But enough about the Flyers (who have apparently been cursed by Sarah Palin).
Seriously though – for me (if not for many other people), it is bizarre to be completely unaware of hockey, even if it’s just to glance at a few games before ignoring it again until December. There have also been a few times in my life where I have put a 19″ TV alongside of the big screen to watch baseball on a college football Saturday. Game 4 of the Jeffrey Maier series was one of them; Todd Pratt’s home run against the Diamondbacks in ’99 another. But this Saturday, when Penn State plays its biggest game since 1999, they get the small TV.
So anyway. While in Los Angeles last week, I was interviewed by Philly televison. Can you guess which one I am?
For those who aren’t gonna bother, my snapshot from Games 4 and 5:
Apparently, Dodger fan aggression was a common topic in the blogosphere last week, prompting T.J. Simers to observe there are a lot of Philly expats in L.A. Myself, I figure drunken, violent jerks are much the same in every city, and while some in Philly manage to sustain a constant sense of outrage that the city gets such a bad rap when fans in L.A., New York and Chicago aren’t really any better, I simply chose to be impressed that the whole upper-level crew at Chavez easily meets East Coast standards of obnoxiousness. This totally makes up for all the famous late-arrivers in the pricey seats (also the same in almost any city). Now if they would just give up the beach balls…
Said fans are also, of course, primarily Hispanic, prompting one guy in my section to observe, “some people think the Dodgers are a gang.They don’t realize it’s a baseball team.” But is there really that big of a difference? Aren’t all the worst things about tribalism/patriotism/nationalism also the best things about sports? The Onion comes to mind.
So on Monday, after 8 innings of listening to a particularly obnoxious youngster boo Shane Victorino (above), direct the occasional comment my way and chant “FUCK YOU PHILLIES” and ‘GO HOME CHEESESTEAKS” (incidentally, Dodger Stadium has a cheesesteak concession) over and over and over and over and over and over again, I finally couldn’t wait until the end and turned to him and said, “Oh, believe me…we’re going home.” He knew what I meant, and smiled sheepishly. It was all perfectly good-natured, even with the devastating context of the loss the Dodgers suffered on that night (true story: I was there with a friend who considers Matt Stairs to be one of his favorite players of all time, albeit semi-ironically, in a Rob Deer/Dave Kingman/Jim Leyritz/Sal Fasano kind of way. We were both just stunned).
I then instinctively removed my hat for the walk through the parking lot, only to find a text message from Ben Schwartz advising I do so (this would also be foreshadowing, had Ben not already spilled the beans).
Wednesday, Game 5. Two outs in the bottom of the ninth. I’m standing there, the only guy with anything red in an entire upper right field section, and at the game alone (who knew it was so hard for people in the TV and movie business to get off of work at 4pm?). I’m tapping my foot and shaking my leg and clenching my fists – you’d never have known I am the guy who never worries about Brad “all walks or strikeouts” Lidge, though since the newly amazing Ryan Madson had already polished off the tough part of the Dodgers’ order, I truly wasn’t too concerned. Still… how could the moment not be fraught? Fear or excitement, is there really any difference, adrenally?
I’d already gotten lip from the guy behind me several times, though after each of them, his wife apologized, assured me he was all talk, and made me promise not to wear my hat after the game.
Those folks left before the ninth. Now I feel a tap on the head and figure someone else just wants to mess with me. Dude is a badly preserved 40something, mustache, bald.
“Why are you so nervous,” he says.
“I’ve seen this closer before,” I joke. He chit chats with me a little longer, asks me if I’m from Philly. I tell him originally and he says, “but East LA now!” I blow him off to watch the last few pitches. Foul pop, Carlos Ruiz with the catch and BOOM – I feel the hat come off my head. The guy throws it out onto the field (not with his own toss, but the next person to get it finished the job) and leaves me a Dodgers cap in its place. Still not sure if he was being a jerk or doing me a favor. “That’s one in a million,” another woman near me says.
In any case, I end up walking through the parking lot with a guy in a Luzinski jersey without either of us dying. Losing the hat was totally worth it for the story – plus it made it that much easier for me to buy a new one that says “National League Champions.”
Oh, and while I was searching for that other link, I noticed Simers’ series preview column. It’s better with age:
A sweep is not out of the question…
if Phillies’ fans show up waving towels, maybe the Dodgers only go 1-1 here before returning to Dodger Stadium on Sunday.
But then it really turns ugly for the Phillies, who can only throw 100-year-old softball pitcher Jamie Moyer at the Dodgers and then just another guy in Joe Blanton.
The Dodgers hitters weren’t much earlier this season, but even at their worst, they feasted on pitchers like Moyer and Blanton.
Now as long as the Dodgers don’t get into a slugfest in Games 3 and 4 and lose the advantage of playing a team that can do no better than Moyer and Blanton, no reason why they can’t be sitting in L.A. with a 3-1 advantage.
Of course, as a Phillies fan, it’s not like I expected them to win. Still don’t. Figure they almost have to take both games in Tampa unless Moyer’s finally ready to remind us how he racked up 16 wins this year.
But the Marlins (est. 1993) already have twice as many championships as the Phillies (est. 1883), all-time. The Diamondbacks (est. 1998) have the same number of championships as the Phillies, all-time. It would really suck to see the Rays (est. 1998) join that club at Philly’s own expense.