The Depressing Tones of Eagles-Bills Post-game/Pre-game “Trash Talk”

October 9, 2011 1 comment

Although it has rained pretty much every day on the East Coast since my last post on this site, it has somehow been unable to end the massive writing drought that Blog of Brotherly Love has seen. Well, I’ll pick up where I left off–with another great football-related dialogue. Find below an exchange, which speaks for itself, between one of my favorite Bills fans (who runs a brilliant site of his own) and myself this past Monday. Perfect lead-in to a few hour block during which we’ll see whose smidgeon of optimism can be shattered:

me: I was at both the Eagles game and Phillies game yesterday, worst day of my life
Bills fan: Haha oh shit what a terrible day
me: horrifying
  rough 14 hours at the sports complex
  at least the tailgate was good
Bills fan: Man, so glad upstate NY doesn’t have any other teams for me to give a shit about
  Couldn’t take a double hit like that
me: yeah
  haha
  it was a huge risk going in
  mood on the subway home could not have been more depressing
  i turned to my friend and said “Think about how all of this would be so much better if we just didn’t care about sports”
 Bills fan: Ugh
  I can’t even imagine the person I would be
 me: yea
  haha
 Bills fan: I’d have so much more optimism
 me: me too
  think about all the philly team disappointments that have shaped my identity
  so foolish but unavoidable
  well it’s bills-birds next week right?
  good for you, we are such shit
 Bills fan: I don’t know, looked like last year’s Bills this week
 me: I would say it’s dangerous for you because it is a bounce back must win game for us
  but that was yesterday for us too!
  and we were home
  and still looked awful
  so i’m convinced we are bad
 Bills fan: What’s their problem though?
 me: coaching
  is the biggest problem
  undoubtedly
  such a talented team
  used so improperly
 Bills fan: What’s that fat fuck doing wrong?
 me: both with regards to technical Xs and Os and also motivation
  everything
  starting with making his offensive line coach from last year our D coordinator this year
  he is retarded
 Bills fan: Haha that makes no sense
 me: the fat fuck is also atrocious in the draft
 Bills fan: Yeah I just saw your FB post
 me: yeah
  also atrocious
  they are not using Asomgha properly
 Bills fan: I don’t know who any of those people are
 me: the playcalling continues to be absurdly illogical
 Bills fan: Saw that, he’s in the wrong kind of coverage scheme
 me: McCoy came into yesterday as the leading rusher in NFC, he has been dynamite
  he wasn’t part of the gameplan at all
  he rushed the ball 8 or 9 times I think
 Bills fan: That’s never good
 me: we had a 20 point lead in the second half, yet Reid is passing on every play in the 4th
  not even making the Niners work against the clock!
 Bills fan: You’re making me feel so much better about this weekend
 me: not only did they come all the way back, but it wasn’t even up against the wire
  they did it with time to spare b/c Reid literally doesn’t even consider the time in the game as an important unit of measurement     that relates to a football game
 Bills fan: Haha
 me: we cannot score a TD in the red zone
  and he says every week we have to get better
  but he has no idea what to do
  he calls an option play from the 1 yard line
  Ronnie Brown actually tries to execute the play which never has any business of even being practiced, the result, another red       zone turnover
  of which we have sooo many in just 4 weeks
  and then Reid continues to have the nerve to be an arrogant prick to the media
  the ratio of arrogance to amount of success he’s had is a broken equation
  i’ll stop
  Come to Philly next week and watch the game with me here….
 Bills fan: Haha amazing rant
  and no way
  I can’t be around non-Bills fans during Bills games
 me: great comment
 Bills fan: Seriously
  We went to a non-Bills exclusive bar for the first time in awhile yesterday
  There wasn’t a single Bengals fan there
  But I was enraged and ready to fight the fans of other winning teams if they so much as looked at me
 me: hahaha
  so maybe it’s not a good idea
  but come to philly anyway sometime soon
  casino is walking distance now
 Bills fan: I’d def like to come before the cold really sets in
  I’ll talk to the guys about it
 me: good
  i’m gonna run
  catch ya later
 Bills fan: See ya
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Categories: Eagles, Our Teams Tags: , ,

To all my Giants fan friends

December 21, 2010 4 comments

I come from a New York family. I went to college in NYC, and so I’ve also made friends from there who have become family. This post-game reflection is dedicated to them. It’s dedicated to J, J and H, my three-headed Giants fan monster. Their names will remain anonymous out of respect for their lingering shame.

