No One Needs to Tell Philly the Phanatic’s the Best
“Won’t you save us, Super Phanatic?”
The Phillie Phanatic’s birthday party had devolved into chaos. Although the stadium was in its second year, security hadn’t worked out all the kinks yet: A supervillain named Opposition Man got past security and stormed onto the field during the festivities. He hacked into the stadium’s video controls and put a Marlins logo on the screen. He used his water gun to turn everyone on the field into fans of the Marlins. (I’m not sure how this worked; magic, I guess.) Mercifully, he spared Dan Baker, who pleaded over the PA for Super Phanatic to save the day.
Finally, the Phillie Phanatic appeared in the distance. Dressed in one of his many guises, Super Phanatic dangled from a helicopter, ready to drop directly onto Opposition Man and kill him, presumably.
The Phanatic hung there for what must have been at least five minutes. He circled and circled as Baker’s pleas got more frantic. Eventually, my friends and I in the stands—who by that point had fallen out of our seats, laughing—realized that the wind had picked up and it wasn’t safe to land. What were they going to do? It was the most exciting Phanatic skit I’d ever seen, even if it was accidental.
Eventually, a second Super Phanatic came out of the right field tunnel riding his ATV. The helicoptered Phanatic disappeared off into the distance, never to be seen again, and the skit on the field resumed. RIP, Opposition Man. RIP, the fourth wall.
You probably already know this, but let’s be clear: The Phillie Phanatic is the best mascot in sports. He’s so great because he’s an asshole: Harassing players and umpires, dumping popcorn on fans, messing up skits of Phillies guests, hitting his mom in the face with a pitch, getting banned from the 1980 World Series. Even the Phanatic’s signature move, his incessant hip gyration, is kind of irritating. Pervy, even. The Phanatic gets away with things a man out of a giant green suit would be arrested for.
He even inspires hatred from rival teams: Lou Pinella once threw his glove at the Phanatic in frustration. Tommy Lasorda hates the Phanatic with a passion, knocking him to the turf once. “The Phanatic is a 9- or 10-year-old—lovable sometimes, mischievous other times,” Tom Burgoyne told the Daily News when he took over for original Phanatic Dave Raymond in 1994.
Last week, Mr. Met topped the Phillie Phanatic on the Davie-Brown Index, a Q-rating for sports mascots. As with any incredibly minor slight against the city, Philadelphians were outraged. The list was covered by multiple local news organizations, the best of which was this Daily News article that included a discussion of how Redman was “certainly not the Phillie Phanatic of rappers.” (Mr. Met also topped this poll in 2009; there was lazy coverage aiming for easy web traffic, too. The Phanatic was first in 2008 and 2011.)
Mr. Met doesn’t really do much—”Maybe the appeal is that he’s like everybody else, he walks around just like they do,” Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey surmised—but one only needs to search “mr met wedding” on YouTube to see his appeal.
The past five years have certainly taught Philly sports fans that it’s fun to make fun of the Mets, and it’s hilarious anyone thinks an anthropomorphic baseball head thing is better than the Phanatic. But isn’t that kind of perfect? What better representation of the Philadelphia sports fan is there than an annoying-yet-lovable fat bird from the Galapagos who doesn’t get the respect he deserves? The Phillie Phanatic finishing second in a best mascots list is exactly what should happen. The Phanatic is ours. He is the best. And we don’t want any outside validation.
And, hey, this year, the Phanatic might be all Phillies fans have to cheer.