In one light, there probably is no better place than Philadelphia, the epicenter of North American sports right now. There might not be a place where the teams matter more to the fans and residents, which of course leads them to some very curious words and deeds at times. You have to be truly dizzy for a team to do some of the things we’ve seen from various loons clad in green or orange or red. That’s not to defend them so much as identify the root.
So sure, why shouldn’t they have a stretch of weeks that others, and probably them, dared not dream of? The Phillies are in the World Series, the Eagles are one of the maybe four good teams in the NFL and still the only one to not have lost yet, and last night the Union clinched their spot in the MLS Cup final with a rollocking 3-1 win over defending champ NYCFC.
How many other cities would a streak like this truly matter in? Sure, L.A. has had years where the Dodgers are the best team and the Lakers actually live up to their name and they got a Super Bowl even last year that none of their fans could actually afford to attend. But that’s L.A. They would have shrugged it all off if they even noticed it all if it had all gone pear-shaped.
I’ve lived here when the Hawks and Cubs put up championships in back-to-back years. The Knicks and Rangers each reached their respective finals at the same time in the spring of ’94, though that gets awfully distant in the rearview mirror now as I’m not hesitant to remind fans of either. Let’s not even discuss Boston.
But like that unmentionable place, it matters to Philly. We’ve heard the noise at Citizens Bank Park this fall (I would give anything to find a gif of the Philly Phanatic hugging every fan during a rally in Game 4 against the Braves, but I can’t seem to). Even if you don’t know an Eagles fan, there’s been one in your life that hasn’t shut up since about Week 2. You get assigned one if you don’t already have one, whether you like it or not or don’t even know what a football is. Them’s the rules. Or hear this:
There aren’t that many places that can produce this kind of noise, especially after most, if not all, of these people have been screaming every night for the past three weeks or so. I wonder how many aren’t going to make it all the way through this stretch before their loved ones just have to… send them away, as it were.
I could say that some part of me gets it and is happy, because I also come from a place where sports really do matter. I could say that there’s a very tiny part of me, minuscule even, that has affection for Philly because it’s the only city on the East coast that isn’t peddling some bullshit about what it is versus what it actually is. People from there just say. “It’s fuckin’ Philly, what else do you want?” They’ll do it far too loudly, but there isn’t a wave of fuckery about how it’s some cultural or intellectual center of the world. It’s a sticky dump on a river and that’s all.
I could say all that… but fuck it. This sucks and I hate it. Which is what Philly fans really want to hear anyway.
Speaking of that Philly Union win, Subaru Park’s foundation was threatened as the Union crashed in three goals in 11 minutes in the second half to overcome going behind. It was capped off by this Cory Burke goal, which is just about the most signature display of what strength means in soccer. Watch him turn Justin Haak into putty around the center circle and then charge into the NYCFC box. Haak might as well have been a bug on his windshield:
That’s a capstone goal.
Elsewhere, while Tom Brady might be sadness incarnate these days, there’s nothing but joy watching the Packers and especially Aaron Rodgers look like roadkill in the sun these days. Brady is no less high on his own farts than Rodgers in the grand scheme, but Brady only tries to convince us of that so he can sell one of his huckster oils or whatever else. Rodgers is here every week to try and convince us he knows something we don’t simply by saying whatever has a word that he thinks sounds cool said by someone else.
It’s even better when Cris Collinsworth is on the verge of tears throughout the whole Sunday Night Football broadcast, fearing his latest three-hour Packers ass-kissing seminar won’t be enough to save them. First he tried to defend Quay Walker after he punched an opposing coach, then made sure to mention some Packers equivalent to whatever Bills subject was the discussion at the time. I could seriously huff all of this if we could find a way to aerate it.