In Varners Restaurant & Tavern on Monday night, a host of Philadelphia fans were preaching that they have become kind and gentle. And this business about booing Santa Claus at an Eagles football game once upon a time? That was all just a misunderstanding. Sure, they threw snowballs at the man in the red Santa suit, but that was just to stay warm.
The public relations campaign was going fine ... until the guy with the Yankees cap on backwards settled into a seat at the Varners bar, a Smyrna saloon that caters to a Philly crowd.
Smiling that smug Yankees smile, he turned the cap around so the entwined N and the Y on the front of the cap screamed, “We’re the New York Yankees, and you’re not.”
It didn’t take long for kinder and gentler to leave the bar.
Kevin, wearing the Eagles jersey No. 5, and who insisted his last name was Anonymous, got front and center of that Yankees fan, Broddrick Archie, and presented him with an obscene gesture. Then Kevin Anonymous grabbed his throat and said it was his impression of the Yankees third baseman, Alex Rodriguez, choking on the Fall Classic.
First pitch was still two days away, Kevin was just getting revved up for the Philly-NYC World Series, which starts Wednesday night in the Bronx.
And one last thing, said Kevin Anonymous. The Phillies are defending world champions.
“Old news,” shot back Archie, the athletic coordinator for the city of Smyrna. “The Phillies won’t even make it to Game 7, not with the starters we have and the Gangsta (Mariano Rivera) closing.
“I feel good about this World Series. I can’t wait to celebrate the championship.”
Phillies fans, on the other hand, have done the math and calculate a championship will be delivered 107 miles south of the Bronx in south Philadelphia.
“If we split the first two games in New York, they might last six,” said Andy Cardwell, a trader and analyst, who organizes Philly fans at Varners for football and baseball games. “The Phillies are on a mission.”
He took a deep breath and said with pure emotion, “I bleed Phillies red.”
Transplanted Yankees fans do not seem quite so ardent. They don’t have to be. They have 26 world championships; they can be haughty as only Yankee fans can be. Nor will they be shamed by their team’s $206 million payroll, which is $78 million more than the Phillies’ payroll.
“The owner of the Twins [Carl Pohlad], who just passed, had a greater personal fortune than [Yankees owner] Mr. [George] Steinbrenner,” said Robert Ryan, 40, of Vinings, a project manager for an IT company who organizes local Yankees fans. “Mr. Steinbrenner takes his money and reinvests it back in the team. The haters are just jealous.”
In 1923, the original Yankee Stadium opened and the Yankees won their first World Series. The 2009 Yankees opened a new stadium this season in the Bronx and ...
“We’ll be repeating history,” Ryan said in a telephone interview. “C.C. [Sabathia] is the new Babe Ruth. Yankees in six.”
Back at the bar, the Phillies fanatics see the World Series as class warfare, blue collar versus white collar, said John Smith, an Atlanta attorney and former Philadelphia prosecutor.
“The Yankees have all the latest and greatest workout gear, the ultra modern stuff. But we’re Rocky. We’re the guys running down the street in training, carrying the meat over our shoulder,” Smith said. “That’s Philly sports.”
Phillies fans are certain they are legitimate fans and equally certain the Yankees faithful are frauds.
“You watch, if we go up 3-0, their fans won’t be around,” said Jim Maiorana, who grew up in Warminster, Pa., and is in the mortgage business here. “If we’re down 3-0, our fans will still pack the stadium.”
Kevin Salwen, a Yankees fan, said it is hard to tell the two sides apart this time of year.
“I love this series, just the cities themselves. It’s like the battle of the neurotic versus the psychotic, but I can’t figure out which one is which,” said Salwen, 51, an Atlanta author and journalist, who grew up in New York.
“You go down to Philly and you see the foam coming out of their mouths.”
And Yankee fans don’t foam?
“There isn’t the vitriol from Yankees fans,” Salwen said. “Now, I can’t say we don’t carry it too far. You dress up in your stupid clothing and you behave in a way that normal, civilized decorum says you wouldn’t normally do. In the evening, I’m throwing things at the television and my kids are making sure the things I am holding are soft so I don’t ruin the flatscreen.”
Sports talk radio jockey John Kincade of 680 The Fan and ESPN radio is the unofficial leader of the Phillies’ cheering section in Atlanta. His is a reasoned approach why the Yankees are going down.
“The Phillies already faced [A.J.] Burnett, [Andy] Pettitte, and Sabathia, three days in a row, at Yankee Stadium [in interleague play in May]. And in all three games those pitchers left the game trailing,” Kincaid said of the Yankees top starters. “I like the Phillies a lot but the Phillies’ fans better not bluff themselves. The Los Angeles Dodgers are not the New York Yankees.”
Still, Phillies’ fans feel they own this World Series, so they feel justified naming it.
“Liberty Bell vs. Statue of Liberty World Series,” said Cardwell, who sounded ready to print up the souvenir tee-shirts himself.
He says he will hardly be able to contain himself if the Yankees survive until Game 7.
“Going six games would give me a heart attack,” Cardwell said. “Seven . . . there might not be any furniture left in this place.”
About the Author