Tuesday, August 02, 2011

What a Difference Success Makes

If there was one thing that stood out to me during my many travels with my family over the past month -- other than the increased security at the busier airports, of course -- it would have to be the effect of wearing my regular Phillies apparel in multiple airports along the east coast. Ten years ago, #1 I'm not sure I would have been caught dead wearing any Phillies apparel other than your standard baseball cap in public, and #2, if I did, I could have walked through the nation's airports basically unnoticed. I mean, how often do you really pay attention if someone walks by you wearing, say, a Colorado Rockies t-shirt, or a Padres cap, etc.? Especially given the total lack of historical success out of the Phillies prior to the team's current incarnation, believe me when I tell you, I spent 20-some years of my life as a long-suffering and apparel-wearing Philly fan across the board, and nobody ever said boo to me about anything I ever had on my back, my head, or anywhere else attached to my person, be it at an airport or otherwise.

Fast forward to last month, and as the Hammer Family muddles through a very long security line at JFK International Airport, Hammer Wife and I are trying to get everything back together after our bags, computers, shoes, belts, younameits all come out of the scanner while simultaneously keeping tabs on and quieting down three young kids including a very young one who can't be trusted not to do something crazy at any time depending on what is attracting him at any particular moment. At one point my 2-year-old grabs one of his sisters' shoes and starts running with it, stopping just before running under the line barrier and back into the security line all over again. Trust me when I tell you, having to go and retrieve him, and I'm sure being forced to wait with him all the way through that whole security line again, was about as daunting a thought as I could imagine at that particular moment, and then I saw the big burly TSA guard standing right near where my boy was dangerously close to really screwing things up. I ask the guy if he could please just stand in front of my boy for one second while I come and collect him -- he was only maybe 10 feet away from me at this point -- and the TSA guy takes one look at my Phillies shirt, sneers up the corners of his mouth just a little bit, and says "Not for a Phillies fan, I won't." And he was serious. Luckily I managed to grab the kid before he got away from the security-cleared end of the line, but it wasn't with any help at all from the TSA guy, who told me he was a Mets fan. After a quick condescending laugh at him, I told him I feel bad enough for him already and I could get my own kid. But the simple fact is, ten years ago, there's no way anyone in New York would ever have even mentioned me being a Phillies fan. That fact would have been of no consequence whatsoever to a Mets fan 10 years ago, even when the Mets were bad themselves. The Phillies were a lifelong embarrassment, and pretty much the last franchise in all of professional sports that would have caused any agita, jealousy and negativity whatsoever in the mind of any other city's or sport's team fan.

A week or so later, we're flying back out of the airport in south Florida, and once again I am sporting some Phillies apparel, this time my old red hat that I've had for going on a decade or more now, and this time in Marlins country. The hat is ratty and gross, but it's mine and I love it, and I pretty much always bring it on vacation in case I need the extra protection or convenience that it affords the wearer. The Hammer Family rolls in to the airport with exactly nine bags, only two of which are being carried by anyone other than me, and I am taking a beating in the 100 degree heat. Mercifully I see one of the airprot's luggage hand trucks unattended, and I am just starting to put my luggage down on it when a skycap walks up from across the room and says those are only for skycap use. I look at him, sweat pouring down my face, back aching, and with true desperation in my eyes and ask can I please just borrow this to lug my bags to the security line about a mile away in the airport, and that I will personally bring it right back to him in 15 minutes or so when I get the bags there, and I take a minute to point out to him how utterly deserted the airport is at that hour and how many other hand trucks there are available for him and his team to use. The guy takes one look at me -- the sweat, the pain, the desperation -- and says, "Sorry, no Phillies fans are using any of my carts today." And that was it. I carried seven bags about a half a mile across a couple of terminals because I was unfortunate enough to once again be wearing a Phillies hat in the land of another, this time different, NL East team. What on earth a Marlins fan really has against the Phillies specifically I'm not sure I understand -- I mean, the Marlins are after all in last place in the division, they lost 17 games in a row this year, and the Phils have never really taken on the Marlins head-on in any of these past few years of Philadelphia sports success -- but I guess that's just it: the Phillies' success is what does it. What will soon be five consecutive years of NL East domination -- the only other team in division history to win five straight other than the Braves dynasty of the 1990s -- must just be too much for the fans of every other team in the division to take.

