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Phantastic Pheeling

I have spent the last three years of my life living in Philadelphia, and it is no secret that the sporting world has a particular disdain for Philly sports fans. When drafted by the Phillies or Eagles, draftees will go on about the "passionate" fan base, how they can't wait to play in the "emotionally charged atmosphere", and whatever other rosy garbage their agents instruct them to say. In reality, they are just hoping they don't get strung up from a Broad Street lamppost after their first strikeout or missed tackle. Granted, when a Philly team is winning, it's a great city to be in. As evidenced by the million-plus crowd that turned out for the Phil's 2008 Word Series Championship parade, Philly fans can celebrate with the best of them. Trouble is, it traditionally is not a place where wins come easy, so fans live in a constant state of, um, unrest. Just ask Donovan McNabb. No, wait, you cant. He's too busy in DC NOT receiving death threats and NOT being the most despised 'Best QB in Franchise History' ever.

Indeed, Philly fans are a rare breed; I know this from experience. Over the past three years, I have gotten several firsthand tastes of Philly fans at their most pleasant…literally. (I once got hit in the mouth with a projectile cheesesteak-piece at a Phillies game.) And while the national media has covered recent Philadelphia fan hi-jinks ad naseum -- the Santa booing, the projectile-puking, the taser-toting cops (DON'T TAZE ME BRO!) --, in my opinion that is all secondary to the fact that sometimes (read: most of the time) Philly fans are just so damn cocky. Two straight World Series berths and these guys are like Yankees fans – minus all the rings. Phillies fans were calling in to the sports radio programs in March talking about playoff strategies, yet today they are barely keeping up with the Braves and the Mets (the METS!). Meanwhile, as all large-market teams do, they pay a gazillion dollars every year to stack their roster with stars, leaving the small-market teams counting pennies to duke it out for 4th place. And that, sports fans, is why last night's victory was sweet, sweet, sweet.

For all the fanfare that has been made of the Phillies (and around these parts there has been plenty), I have felt for some time that the 2010 Reds are a better team. For every lackadaisical Chase Utley the Phillies have, the Reds have a helmet-tugging, mohawk-rocking, heart-on-his-sleeve Jonny Gomes. For every contract-focused Jayson Werth, a win-first Joey Votto. And for every under-achieving Roy Halladay, the Reds counter with a cool-as-a-cucumber Mike Leake.

And while all of that might just be my own personal bias, it is a FACT that the Reds have a better offense and a better defense than the Phillies. There are statistics to prove that. And if stats somehow weren't enough, the Reds proved it last night on the field. Johnny Cueto continued to re-invent himself, going eight innings of one-run ball without walking a batter. The defense was out of its mind, led by the men in the middle (Brandon Phillips, Orlando Cabrera, and Drew Stubbs). And to round out one of the Reds' best all-around games of the season, Joey Votto and Scottie Rolen continued to prove they can be as formidable a 3-4 combo as there is in baseball. They should both be on the All-Star team, and Rolen should be starting. And, though he did service Raul Ibanez with a 9th inning dong, don't discount the importance of Billy Bray's return. He was throwing a tough 91-92 mph on the corners, and should prove to be a needed asset in the bullpen going forward.

Next up? Mike Leake duels Joe Blanton, aka one of the best 'non-acquisitions' the Reds have made in years. The Reds would do well to capitalize tonight, because Harang squares off against Doc tomorrow and calling that a mismatch would be like calling BP execs irresponsible. Now, it seems that some of my sports fan co-workers are starting to read this post, so please excuse me as I make a break for the back door in an attempt to avoid getting puked on. Don't taze me bro.

Reed Domer-Shank 6/29/2010


  1. As a Phillies fan, I was going to come on here and write about how it's a shame Joey Votto didn't get selected over Ryan Howard, but now after reading your article, I take it back. It is a wide known fact that the media has it in for Philadelphia. The same stuff happens in all the ballparks. There've been people stabbed in LA, beers poured on players heads in Chicago, and don't even get me started on NY. Boston fans are just as cocky and they've only won 2 titles as well. I understand that Philly doesn't help it's cause and I am personally embarrassed at the stupid things some of the fans do...but most of the fans are fine. Ever since we won the WS the tension has eased up quite a bit.

  2. Anonymous - True, all stadiums see their share of incidents, and all fan-bases have their knuckleheads, which is why I chose to gloss over the sensationalized events that have taken place in Philly over the years in little more than a sentence or two. However, if you listen to "97.5 the Fanatic" as much as I do, you know that most Phillies fans take the postseason for granted these days, which I feel to be a bit presumptuous. As a fan of a perennial 'bottom-feeder', it is nice to know that some parity exists, and there are still victories to be had for the little guys. Thanks for your comment, and thanks for reading. PS... I wholeheartedly agree on your Boston comparison, having lived several years in the Northeast as well.

  3. How about that Phils sweep

  4. Anonymous: I had a feeling I would be hearing from you. Hopefully this was a bigger series for the Phils than it was for the Reds, as the Reds still sit in 1st in their division and the Phils are trying to claw into 2nd in theirs. Should be an interesting second half!