This epic win over the G-Men, the Eagles’ sixth in a row over their turnpike rivals, tops them all. Some of these big wins have been truly inspiring. I particularly remember a poem I wrote, from a bar in Spain, the day after I stayed up into Europe’s wee hours to watch the Birds take down the Giants in the Jan. 2007 playoffs. (I swear I wasn’t high when I wrote that poem, just sleep deprived and high on the Spanish life).

Members of the Giants sideline have too much vomit in their mouths to watch DeSean Jackson streak to victory.

But the win on Sunday, another Michael Vick fourth quarter masterpiece, something not so uncommon these days, has sports radio hosts in Philly still repeatedly pushing play on Merrill Reese’s game-ending radio call. We will never get enough of these highlights. I came out of the locker room at my gym last night, and about six guys were just standing next to the weight machines, staring up at the TV screen, watching highlights with no audio that they had surely seen multiple times already. An historic comeback against an arch rival in their stadium, with playoff berths on the line, will never lose its ability to captivate this town’s emotions. We can’t get enough of Merrill Reese, the longest tenured radio broadcaster for an NFL team, even when he’s just announcing a routine four-yard pass. This call could have the most replay value of any in his career.

Speaking of play-by-play, I’d like to leave my loyal readership–a significant portion of which, believe it or not, root for the NY teams–with this message exchange between myself and the Giants fan nearest and dearest to my heart during Sunday’s contest:

Me: Love the defensive tone to start this game

NYG Fan: “Smiley face” emoticon, “Thumbs up” emoticon (This is after NYG first TD)

Me: “Yawning face” emoticon

NYG Fan: Is that your impression of the DB?

Me: I’ve been really impressed with Patterson, but he def dogged it on that play and paid for it

NYG Fan: “Wiping of the brow” emoticon (After the Giants hold the Eagles to a FG)

Me: Yeah. Big to hold to 3.

Me: Think Eli will hit 30 turnovers this year? (After Manning throws an INT, giving him 20 on the year)

NYG Fan: This game. Don’t worry. He will fumble.

NYG Fan (watching from the West Coast): As a funny side note, long story short, the obviously scheduled bartender who was supposed to work this morning just came in, 2 hrs late, and he is still slurring his speech really bad.

NYG Fan: “Surprised face” emoticon (When Eagles fumble the ball with little time left in 1st half)

Me: Haha. Lotta bad breaks for us.

NYG Fan: “Hold on, I’m on the phone” emoticon (During booth review)

NYG Fan: “Talk to the hand” emoticon, I don’t wanna hear it

Me: But that’s our fault. I was just sayin we should run it because we’ll rush the play and get a turnover.

NYG Fan: Don’t worry. I’m still bracing myself for a huge comeback.

Me: Embarrassing (After the Giants continue to pour on points in the 2nd quarter)

NYG Fan: “Wide smile” emoticon. Hold your phone up so everyone you’re with can see my smiling face.

Me: Ok (after Vick finds Maclin to make it 24-10 Giants following Mario Manningham’s fumble)

Me: Turnovers will kill NYG

NYG Fan: I plan on it. I told you.

NYG Fan: Coach of the year (a heavily sarcastic comment after Andy Reid chooses not to challenge the DeSean Jackson fumble that almost certainly would have been overturned)

Me: Unbelieveable!!!!!! How do you not challenge!!!!! That drive is the game right there!!!! I am speechless!!!!! Are you fucking kidding??

