Sunday, September 28, 2008
The abuse started well before we stepped foot into Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. Walking out of the Chesapeake House Rest Area on Interstate 95N in Maryland taking a short break from the drive north--some old man in a Phillies Cap yells over: "You can't possibly be heading to The Phillies Game today wearing that crap!!" Yeah, I responded (Sohna and I wearing Our Washington Nationals Gray Away Jerseys). Of course we are, we support our team."
The Old Geezer responds: "You are going to get MURDERED THERE!!"
As it turns out--his prediction was pretty close.
From the very moment The African Queen and I stepped out of our car in the parking lot beside Citizens Bank Park--the insults began. The yelling in our face, the rudeness. The staring and pointing. As we walked to Will Call to pick up our tickets--the shouts continued and did not stop. Two 10 Year Old Kids, WITH THEIR PARENTS WATCHING AND LAUGHING--came so close to slapping Sohna in the face screaming at her--if they had--World War Three WAS ABOUT TO BEGIN.
No one seemed to care. No one showing any respect for visitors. No Adults, No Security, No Police.
No wonder that throughout the entire afternoon and into the early evening in South Philadelphia this Saturday, we only saw four other fans of Our Washington Nationals. Colleen and Jeff (along with Curly "W" their rally monkey), who attend most every Washington home game, and another Father with his son wearing Red Curly "W" Caps. No one else. Not a soul.
As we took our seats, good ones, 20 rows from the field between Home Plate and Washington's Third Base Dugout--the abuse continued. Four early 20 Something Youths decided that whenever Washington was batting with Runners in Scoring Position--they needed to stand up--just to block our view. Repeated requests to just sit down--were followed by more insults and cursing. So bad it became--ONE USHER AT CITIZENS BANK PARK FINALLY STUCK UP FOR US (in the 7th inning)--telling the immature and out of control idiots to stop it--or they would be thrown out.
Immediately followed by another bozo to Sohna's left laughing in her face over Cheering For Our Washington Nationals. "Why should you care about that team?" He demanded, "This game means nothing to you!!" Always one to fire back--The African Queen said: "Who made you The God of Fans? Where does it say in the baseball rule book that any team that plays Philadelphia can not have their fans come here and support them!!" That shut him up--at least until he guzzled another beer.
By that time--Our Washington Nationals were in the midst of a TREMENDOUS COMEBACK. With The Philadelphia Phillies just two outs away from Clinching The National League East--a magnificent choke by Philadelphia was in the works. Thanks to a very rare shaky closing appearance from The Phillies Brad Lidge. A one out single by Roger Bernadina, a walk by Pinch Hitter Ryan Langerhans, a bloop single to left center by Anderson Hernandez scoring Our Number 2 and a slammed single to right by Cristian Guzman loading up the bases. A now 4-3 score with one out in the top of the 9th. A turnabout that now found Philadelphia's fans standing--stunned their Phillies might actually lose their most important game of the season.
How great would that be?!
As Ryan Zimmerman stepped to the plate, you could see the nervousness in each and every Phillies' Fan. They didn't want to admit it themselves, but Washington was about to upend their possible post season chances. When Our Number 11 stepped into the batters box, Sohna looked over at me, both knowing if The Z-Man knocked in the go ahead runs--justice would be served. We wanted to see Baseball's Most Obnoxious Fans suffer a terrible defeat.
No one deserved it more.
And they almost did feel that pain, at least until Reigning NL MVP, Jimmy Rollins, made an excellent stop of a Zimmerman ground ball to his left. With the ball heading up the middle, Rollins dove to his left, and stretched his glove hand out to retrieve the baseball, then tossed the ball, from his knees, to Chase Utley at second base retiring "The Guz" for out number two. Utley then pivoted and threw to Ryan Howard at First Base for a Double Play. A Game Ending, NL East Clinching Final Out that sent Citizens Bank Park into a FRENZY!! Fireworks, White Rally Towels and a combined BELLOW OF CHEER among the 45,177 that was nearly deafening. Was it ever loud!!
The Partying began on the field. The Celebrating continued in the stands. Unfortunately, so did the rude behavior.
Even In Victory--Philadelphia's Fans Have No Class. They Can Not Be Gracious.
And this time it got totally out of control.
As Sohna was standing on The Main Concourse waiting for me to return from the rest room, two drunken idiots attacked her pushing and shoving her. Only stopping after Colleen came over to help and I confronted them upon seeing the incident unfolding.
Believe it or not, it then got uglier.
Four morons began to threaten us, surrounding Sohna and I as we moved toward the exit gate near third base--heading toward our car. Two pushing and shoving, the others verbally threatening to assault us. One claiming they were coming to our car to trash it. "You guys aren't going home alive." Laughing, pointing--and being serious.
