Most baseball fans know them as the 2008 World Series Champions, the team with 5 straight division titles, or the 4 aces pitching staff of 2011. But to us long-term Phillies, they’ll always be the Fightin’ Phils. They are a great franchise now, but newer fans don’t realize the 20+ years it took to get there. The Phillies are a tough fandom for anyone, but it’s exceptionally difficult when you’re going through all those years in the home of their rivals.
My whole family is from Philadelphia, so obviously my parents grew up crazy, screaming Philly sports fans, especially for the Phillies. But when I was 2, we moved from the Philly area to northern New Jersey, which is a hardcore New York sports zone. And of course my dad made it his mission to make sure his daughter didn’t get caught up in the Yankee/Mets craziness. The Phillies have always been a hard team to grow up with; historic playoff collapses and record breaking years without a playoff run. It makes it even harder when everyone around you wears jackets and hats boasting the Yankees 27 World Series wins, or the Mets 2. We always got the playful teasing about our team flag outside and the logo sticker on our car. However during the 2009 World Series, it was like we were at war with the whole region. Since the Yanks and Phils were against each other and I went to school with my Phillies hat that week, that just made it worse. And it didn’t help that my family and I went to Game 3 of the Series (that’s a whole other story). We never got into any serious fights though, and by the time we moved to Connecticut a year later, we all forgot about it and everyone was friends. After we moved to CT, we realized that since we were still near New York sports areas. People didn’t mind as much there, but when we went to a Mets vs. Phillies game at Citi Field, wearing our Phils shirts, let’s just say we met a lot of unhappy people (I still say they were mad that most of the crowd was there for the Phillies). We dealt with it though, after all we are Philadelphians.
Then in 2012, coming off a 5 year streak of winning the National League East, us Phillies fans had high expectations. But after a few weeks, we realized that 2012 wouldn’t become the 6th year of the streak. The Phils got destroyed by injury and at one point, 5 of the 8 starting fielders were hurt. They never gave up hope though, and by the end of the season they ended up even, 81-81. This just shows that with dedicated, tough fans who never gave up, anything is possible. And we are definitely ready for the 2013 season.