I take a lot of heat for being a Phillies fan. If its not the fact that we have 10,000 losses it’s the fact that we have a tiny ballpark or that we’re cholk-artists. I thought that winning the world series would change all that. I guess I was wrong.
Now I am relentlessly accused of being a “bandwagon jumper.”
I wear my 2008 post-season Phillies sweatshirt wherever I go along with the 2008 world series championship hat. I’ve been waiting for this since I was 8 years-old. Ever since Joe Carter hit the homerun off Mitch Williams. I want to show my pride and excitement for my beloved Phillies; a team my family has cheered on for 50 years, and I want to show it for more than just a week.
Aside from the Phillies, I am a fan of sports more than I am a fan of individual teams. My year runs on three seasons instead of four: Baseball, Football, Basketball. The year begins in January with NFL playoffs to the superbowl, then transitions to the second half of the NBA season followed by the playoffs (which seem to last three and a half years) mixed with opening day of baseball. I ride baseball all summer long and will hardly pay any attention to football until the Phillies are out of it. During each of these seasons, I get into “modes” where I don’t care about any other sports but the mode I am in.
Here it is November, a time when I am usually knee deep in NFL and college football, and I can’t get baseball off my mind. I still pick up a baseball bat and take practice swings in my living room and I keep bugging my friends to have a catch.
What bugs me though is how other people can call me a bandwagon jumper and ignore the entire Tampa Bay fan-base. Until this season, the Tampa Bay Rays’ fan-base consisted of Dick Vitale and the collection of team mothers (most of them, at least). Yet somehow, Tropicana Field was flooded with people sporting ray-hawks and cowbells. If that’s not a stadium full of bandwagon jumpers, I don’t know what is.
To find out, ask anyone with a ray-hawk to name the starting lineup from last year. Then you’ll know.
I watched a lot of people claim to be Red Sox fans in 2004, a lot of which were Marlins fans the year before. I really have no problem with it. If a great postseason like 2004 or 2008 converts you, admit it. Just don’t claim to be a lifelong fan and act like you were in agony for 100 years.
I haven’t quite waited a century to see my team win it all; and the curse of Billy Penn doesn’t quite measure up to the curse of the Bambino. But I finally have a reason to justify wearing a Phillies cap outside of eastern PA without getting laughed at, and I’ll do it with dignity.
I’ve earned it.
Philadelphia has earned it.
So please, don’t call me a bandwagon jumper just because my team won and your team lost. That’s not very good Fanhood.
Like many others my age, I come from a family with divorced parents.
They split when I was just nine years old. I came home from school thinking nothing was wrong, I had heard them yelling at night before but I just figured that’s what parents do. I looked in the garage and there was my dad’s 1992 Honda Civic hatchback piled with clothes, pillows and a few other things he would need. It was there he sat my 6-year-old sister and I on his lap and confessed that he was leaving and it would only be temporary. He never came back home.
Although he no longer lives with us, and he has since re-married, he ha still been a part of my life. I have always wondered whether this is a good thing or a bad thing. There’s no doubt to the distance that has been between us through the good times and the bad. He tries. He tries hard sometimes but I don’t know if he ever grasped his mind about “just being a dad” and nothing else.
Have I bummed you all out yet?
I am 23 now and some might say I’m past the point where I need a dad. But whoever says that is way too cynical to be reading my blog.
When I look back on what has defined my relationship with my father, I can only think of one constant. The Phillies.
Just a week or so ago, I spent hours on the phone talking to him about the team and how the whole country thought the Rays were the better team with the better pitching, the better hitting and the better coach, but that night I preached to my preacher father a different story.
“The Phillies have one very important thing that the Rays don’t.” I told him. “What’s that?” he asked. “The city of Philadelphia.” In that moment I was immediately taken back to my childhood. And all I could really think about was Veteran’s Stadium and the blue seats my dad and I would occupy until they tore it down in 2003. We always tried to make it to at least one game every summer, just him and me. It would always be an event I looked forward to.
The Phillies games were where we could forget about everything else. We could forget about all the fights, the disagreements, the antimocity and just be father and son. It was the only place I ever felt that way.
He took me to watch them play Curt Schilling in his return to Philadelphia after being traded to Arizona in one of the biggest crowds Veteran’s Stadium ever had. The stadium was a sea of red that day but my dad showed up in a bright chartruce button down shirt that could be seen from left field.
This year he took me to watch them play the Rockies who swept them in the playoffs the year before. We sat next to a man and his young daughter who loved Chase Utley. My dad, who is an overly friendly man, would not stop talking to them and gave the girl a high-five when Utley hit a homerun in the bottom of the fifth. I turned to the man and his daughter and said “Ya know, ten years from now she’s gonna walk up to you one morning and say ‘hey dad, remember when we went to that Phillies game and we sat next to that crazy guy and his son?'”
Now that the Phillies have won the World Series, I can’t put a price on all those games I went to. The Phils won a few of them on the shoulders of Curt Schilling and Darren Daulton and occasionally Scott Rolen but they lost a lot of them too. But games with my dad were never about the Phillies winning or losing, it was about being there, watching the greatest game ever invented with thousands of other people, none more important than the guy sitting next to me. My dad.
I’ve tried to get him into golf. No luck. But golf is my thing.
He’s tried to get me into literature. Worse luck. But literature is his thing.
I’m always reminded of how different he and I are, and while our relationship is good, most of the past can never be resolved. For 9 solid innings though, all that disappears, and we are just father and son once again.
I’ve always had him.
He’s always had me.
We’ve always had the Phillies.