NYG Fan: “Cup of coffee” emoticon, “I’m not interested”emoticon

Me: “I’m in love emoticon”, “I’m surprised emoticon”, “Wide smile” emoticon (after Eagles get onside kick)

Me: Coach of the year

Me: Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha (after Jackson’s punt return TD to end the game)

Me: Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahah

Me: “Star” emoticon

Me (Later on Sunday night): “Let me give you a hug” emoticon

NYG Fan (On Monday morning): Sorry dude. I still love ya, but I really just don’t want to ever talk about that. Try to see it my way. It was literally the worst thing ever. I’m not a big enough person, I guess, to deal with it maturely so soon afterward.

Me: Roger that.

Cliff Lee. Say no more.

December 20, 2010 2 comments

How many times have you walked up to a friend this week and greeted him or her with these two words: Cliff Lee.

It’s now a legitimate alternative to hello, hey, or what’s up when you see a fellow Philadelphia friend whom you haven’t seen in a couple weeks or months. I went to a party on Saturday night, hosted by friends I specifically know from Sunday afternoon Phillies tailgates in the Linc parking lot. I walked in the door, gift bottle of booze in hand, and rather than greet each other with “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays”, it was just a matter of who could say “Cliff Lee” first.

Have you ever seen someone so happy to drink Powerade. That's how much he likes being in Philly.

The signing floored the entire city, and began what turned out to be one of the most epic weeks in Philly sports. I awoke last Monday morning, did the old reach for my phone, and waiting in my SMS and BBM inbox were messages that once again simply said Cliff Lee, and nothing more. Every person in town tried to shake themselves out of dream mode when they awoke to the news. Those Philadelphians who battle an inferiority complex in the face of New York, went into clean up mode. For them it was a wet dream.

The question is whose dream was the wettest in town? It could have been Ruben Amaro’s, but the orchestrator couldn’t have been surprised enough to pee his pants. Charlie Manuel is a great candidate, but it would be tough to definitively attribute such an accident to the Lee signing as opposed to general aging. I think Carlos Ruiz has to take the prize here. While I’ve seen plenty of t-shirts on the market already referencing Lee and the rest of the juggernaut rotation, I’ve yet to see one that reads: “Mi sueño mojado“, with Ruiz’s Panamanian punim centered among the faces of the four starters. I think it would sell.

There’s no point in actually analyzing the Lee acquisition in this piece. Plenty has already been written about this remarkable move, and still none of it has such an eloquent ring to it as simply saying the guy’s name.

Cliff Lee.

As much as this cushions the Jayson Werth blow, some of the Phillies offseason talk is now shifting to the one gaping hole to address, right field. But I’d honestly rather the team spend the money they have allotted for that slot on a World-Class massage therapist with a shoulder/arm concentration. Keeping these four arms healthy is now the team’s most important challenge. But even if one of them is hurt come playoff time, we’ll still have the best rotation out there, especially because Cliff Lee won’t be suiting up for the opposition.

Forget a middle reliever. Can we just get someone who's really really really really good at taking care of these?

A couple star players have now demonstrated their affinity for putting on the same red and white pinstripes that fill the stadium seats game after game.  Sure we purposely throw up on other people from time to time. Sure we occasionally need to get our naked bodies on the field of play, but Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay have collectively said “Who doesn’t?” with their eagerness to forgo cash for this fan support. Some skeptics may have been able to diminish the role of the fan base in landing Roy Halladay, pointing to the chance to win as the major factor in his move to Philly. But considering the Yankees current roster and successful history along with the Rangers 2010 World Series appearance, Lee has really made it seem to the national audience like it could actually be about us, in a good way for once.

