vendredi, juin 08, 2007

Almost winners

Today I had the privilege of discussing the dreams and fatalism of the Philly sports fan with someone who has studied it carefully. A sports writer for a paper of record who lives in our very own suburbs, he is a longtime student of our unrequited love for our teams-none of the four major sports teams in the city have won a championship since 1983. That was the year the Sixers won the NBA championship. According to this writer (I think I'll preserve his privacy) the collapase of the Phillies in 1964 (losing a World Series) was one of the most famous in the history of baseball. Only 16 more games and the Phillies will have lost 10,000 games, making them the losingest team in pro baseball history.

There are all sorts of theories to explain the fans byzantine relationship with the Philadelphia teams, but it boils down to this. Expect the worse, even when thing are going well-it almost always occurs, according to this journalist. Demonstrating the mania connected with local sports in the five county area, he retailed anecdotes aplenty. Priests refused to baptize babies when the Eagles were playing. Our governor, Ed Rendell has post game show after each game on CN8. A few years ago, Sen. Arlen Specter phoned WIP, the local sports station, to say how worried he was about whether the Eagles could win.

This veteran calls us "the biggest small town in America."

Growing up in NYC, I don't carry the psychological baggage of being a fan who walks the line between hope and fear, aware that defeat will most likely be snatched from victory's jaw. When it comes to sports, as to so many other things in this wonderful area, fans are cursed with an incredible inferiority complex that makes us the "almost" city-the Broad Street parade just out of sight-beyond that next basket, or home run, or goal.

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