Sometimes in baseball, a key mid-season addition can make the difference to vault an underachieving team into contention.
On June 3, the defending NL champion Philadelphia Phillies woke up floundering in last place in with an uninspiring 25-32 record. Since that date, they’ve experienced a two-month resurgence, turbocharged by a 49-26 run to lead them into wild card playoff contention. So what changed?
That was the day the Phillies brought back “Dancing On My Own” as their victory song.
As anyone who’s been on a dance floor for that intro can testify, never underestimate the motivational power of a gay anthem. It’s what would happen if you converted the Kurt Russell speech from “Miracle” to synthesizer.
The Phillies certainly understood that during their run last year. That’s when new left fielder Kyle Schwarber joined the team and endeared himself to his new mates by adding the Calum Scott cover to their postgame celebration playlist.
If there’s one thing Schwarber excels at, it’s motivation. While “Dancing On My Own” isn’t as explicit as the moment when he turned to his Cubs teammates during the 2016 World Series and yelled “suck my dick,” this song often achieves the same outcome. Schwarber’s methods may be a bit unorthodox, but you can’t argue with the results.
The Phillies all BELTING out Robyn's Dancing On My Own is killing us pic.twitter.com/CObR5RigAj— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) October 9, 2022
After dropping last year’s Fall Classic to the Astros, the Phillies decided to move on from their victory song in 2023. As Schwarber put it during an offseason interview, “It’s a second-place song. We’re looking for better than second place.”
True to his word, a few months later, the Phillies indeed were no longer occupying second place. They were tied for fifth.
But following a 4-2 win over the Washington Nationals on June 3, hitting coach Kevin Long marched into the locker room with a simple command: “Play the fucking song!”
The Phillies immediately rattled off a six-game winning streak and haven’t looked back since. Which is why they say baseball is a game of adjustments.
As for the team’s understandable fears that “Dancing On My Own” is a second-place song (underscored by the fact that the resurgent Phillies are still 12 1⁄2 games behind division-leading Atlanta), there’s a simple solution:
Start playing the original Robyn version.
While Scott’s cover has its charms, it’s the musical version of a utilityman like Jake Cave to Robyn’s Bryce Harper. If you want to win a championship, you’ve got to give playing time to your Hall of Famer.
Back in June, the Phillies made this season’s best acquisition when they brought their victory song back. If they play their cards right this fall, the hottest club to hear “Dancing On My Own” in Philadelphia could be the Broad Street World Series parade.