A Piece on Jayson Werth That Doesn’t Use a Play on Words with Werth in the Headline

December 7, 2010 2 comments

Jayson Werth is ninth on the all-time postseason home run leaders list, a list he doesn’t seem to have much interest in climbing. Only Babe Ruth has made that list with fewer playoff plate appearances, but now it seems David Justice has a better chance of coming out of retirement and climbing that list with the Braves than Werth does ascending it with the Nats. Etching his name all over baseball-reference.com seems less important to Werth than having it printed on some fat checks. It’s understandable, especially for a guy who, before landing with the Phillies, had his career threatened by injuries.

Rank Player Postseason Home Runs Plate Appearances
1 Manny Ramirez 29 493
2 Bernie Williams 22 545
3 Derek Jeter 20 679
4 Reggie Jackson 18 318
Mickey Mantle 18 273
6 Jim Thome 17 251
7 Babe Ruth 15 167
8 David Justice 14 471
9 Chipper Jones 13 412
Alex Rodriguez 13 276
Jim Edmonds 13 263
Albert Pujols 13 239
Jayson Werth 13 182

So what will the outfielder’s $126 million defection to the Nationals mean to the Phillies? The facelift is official now. The Phillies outfield will undoubtedly have a new look. I’m bummed about it. I was holding out hope for the slim chance of keeping him in the lineup this year. Now that he’s gone, our team is less powerful, slower, worse defensively, not as clutch, less balanced in terms of hitting from both sides of the plate, and certainly more lacking in beard prowess.

I guess Werth is sick of getting free hats and cigars at the end of every season

The truth is Chooch can’t carry the club in October, and he sure as hell can’t grow a good beard on that Panamanian baby face. H2O will need some power behind them next fall, and as long as Ryan Howard keeps deciding to be Casey At the Bat for Halloween each year, the departure of Jayson Werth’s stellar postseason track record is a threat to our club’s autumnal makeup.

Werth had a remarkable run with the Phillies, coming out of role player obscurity to become an everyday stud, and a key character in what many think could be the best era of Phillies baseball in their long history.

His emergence coincided with the resurrection of the franchise, in a similar fashion to Donovan McNabb’s impact on the Eagles when he arrived. Werth’s stay here was much less controversial and not so much a solo act as McNabb’s, but I think we should be legitimately worried that he is the first of the core members to say adios to the franchise. Will his departure be the tipping point that starts the team’s decline?

Werth's departure leaves the Phillies lineup beardless....and without right-handed power. Polanco's ginormous head is now the team's most prominent feature.

For anyone who talks Phillies with me regularly, or has read this blog, namely this piece, knows that I would rather have seen J-Roll be the first to move on. But Rollins remains, on the heels of two poor seasons in a row and one poor, aging hamstring. J-Roll and the lineup that he will likely continue to lead off, had a down year. The pitching is what got the team as far as it got, and now we are left hoping that Rollins, Victorino, Howard and Utley all have bounce-back years. Anyone else uncomfortable with that and uncomfortable with losing the only player that lived up to expectation last year offensively, leading the league in doubles, scoring 100+ runs and contributing 27 HRs?

Like Donovan McNabb, Werth will now suit up for a division opponent. I’m careful to use the word opponent instead of rival here, because we all know the Nationals only true rival is the record book of futility. As becomes the question with any popular Philadelphia athlete who leaves town, how will fans receive him upon return?

I happened to be eating breakfast at Honey’s in Northern Liberties, the morning after the Phillies ended the city’s 25-year championship drought, when J-Werth strolled in with his family. Man, this guy was instrumental to winning the World Series, and he’s got great taste in brunch spots, I thought. With no hesitation, everyone in the restaurant rose to their feet and applauded him.

He deserves the same reaction when he takes right field next year at CBP on May 3. When he gets that recognition as a visiting player, one has to think it won’t be long before he misses that kind of fan support in the lonely pastures of the Nationals Park outfield. And anyone who’s been to Honey’s knows he’s damn well going to miss that too.

Bye Bye Controversy: Another post-rest W and Vick has Eagles Flying High

November 8, 2010 1 comment

Kevin Kolb would not have won that game yesterday. Let’s be honest. Thank you Mr. Vick for ending all controversy once and for all.