A couple of weeks later, we are at our first night at the beaches of Delaware (Washington, DC beach country, mostly), and I went out to pick up dinner at the Hammer Family's favorite local restaurant, and I'm once again wearing my Phillies shirt that in fact was a recent gift from my brother in law who was there getting dinner with me. When I get there I realize they have not included the dressing that my sister in law had specifically requested with her salad as part of the order, so I ask them to include it, and the guy behind the counter mouths off to me that he normally doesn't give dressing to Phillies fans. Now, unlike the first two instances above, this Nationals fan did eventually give me what I had asked for, but not before getting in his own barb against my beloved Phillies team. After he took the time to ask me where was that right-handed bat in our lineup since the Jayson Werth trade, I could not resist pointing out that the Nationals management has been asking themselves that same question all season long, and we parted ways both with smiles on our faces.

Three examples of NL East rival fans mouthing off at me in the span of under a month, just for the team that I liked? To a Phillies fan? If you needed anything beyond Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee both accepting less money to play at Citizens Bank Park to show how far the Phillies franchise has come over the past half a decade or so, that is pretty much it.

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Blogger Josie said...

Phillies suck! That being said I can appreciate the decade old battered Phillies cap. I've got a fave like that too (except it's red sox of course) and I love it.

People suck too. Can't believe that guy didn't get his phillies dig in and then let you borrow the hand truck. what a biatch.

10:56 PM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Here's hoping the Phils and the Sawx can settle things in October this year once and for all. Two long-suffering franchises that have finally turned things around.

Of course, one of them succeeded primarily by building up with good players from within, while the other did it by acquiring multiple steroid users from other teams, but that's another story....

2:38 AM  
Blogger PokahDave said...

Such a troll. Everybody is tainted in baseball...

4:18 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

It would bother me too if I knew all the Sawx "sluggers" of this entire reign are all juicers, every last one of them.

While the Phillies have...Ryan Howard.


7:16 AM  
Blogger Josie said...

You don't 'know' that all sox sluggers are juicers: you're just assuming. Don't lawyers know enough to have evidence to substantiate their defamatory remarks or is that outdated?

What you DO know is that the sox have hitting, pitching and heart, and a couple of recent world series wins. :)

6:24 PM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Ryan Howard, another two home runs last night. Pure and natural.

Something you Sawx fans don't know anything about. Big Papi, Curt Schilling, Manny, the list goes on and on.

7:15 PM  
Blogger Astin said...

I'd comment, but I don't comment the blogs of Phillies fans.

9:29 PM  
Blogger Josie said...

How about the Ellsbury's walk off single last night to win the game? Is he on roids too? Or little Pedroia? And if Papi's on roids, they aren't doing him very good as his bat is lacking lately.

12:00 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

How about Ryan Howard's 4 RBIs and another home run this afternoon on the road?

7:17 AM  
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11:23 PM  
Blogger PokahDave said...

Ryan Howard is probably on the 'List'...yeah...that list Hoy. I'm sure there are quite a few Phillies that follow in the tradition of the '92 Phillies and that whole team (Dykstra, Daulton etc). There are some lesser known Phillies that have been suspended in the past few years...so where there is smoke...there is fire. It sure will be entertaining to see the list when it does reveal the truth...but you wouldn't care much about the truth...would you?

12:08 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

You mean the truth that the Red Sox still haven't ended the Curse of the Bambino with a legitmate team, and won't again this year either thanks to a clean Phillies squad? I would say that I do care about that truth.

12:44 AM  
Blogger PokahDave said...

Belief in the 'Curse of the Bambino' is for Morons...thanks for confirmation!

3:06 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Just five more years till a flat century of failure, bro.

6:22 AM  

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