Friday, April 20, 2012

Another Trip Into The Belly Of The Beast

I don't particularly like Philadelphia. I've made that pretty clear over the years. For those of you who love Philadelphia or are from there or think I'm irrational for disdaining an entire city, I will make it clear that my distaste is entirely sports related, as Philly is the only city to pull off the unique feat of having three different teams that are direct rivals of mine in three different sports. It's pretty remarkable really. As a result, going into the city of brotherly love is always something of an awkward experience for me, but I've managed to do it a few times in recent years, and the most recent one came this past Saturday when my good friend Mike Wong asked me if I wanted to head down to the Mets-Phillies game so he could see Citizens Bank Park.

This created a few potentially awkward happenstances. For one, it's Philadelphia, the evilest place ever in the whole wide world. For two, since the Phillies were playing the Mets, naturally I would have to show up in my finest Mets regalia, therefore inviting the sharpest scorn that Philadelphia has to offer (though in this case sharp just means cruel, not clever).

These were, of course, risks I was willing to take because it was a chance to see my (at the time) 5-2 1/2 game out of first place Mets. Naturally, I expect the Mets to maintain that position all season long. That said, I anticipated the standard vitriol after we arrived at the stadium only to find that it took a whole 25 minutes before someone said anything even slightly cruel to me. What the hell was that about? Perhaps they all knew that I was already busy being cruel to my insides by buying the stadium's trademark sandwich, the Schmitter. For any idea of what that entails they give you this handy dandy diagram while you're waiting in line, and even if it doesn't look quite as impressive as you expect, when you finish it, you realize they weren't lying. It's a filling beast.

Or perhaps the Philly fans were all distracted checking out the statues because, well, this stadium has a lot of them. I tried to scrounge up visits to as many of them as I could find and I'm pretty sure I hit them all both in and outside of the stadium, happening upon Robin Roberts, Mike Schmidt, Harry Kallas, Richie Ashburn and Steve Carlton. Oh, and of course there's a plaque in the Phillies Hall of Fame honoring Jon Kruk. I can't say I would blame them -- the stadium, much as I dislike the team that plays there -- is really pretty nice. Plus they sell Leinenkugel's Summer Shandy which was pretty perfect for the weather we had.

I assume they were all fairly pleasant though because they assumed we would be causing them little trouble. When the Mets jumped in front early -- and actually wound up winning 5-0 -- the wheels of that kindness came off.

The first one came when a guy approached me to tell me that he thought he saw me earlier in the parking lot wearing my 1986 Doc Gooden jersey and said to no one in particular, "Yo, that kids a fag, but that jersey is awesome!" I did enjoy how he just glossed over the insulting part. This was only matched after the game when as I walked to the SEPTA train, one guy walked past me and we had this exchange:

"Your team sucks!"
"I mean, they're in first place."
"Fuck you! ..... Suck a dick!"
"Very clever. You got me good."

The women walking behind me tried their best to convince me afterward that "Not everyone from Philadelphia is a douchebag," but so far I wasn't overly convinced that it was time to change my opinions of the city. Then again, maybe they were just pissed off at me for correctly predicting that Lucas Duda would hit that home run in the fourth inning.

On the SEPTA I was ridiculed by one guy yelling at me that "This train doesn't go to Queens!" which seemingly assumed that there actually was a train from Citizens Bank Park that would take me directly to Queens. When I informed him that I had to take the SEPTA to get to a bus to get me back to New York, he said, "Please, when was the last time you were actually in Queens?" I responded, "This morning. When I woke up." At this point the man stopped making fun of me, but a young sarcastic girl did mock me by saying I must have been the first person ever to notice that the lawyer advertising inside the train was named Justin M. Bieber. I told her that just because I wasn't the first person to recognize it didn't mean it wasn't funny.

No matter.

I returned home and survived another day with the good people of Philadelphia -- I won't be joining them in Minneapolis this June -- and while the only team there I have left to see is that delightful team known as the Philadelphia Eagles, I won't be seeing them this year because with the NFL's schedule release this week my plans for this fall are in place. And just who are the lucky winners?

September 20 -- at Carolina
November 11 -- at Cincinnati
December 23 -- at Baltimore

Oh yes. Get excited. And if you happen to be in any of those places on those dates let me know. After all, you won't be finding me in Philadelphia.

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