The numerous 3rd down scrambles are the signature plays that Vick can pull off in a way Kolb can’t. But the play yesterday that made me say the Birds wouldn’t be winning the game with Kolb, was Vick’s flick of the wrist under pressure in his own end zone, hurling the rock 58 yards to DeSean Jackson like it was a Nerf football. It would have taken 12 Kolb dinks and dunks to cover that distance. In one play, the Eagles went from dangerous territory to midfield. After seeing that, I’d dare any of the Eagles coaches to keep saying Kolb can make every throw on the football field.

Vick showed he can hurl a perfect 60-yard strike from this release point. It's Monday afternoon and my jaw is still on the floor.

Even in one of the Eagles biggest wins of the last few years–an uncharacteristic W in a tight game against a great team, by no means the Eagles specialty on Sundays–they still proved they have yet to cure their chronic ailments. They continued with poor goal line execution and bushels of penalties. But the key statistic that separated this game from a couple of the heart-crushing close losses this season: zero turnovers. The McCoy fumbles in the Washington and Tennessee games were fatal. He avoided that this time around. Vick didn’t throw an interception, whereas the great Peyton Houdini found Asante Samuel’s hands twice, and should have been charged with a lost fumble at the end of the game were it not for the old “grazing the QB’s equipment” penalty.

The most overlooked advantage of Vick’s running acumen is that it prevents him from throwing bad passes. Plays that lead to scrambles and forced throws for most quarterbacks, become positive running plays for him. Sometimes for only two yards, sometimes for 30. Ask me about Vick’s most important statistic so far this season and my answer is zero INTs. Zero. 0. Zip. McNabb didn’t throw many picks either, but the consequence was a conservative approach (at least more so in his later years) of throwing the ball out of bounds or deep over everyone’s head. Vick has managed to be electric and aggressive without allowing the downsides of that approach to cramp his style.

The best part of Vick's legs? They keep his INT numbers down

Even with the brilliant flashes Vick has shown during his playing time, I’ve still been saying the Eagles will be an 8-8 team. The offensive line is suspect, the defense has struggled, and the in-game coaching continues to have me close to breaking the flat screen in my living room. If not for the fact that none of us in my household own the television, it would have been in pieces by now.

Forget the burned timeouts, delays of game and nonsense that is hard to even discuss. Game after game the Eagles start with verve and progressively worsen has the game goes on. The pattern emerged again on Sunday. We started stalling on offense with no answers to the Colts defensive adjustments while our defense just allowed screen after screen to push them back eight, 10, 15 yards at a time. The middle quarters were drab as usual, the poor officiating and disturbing Collie injury didn’t help the matter.

Vick has superseded the coaching shortcomings. He has risen from the dead to become the Eagles’ messiah. His playmaking overcomes any lack of play-calling adjustment and he seems to influence his cohorts on the other side of the ball to do the same. Trent Cole and the unit he leads, had a burst that’s previously been missing late in games. Maybe I’m getting carried away, over-crediting Vick and not giving enough to the bye week rest and Andy Reid’s post-bye-week streak. The long and short of it is that I’m now starting to reconsider the 8-8 train of thought.

The face...and ribs...of the Eagles' savior

My team has a leader now who can sway my mindset. On the field he is stepping up and making throws even when he knows he’s about to take a crushing blow.  And he’s been just as daring off the field, dropping the “Super Bowl” bomb in press conferences left and right, a sign of a leader on a mission to bring his troops to their destination. A fire and determination that, if McNabb even had, he would obscure behind his giggles and smirks.

The closing games agains the Vikings and Cowboys look less intimidating than they did when the schedule was released, but another Washington game and two epic battles with the Giants loom on the path to the playoffs. As long as Mike Vick is getting the snaps it looks like the Birds will keep their opponents on the ropes.

Where has all the leadership gone?

October 5, 2010 1 comment

What do sports and Andy Reid have in common? They have no idea how to stick to a plan.

