Phightins

For me, home will always be the the city I grew up in.   Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love, was (and remains) a sour, cynical town with an overall bad attitude that flows through the population’s bloodstreams, and seeps into its institutions like mold through rotting floorboards. Its residents embrace that attitude and wear it proudly. “City of Brotherly Love” my ass. How about, City of Bodily Harm?

But that’s so two weeks ago. So pre-post-season. Remarkable how a World Series appearance, only the sixth in the team’s 125 years, makes it all fade away. Or, if not all, then at least a fistful or two.

Yes, the World Series. A strange rallying cry, “Why Can’t Us,” has swept the city. Allegedly it started with a caller to a sports talk show, bubbling with a faithful fan’s joy over the team’s definitive trouncing of the Dodgers to take the NL pennant. Forgive him, Language Gods: he was calling from Wilmington, DE, and probably meant, “Why Can’t Youse?” They talk funny in Delaware. Probably from drinking the water downstream from Jersey.

Steeped in the sport of baseball, and lifelong fans of a futile franchise, Phillies followers exhibit measured emotional levels about their team. They anger more easily than they rejoice, and curse their team mercilessly a dozen times a season. I have personally abandoned them forever about a thousand times following an especially boneheaded maneuver of life and death significance — a poor performance, a rotten trade, a mental error, a stupid remark — only to grimly return and await the next BOHICA presentation.

Last year they became the first baseball franchise on the planet to lose 10,000 games. The only team I know of to top that mark is the one that has played against the Harlem Globetrotters for the last half-century.

Still, friends and family back home tell me the streets of Philadelphia are filled with unlikely smiling faces these last few weeks. Baseball is the buzz, and this team’s gritty, dirty-uniform approach is the way they like it there. The 1993 team 1993 remains a fan favorite: they lost a World Series, but they were fun, played like maniacs, partied like rock stars, and engaged the population.

Local writers gleefully point out if the Rays win this series, they will have won as many World Series championships in their truncated history as the Phillies have in theirs. Even Tampons can count to One. This is the sort of factoid that means something to unsophisticated sports towns, and absolutely nothing to the players. What happened to other Phillies’ teams happened to other Phillies players, not the ones on the field today.

Anyway, the Series has begun. In that dinge-dome the Rays call their home, the outfield shag carpet has been freshly permed and the fans’ little cowbells — isn’t that quaint — re-Bondo’d. Phillies fans know that even if their team loses on the field, they must prevail in the scuffle in the stands.

Game One: Phillies 3, Rays 2.  A real cliff-dweller, as former Phillies manager Danny Ozark actually said once. Yeah!  Why Can’t Us?

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9 Responses to Phightins

  1. Ms Calabaza says:

    loved those Backstreet Boys too!

  2. Fran G'Panni says:

    I prefer Back DOOR boys. Ooooh! MeOW!

  3. Lois Terms says:

    Philly’s come a long way. It’s not New York, but neither is Boston or Washington. You don’t have to be NY to be a great east coast city. I like Philly for its sense of history, beautiful old architecture, amazing restaurants, cultural life, and great parks and landscaping. No idea what it’s like to live there, but visiting is always a pleasure.

    Couldn’t give a damn about baseball if you forced me.

  4. ya’gotta’guessit says:

    You’ve been away too long, Squats – most of the middle-aged & ancient bitter, snakebitten Phillies’ types are dead, or moved to Florida.

    The city is awash in 20 & 30-somethings who’ve come here from out of state, or the far suburbs, and don’t give a crap about 1964, or even Mitch Williams.

    And in our section, I have yet to see a single drunken fistfight, as most of the kids actually seem to be involved in the game.

    Mets’ fans notwithstanding, most of the back-and-forth with the supporters of opposing teams is good-natured, and in no way resembles the tired, trotted-out descriptions of Philadelphia sports fans that the media so loves.

    Listen – it’s the best park in the majors to watch a game, the players are likeable & competitive, and they’ve pushed aside some pretty decent opponents to reach this point.

    And so, “Why Can’t Us?”

  5. Art Carnage says:

    I love baseball. But I hate sports.

  6. Claude Eustace Teal says:

    If yagotta’gessit is right, there’s a world of difference between Phillies fans and Eagles fans. Is there ever an Eagles game when there ISN’T a fight in the stands? My friends back home in NY who are Giants fans ride down to the stadium every season and always come back with blood on their jerseys.

    last time I went to Philly i wiped my feet on the way out.

  7. Rollo Nickels says:

    I call bullshit on this whole discussion. Who gives a shit about the fans, the city, or the history of the damn team? Just play ball! It’s the World Fuckin Series! PLAY FUCKIN BALL! Quit the BULLSHIT!! PLAY FUCKIN BALL!!!

  8. ya’gotta’guessit says:

    “there’s a world of difference between Phillies fans and Eagles fans”

    No!! Really?? Do you think???

    “last time I went to Philly i wiped my feet on the way out.”

    Well, at least you left. Thanks!

  9. Claud Eustace Teal says:

    Guess I was too subtle for homeboy ya’gotta. What I meant was, Philly sports fans are savages, and I don’t believe they’re different from one sport to the next, espcially because Philly people generally are as nasty as they are. He kind of demonstrates that right here.

    Yeh I left. I was hungry, and horsemeat on a roll with melted plastic cheese doesn’t count as food. What a dump.

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