Philadelphia Metropolis

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Who's on First, What's on Second

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Growing up in central Jersey, I never had any allegiance to a baseball team.  Most of my friends who followed baseball were either Mets fans or Yankees fans, while I remained a neutral non-fan.  When I moved to Philadelphia to attend Temple, I still didn't pay attention to any professional sports teams. I assumed I would always just be one of those people who never followed sports. 

While the Phillies were entering the post-season in 2007, I was busy entering a new relationship.  Still getting to know each other, Dan warned me that he was a huge Phillies fan and followed baseball closely.   Although I did not pretend to enjoy the sport, I was too caught up in the throes of a new romance to take his professed passion for baseball too seriously.  I simply nodded cheerfully when he spoke of his excitement for the post-season, and then before I knew it the Phillies were swept by the Rockies and baseball was non-existent to me and my relationship once again. 

About five months later, I found myself having a semi- serious talk withPhillies pix.jpg Dan, who was trying his best to explain to me that our carefree evenings and weekends would soon be changing.   We were on the verge of baseball season.  "I just want you to be prepared," he told me.  I was confused at first. I figured: so, he'll want to watch a game once in a while.  Big deal.

"How many games are there, anyway?" I asked, clueless.   "One hundred and sixty two," Dan replied automatically, his eyes already glued to the MLB Network scouting report.  My face flushed with a mix of anger and panic. One-hundred-and-sixty-two games! I was about to lose my boyfriend for the next six months to a game I had never thought about for more than 30 seconds.   I glanced over at Dan intensely studying the TV and saw more than just a typical fan.  For him, being a dedicated Phillies fan was like a sport itself.  I took a deep breath, and in a moment of clarity realized I had two choices: fight it, or embrace it. 

We went to our first game together a few weeks later.  I wore my only red shirt, and Dan and I rode the Broad Street Line from to Temple to Pattison Avenue.  The sights, sounds, and smells of the ballpark fascinated me, and Dan happily took me on a brief tour around Citizens Bank Park as he chatted about the night's match up.  Once the game started, however, I was bored.  I couldn't follow what was going on and blurted out before thinking, "Why is there no announcer? Isn't there usually someone talking about what's going on?"  Na├»ve as I was about baseball, I still should have thought that one out before I blurted it out.  Of course, at a live game there is no Tom McCarthy telling me the balls, strikes, and outs.  I realized I would have to actually watch the game if there was going to be any chance of me enjoying it.  So I did; I focused on the players, studied the pitchers, and watched the scoreboard. 

Eight and a half innings later, I was still sitting there, eyes glazed over. The Phillies were losing 3-0. Then slowly things began to change. A walk, a single, a double.  Hit, hit, hit.  Everyone in the stadium were on their feet yelling, cheering, and jumping.  Strangers hi-fived, as if they had just accomplished something together.  The huge, mutual happiness and pride of 40,000 people seemed tangible.   My blood rushed with excitement, too, as I got to my feet to celebrate the win.  It wasn't forced or unnatural; I was truly ecstatic over a baseball game.

Dan eagerly shared his passion for the Phillies. From that game on, he had an eager sponge ready to take in everything there was to know.  It was like a game to us.  Dan would quiz me on every guy in the line-up and bullpen after the games.   During games, I would relentlessly ask questions until I understood what was happening and why.  I really got into it.  Dan and I went to eight games that summer and every time the experience was fresh and exhilarating.  I was a true Phillies fan.

On October 29, 2008, my friends and I joined the masses marching to City Hall to celebrate the Phillies' Word Series Victory.  I have never seen a city more alive than Philadelphia was on that night. 

Dan and I now have an apartment together that is, coincidentally, a 10-minute walk from Citizens Bank Park.   It's easy for outsiders to look at me as a bandwagon fan, but that certainly isn't a fair judgment.  My love for the Phillies is honest and real, much to the chagrin of all my Mets and Yankees fans back in Jersey.   Deciding to have an open mind about the Phillies was the best decision I could have made, and has led me to have a greater sense of community in Philadelphia than I thought possible.

 Obviously, Caitlyn Valentino is looking forward to the post season of 2010.

 

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