We immediately grabbed two Philadelphia Police Officers standing nearby. One of the officers responding: "They are just blowing off steam!!" Blowing off steam? They are threatening us. Only after these two Philadelphia Police Officers realized WE WERE SERIOUS--did they finally decide to help us. Of course, they did nothing to stop the intoxicated ones. Those four, realizing they might be held by Police--ran off into the ever enlarging crowd leaving Citizens Bank Park.
Instead, with Two Philadelphia Police Officers around us--Sohna and I were escorted to the parking lot safely to our vehicle--whereupon one officer informed us that other policemen would be watching out for us as we drove out of Citizens Bank Park. Alot of good that did. While two Philadelphia Police Officers stood on S. Broad Street directing traffic heading toward I-95, more Phillie Fans rocked our car back and forth, banged on our windows and made EVERY SINGLE ATTEMPT to harm us.
The Police Officers DID NOTHING!! They just stood there and watched.
Nothing like The City Of Brotherly Love.
Fortunately, the traffic began to move and the idiots fell away from our car--they had spotted another victim to attack.
America's Worst Fans had set a New Standard. Even after winning The National League East. A Glorious Day for any Franchise hoping to advance and possibly win a World Series Title, Philadelphia's Fans had soiled that fine moment--once again proving they are The MOST OBNOXIOUS, INSULTING AND DISRESPECTFUL FANS IN SPORT.
Classless. No one else comes close.
Yeah, Sohna and I knew we were heading into The Lion's Den yesterday at Citizens Bank Park. A difficult place to watch a ballgame as a visiting fan. But we should be allowed to watch, enjoy and leave The Phillies Ballpark knowing we are always SAFE. That was not the case late Saturday Afternoon.
I am sure Philadelphia's Fans are proud of the way they treated us yesterday. But The Philadelphia Phillies Baseball Club and The Philadelphia Police should be embarrassed. In fact, they both owe The African Queen and I an apology.
She NEVER WANTS TO SET FOOT INSIDE CITIZENS BANK PARK EVER AGAIN. EVER.
You better believe The Philadelphia Phillies are going to be hearing from us.
Game Notes & Highlights
Under the bright lights of a playoff atmosphere, John Lannan pitched well. He survived five innings, giving up just three runs. And got out of one serious jam with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 4th. With two Philadelphia runs already in, and this game about to be broken wide open--Our Number 31 settled down to get Jimmy Rollins to ground out to Ryan Zimmerman at third base. Later, Lannan gave up an opposite field home run to Jayson Werth that was quite remarkable the ball left the yard. The wind was blowing strongly from center to leftfield. Werth got the ball up and even while curving to the right field foul pole, the baseball just went over the fence. He must have hit it hard, but he was also benefited by the short fences at Citizens Bank Park. The Home Run Walls are too close--making for some cheap home runs. This one probably one of them.
Anderson Hernandez and Cristian Guzman both had three hits apiece. Zimmerman two. Hernandez continuing to show some good play at the plate. Today with two of Washington's three RBI. Lastings Milledge knocked a sacrifice fly for an RBI in the 8th.
Sohna and I ran into Vendor Neal at Citizens Bank Park. Most anyone that attended games at RFK Stadium and sat in the lower bowl, must remember Neal, the beer vendor that always ran with his cases of beer back and forth, hustling to sell and then pick up more cases. Neal was MickNats main Beerman in Old Section 320 of RFK Stadium. Neal told us he works not only Nationals Park, but Camden Yards, M&T Bank Stadium (for Ravens Games) and Citizens Bank Park--"They drink alot of beer here," he laughed. He doesn't work Eagles football games across the street at Lincoln Financial Field because city rules allow only one beer to be sold per transaction. "They also cut off sales earlier, so you can't make enough money," he concluded.
It was a total surprise to see Neal and catch up with him. We had not seen him at Nationals Park for a while.
Finally, walking around the ballpark before the game began, Sohna and I ran right into Our General Manager Jim Bowden and Assistant General Manager Mike Rizzo in Ashburn Alley, The Centerfield Plaza of Citizens Bank Park. Bowden yelling out: "Hey, good to see you guys in your Nats Uniforms!! You look great!! You guys are pretty brave wearing that here."
Sohna replying: "We love our team and are here to support them, despite the fact we are in The Lion's Den and we are going to go down fighting."
JimBo: "Good for you. You guys are great fans. We need more fans like you two."
Of course at that time, we had no idea how close Sohna's fighting comment was to the truth as to what was to unfold later at Citizens Bank Park.
All Photos--Nats320 (All Rights Reserved)