The greatest sportswriter of all time, the L.A. Times' Jim Murray, was known for roasting other cities -- especially those in the East and Midwest. In an October 5, 1978 column, he took Philadelphia to task:
“Foo-delphia,” the natives call it. The town that isn’t New York –- but the climate’s just as bad. A loser’s town. Its heyday was the British occupation. Ben Franklin slept here. Its chief tourist attraction is a cracked bell. A generation of vaudevillians noted it was closed on weekends. And not very open the rest of the week.
They used to have great baseball teams here. But nobody in Philadelphia cared. Connie Mack had to sell them off. Philadelphia preferred teams that were like the rest of the town –- second rate. They’d rather boo in Philadelphia. Excellence annoys them. Even competence bores them. They want somebody to blame, not praise.
The Phillies are a perfect team for them –- not very good but good enough to get to where their incompetence shows up, and matters. Philadelphia loves the Phillies. Every strikeout, every two-base error. They come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
The Phillies never disappoint them. They get in a World Series once every 50 years and lose it as fast as they can. Like Philadelphia, they are just something to hurry through.
For Philadelphia, this team was made in heaven. It was born to be yelled at. It couldn’t win a pennant in any league that didn’t have the Cubs. The team moves just faster than junk mail. Phillie fans love that. Gives them something to throw beer cans at.
The current manager, Danny Ozark, probably the most second-guessed creature this side of a man with two mothers-in-law, thinks the problem is over-education: “The fans know a lot about baseball, but they think they know more than they do. In fact, they think they know more than you do.”
. . .
Even if it were a tropic paradise with swimming pools gleaming in the sun and hibiscus curled around the front porch and ukuleles strumming in the canoes out on the reef, this kind of steady disappointment would be hard to live with. But Philadelphia isn’t Maui. It isn’t even Fort Worth, to be truthful about it. It’s a nice place to park the truck and change your socks or unload a freighter.
In L.A., the fans go home in the seventh inning, win or lose. Around the league, they boo the other guys. But Philly is the only town where they boo both teams.
They come to the ballpark thinking, “Well, how will we louse up this year?” They’re all ready with “Ozark, yer a bum!” on the first bleeder that trickles through the infield. Their all-star third baseman [Mike Schmidt] has hit 190 home runs, some of them two miles long and eight miles up. He bears the brunt of the self-hate in the stands. Not that anybody escapes. You could cut the venom with a sword. They are insulating themselves against defeat with abuse, also with beer.
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