“Are you really a Phillies fan?”, he asked as he stood before me with a look of discomfort. It was a question and look I have become all too familiar with. This kid, about 17 years old, glared at me, awaiting my answer. I firmly replied. “Yes, I am.” I mean, what did I expect? Here I was, decked out in my Phillies gear in the heart of the Bronx during the middle of the 2009 World Series. And I was still wearing my Phillies gear proudly the day after the Yankees had taken game 6 to win the World Series. So am I really a Phillies fan? Yes. I am.
I grew up in Mt. Vernon, NY, a small suburban town bordering Yonkers and the Bronx. My grandmother was always a big Mets fan, while my father was a huge Yankees fan. I remember the bickering back and forth between the two. They took turns dressing me and my brother in (dare I admit it?) Mets and Yankees gear, but I was young and knew no better.
As I got older and wiser, I realized that something didn’t feel right to me about these New York teams. I realized that something just didn’t feel right about New York. I can tell you, people don’t appreciate it when someone just doesn’t like where they come from. I am not a Philadelphia native. I have never lived in the great state of Pennsylvania. But I can’t help but assume that maybe, just maybe, I called Philly my home in a past life. Whether or not that’s the case, whether or not you believe in the possibility of anyone even having a past life, baseball is in my blood. And my veins pump Philadelphia baseball.
Being a Phillies fan in enemy territory has proven to me just how intense rivalries can be. Anytime the Phillies are in town, it gets pretty crazy. And I, of course, like to be right in the middle of it. After all, us Phillies fans are the most passionate and loyal as they come. So if there’s an opportunity to show team spirit in the enemy’s house, I take it. And I can tell you, but I’m sure you are already well aware, no one packs an opposing team house like us Phillies fans! Everytime I go to Yankee Stadium or Shitty, er… I mean Citi Field, (although I cannot even lie about it, Citi Field is pretty nice compared to Shea Stadium), I hear someone say “Damn, there are alot of Phillies fans here!”, and I smile. Phillies fans have balls. We are out there with our boys night after night, no matter what. This is dedication. The energy is unmatched. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t live for this.
Just today, I ran into an old friend of mine who’s a huge Yankees fan. She one of the many who loves to bust my balls about being in the wrong state. She says that I should move to Pennsylvania if I refuse to root for the Yankees. Then she says “You must not like winning”. To this statement, I had to keep my mouth shut. See, I am the type of person that allows my team to do the talking. But that’s not what got to me. It’s the fact that the Yankee fans that surround me are such sore losers. And I get it, no true fan wants to see their team fall, but the truest of fans will still be there while they are flat on their faces. That’s another reason I love being a Phillies fan.
Now the Mets fans, on the other hand, don’t have too much to say. They aren’t as vocally arrogant. When the Mets went on a tear this year and moved into second place over the Phillies, they all came out of hiding. I have not seen that many Mets shirts and hats in a long time. And it’s always a silent battle when someone wearing a Mets shirt and I come face to face. That’s how it’s done. I get the look. You know, that “What the fuck are you doing here?” look. That “Go back to Philly” look. For that moment in time, we understand each other, like a true rivalry. On some level, there’s even a little respect.
In New York, I have to admit, I have more respect for a New Yorker rooting for the underdog. I was in Philly a few weeks back, walking down South St. to grab some Rita’s (Ohhh Rita’s.), and I look up and see a guy in front of me decked out in Mets gear. I was taken aback by his nerve. How dare he be wearing that shit. I, of course, was proudly wearing my Utley shirt. We exchanged looks, and engaged in the usual silent warfare. “Go back to New York!”, I thought to myself, “What the fuck are you doing here?” He heard me. He knew exactly what I was thinking. It goes without saying that this ‘enemy’ deal, goes both ways.
I am a woman who loves sports. I eat, sleep, and breathe it. All of it. But baseball is my true love. Philadelphia has shown me what New York had not: true, unadulterated passion. What a team! What a city! I continue to live in New York for the time being. However, I do plan to move as soon as I’m able. Maybe all of my rivals will get their wish. Maybe I will “Go back to Philly”. I can only be so lucky.
I have met such amazing people while visiting the great state of Pennsylvania. The Philadelphia Phillies are my team. They are what I look forward to. They keep me going. They ARE baseball. And the next time someone asks me “Are you really a Phillies fan?” I will respond, “Yes, I am.”
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