then there was Wednesday night’s locker room celebration after the Fightins swept the Miami Marlins in the Wild Card series, featuring everything from Garrett Stubbs clad only in overalls doing his best “Jennifer Beals in Flashdance but with BEER” impression…
Garrett Stubbs: likes to party.— Gregg Murphy (@GMurphPhils) October 5, 2023
Also, how does he change so fast!? pic.twitter.com/mi86B1TtT7
…to Alec Bohm apparently filming his audition for Troy Sivane’s “Rush” video…
…to Schwarber leading everyone in a dance off to “Dancing On My Own.” Considering the soundtrack and occasional shirtlessness, this scene could’ve been happening either at Citizens Bank Park or Philly’s Gayborhood.
All we have left this October is cheering on old pal Kyle Schwarber. Miss him.— CHGO Cubs (@CHGO_Cubs) October 5, 2023
Body positivity is something of a Phillies tradition, as their beloved 1993 pennant winners were renowned for it as well. Although that team’s lewk embraced the early 90s “hardball dirtbag” archetype summed up by All Star John Kruk’s famous line “I ain’t an athlete, lady, I’m a baseball player” and the ripped pants he refused to change during the playoffs.
Baseball bodies have altered drastically in 30 years but the Phillies’ celebration of them (and of themselves) bridges the generations. It’s great for viewers and fans as well as a shining example for embracing who you are. It could even be a turning point for the game itself.
After all, the more Nick Castellanos and his unbuttoned jersey appear on TV, the closer MLB might get to solving its ratings problem.