It’s certainly no picnic for Yankees fans living in Philadelphia during this World Series.
If you’re a regular reader of Public Eyeglass (and I thank you), you know I’m from New Jersey, evidenced by my Springsteen lovefest two weeks ago. I admit to all the haters that yes, I hail from the Garden State and do so proudly.
This fact informs almost everything about me. My tastes in music, movies, pizza crust, bars – and yes, sports – are all remnants of my time growing up a 90-minute train ride from the center of the universe, New York City.
Upon my first New York-Philadelphia sporting event in this fair city of brotherly shove, I had my life threatened – kind of.
It’s late 2006, and I’m at a Rangers-Flyers game at the Wachovia Center. The seats are cheap, but the energy is there. My friend and I, both proudly emblazoned with Rangers logos, become the enemies of our section.
Every time the Rangers scored, the guy next to me impressed his girlfriend by spilling beer on my leg and saying, “Oh, sorry man,” and high-fiving his friend two seats away. I was fine with this. In fact, I kind of thrived on it. I knew what it felt like to be hated for something I had nothing to do with.
The third period ended, and the game was tied. Overtime did nothing. We were prepared for one of the most intense battles in sports, the shootout. In an epic, the Rangers won. We celebrated. We jumped up and down. We found other Rangers fans. I turned around, preparing to exit the arena.
“If this game was at the Spectrum, you’d be dead already,” said the grizzled old man behind me. He stared into my eyes as if it were a bad episode of All My Children.
The Philadelphia-New York rivalry is long and storied, but we’ve entered a new era. For the first time in 60 years, the Yankees are meeting the Phillies in the World Series. To say the least, it’s an interesting time to be me.
I love the Yankees. I spent more time in my youth watching the Yankees than I did playing “Zombies Ate My Neighbors,” which was a lot. I grew up with the great Yankee teams of the ‘90s. I got to watch Tino Martinez blast a grand slam on a cold October night in 1998 against the Padres. I got to watch two perfect games in two consecutive seasons. I got to go to ticker tape parades down the canyon of heroes.
Last year, I understood the years and years of Philadelphia frustration. Yes, I’m glad that my adopted city got a World Series ring. That team deserved it, and heck, this year’s edition is quite the formidable opponent as well. When it comes down to it though, nothing can take my Yankee hat from my head, and you’ll have to pry my 1992 Derek Jeter draft-pick baseball card from my cold, dead hands (or you’d have to be an attractive girl I went to elementary school with who tried to get it from me – it almost worked).
What happens if the Phillies win? I have to sit in my house and watch out the window as this city goes Mardi Gras. Not once, but twice. Now that I live in South Philly, I’ll be able to see the parade from my window. No, I won’t watch the parade. I actually have an appointment to get needles stuck in my eyes that day.
But what if the Yankees win? Do my Yankee-fan roommates and I have our own parade? Do we climb bus stops? No, we sit alone in our house with a beer and celebrate quietly so no one hears. I’ve already been warned by friends and family to not wear my hat on buses or subways.
Above all else though, we’re going to have one hell of a World Series. The drama of the two cities clashing. Ryan Howard versus Mark Teixiera. Pedro Martinez pitching against his old rivals. Shane Victorino in a dress on the New York Post. The story is writing itself one second at a time.
After the Phightin’ Phils won Game 1, Philadelphia media was nothing but one-sided almost as if the team already had the title in the bag. I sat on my couch and watched Fox29’s coverage with “The 5 Most Annoying Things About Yankee Stadium.”
I don’t see the Yankees pre-game show poking fun at the Liberty Bell in the outfield, but then again I wouldn’t see that because I agree with that. It’s like Fox News and it’s viewership – they watch it because it agrees with their sentiments, and they don’t want that to change. That’s how I feel as a Yankee fan in Philadelphia. It’s like I’m public enemy No. 1, but only for a little bit.
Here’s to baseball.
Steve Ciccarelli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.