In Philly we love our sports, well as long as they are in the Philly area or have a Philly connection, I.e., Penn State and Notre Dame. In almost all sports there are a few teams you just are not allowed to root for. If you do, you risk losing your fan card as a Philly fan. Hockey = Rangers, Islanders, Penquins, Bruins. NBA = Celtics, Lakers. NFL, = if you don’t know, stop reading and move south now. MLB = all teams in NL East and any one 40 years and above the Dodgers, see 1977-79 NLDS.
One thing you may notice in Philly, when it comes to local college basketball, Philly is very unique. We have the Big 5. In most cases, how you were raised determines which Big 5 school you root for and or will attend. There are exceptions but for fear of tearing apart families I won’t mention any. The epitome of a rivalry, noticed on the national level, is the Holy War, St. Joe’s and Villanova. But the rivalries in the Big 5 have kept this unique, inner city conference going since 1955. Another thing that differs from the pros is we cheer against our city brethren and really do not have a college basketball team that the whole city roots against.
As we enter the ML playoffs there are plenty of hated teams; Yankees, Dodgers, Nationals, Braves. Leaving the Twins, Rays, and Cardinals with the Astros caught in the neutral zone. The Yankees and Dodgers both have ties to the Northeast, well they played here, but have won way too many times to root for them. The Braves, hate to blame an owners wife but Hanoi Jane was married to Ted Turner. The Nationals well it is natural to dislike them, being a 2 hour drive away.
The Phillies did everything they could in the offseason to get us to the promised land but did little after. A team in desperate need of pitching all season did not seem to find the right fits in that department. As players became injured, they were in no hurry to replace them with quality replacements. Now we are left trying to find someone to root for, an underdog, the favorite, your second favorite team after the Phillies?
For me it is easy, at 12 years old, I had a second favorite team that I only had to root against for 2 series, The LA Dodgers. Why would an 12 year old Philly lad need a 2nd team. Well as the onset of free agency hit the league and every team was buying and selling, one team kept their team and starting lineup pretty much intact, the Dodgers. I hated to look for players on different teams every year so I adopted the Dodgers. Also during the 1976 Bicentennial game at Dodger Stadium, outfielder Rick Monday ran onto the field to stop a flag from being burnt between innings. More incredibly in 1977, after Dusty Baker hit his 30th home run Glenn Burke ran onto the field and slapped Baker’s raised hand. This is widely credited as the creation of the high 5. If I needed another reason Charlie Manuel played for the Dodgers in the early 70’s. And a note to Gabe Kapler, I can still remember the lineup 40 years later.
Batting #1 Davey Lopes, 2b
#2 Bill Russell, SS
#3 Reggie Smith, RF
#4 Ron Cey, 3B
#5 Steve Garvey, 1B
#6 Dusty Baker, LF
#7 Rick Monday, CF
#8 Steve Yeager, C
Please take note, Gabe. We, the fans, would like the lineup to stay the same at least for a month. That is if you are here in 2020.
Back to the who to root for dilemma. The Dodgers, Yankees, Braves and Nationals should be off the radar unless you have been following the team for more than 40 years. The Rays, Twins, and Cardinals all are quality teams but realistically do not have a chance to be playing in the final week of the season. That leaves the Astros. They play at the same level as both the Dodgers and Yankees and one of their pitchers is married to a woman much better looking and more patriotic than Jane Fonda ever was. So basically, I will be happy with the Dodgers – Astros Series and the outcome, well who cares, it ain’t the Phightins.