What a great time to be a relocated Phillies fan.
I recently moved to the Washington, DC area, and have spent two recent nights at RFK Stadium watching the my visiting Phillies score important victories over the Washington Nationals, making both the National League East and Wildcard races interesting. I cheer enthusiastically for my new home team, the Nationals – baseball in our nation’s capital is a beautiful thing. I cheer for the Nats against all opponents . . . except my beloved Phillies. I may have moved, but I’m still a Phan. Nonetheless, reflecting my new baseball affiliation and my longtime and spirited dedication to the team from South Broad Street, I wore a Phillies jersey and a Nationals cap to the games at RFK.
Judging by the reception I received, you’d think that I had two heads and wore a "God Hates Our Troops" t-shirt.
The Phillies fans, of which there were many, generally greeted me warmly and with high-fives . . . until they noticed that, in addition to my Phillies jersey, I was also wearing a Nationals cap. High-fives were rescinded, smiles morphed into scowls, and my dedication to the Phillies – along with many other personal attributes – was questioned with the colorful language native to residents of the Philadelphia area (the South Jersey guys were the worst). It didn’t matter that I cheered my heart out, lost my voice, and went crazy with every Phillies run that scored, or every strikeout that the hapless Phillies pitching staff stumbled upon. I could have been the Phillie Phanatic – the best freakin’ mascot in all sports and venerable Philadelphia sports icon – and it wouldn’t have made a difference. I was wearing the (insert expletive) hat of the (insert expletive) Nationals. Thanks to my hat, I lost all credibility with Phillies fans.
Nationals fans, not nearly as passionate as the out-of-towners cheering the Phillies, were nonetheless dismissive of my attempt at dual citizenship in the baseball league of nations. "Pick one or the other," they would diplomatically suggest. But knowing that their team is several years away from significance, and that Philadelphia truly had the upper hand in baseball, they’d change the subject with a smirk and a question: "How ’bout those Redskins?" (last week the not-very-good-Redskins defeated the really-not-very-good Eagles on Monday Night Football). Washington, like Philadelphia, is first and foremost a football town, and no matter how the Nationals might play, the only real sports story from September through January in this town is the Redskins. In the sporting pantheon, therefore, their Redskins victory over the Eagles far out-ranked my Phillies’ dominance of the team formerly known as the Montreal/San Juan Expos.
Oh well. I’ll continue to split my loyalties and struggle to navigate a life of living between the two worlds of Philadelphia and Washington baseball fandom. It’s a hard life to live, for sure, but scorecard in hand, and satellite radio tuned in, I ready for the ballgame.
Let’s go Nats! Let’s go Phillies!