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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

World Series Is Hell for Mets' Fans -- Here's the Case for Supporting the Phillies

At least that's what you might infer from A.G. Sulzberger's piece in the New York Times.

It basically boils down to this -- root for the Yankees, and you're rooting for the team whose fans look down upon your team, whose team tries to buy a pennant all the time, whose fans are Cinderella's wicked stepsisters. You'd be selling out, giving in, succumbing, even if you're going to take the side of the other team from your area. Or, root for the Phillies, and you're rooting for your bitter rival in the National League East, the team that helped cause the Mets' disastrous slides at the end of the 2007 and 2008 seasons, and for a team whose fans you hold in utter contempt and whose city you view as a wannabe, the pesty kid who always wants in, is insecure, and, in your mind, is nothing more than a glorified outpost. You'd be lowering your standards, giving credence to a town and its fans whom you abhor, if only because you dislike your step-siblings more than your rivals.

Heckuva choice.

So here's the sales pitch for Philadelphia:

1. Many New Yorkers go to college there, particularly Villanova and Penn. Have the ardent Yankee fans who are Penn alums so forgetful of their time in University City that they cannot muster up some affinity for the City of Brotherly Love?

Big 5 Basketball.

Chubby Checker.

Bobby Rydell.

Boyz II Men.

Patti LaBelle.

Ed Rendell.

2. Cheese steaks. Whether it's Pat's, Geno's, John's Roast Pork, Steve's Prince of Steaks, Jim's, Tony Luke's, they're all good. Perhaps you could even strike a deal -- a frequent eater deal with the first sandwich free -- if you'd switch your allegiance -- however temporarily -- to the Phillies.

3. Rocky. It was a great movie, it took place in Philadelphia, and even New Yorkers deep down like to root for the underdog. Given how much money the Yankees have spent for their players, perhaps you can see the Phillies in that role and root for them. Again, temporarily. Different stadiums play different music to charge up their teams, but the theme from Rocky in the late innings along with exhortations on the scoreboard from the likes of Mick do stir up the crowd. Be a part of it -- temporarily.

4. Football as a Metaphor. Sure, the Eagles and the Giants are a strong rivalry, but did you get a load of the Cowboys this weekend? Their defensive backs were primping more after big hits than the Pussycat Dolls after an encore. Sure, both teams have their hardcore fans, but neither has that over-the-top new building, the Hollywood quarterback who blows a gasket in the clutch and the prepossessing owner who is as annoying as can be. So, if you can unite in the dislike of Dallas, perhaps in a moment of transferance you can unite with Phillies' fans and root against the Yankees.

5. We Grow Our Own. Mostly, and especially when compared to the Yankees. In this age of organics and "green", the nucleus of the Phillies -- Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley -- came up through the farm system. The team hasn't spend big on free agents, rebuilt its farm system after disastrous yields in the late 1980's and most of the 1990's, traded some of the yield for important players (traded Michael Bourn for Brad Lidge in a trade that involved other players) and recycled others not thought to be Major League material (nabbing Shane Victorino in the Rule 5 draft from the Dodgers, signing Jayson Werth as a free agent, ditto for Pedro Martinez). When you compare that type of game plan to that of the Yankees, well, the Phillies win out clearly. And. . .

6. One of Our Megastars Wasn't Implicated with either Steroids or Madonna. We're getting to the part where we almost have to invoke the "mercy rule". How can you possibly tilt toward the Yankees now?

7. We Also Play Exciting Baseball. You have to give the Phillies that. They come from behind, they made it to the World Series despite a bullpen that at times resembled that of the Nationals, and the players are pretty much likable (okay, you cannot stand Jimmy Rollins, but he's irked his own fans at times too).

8. We Have a Good Uncle Managing the Club. And, in times like these, we all need a good uncle who believes in us. He's warm and welcoming, is Charlie Manuel.

So. . . the choice appears to be clear. Don't worry, both the Yankees and Phillies have plenty of fans -- but the Phillies would more than welcome all Mets' fans to support their NL East 'mates and defeat the "varsity", as Mike Francesa once called his beloved Yankees. Don't you want to contribute to the defeat of the "varsity" too?


Blogger Chad said...

I'm in a unique situation for this series, I grew up in Philadelphia (same HS as Reggie Jackson) but gave up on the Phillies in the mid 90s when the owners gave up on the fans. The small market team comment and the whole build a new stadium thing really rubbed me the wrong way. So now I'm a season ticket holder for the Yankees living in Manhattan.

Some of your points are valid, but # 5,6 & 7 are completely off base.

5. I guess Jeter, Cano, Posada, Mo, Pettite, Joba, Hughes, Melky, & Gardner aren't part of the core? Or are they not home grown?

6. 50-0 days starting players were suspended this year for illegal substances. Phils 50 - Yanks 0. Don't forget the * on that WS win since he tested positive prior to the post season.

7. The Yankees had 50 come from behind victories this year, 15 walk off (plus 1 in the post season). I believe that makes them best in the league.

8. Really? Wasn't Uncle Eddie from Philadelphia? Gross.

I really do hate when the Yankees steal stuff from Philadelphia like playing Rocky clips and Kate Smith singing GBA.

11:52 AM  
Blogger SportsProf said...

Thanks, Chad.

Good point re: #5, but it's hard to say that the latter four are really part of the core, unless the core is so big as to include the entire team. Also, no one can spend on free agents the way the Yankees do, but that's life.

You're reaching a bit with #6. Why one got suspended and the other didn't owes to the idiosyncratic hypocrisy of MLB on the steroids issue. Look, Mark McGwire will return as a batting coach; Pete Rose remains banned. Romero did transgress; no one will deny that. But so did A-Rod.

Again, good point with #7, but note that I used the word "also" at the beginning of the paragraph. No one will deny that the Yankees are exciting. They are. It's just that the Met fans won't be sacrificing much, if anything, in excitement if they support the Phillies.

I didn't give up on the team in the mid-90's but agree with your sentiments. Bill Giles' "small market" comments were moronic. I also believe that most fans would rather watch a champion in a cow pasture than a bad team in a palace. Yankee fans (and Philadelphia fans, for that matter) get the best of both worlds.

As for the Uncle Eddie reference, I actually think I get that one. And, yes, that was pretty awful. Charlie, though, I think, is the real deal.

Good luck to your Yankees. Come back for a cheesesteak when you get the chance.

P.S.: I went to the same HS.

12:48 PM  
Blogger eastofohio2 said...

"Champion in a cow pasture" - I believe you've got something there. 34,000 knuckleheads turn out 81 times a year to watch the Red Sox in that urine-stained dump they still call home, so I'd have to agree with you.

1:39 PM  
Blogger SportsProf said...

Thanks, east of Ohio.

Bostonians would say that Fenway has old-world charm.

Baltimore drew well for a while, but then when they stopped winning, people stopped coming. I'm not sure how well populated Citizens Bank Park would be were the Phillies to fall off to 65-97 seasons in a row and have the front office claim they were a victim because they're a "small market" team. My guess is that the turnout would halve.

4:06 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

As a born and bred Philadelphian living in NYC, I want the Mets fans to root for the yankees. I want the Phillies to win in four blowouts (I want to go to bed at 11:30). And I want to drink the Tears of both Mets & Yankees Fans.

When we let go of our hate, we let go of our humanity.

Thank You.

4:35 PM  

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