This game was supposed to be about McNabb returning to play against the Eagles. It was supposed to be about the cheers and the boos. It was supposed to be about Michael Vick reminding us we can forget Donovan. But sports don’t know how to follow the scripts the commentators write ahead of the game, that’s why tens of thousands show up at the stadium and millions watch on their TV sets.

It might as well be the signal for "Are you F-ing kidding me?"

For me, all the storylines and hype became moot right before halftime when I watched a team fail to run a play in time, after that time included a lengthy booth review and a timeout. Under that circumstance, it would have been more pleasurable for the crowd to hear nails on a chalkboard played over the P.A. system than the official’s delay of game announcement.

My reaction was unruly. It included an involuntary disregard for the children in the row behind me.

After dealing with my own bewilderment for a moment or two, while Andy Reid scrapped whatever stupid-ass play he couldn’t even figure out how to call, I thought about how guys like LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson must feel about this incompetence. How can they take the coaches for serious leaders? Maybe they can excuse their generals once and a while, but week after week?

At halftime, I realized that was the new storyline being written by this game, at least the way I was reading it from my seats in the Linc.

The moment Vick stumbled off the field, so too did the team’s identity. Once Vick disappeared into the locker room, all sense of leadership on that field disappeared with him. The emergence of Vick included the rise of a swagger and confidence that the club started carrying to back its arsenal of talent.

Andy Reid watching his team's identity go down with an injury

Reid has established a fine legacy here, as the years of success have been rightfully associated with his tenure at the helm. But it’s becoming clear that McNabb helped mask Reid’s identity for both good and ill. His performance undoubtedly bailed out the head coach’s shortcomings at times, and the QB’s failures rightfully shouldered plenty of the criticisms.

But thousands of undistracted eyes are now fixated on Reid in a way they’ve never been before. Only he remains as a figure from those glorious years, so we’ve naturally put our trust in him to know what to do with the young talent on the team. Yet he continues to have no management of his group, and his fellow coaches don’t seem to be helping out at all. It has become clearer by the Sunday, that Jim Johnson was the game breaker on the sidelines during the Eagles stretch of success.

JJ’s defense used to insert fear into the middle of opposing offenses’ game plans. Fans took to him more than your average coordinator, because it was obvious that the fan base had confidence in his preparation and his control of the game. We’re an astute group here in Philly, any national broadcaster will concede that. I think we were on to something, and now we miss Jim Johnson immensely. At this point, I’d consider placing Johnson’s tombstone on the sideline with a headset on it in favor of Sean McDermott as defensive coordinator.

Has anyone recently had success with a séance?

Once Vick exited, it was time for Reid to rescue the game, but his questionable judgment as a decision-maker and evaluator of talent became immediately re-exposed. Without Vick there to bail him out, we got another look at Kevin Kolb.

Even those who argue that Kolb did what he had to do, getting back in the game by taking what the defense gave him, getting one Jason Avant snag away from winning, their tone admits he did a serviceable job. He was given an ideal chance to redeem himself. McDermott and the D actually got their shit together enough to stop giving up points. Kolb was afforded one opportunity after another to put points on the board. But what some are calling a smart, conservative approach that he took, I am calling a struggle.

How many times have we heard the coaching staff say Kolb can make every throw? How many times have we heard the Sal Paolantonio’s of the Eagles media world regurgitate the confidence the Eagles staff has in Kolb? Sal, when are you going to start to distrust a staff that can’t even make a goal line play call within a five minute time span? Could it be that Kolb can only make the throws at the NovaCare complex? Why couldn’t he make the throw to Jackson who got open deep with a move toward the sideline late in the game? Ok, maybe he does make that throw next time, but what good is it if he doesn’t SEE it next time? Maclin was open deep on more than one occasion in the fourth quarter, and Kolb didn’t even look his way. I did, however, see him pass the ball through a defender’s hands a couple times, so at least he’s got that throw down pat.

