I Went to the Mets Opener in Phillies Gear — and I Wasn’t Even Heckled
I last attended a Mets game in New York in 2006. It was an 88-degree Saturday in August. A Jon Lieber error led to three Mets runs in the sixth, giving New York a 4-3 win. Tom Glavine got the win. Billy Wagner got the save. The Phillies scored all their runs in the first-inning on a three-run Ryan Howard homer.
I wore my Phillies Randy Wolf jersey and was taunted by fans throughout the game. Quite a few fans of the Mets — who were, at the time, a dozen games up in the NL East — were heavily invested in making sure I knew they didn’t like the Phillies. I was shouted at. I learned I sucked. I was called an asshole. It was nothing major. Much of it was good-natured. But it was there.
On Monday, I went to the Mets home opener at shiny new Citi Field wearing a bright red Phillies vest and red pinstripe Philadelphia sneakers. It was a record crowd for a Mets game: 43,947. And yet I heard nary a peep. The Mets haven’t made the playoffs since 2006. The Phillies haven’t been to the postseason since 2011 — and they aren’t getting back there anytime soon, either. Phillies fans have realized this. Mets fans have some hope for this year — Monday was a huge crowd, and the game last night drew a huge TV audience — but they’re certainly not worried about the Phillies.
One example: The loudest boos all day came not for a player on the Phillies, but for New York City mayor Bill de Blasio. The Mets fans around us were all nice and cheerful — perhaps because the Phillies were never in a position where they looked like they’d win the game — and none of them even joke-heckled.
Obviously, I am not complaining. A fan of another team ought to be able to attend a sporting event on the road and watch the game in peace. I didn’t go out of my way to make myself obnoxious, and I was left alone. But what a weird sports world we now live in.
Leaving the stadium, I received one random yell from an inebriated Mets fan. Just one! Most Mets fans were mostly surprised that there were actually Phillies fans there. “Hey, look, a Phillie,” one said, pointing to my friend and me on a packed LIRR train. “Why would a Phillies fan attend a game in another stadium now?” she seemed to be asking. To be fair, that isn’t a bad question.
Phillies fans used to take over other stadiums. Fans would call Nationals Park “Citizens Bank Park South,” and large groups of Phillies fans would show up at stadiums all over the country. On Monday, I only spotted three other Phillies fans at the stadium.
Otherwise, it was pretty much what you’d expect. The Phillies lost, 2-0, and Ryan Howard didn’t hit any home runs like he did at that game in 2006. (He went 1-for-4, his lone hit a single that bounced off the first base bag.) The Mets got their runs on an infield single in the fourth and a sac fly following a Chase Utley error in the eighth. The Phillies got one runner to third the entire game.
But there was one unequivocal upside: Paul Blart trivia!
This is the saddest trivia question in the history of trivia. pic.twitter.com/rbXOom6Ajr
— Dan McQuade (@dhm) April 13, 2015
Yes, as a promotion for Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 — out this Friday! — the Mets had a Blart-themed trivia question. After a fan missed the above question, one of the Mets in-stadium hosts told him he needed to brush up on his Paul Blart knowledge. How dare he attend a ballgame without a sufficient background in all things Paul Blart.
I also learned the Mets have an official ambulance provider, a cute trivia game where a fan races a pre-recorded video of a player on stationary bikes and a cup-stacking contest that was not very thought-out at all. (It wasn’t even completed by the time the next inning started.)
It was a good time — but it was kind of sad, to go to a sporting event as a fan of the road team and not even attract a peep of attention. The Phillies have gotten so bad that opposing fans don’t view them as a threat. I expected some vitriol. Instead, I got pity. How long ago 2008 feels.
Follow @dhm on Twitter.