(above : happy Phillies rooters, minutes before the human sacrifice of Tampa’s lone traveling fan)

“This is not a matter of Rays fans being sissies,” insists the St. Petersberg Times’ John Romano of reports Tampa players’ families were “harassed and abused by Phillies fans at Citizens Bank Park to an unacceptable degree.”

“Something is very wrong about threatening families and children,” scolds Romano. “And something is wrong with a city that allows it.”  So it’s ok to bully adult males, then?

Children were cursed at, and one 9-year-old boy had beer poured on him. A Rays family member stayed locked in a bathroom stall because, he said, Phillies fans were banging on the walls and threatening him.

The Phillies, the police, the mayor’s office and the citizens allow their reputation to be lowered down to the level of knuckle-dragging Neanderthals because they condone this behavior year after year after year. Condone may not even be the right word. They revel in it.

This isn’t just rude or profane; it is intimidating and threatening. It is women being called whores and worse. It is children having food thrown at them. It is being pushed, shoved and jostled in the concourses.

Does this sort of thing happen at other stadiums? Without a doubt. And I’m sure it has happened on occasion at Tropicana Field, too. But no city has the reputation of Philadelphia. And the Rays have never complained about another stadium in this way.

Yes, because for 10 years prior, the Rays represented no threat whatsoever.  Look, I’d never condone terrorizing a child — no matter how thirsty he or she might’ve been — but this somewhat twisted version of a home field advantage does exist in virtually every city in America.  Romano is perfectly justified in calling attention to the matter, but to tar all of Philadelphians with the same brush because a vocal minority (say 49% of those in attendance) are a crude, savage lot, is to demean one of the nation’s great sports cities.  Had the Mets not been overtaken by Philly and Milwauke down the stretch and actually made it to the Fall Classic, I am confident Romano would find just as much reason to find fault with uncouth New Yorkers.