Philadelphia Fans Don’t Deserve Championship Teams
Everyone who’s been to a ballpark knows that there are always going to be a number of fans who swill endless amounts of overpriced beer, scream obscenities at the players and generally make idiots out of themselves; but in Philadelphia overindulgence in alcohol cannot explain the antisocial behavior that is seen to be inherent in every sport attended by Philadelphia fans.
In tonight’s game between the Mets and Phillies, Mets shortstop Jose Reyes was stealing second and on the head first slide, bashed his head into the knee of Phillies second baseman Chase Utley. Reyes lay prone at second base, dirt caked on his head and manager Willie Randolph and trainer Ray Ramirez converging around him to make sure he wasn’t seriously hurt. After a few minutes on the ground, Reyes rose and, still seeming somewhat dazed, was able to regain his senses to the point where he was able to stay in the game. The Phillies fans, ignoring the etiquette that is accepted throughout sports, booed Reyes as he rose to return to the game. The Phillies fans are known to be the toughest in all of sports, but isn’t cheering a player getting injured and booing when he isn’t seriously hurt seen to be over the line even for the drunk and just plain obnoxious?
This isn’t the first time that the Philadelphia fans have reacted in such a way to a player being hurt. In October of 1999, Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Michael Irvin was injured on a play and didn’t move. The Eagles fans, either bitter because Irvin was the symbol of the Cowboys success of the 90s, the Eagles failures of the 90s or both, cheered at the prospect of a player possibly being paralyzed. Irvin, unable to move, was subjected to the witless cheers of those fans who couldn’t have cared less whether or not he spent the rest of his life in a wheelchair. Cheering a player who is injured in an encouraging fashion is not a betrayal to the competitive vitriol that they felt for that player. Irvin was a flamboyant, arrogant player and has been widely acknowledged as being a bad guy, but had he done anything to warrant such treatment? Just because the Eagles have continually lost when they were said to be the most talented team in football and the Cowboys were the team that kept beating them? That’s justification for a lack of human decency?
Is the Philadelphia fans reputation as being difficult feeding the monster of this type of attitude? Is it a self-fulfilling prophecy? Do they revel in the reputation as the toughest to deal with in sports and want to expand that to being so utterly ruthless that they want their opponents to leave the field on their backs? One has to wonder whether the fans are a major reason why the Philadelphia sports teams have been such historic losers. The Phillies have won one championship in 126 years of existence and none since 1980; the Eagles haven’t won a championship since 1960; the Flyers haven’t won a Stanley Cup in 34 years and the 76ers haven’t won a title since 1983. Is there a symbiotic relationship between the fans brutality and the lack of success evident with the city’s sports teams?
The Philadelphia teams have had a similar bullying type of attitude as their fans and when confronted, they wilt. The current Phillies have some solid citizens on their roster like Jamie Moyer, Ryan Howard and Chase Utley to name a few; but they also have guys like the hotheaded and wannabe tough guy Cole Hamels and the acknowledged wife-abuser Brett Myers. I haven’t much respect for guys like Myers who knock women around or Hamels who
thinks getting into bar fights makes him tough. The Flyers have been affectionately known as the Broad Street Bullies, but their bullying persona was frequently exposed during the early part of the decade when they were Stanley Cup contenders and kept running into teams like the New Jersey Devils who not only hit them back, but hit them harder and more often and beat them brutally. The Eagles were supposed to be the epitome of the Buddy Ryan-tough, defense oriented and aggressive team that would pound a team into submission, but never got past the second round of the playoffs during those seasons in which they were consistently a Super Bowl favorite. Even now, the fans take their frustrations out on their franchise quarterback Donovan McNabb and prefer an unproven rookie to the man who led them to four straight NFC championship games because they hold him responsible for winning only one of the games and losing in that Super Bowl to a dynastic team in the Patriots. I’m starting to believe the Philadelphia fans don’t want success because then they would lose what they perceive as their right to be miserable and over the line abusive.
If you believe in comeuppance, it might be that the Philadelphia fans endure such heartbreak because they deserve it as a result of their behavior; if you don’t believe in such things, it might be that the players just don’t go that extra mile for fans that are cheering them one minute and throwing things at them the next. If this is what they’re passing off as support for their teams, I’m sure most other teams would rather do without that kind of support.