It’s a great time to be a Philadelphia sports fan. The Phillies are competing for the National League pennant and the Birds are 6-0. The last time either of those things happened, I wore a size small.
This past weekend was electric, and Philadelphians soaked up the glory. A fan interviewed on the local news summed it up perfectly. “This is probably the best day of my life,” he said. “I mean, my kids being born, sure, but if I’m being honest, my kids are kind of a disappointment. And I don’t think the Phillies are going to disappoint me.”
Well said, sir.
I, of course, pulled out all the stops this week, rotating through my jersey collection with pride. There’s only a few times a grown man can wear a jersey and not look insane: at the ballpark and during the playoffs, so I took full advantage.
On Friday during my bar shift, I wore a Harper jersey over my work shirt, and it must have given the Fightins some good luck, because they were winning 6-1 in the 6th inning.
A few of the regulars congratulated me on how good the team looked, but there was one salty old man who did not agree. “Philadelphia fans are the worst,” he said from his stool at the end of the bar. He didn’t say it directly to me, but loud enough so I could hear it. “They’re obnoxious trash.”
Here we go, I thought. Some dusty old fart trotting out THIS tired narrative. Just to be clear, sir, Eagles fans threw snowballs at Santa Claus FIFTY FUCKING YEARS AGO. But I see you’re not ready to let go of the past, given you just tipped me 50 cents for that $7 beer and keep referring to YOUR favorite team as the Redskins, which hasn’t been their name for three years now.
It’s not that I don’t think the criticism of the Philly fanbase is completely unwarranted. I’ve witnessed plenty of harassment and bad behavior. I have fond childhood memories of a gentleman two rows behind me at Veterans Stadium puking into a box of popcorn.
I just think the “Philly fans are trash” trope is a lazy one. Giants fans threw snowballs at the Chargers’ sideline during a game in ’95 and knocked a coach unconscious with a chunk of ice. The 49ers and Raiders aren’t even allowed to play each other in preseason because of the number of fights that happen. And last time I checked, there wasn’t a Philly fan within 100 miles of the Malice at The Palace.
Since I’ve lived in the DC area for over a decade now, I’ve learned to be a Philly ambassador, politely absorbing it when someone sends a jab my way. Like the time a few weeks ago when a frat guy on a bachelor party trip yelled “fuck the Eagles” across the bar, and then later admitted it was him. “That was me,” he said. “I said FUCK the Eagles.”
I smiled. “I heard you. Come up to the Linc and say it again.”
“No way man,” he said. “I don’t have a death wish.”
Of course, there are times when I lose myself. On Saturday, with the Phillies up 4-2 in the 5th inning, I strode into work wearing my Rhys Hoskins jersey, and I was FIRED UP.
To my dismay, all of the bar’s TVs were tuned to college football.
“Where the FUCK is the Phils game?” I said to the opening bartenders.
“TVs have been a problem today,” the bartender said. “Everybody wants a different game.”
“Tough shit,” I said. “The Phillies are about to clinch, and this is MY bar.”
I reached for the remote and heard a chorus of boos from the customers.
“Can you keep the Alabama game on? We’re watching that,” one guy said.
“ALABAMA?” I said. “Fuck Alabama. The Phils are about to clinch!”
“It’s a good game,” the guy said.
I could feel my heart start to race. “Did you GO to fucking Alabama?”
“So why do you care about some dogshit regular season college football game? Do you really need to see Alabama run up the score against the Georgia College for the Blind?”
I found support in the unlikeliest of places—a single Braves fan nursing a beer. “I’ve been trying to get them to turn it on all morning!” he said. “Put that shit on!”
With a little wrangling, I managed to make everyone happy. And when the Phillies scored the last out and secured their win, I went over to my friend in the Braves hat with a fresh beer.
“This is on me, buddy,” I said. “Tell your friends not all Philly fans are assholes.”