The Phillies are the it team in Major League Baseball, with top flight free agents choosing the City of Brotherly Love over its ugly sibling to the north. The Flyers, coming off a Stanley Cup Finals appearance, are atop the NHL standings, thanks in part to a 4-1 victory over the Rangers on Saturday. And yesterday, the Eagles finished off one of the most improbable comebacks in NFL history, with a 65-yard punt return touchdown from DeSean Jackson. It's a good time to be a sports fan in Philadelphia. Not only are our team's getting respect, but thanks to Cliff Lee, the city and its fans are finally getting their propers too.
And would you look at that, the Wall Street Journal and Sports Illustrated are clamoring to suckle at our teet. Joe Queenan, a Philly guy, sticks it to NY. [WSJ.com]
The stunning decision by lefty superstar Cliff Lee to spurn the New York Yankees' $150 million offer and sign with the Philadelphia Phillies for $30 million less has spawned the usual cruel wisecracks about the City of Brotherly Love. Is this the first time that the Jewel of the Schuylkill got the best of the Big Apple at anything? Ho-ho-ho. Tee-hee-hee. So snide, so condescending. And so typical of New Yorkers, who never accept defeat with grace.
But it just so happens that this assertion about New York's alleged supremacy over Philadelphia is not even true. When George Washington fled New York for Philadelphia in 1776, it wasn't just because of the British. It was to get away from Gotham losers.
The divide between the two cities is especially noticeable in the field of sports. The Philadelphia Flyers, aka the Broad Street Bullies, have been whipping on the New York Rangers, fawning girlymen, for 40 years. The Philadelphia Eagles have beaten the New York Giants the last five times they played. The greatest collapse in the history of baseball occurred in 2007 when the New York Mets blew a seven-game lead—with just 17 games to play—against the Philadelphia Phillies. One year later, they blew a similar lead to…the Phillies.
Heh… 2007 Mets.
Michael Rosenberg, who had to bring up the Santa incident, agrees with Queenan.
There were 50 thoughts running through my mind as I watched DeSean Jackson's game-winning punt return Sunday, which put me 50 thoughts ahead of Giants punter Matt Dodge. But in the end, I was left with this: There is no better place to be a sports fan right now than Philadelphia.
The Phillies are coming off their fourth straight postseason appearance and are the surest bet in baseball to make the playoffs next year. The Flyers just made the Stanley Cup finals and have the best record in the NHL. The Eagles are the most exciting team in the NFC, and maybe the best — they seem destined for an NFC title-game matchup with Michael Vick's old team, the Falcons. (The 76ers? Well, they're struggling, but hey, a lockout is coming!)
But look now. Philadelphia has embraced Vick, the most controversial athlete of the last few years. Cliff Lee, the big prize of baseball's free-agent market, signed with Philadelphia because he loves it there. The Phillies didn't even really try to get him. They just kind of hung around and let Lee choose them. To longtime Philly haters, that is like the foot choosing the fungus.
I have always had a soft spot for Philadelphia sports fans, and not just because I like insane people. Philadelphia is my kind of city. It can be beautiful, and if you walk around Center City, you can feel the layers of history.
Rosenberg acknowledges that our biggest problem may be that we care too much, but goes on to credit us for being city of "substance" and for our deep knowledge of the game- citing McNabb's weaknesses that are only now being uncovered nationally.
It feels good to be on top. At least for one week.
To Rosenberg and other non-Philly folk- thanks for the love. We appreciate, really, we do. But you're a little late to the party.