For many, many year, the Eagles were the professional sports team that I hated the most. Like any good New York Giants fan, I despised them almost as much as I loved my beloved G-Men. Randall Cunningham was my scourge for many years as he always seemed to find some especially painful way to beat the Giants.
Once I started working for the Orioles, the Yankees started to become the team I hated the most as they would humiliate the Orioles throughout the regular season and then beat them in the ALCS thanks to that damn kid and his glove. This venom for the Yankees was made more potent when I landed my dream job with my all-time favorite team, the New York Mets, and then they were beaten down by the crosstown nemesis in the 2000 World Series. The Yankees kept a strangle-hold upon the top of my “most hated” list until 2007. Can anyone take a guess who took over the top spot? Yup, the Phillies and I can’t even begin to get into this if I want to get some sleep tonight. So, in 2009, I “rooted” for the Yankees to beat the Phillies in the World Series. I thought the Phillies would keep the top spot for a while, but, everyone likes a comeback, and now the Eagles rule the roost, once again. (Again, I’d like to sleep tonight, so I ain’t getting into details.)
So, why is this important, especially in this blog? I have two little boys that I one day hope to share my love of sports with. The problem is that we are deep in the heart of the Philadelphia market. For years, I told Andrea that I would be able to fight off the evil of the Phillies and Eagles. That my love of the Giants and Mets would reign supreme. What little boy doesn’t want to root for his daddy’s team?
Well, we are spending our first summer in our new house and it just happens to be, literally, two miles from the Eagles training camp. Where we previously lived, the camp didn’t affect us at all…I even began to doubt that it was there. Now, we simply can’t avoid it. When I drive them to daycare in the morning, we are literally within 100 yards of the players as we drive by (I need to get some more Giants paraphernalia on my car). And here is the kicker…I found myself, a true Blue, die-hard Giants fan, getting a little excited about the camp. If a 38 year old man who grew up with healthy doses of New York football can get a twinge of excitement over Eagles camp, what hope do my wide-eyed, innocent little boys have? Ugh.
To add to the complications, we have been averaging 5-10 Lehigh Valley IronPigs baseball games a year. They are located about 5-10 miles from our house and literally, across the street from my work. In case you aren’t aware, they are the triple-A affiliate of the Phillies. And my boys LOVE the ‘Pigs! I am doomed. Throw in yet another complication of the Flyers minor-league team about to relocate to Allentown (I am a Devils fan) and I may just have to raise a white flag!
I figure I have a couple of years before all this really takes hold with them…a couple of years to figure out a strategy. Like maybe focus all my energy on just one of the teams and let them have the other. Or maybe subtly insert “Eagles” and “Phillies” when I have to discipline them (“Only bad little Phillies track mud into the house” or “If you don’t clean up your toys, I am going to give them to the Eagles!”). I could go the opposite way like creating an ice cream flavor call “New York Mets Rocky Road” and telling them that Santa Clause is a Giants fan and that if you root for the Eagles you only get batteries (for use at the stadium) but no toys.
Anyway, I have a battle ahead of me, one I anticipate to be very difficult. My hope is that the Phillies and Eagles get their winning out of the way now and that they lose more consistently when the boys are being influence by sports more…nothing creates a fan faster than winning (just ask Phillies fans – I am amazed how big that bandwagon is). And nothing will cause a boy to turn against a team faster than watching their father sob after a game…again. (I told Andrea the other day that I am fairly certain that at some point in their lives, they will witness their dad crying over a game…it’s a simple, undeniable fact and likely because of something the Eagle do.)
One of these days, however, I’ll have to tell the story of watching…and celebrating Super Bowl 42 with Benjamin and my dad (and my family)…Remembering Burress make that catch in the end zone with my son on my lap and hugging my dad and brothers with Benjamin hugging my leg still brings tears to my eyes.