Philadelphia: The Fattest Sports City with Brotherly Love

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By the Soxman

Between my career as a sports super hero and my alter ego’s “real job,” I’ve had an outstanding opportunity to travel all over this great country of ours meeting sports fans from all walks of life and several different cities.  All cities have their plusses and minuses and their own unique culture.

Besides my passionate love for the truest sports city of Chicago, I tend to have a soft spot in my heart for the city of the smaller market teams.  In cities like Milwaukee, Kansas City and Minneapolis, you tend to meet the fans that are married to their team for better or worse.  You also get to see a team evolve the way “baseball mother nature” intended: through the development of a rich farm system.
 

So with all of these passions and all of this love, why am I choosing to write about one of my least favorite cities to visit?…because you don’t have to love someplace to like it.
 
Enter Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love- so long as you are a fan of the hometown team. Flying into Philadelphia couldn’t be less scenic.  You essentially fly into the middle of an industrial area that almost always appears gray and dirty.  It also represents the toughness of the city. Philadelphia has a long history of professional sports teams with an extremely loyal fan base.  It is one of only thirteen U.S. cities to have teams from all four professional sports: the Eagles (NFL), Flyers (NHL), Phillies of Major League Baseball, and the 76ers (NBA).
 
Often called the “second ugly stepchild to New York,” Philadelphia fans appear to apply their passionate dedication with somewhat of a “chip” on their shoulder.  Sports fans stand by their teams exhibiting a bitter “enemy” approach to the rival.  Just try wearing a jersey from another team to a game and you will witness it first hand. Still, the hostility of the Philadelphia sports fan, combined with their years of frustration of teams that get right to the doorstep of greatness, but always fall short, is something any sports fan can have empathy for and admire.
 
 

Eagles
 The Eagles shared Veterans stadium with the Phillies until they moved into Lincoln Financial Field in 2003.  They have not won a championship since 1960, despite a Super Bowl appearance in 2004 and winning the NFC East from 2001 to 2004, and then again in 2007.  While fans will quickly turn on a team or player that they do not believe is dedicated to winning, Eagles fans’ undying dedication to their team is reflected by the 60,000+ waiting list for season tickets. 
 
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Flyers
Known throughout their history as a team built on a physical, “brawler” like approach to the game, the Flyers have a deep history of winning.  While the  2006-2007 season was the worst in team history, finishing dead last in the NHL standings, they have only missed the playoffs 8 times in their entire team history. They also have the second highest winning percentage in NHL history.
 

76ers
The 76ers won the NBA Championship in 1983, making them the last pro team in Philly to win a title. Due to the length of this drought, ESPN ranked Philadelphia as number two on their list of The Fifteen Most Tortured Sports Cities. Despite being able to boast some of the most famous names in NBA history who once played for them including: “Dr. J” Julius Irving, Wilt “the Stilt” Chamberlain, and “Sir” Charles Barkley, the 76ers only have three NBA Championships to show for it. They once had Allen Iverson, who snubbed a good female friend of mine for an autograph, which I wrote about in a recent posting. The most recent Chicago connection to the 76ers was Croatian sensation Toni Kukoc, who played with the Bulls in the first year without Michael Jordan and then played a key role in their championships upon his return as the NBA’s best sixth man.
 
 

Phillies
Saving one of my favorite’s for last, the Philadelphia Phillies are a team rich in history and disappointment.   Entering the league in 1884, they only have one World Series title to show in their 114-year history in Major League baseball.  And that came in 1980!
 
Still, their fans remain among the most dedicated in the game and their stadium represents the culture of the city.  The Phillie Fanatic is one of the most popular MLB mascots in the history of the game. Fans often embrace even role players as “phan favorites” by naming a specific section after their hero.  For example, current utility man Gregg Dobbs has a fan base known as the “Dobb Squad.”
 

The Underdog

Philadelphia sports is the definition of the underdog story.  As the city is defined by “the working man” it is east to understand why.
 
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Vince Papale
Papale’s life story was told in the 2006 film “Invincible.” While he was in fact a bartender, Papale had previously played for the World Football League’s Philadelphia Bell, and did well enough to earn a private workout with then Eagles head coach Dick Vermeil. Papale played three seasons with the Eagles, playing as both a wide receiver on offense and on special teams.
 
Rocky Balboa

The most famous fictional “sports figure” in Philadelphia history, Rocky defines all that is Philadelphia.  The Rocky statue that was unveiled in Rocky III actually stands atop the stairs of the Philadelphia Art Museum, where the famous jogging training scene of Rocky ended to the blood-pumping theme “Gonna Fly Now.” During the training montage Rocky ran by several famous places in Philadelphia including the Italian Market district, which still exists today.

Food

Philly gets the name “Fat City” because it constantly battles Houston, Texas for having the highest rate of obesity per capita. The city is known for its hoagies, soft pretzels, water ice, and is home to the cheesesteak, or “steak” as it is known in Philly.  There is no better way to get labeled a tourist then if you order a cheesteak.  These sandwiches are delightfully tasty and among the worst things for you among anything you might ever eat.  Thinly sliced steak layered on a hoagie roll with mayonnaise, and cheese whiz or provolone cheese.
 
