Philadelphia on the Bay

As you would expect of a Phillies fan, I have very vivid memories of the night the Phils won the World Series last year. I watched it with my wife and then one-month-old son in our strange, possibly haunted apartment way high up in the Berkeley Hills. I went out to our front deck, which looked out on a panoramic view of the entire Bay Area, and yelled a lot of things I don’t remember now about how Philly had risen and the curse was over, etc. It was a glorious moment, and yet bittersweet for me too, because though I knew that Philadelphia at that moment was erupting into a city-wide party of epic proportions, the Bay Area was quiet as the desert, about as concerned with the World Series as it was the latest cricket scores from Sri Lanka. Looking out from my deck that night, I could easily imagine that not only did no one in my field of vision care that the Philadelphia Phillies had just won the World Series, but that possibly none of them had even bothered to watch the game. ↵

↵I now know that I was dead wrong about that. ↵

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↵I went to see the Phils/Giants game at AT&T Park this past Saturday night. I’d hoped to see the debut of Cliff Lee in a Phillies’ uniform, but unfortunately for me that happened the night before when I couldn’t make it to the park. Fortunately for me, however, and for all Philly fans, Lee’s debut went about as smashingly well as any debut could go – a complete game, 4-hit, 5-1 victory for the Fightins' new ace along with two base-hits at the plate. One only regrets that it wasn’t at the Bank, but otherwise it was an utterly perfect first outing. ↵

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↵Saturday night the Giants looked to take their revenge with their own Cy Young-winning, mullet-flying ace on the mound, Tim Lincecum. It was an exciting night to be at AT&T Park, with a reported crowd of over 42,000, only the 10th sellout of the year for the Giants. Lincecum really puts the fannies in the seats in S.F. right now, and judging by the jerseys I saw floating around in the crowd, he’s about the only player on the team that any Giants fan gives a crap about. His was the only name on the Giants’ current roster that I saw emblazoned on the backs of fans in the stands, though I must have seen a couple thousand of them. I also saw a Matt Williams, a smattering of Barry Bonds, and of course, the three monumental M's of Giants’ lore – Mays, McCovey and Marichal. ↵

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↵But here’s the thing – though Giants jerseys outnumbered Phillies jerseys in the crowd, it wasn’t nearly the rout in numbers that you might have expected. I couldn’t believe the amount of red I saw in the stands -- Phils hats and jackets and shirts were everywhere. I saw Hamels jerseys, Utley, Rollins, Victorino, hundreds of Ryan Howards and even a Raul Ibanez. I saw two Mike Schmidts and a Lenny Dykstra. The Dykstra, I thought, was a bold choice given his current straits. ↵

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↵But by far the most indicative shirt I saw was the one that really told me that Philly was representing. Sitting not too far in front of the press box sat a skinny college-age-looking kid wearing an Antonio Bastardo t-shirt. Antonio Bastardo! I mean, I wasn’t even aware that Bastardo had earned himself his own name-on-the-back t-shirt yet, but there it was at AT&T Park in San Francisco. ↵

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↵Then, THEN, get this – throughout the game I heard not one, not two, but three different “Let’s Go Flyers!” chants start up from the crowd, respectably loud ones too, and all of them coming from different parts of the stadium. ↵

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↵WTF? “Let’s go Flyers?” A bunch of Ryan Howard shirts I could dismiss as just the spoils of a World Series-winning club, and I could even chalk the Bastardo business up to an anomaly, but when you got full-on “Let’s Go Flyers!” chants rolling, you’re talking some hardcore Philadelphians in the house. ↵

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↵Where do all these people hang out, I wonder, and why haven’t they called me? After the game, I went down to the clubhouse planning to ask some of the Phils whether they were seeing this kind of Philly turnout everywhere they went, but they all looked incredibly pissed off (I guess that’s what a night of Tim Lincecum will do to you) and eager to get the hell out of there. There were no other reporters in there asking questions, and so I timidly went and listened to Charlie Manuel’s post-game wrap-up (which amounted to “Tim Lincecum is a pain in my ass”) and then left, squeezing past Brad Lidge on his cellphone on my way out the door. (As far as the clubhouse went, Lidge was my primary revelation. The dude is gigantic. I had no idea. I would never, ever want to fight Brad Lidge.) ↵

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↵So I got no actual reporting done, which is no surprise. Maybe this is a nationwide phenomenon – maybe the World Series and the roster of popular, All-Star-caliber players are bringing out large fleets of Phils fans everywhere they travel and transforming every away stadium into a little slice of Philly. This is something that I’m used to seeing for the Red Sox and the Yankees, and to a lesser extent, the Mets. But the Phillies? No. Here I thought I was alone out here in the Bay Area, but it turns out my people are all around me. So, hey, look, I’m new in town. I need some help. If you’re a Bay Area Phils’ fan, please hit me here at TSB with an email and let me know where all the secret Philly spots are. Especially if you’re that dude in the Bastardo t-shirt. Me and you need to hang. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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