I was about to turn off the Monday Night Football game last night, frustrated that my fantasy football season may have come to an end. Before I hit power I saw something scroll across ESPN's bottom line. I only caught a glimpse, but noticed the words Cliff Lee, and Philadelphia Phillies. I immediately checked my sources and found out the Phillies had entered the fray for Cliff Lee. I went to sleep unaware of what the morning would bring. When my alarm went off at 6:30am, I noticed five new text messages. All of them told me what I already knew...Cliff Lee was a Phillie. On one of the coldest mornings I can remember, all I could think about was this summer.
I am beginning to realize that something is different in this city. Players actually want to play here. When did this happen? I remember when Philadelphia was on the top of every player's "No Trade Clause". Why wouldn't that be the case? For 25 years, Philadelphia tried unsuccessfully to win a championship. Now nearly every free agent considers coming to Philadelphia. They don't always come here for money, or cheesesteaks. They come for the fans.
In my opinion Philadelphia has the best fans in professional sports. Of course that is not how we are portrayed by the national media. Over the past few years I have read article after article slamming the Philadelphia sports fan base. The term "black eye" has been thrown around quite a bit. And to be perfectly honest, I don't disagree with some of the complaints. Intentional vomiting and fans being tasered on the sacred grass of Citizens Bank Park...All valid points. But doesn't every city have a few bad apples that spoil the bunch?
Just this year an inebriated Cleveland Browns fan tackled an 8-year old after a game. Last October, Yankees fans spit on Cliff Lee's wife while she watched her husband pitch. Fights break out almost daily in sporting arenas around the country. This happens in every city. There will always be disgusting fans that ruin a good time. It is the product of mixing hostile sports fans with alcohol. So why does Philadelphia stand out? Well we may have a history of unruly conduct.
Everyone has heard the stories...
1. We threw snowballs at Santa Claus.
People, I don't know how to tell you this, SPOILER ALERT: Santa Claus is not real! We threw snowballs at a guy dressed up as Santa. My friend, who is a New York Giants fan, goes rabbit hunting every year. Does that mean he hates Easter? Should I make wild generalizations like: NY fans killed the Easter Bunny?
2. We threw batteries at J.D. Drew.
I agree that this was a little excessive. I DO NOT condone that behavior. However, again this is pretty common around the world. While I was playing overseas, in one game fans began ripping up the wooden seats and smashing the glass. They then threw this debris at us while we were playing...And we were winning!
3. We booed Michael Irving when he was carted off the field.
Hey Cowboys fans, you know how DeSean Jackson rubbed your faces in the dirt Sunday night, while taunting every step of the way? That is what Michael Irving did to us for years. While I don't condone booing him while injured, I can understand booing him in general. And I guarantee if DeSean gets drilled next year in Dallas, fans will be on their feet.
Although there may be a few black marks on our record, not many places in sports compare to a Philadelphia sporting event. I have had the good fortune of attending many of the big games this city has been a part of over the 30 years of my life. I can't think of a better atmosphere to play a big game in.
For every half sauced overweight fan wearing a powder blue Schmidt jersey while spitting venom at the opposition, there are ten die hard fans, watching every ball and strike with great interest. We know when to cheer and we know when to boo. We are blue collar, educated and tough. We are loyal to our heroes and never forget our villains. We are loud and we are passionate.
The city of Philadelphia has always known, now with the recent Cliff Lee signing, everyone knows...Athletes want to play in Philadelphia.