The most famous “steak houses” in Philadelphia are Pat’s and Geno’s, which are kitty corner from one another.  During late hours, there are lines sometimes a block-long for these gut-busters.  Words of advice- Know what you want BEFORE you get to the counter or you will be kicked out of line faster than George was kicked out of the line by the Soup Nazi.
 
 

Fun
You MUST party on Water Street if you ever go to Philadelphia, especially during the summer months.  It’s the Philadelphia version of Chicago’s Rush and Division. Swanky bars inter-mixed with seedy watering holes and out-door food vendors make for a great time.
 
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History
The city is rich in historical landmarks including: the Liberty Bell and the homes of Dolly Madison, and Benjamin Franklin. Recent celebrities to call Philadelphia home include Will Smith, and director M. Night Shyamalan, who shot several of his films in Philadelphia and its neighboring suburbs.
 
 

The Greenhouse Effect

 Paul M. Banks will love this ending! The Philadelphia Phillies are the first Major League Baseball team to join the Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Power Partnership Program which motivates organizations across the world to purchase green power in order to minimize environmental impact. The Phillies announced on April 30, 2008 that their home field, Citizens Bank Park, will be powered with 20 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) or green energy purchased in Green-e Energy Certified Renewable Certificates (RECs). The EPA stated that this purchase holds the record in professional sports for the largest purchase of 100% renewable energy.  Aramark Corporation is the Phillies’ food and beverage provider at Citizens Bank Park and they are taking major actions in improving the environmental impact of the Phillies’ stadium. Glass, cardboard, and plastics used during game day are recycled. Frying oil is recycled to produce bio-diesel fuel, and biodegradable, recyclable, and compostable products, serviceware, and plastics have been introduced.  This is yet another reason to love those Phillies!
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Comments

  1. I guess this piece picks up where Scoop b’s left off. Of course, this was actually written 6 months ago, but this will serve our world series exchange well

  2. Soxman picked Philly as his favorite sports city, I picked Boston when we did this panel question before, so if the BoSox make it, we’ll have two experts on the teams. Or (more likely) when Tampa makes it, thats a place I went for business last year. And while I wa sin St. Pete I took in a Rays game, so bring it on

  3. When reading this I was about to say..wow…Soxman works fast! what an article. I’m a Rays fan and actually thinking about going to Philly for the Series so thank you this article is a great read. I look forward to trying a “STEAK.”

  4. Sweet article. Does Soxman have the abilty to see in the future as well? It reads very “present day.”

  5. The Phillies were true undersogs this year. Well written Soxman.

  6. Cubby blue says

    Is that a younger, more shapley Sarah Spain standing in front of that Cheerleader poster? Man she was in shape…and TAN!

  7. Cubby blue says

    Guess who blew the Phillies 1993 WS hopes? Former Cubs… Joe Carter and Mitch Williams.

  8. Bleeding Cheese says

    Did someone say CHEESE steak?

  9. Nice article Soxman. I appreciate the Phillies even more now! Go Philly!

  10. Very great read. I don’t think I was a site reader when this was first posted. Soxman do you have the address to those steak places? I’m going there in two weeks.

  11. Fun city and you offered a great overview. Went to a Cubs Phillies game wearing Cubs gear and these guys are tougher than New Yorkers. Ginos!!!

  12. Soxtober Kid says

    Really great piece Soxman. I hope the Phillies win it all because Rowand, Freddy and Iguchi played there.

  13. The Eagles have Chicago ties with D. McNabb. I was his TE for half a season at MC baby.

  14. How long ago was that pic of the Bears Girl taken in Philly gear? Man she was cute back in the day but was a TRAITOR to the bears.

  15. Nice read and good history. I will share it with my kids.

  16. paulmbanks says

    That’s a picture of Amy Mecca, Eagles cheerleader and operating room nurse in her early 20s. I would say she’s the hottest NFL cheerleader that I’ve ever seen.

    It’s from a couple months ago, the Eagles cheerleaders unveiled a new “eco-friendly” calendar, with recycled and organically made bikinis.

  17. paulmbanks says

    Big G,

    WHat years did you play at Carmel? who are some other Caravan players to reach the NFL?

    btw, I really dont see any of the resemblances that you and Cubby Blue pointed out, but that’s just me. People have thought that both myself and Jason Moe were Batboy unmasked, even though both of us have totally different physiques from each other, and Batboy

  18. prowriter0923 says

    I’m still waiting for a meeting with you Soxman.

  19. Philly in Chicago says

    Great article on one of my favorite cities to visit. Philly has earned this WS trip as one of the longest championship droughts in MLB next to the other team in Chicago.

  20. Phat Philly says

    GREAT!!!!! Love it man. How can a Chicago icon write such a good article about an east coast town?

  21. Phillies vs. Rays in a battle of two teams no one thought would make it. I love it!

    Soxman, my boy actually did a report of Philly using your information as a guide. Nice.

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