2) “You… You’re Serious. The Phillies Made the World Series?”
This is the last Phillies post, I swear.
They happened, alright, and in a bigger way than hardly anyone could have expected. After last year’s dismal showing in the post-season (against a red-hot Colorado Rockies team), all I was hoping for this year was an NLCS berth. What did I get? What did the City of Brotherly Love get? Oh, I think you know. World f*cking champions, baby.
In over 100 years of league play, the Phillies had won the Fall Classic only once before. The city of Philadelphia, home to incredible fictional athletes like Rocky Balboa and Tony Danza, had not seen a championship in over 25 years. The Fightin’ Phils’ routing of Tampa Bay, then, was huge – maybe not for unrepetant bastard Bud Selig or moderately successful former gay porn star Joe Buck, but certainly for a great number of people in and around the Delaware Valley. We may be fat. We may be obnoxious. We may be borderline f*cking retarded. But dammit if we’re not proud of our team.
I had the pleasure of being part of the post-season hoopla this year when my dad scored tickets to Game 2 of the Division Series against the Brewers. What a magical evening. Waving that rally flag. Digesting that Schmitter. Sitting in left field, watching Shane Victorino’s Grand Slam sail just over my head… really, what a night. After suffering legions of depressed New York baseball fans for the previous two weeks, it was a real treat to be surrounded by people whose spirit was matched only by their drunkenness. There was more than plenty of both to go around:
– I don’t consider myself a nervous urinator (did you know that about me?), but I discovered that night that I could make an exception for the playoffs. Already a somewhat uncomfortable proposition, #1 at Citizens Bank Park was made only more so by a stadium packed to the gills with fans drunker than usual. Overzealous backslapping. Preparatory unzipping. Men holding deep conversations with the fellow bathroom-goer to their right. Men holding deep conversations with their penises. Closing my eyes, I could almost picture jail. Not that it was all bad – I kind of appreciated being told to “believe in myself” by the guy behind me in line – just far from an ideal bathroom-going experience. I’m usually good with crowds, zipper up or down, but October just proved too much.
– Much has been made of Philadelphia fans’ borderline sociopathic behavior… and most of it is true. We booed Santa Claus in the 60’s. Squirted mustard on Joe Maddon’s family. Killed the Chicago Bulls mascot (do your research, it’s all there). Yahoos’ sports department ran letters from fans around the country following the Phillies’ World Series victory, a few of which pointed out how bad things can get in our city. Renee, from Los Angeles, won’t be coming back anytime soon:
“… We wore Rays clothing to support our relative. The fans were brutal, stepping on us, spilling their drinks… we had to be escorted to use the ‘family restroom.’ Cabs drove past us. We asked for assistance by the Police working the stadium and basically were brushed off. My relatives were also tormented at the game while they had to endure profanities towards their son and Cracker Jack thrown at their grandchildren! WHAT KIND OF PEOPLE ARE THESE PHILLY FANS?!?”
The best kind, Renee. Our sporting history may be marred by obscenities, child endangerment, and a level of violence on par with Gladiator, but it’s only because we care. Too much. And in totally unhealthy ways. That’s Philadelphia!
The game I attended was certainly more subdued than the NLCS or World Series, but had its douchetastic moments. Brewers left fielder Llloyd Braun will likely need therapy after the verbal barrage he endured over nine innings. “Hey Braun!” fans (well, enemies) shouted. “Heeeeeyyyyy, Braun!!” Unprepared with a follow-up, they usually added “I hate you!” or another “hey!” for good measure. My personal favorite – “Braun! You suck… my cock!” didn’t make its appearance until the 7th inning, but I think its impact was deeply felt. Random anti-Mets cheers, too, were a nice touch.
The Phillies won that game, of course. Then a bunch more after that en route to a World Championship. Success! To have felt like a part of that in any way, even if all I did was put together a few CC Sabathia voodoo dolls, was really kind of special. Cynics may paint sports fans as losers, obsessed with things over which they have no control and delusional in the fantasies they play out in their heads… and it’s mostly true. But so what! Winning has returned, if only for now, to a city that hasn’t known the feeling in 25 years. That’s pretty cool.
Do you, too, cheer with unhealthy abandon for a baseball, basketball or football team (let’s be real – other sports don’t count)? Like me, do you need professional help? Comment, and let the group therapy begin!