The Omnibus returns, this time in the city of Brotherly Love. For those readers just joining us in our odyssey, I will copy and paste its mission statement: “to examine the culture of a baseball team, distill the essence of its fandom, and then to establish which jerseys, as worn by a fan, make the most self-aware and challenging statements to his or her comrades.”
In most cases, for most cities, fans are generally in search of an identity. With the exception of the perpetual and the present disappointments, the culture of a team’s fandom is based on the proximity of their most recent championship. The city of Philadelphia stands outside these maxims. Their reputation was etched in alkaline more than thirty years ago and, whether fair or not, has never been amended. Philadelphia has become a city of pitch, an aggressive manic depression.
The Phillies began wearing names on their jerseys somewhere in the mid-seventies, and it’s an interesting demarcation. In their first ninety-two years of existence, the team managed two scant pennants – a span in which the lovable “losers” of Wrigley won five times as many. It was near the end of this era, which also witnessed fifteen years of wretched Eagles football, that the People developed their infamous rage.
Since those names showed up, however, Philadelphia baseball has changed entirely: they’ve won twelve pennants and two World Series in the past forty years, and until 2013 hadn’t won less than 80 games since the Y2K scare. Yet the mood among Phillies fans belies their relative successes: it is dark, and growing darker. The ballast of an aging and expensive core and a disavowal of modern talent evaluation have a city opening up the backs of their Game Boys and Walkmen in preparation.
As a Seattleite, I am currently faced with a dilemma never before considered: how long does the bliss of a championship last? The philosophy of the Seahawks (as with most champions) is immediately trained on a repeat, on dynasty. Like the bloodless capitalists who make this country great, success is never enough. But taken to its natural limit, this philosophy can only end in loss, and disappointment.
Where is the balance between the prospective and the reflective? How can we keep ourselves moving forward but still appreciate our past? And, perhaps most pertinently for the theme of this article, where is the line between appreciation for 2007-2011 and the cynicism toward 2013-2017? Here are but a few jerseys that seek to address this topic: the name you wear will be your colors in the endless battle. As always, feel free to suggest your own in the comments.
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