Wednesday, December 29, 2010

I Am Shiva, Destroyer Of Teams, And On Some Level, That's OK

I warned you all, didn't I?

Tonight in South Philly, I took my tale of witnessed woe with my football team to an unconscionable 0-4 in the Andy Reid Era. He's 118-67, for a winning percentage of just under 64%, in games I don't go to. He's 48-24-1 in the last four years, which is when I've gone to games, for a winning percentage of 66%... and 0-4 in the games I've been at. That's 0-2 at home and 0-2 on the road.

How bad has it been? I can tell when it's coming before the game even begins. Tonight, I wound up taking the wrong route to my friend's house (I-95, which was slow and go and added 45 minutes to my trip, instead of going south through New Jersey). Then I got caught in an accident that cut I-95 past the stadium down to one lane, leading to a dive and dash to the game that made us a few minutes late overall. On the way over, I went too early for the chemical heat insoles, which stopped working at peak efficiency in the second half. (I am old, and will do whatever I can to be warm now. It's sad.)

We then wound up getting pressed like salmon into a security guard pat-down, where the mild-mannered Five Tool Ninja had to get confrontational with a shoving lummox. As my man said, "Football games can be idiot magnets." And the idiocy was only amplified when we got to the seats.

I try to find small moments of charity in my day to day life, especially in public. There's just no point in being Angry Guy in public, especially when you have Shetland Human status; it's better to just try to be invisible. I'm too old to throw down with fools, and have a wife and daughters. But the guys in the row behind us tonight? Moved, I was. Tempted as well. But resisted.

Here's what vexed me so. Tweedle Dee was a guy who was either drunk enough to impersonate a Tourette's sufferer, or well, just a Tourette's sufferer. He said "HOE-GUNNN!" at least a hundred times in three hours of game time tonight, in the frequency of about five times a minute. Whether this was a wrestling or Hogan's Heroes homage, I'm not sure. Other things that were said about 100 times tonight where "I WILL END YOU", "TAKE A KNEE", and "SUCK MY (WITHHELD)". I'd like him to die. Slowly. With acid involved, and a gag. Then, we can start adding value.

At no point were these bon mots relevant to the game. At no point did anyone else in our section encourage him, or even crack a smile. At no point in the evening's monologue did he not find himself hysterical. I'd have rather been trapped in an elevator with hungry vermin. It speaks much to the Ninja's quality as a person that we still actually had something approaching, but not quite reaching, a good time.

His partner Tweedle Dum, by and by, might have been a worse human being, but slightly easier to be near. His mantra was to speak in about 70% profanities, none of them interesting or related to the game, and half of those devoted to a rather strong interest in anti-Semitism. I don't know if he thought I was a member of the tribe and just wanted to try to get me to leave, or if a someone had done him wrong, or what. All I can say is this: as soon as I heard these guys, I kind of knew, in the pit of my stomach, that my team was going to play like crap tonight, and that these guys were a strong reason why.

Philly Fan takes a lot of undeserved grief in this world. Having watched sports in a couple of dozen media markets, there's nothing that happens in these stands that doesn't happen in New York, or Boston, or Chicago or Detroit or Cleveland, Pittsburgh or Oakland... and as the Internet and easy travel continues to make regional differences less important, that's not going to change much. Most of the people in our section were good fans, rooted hard, stayed late, and didn't seem too bent out of shape as a smoke and mirrors team got exposed.

But then you have nights like tonight, when the crowd votes Randall Cunningham over Donovan McNabb and Ron Jaworski for favorite QB in team history -- really, the guy with no playoff wins or shot at the Hall of Fame is favored over the guy with the most playoff wins in franchise history and legit Canton case -- in a text message battle. And a section is held hostage by guys that would get tossed from any decent bar, but not from a game of people who paid triple figures and more for seats.

Some nights, you get what you deserve. And the crowd and team deserved nothing more than scorn... and me as well, for thinking that the Vikings were so bad that even my bad mojo could be overcome.

Not so much.

And on the off chance that either of those guys were bummed out by the loss tonight, you are very welcome. Please don't breed.

As for me, there's one thing that I'll keep with me from this game for good. It's not a good thing. But maybe I can torture the Ninja with it more than me.

(clears throat for dramatic tension)

HOE-GUNNNN!

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