I would not give up on Kolb completely right now, but the idea of turning the franchise over to him is becoming scarier than any haunted house I will be visiting on Halloween. Kolb came into a very similar situation as Vick did in Week 1, and he came in against a defense with half the intimidation as the Packers. Whereas it took Vick five ticks of the clock to wow me, Kolb did little to impress in three full quarters. I want to like Kolb, because the media and his teammates talk of him as a fighter and a fiery competitor. He had a golden chance to redeem himself and strut his stuff. But he looked like a drone under center more than a commander.

It’s too bad, because Kolb could have written a post game script worthy of a Pulitzer. Instead, we wound up with a story we’ve all read so many times before.

Ad Finem Fidelis

October 4, 2010 1 comment

Ad finem fidelis: Faithful to the end. It’s the slogan of the Sons of Ben, the Philadelphia Union supporters club, which faithfully chanted, cheered, and derided the opposition on Saturday, as they loyally watched their team’s playoff hopes come to an end.

After attending the inaugural game at PPL Park in June, and sharing my thoughts on my first MLS experience and the state of American soccer in my piece for Culture Blues, I promised myself I’d see a game from the fan section before season’s end. The constant standing, singing, and generic rowdiness seemed like it would suit my style of game attendance more than the docile, first-row midfield seats that allowed me to get an up-close look at how much worse these players are than the Europeans.

Certainly a decent crowd, but noticeable empty seats on a picture perfect day

I had a lot of hope that day though. The stands were full and a buzz definitely hovered over the pitch. But this Saturday’s beautiful sun was gleaming off chunks of empty seats around the stadium. I stayed on my feet all game, learning the verses of various cheers, including my favorite one expressing disapproval of the officiating:

Who’s your father? Who’s your father? Who’s your father, referee?

You don’t got one, never had one, you’re a bastard referee.

As much as the supporters section was a good bit of fun, I expected to stick out there. I thought I’d be the only idiot who didn’t know all the songs by heart. I expected to have to fight through a gauntlet of team flags, supporter scarves and clouds of smoke to reach my seat. From my other seats in June, it looked like a reenactment of the Revolutionary War was taking place in that section. But empty seats showed their bare bottoms,  and the environment was tame enough for me and my buddy to have a lengthy conversation about fantasy football keeper league rules. I was only there because a season-ticket holder, supposedly ad finem fidelis, sold me his tickets to the game because he couldn’t make it. Devotion made an appearance at the stadium, but it’s going to take a while for diehard dedication to make its presence felt.

Sons of Ben members offer to throw the opponent in the river behind them

Nevertheless, a certain team tradition is being forged. Nearly everyone in the crowd donned a slick blue and gold Union kit or some other official team apparel. The DirecTV blimp was capturing aerial footage of all this, and frankly I was pleasantly surprised that this game was deemed blimp-worthy.

If you aren’t sure you’re interested enough to get a pair of seats for a game, I’d say observing the crowd at Union contest is worth the price of admission, which, by the way, was only $70 total for two seats and a parking pass on Saturday. The demographic at PPL Park truly distinguishes itself from any other stadium crowd in the city. The experience begins with the drive up to the stadium and the awkwardness of cruising through the floods of white folk walking around the depressingly dilapidated black Chester neighborhood. The irony will raise your eyebrows as you make your way to the parking lot.

Once you’re inside the stadium corridors, it’s easy to be taken aback by the diversity within the practically all-white crowd. There’s more tatted up pale skin in the PPL stands than there is at a Northern Liberties community event. The hipsters are mixed in among the affluent yuppies who grew up with special soccer channels on their cable packages and spent semesters abroad taking in the world’s favorite game. Splice in a young dad who is explaining the British term “wanker” to his little-league playing daughter and that gives you an idea of the group that is embracing the new team in town.

It all makes for an entertaining scene, and it can be more interesting than the product on the field at times. But unless the whole crowd is willing to be ad finem fidelis, attending games in season two may not be quite as much fun.

The supporters section on its feet all game long

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