One of the perils of being born and raised a Mets fan and going to college an hour away from Philadelphia is that I am perpetually in enemy territory. Unable to watch SNY due to being out of the market, yet close enough to New York City to be under the influence of blackout restrictions, my baseball watching on television is limited to the Philadelphia Phillies, New York Yankees, and Pittsburgh Pirates. My live baseball option is one: the Yankees AAA affiliate. I have been heckled more times than I can count just for wearing a Mets hat to class or to the bar. My friends, while all otherwise decent people and upstanding citizens, are all either completely uninterested in baseball or tragically Phillies fans. I have no way to vent my sports related frustrations without receiving either dead, blank stares or hyena-esque laughter.
Baseball is clearly something that is very important to me. My first memory as a child is attending a Braves/Mets game at Shea Stadium in the early 90s. I have taken the ride on the emotional roller coaster of the Mets and I am yet to get off. I love my team even when I disagree with personnel decisions or when half the team is in the ICU in critical condition. This season has reinforced that it's tough enough to be a Mets fan and that there is very little reason to complicate my sports life further.
I have a confession to make. I have complicated that life. Every girl I have been involved with over the past four years here have all been Phillies fans. Forgive me father, for I have sinned against my baseball team.
It's like a moth to a flame. I am irresistibly attracted to girls who love the Phillies.
Perhaps the most embarrassing thing to ever happen to me was down at a New Jersey shore boardwalk frequented by the denizens of Philadelphia with my girlfriend. There was a crane game where I had the chance to potentially win a David Wright jersey. I put my first dollar in not really expecting anything. I moved the crane around carefully and pressed the button. Down the crane went. YES! It picked up a jersey box! I won! The little box fell into my awaiting hands. I opened it carefully, fitting myself in my mind for a brand new number 5 jersey.
"Congratulations!" a small sheet of paper inside said. "You have won: CHASE UTLEY JERSEY." My head drooped. I heard snickering behind me. I turned around -- it was my girlfriend, the Phillies fan. At least it could go to good use.
I am not a traitor. There is something innately attractive about the City of Brotherly Love. Yes, they booed Santa Claus, had a drunk tank built into their run down multipurpose sports stadium, a reputation for fans being unruly and classless, as well as a city hero athlete of dubious mental capacity who doesn't even exist. For some reason, the entire package when you look at it is actually endearing. Sure, hearing people continually bring up the 2007 and 2008 collapse more than their own World Series victory may be tiring and listening to someone mockingly sing "Meet the Mets" completely off key might lead to headaches but for some reason I cannot get enough of Philadelphia and its most interesting people.
There's a certain blue-collar toughness that they possess, coupled with an attitude that screams confidence yet apprehension at the same time. There is a duality to being from Philadelphia -- always hoping for the best yet preparing for the worst at all times, much like a certain New York baseball franchise. It seems like despite their recent success, the Philadelphia fanatics are continuously looking over the shoulder at all times, almost as if they are trying to escape from someone else's shadow.
Opposites attract. New York and Philadelphia at this point are like oil and water. We just don't mix. I'm used to it now. I know I can't talk about my displeasure with my team. There will be no sympathy for poor play. I will never hear the end about 2007. I know that I have to put up with listening about how dreamy Chase Utley is. I don't mind. I've found the humor in it. Perhaps more importantly, maybe this unholy union shows that love truly does conquer all, from life through baseball.
God help me if there's a Phillies/Mets NLCS, though. I'm not sure anything will survive that.