Philadelphia Is Winning
This has been a rough week for humanity (Japan, Libya, the Situation’s jokes at Donald Trump’s roast). So I’d like to thank GQ for the second biggest laugh I’ve had recently (the first is this song, which millions of viewers are calling the worst of all time; I prefer to think of it as the best song about calendars and seating assignments ever). In its new issue, GQ has ranked the worst sports fans in America. Guess who topped the list? Phillies fans. But here’s a Shyamalanian twist you didn’t see coming—Eagles fans took second place. We’re such a loathsome bunch of dirtbags, we’re number one and two!
To make his case, writer Adam Winer trots out the same old tales of misbehavior that the national media loves to recycle, many of which happened long ago (throwing batteries at JD Drew—at the Vet), or even longer ago and have been blown far out of proportion (throwing snowballs at Santa—really? That went down at Franklin Field. What, nothing from Connie Mack worth mentioning?). Admittedly, the guy nails us for that scumbucket who threw up on an 11-year-old girl at a Phillies game last year. But judging by the outrage among local fans that followed, I’m surprised the puker didn’t beg to be placed in witness protection.
[SIGNUP]Of course, leave it to my pal and former colleague Michael Callahan to find the one cro-mag in town who thought vomiting on a child was no big whoop. I’ll admit that there are some disgusting, classless fans in our midst. I’ve probably tailgated with a few of them. But here’s the news flash to all the columnists with space to fill and the TV talking heads who couldn’t find an original thought unless it scrolled by on their teleprompters: There are obnoxious knuckle-draggers in every major sports town. Take Los Angeles, for example. Lakers fans slip into the last spot on GQ’s list for their “insufferable arrogance” and “bandwagoning.” No argument here. What’s rarely discussed, though, are Dodgers fans. In 2008, I had the good fortune of witnessing Cole Hamels’s NLCS-clinching masterpiece in person, and figured it would be a laid-back California affair. Then a Philly media friend who was covering the game warned me to keep my head on a swivel inside the stadium. From the first pitch to the last, I could feel the hard stares all around as men and women alike gave anyone dressed in red the stinkeye. I also noticed a lack of security and wondered how many boots to the face I’d take before anyone noticed.
Some trash talk and macho posing in an opposing stadium is expected. But when we left, all of us in Phillies t-shirts, we were pelted and berated. A woman stepped into my girlfriend’s face and shouted “F— the Phillies” [censorship mine, not hers]. As a row of angry guys walked past my buddy and me, they slammed their shoulders into ours, as if to suggest, “What say you two gents engage all of us in a good, clean parking-lot ass-kicking?” We weren’t drunk. We weren’t taunting anyone. I wasn’t even wearing a damn foam finger. We were just trying to find our car without getting tuned up like Sonny Corleone’s brother-in-law.
I’ve been the target of flying objects at the Meadowlands. Harassed like a delinquent teen in a Scared Straight episode at the Boston Garden. Attacked when I tried to help two kids who were pummeled by a pair of irate Yankees fans at Citizens Bank Park (maybe they were the same charmers who spit on Cliff Lee’s wife during the 2009 World Series in the Bronx). Yet Yankees fans only ranked ninth. With the Mets in such a pathetic freefall and the Yanks with their laughable starting rotation, I bet you’ll see fewer New Yawkers in our ballpark this season. Though I’d also bet those who do show their faces will be looking for a fight.
As for occupying the top two spots on GQ’s most-hated list, I’m chalking it up to something Charlie Sheen’s familiar with: winning. Before, we were simply the losers the nation loved to hate. That changed with the 2008 Phillies. We’ve had one parade. We want another one, soon. Yes, we still reserve the right to boo. If that makes us the “meanest fans in America,” then hate on, haters. Just ask yourselves—if Philly’s such a sports cesspool, would Lee have turned down millions of dollars to come back here? Go ahead. Keep making your lists. They’re great for a laugh.