Monday, April 05, 2004
My thoughts on the Phillies-Pirates battle for Pennsylvania: It is going to be really cold today (a high of 42 today), so I wonder if the Phils might be operating at a disadvantage because they are on the road. Must be more comfortable to play in extreme cold at home.
I wouldn’t count on having a raucous crowd at PNC today: as this Post-Gazette article sums it up, the Pirates fans simply don’t care or expect too much because the Pirates have spent the last eleven years losing. Worse, management doesn’t look like they much understand how to build a winner. Also, this really isn't a big game for either team. They don't play each other much under the new scheduling, and the Pirates aren't likely to challenge the Phils for a playoff slot. Historically, there isn't much of a rivalry between these two teams, but there is, sort-of, a rivalry between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh in general. Penguins-Flyers games tend to be bitter and nasty. Steelers fans flat-out despise the Eagles.
But I think the rivalry is mostly felt by Pittsburghers: people from Pittsburgh dislike Philadelphia in general, and Philadelphia sports teams in particular. Why? I think there is a stronger sense of cultural identity to this region amongst Pittsburghers: two years ago, on election day, I was visiting a YMCA north of Pittsburgh with my fiancée. I had already voted at my home in suburban Philadelphia by absentee ballot. I was taking my fiancée home to vote and we stopped off at the Y to help her mother with a catering job. I struck up a conversation with one of the older guys there about the election: he asked me who I voted in the Gubernatorial race. I voted for Philadelphia Mayor Rendell, and I expressed my enthusiasm for his candidacy. The guy listened to my arguments, smiled and politely told me that he voted for Mike Fisher, not because he agreed with Fisher, but because Fisher is from Pittsburgh and he would never vote for someone from Philly. I don't think that people from Philadelphia would ever dislike a candidate because he was from Pittsburgh. I simply don't think that they'd care.
(The Pittsburgh v. Philadelphia war, as played out in the 2002 Governor’s race here in Pennsylvania was a real farce: Fisher ended up running commercials in Pittsburgh assailing Philadelphia cheesesteaks as being inferior to Pittsburgh’s Primanti Bros. cheesesteaks ... Seriously.)
I think that shows up in sports too. People in Philadelphia hate and despise New York teams, and Philly fans are often a little perplexed about the depth of dislike Pittsburgh sports fans have for our teams. I remember listening to Penguins fans root against the Flyers in the 1995 Eastern Conference finals and thinking: "What do you people got against us?"