Although my wife and most of our goods are still out west, I’m back east in our new home comfortably inside the radio range of the broadcasts for the New York Yankees and Mets and the Philadelphia Phillies.
While familiar with the Yanks and Mets broadcasts from previous years spent in the New York metro area, I’m getting my first true exposure to the fans of the Fightin’ Phils.
They live up to their reputation.
I’ve been listening to WIP-FM, a 24/7 sports talk station that this time of the year is roughly 23/7 Phillies.
I wake up in the morning, Phillies fans are bellyaching about Cliff Lee, Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino and, extra brutally, about Hunter Pence.
I tune in on the drive home, and the fans are bellyaching about Lee, Rollins, Victorino, Pence, etc.
Later in the evening — you get the idea. It’s non-stop kvetching.
The Philly fans are passionate about their team, even as their loyalty is tested by a local nine mired in last place in the National League East. Many are articulate and well-reasoned, while others are just plain mad at the world over the Phils’ failures.
Having listened to the station for several weeks, I’m impressed with the talk show hosts. Their analysis and critiques of the team seem spot on, including their defense of the team’s on- and off-field management. The hosts seem to recognize that the Phils’ long run of success is waning as the team ages and struggles without the big bats of Chase Utley and Ryan Howard.
One interesting aspect to the non-stop Phillies talk that strikes me is that it’s only about the Phillies. Rare is the call that even mentions another team.
I expect hometown talk shows to focus on the home team, but in Philadelphia it’s taken to extremes. In contrast, Yankees and Giants fans will at least occasionally acknowledge that opponents exist — if only to say “The Red Sox suck” or “The Dodgers suck.”
Sadly for the Philly fans this year, about all they can muster is, “We suck.”