Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Cubbie Chaser: Exile in Phils-ville
This is for all you sports fans out there who moved away to another city and know the suffering that can come when you dare to spread your wings.
Maybe you rooted like hell for the Mets all your life, but you found a good job in Atlanta in 1990 and had to watch the Braves and their lukewarm fan base dominate the entire decade. Maybe you're a rabid cheesehead from Green Bay, but you went to college in Texas and had to listen to "America's Team this," "Greatest Team Ever that," for four agonizing years. Maybe you got transferred to Boston...from anywhere outside New England.
Or maybe you're a die-hard Cubs fan, nursing wounds that have wounds that have wounds, and through marriage, you settled in Philadelphia. And there you are, right now, with the big "Red October" wave ready to drown you. The Phillies are going to win the World Series.
You have to know how much that hurts.
You try to lay low, but you can't escape feeling like a sad, lonely outsider. You're the only adult in the room not covered head to toe in candy-striped polyester jerseys and National League Championship tee shirts so new you can still smell the Modell's clerk's rank cologne. You're the only one not gabbing about your plans to hit McFadden's at the Ballpark tonight, just to be part of the scene when IT FINALLY HAPPENS! You're the only one who thinks Bud Selig acted out of genuine administrative responsibility -- and not an evil conspiracy to screw the Phillies -- when he decided to suspend Game 5 in the sixth inning. You're the one happily admiring the snow as it falls outside your office window -- snow that will ultimately force Game 5 Postponement, Part 2 -- because it's so much better than watching endless inane Phillies reports on local TV news ("Today at 5, meet the team's newest fans, just-born twins Chase and Cole!")
This must be how non-sports fans feel when a team from their town makes it big.
Well, actually, what I've learned over the past few weeks in Philly is that non-sports fans jump on the bandwagon with both feet. Suddenly, folks who a few weeks ago wanted to debate you that baseball wasn't a sport because the players "don't run enough" (true story) are bouncing up and down and asking you why you're not excited, oh my God isn't this exciting, come on you have to be excited!
Excited? Really? When the team you live and die with has just pulled your heart out and stomped on it for the 30th time in your 30 years on Earth -- perhaps more painfully this time than ever before -- nothing short of a time machine and magic pixie dust would get you excited.
It's hard not to be bitter in times like these. You try to put on your best face, not be outwardly hostile to people who've done nothing to deserve your wrath. OK, well, if we're talking about Philadelphia, that's a little different. You're not apt to wish success on those who've leaned over and yelled in your face, "Go back to your F-ing city," again and again, year after year. You're not apt to wish success on those who, according to reports this week in the St. Petersburg Times, curse at and pour beer on children wearing Rays gear.
In fact, when those people find success, it makes your lack of success all the more depressing. You find yourself feeling jealous of people you'd never really want to be, and that...sucks.
So that's where we are, dear displaced sports fans. It's going to be a long, hard winter.