Philadelphia is a town of two identities.
The first is the identity of Philadelphia sports fans as being passionate about their teams, that they are knowledgeable, and that they support their teams in good times and bad.
Much of that is true. Even when Philly sports teams stink, people still go to Eagles games, to Phillies games, to Flyers games, to Sixers…
…wait a minute… OK, three out of four ain’t bad.
And yes, there is passion in droves, sometimes too much.
The second perception of Philadelphia sports fans, however, is the one perpetuated by the media. You know, the whole “throwing snowballs at Santa” and “throwing batteries at J.D. Drew” and “booing Michael Irvin as he lay dying on the field from a gunshot wound” stuff.
Philadelphians still boo Scott Rolen (some of which was deserved) and Jayson Werth (none of which was deserved).
We just can’t stop booing. WHY CAN’T I QUIT YOU???
But in perhaps record time today, new Phils third baseman Michael Young was placed in the impossible position of having to remain true to his core, or lie like a crooked politician this morning upon his arrival in Clearwater in order to ingratiate himself into the grizzled hearts of the Philadelphia sports fan.
— Howard Eskin (@howardeskin) February 15, 2013
Now, I have worked with Howard Eskin in the past. As a former producer at WIP, I produced Howard and Mike Missanelli’s afternoon show in the early 2000s, and I’ve got to say, I like Howard Eskin. He was always very good to me.
That being said, Eskin’s question of Young this morning only helped perpetuate some of the worst qualities about Philadelphia sports fans, many of those qualities I have heard Eskin rant about for years.
There are people who will absolutely hate Michael Young’s living, breathing guts because he is a Cowboys fan.
At the first Young error, the first strikeout with the bases loaded, the first blank stare, there are people who are so over-the-moon crazy that they will boo Young because he didn’t immediately purchase Eagles underwear at the Philly International Airport no sooner than 30 seconds after his plane landed this week.
Michael Young says worker at Philly airport “asked if I was a Cowboys fan. I said yeah. And she was pissed! So I basically just bolted.”
— John Clark NBC10 (@johnclarknbc10) February 15, 2013
I mean, really people?
Maybe it would be helpful if we came up with a list of things athletes absolutely HAVE to do in order to be liked and accepted by the ridiculous throng who think like the smacked ass that gave Michael Young a hard time at the airport.
1. Every athlete who comes to Philadelphia must immediately relinquish any and all ties to all childhood roots they once had, renounce every other sports organization they rooted for growing up, purchase season tickets for every Philadelphia sports team other than the one they’re playing for, and distribute those tickets to the masses in much the same way Jack Nicholson’s Joker distributed cash to the citizens of Gotham, shortly before he tried to poison everyone with gas coming from giant balloons.
2. Every athlete must attend at least two professional sporting events a year, and sit in an area that is easily viewable by everyone else in attendance, as well as cameras, so their images can be transmitted to the big screens inside the stadium and those watching on TV in their mother’s basement. This is a must.
3. This one came from Twitter follower @DelcoNate…
— Nate (@DelcoNate) February 15, 2013
I think that one goes without saying.
4. They MUST like scrapple. Pork roll can be a close second. Bacon and sausage, while tasty and delicious, are not TRUE Philadelphia breakfast meats.
5. They must immediately acknowledge that Wawa is the greatest convenience store in the history of mankind, and that there truly is no cake that tastes like a Tastykake.
6. After every failed at bat, or interception, or easy goal allowed, or missed free throw, the athlete must react in a way that lets the fans know they really do CARE about what they’re doing. Because, you know, they make so much money, they really OWE it to the fans to show that they really do care about their “job.” Call it the Mike Schmidt Corollary, named after the future Hall-of-Famer who clearly didn’t care enough about his responsibility to the fans to destroy his batting helmet with his bat in the dugout after every plate appearance that ended in a strikeout. We need PASSION here in this town.
7. They CANNOT adopt a child from Ethiopia.
8. They must appear at WIP’s Wing Bowl in some capacity and pose with one of the many classy “Wingettes” on hand.
9. They must buy the beat writers a year-long gift card to some place classy, like Hooters or Outback. Because, you know, the way to a sportswriter’s heart, is through their stomach.
10. Most importantly, they must WIN damn it, and never, ever stop winning.
If all incoming Philadelphia athletes would follow these very simple steps, and change everything about themselves, then everyone will be happy.
Because, at the end of the day, if the FANS aren’t happy, then what’s the POINT of all this, anyway?