Monday, October 19, 2009

A Stranger in Enemy Land

In my introduction last week, I tried to be as open and honest about myself as possible. But I have to admit now that there was one small omission I left out.

I know I’ve only been writing here at INDenverTimes for like a week and a half, but I’ve been pleased with the connection we’ve established already; so I’m legitimately nervous that this confession might torpedo the momentum that we’ve got going.

Regardless, here goes…

Good people of Denver, I am a Philadelphia sports fan.

OK, OK, before you contact the editor or grab your pitchforks and torches, let me quickly defend myself with a couple key facts.

FACT 1: My dad and his family are from Philadelphia. This is how I was raised, so I come by it naturally.

FACT 2: My Wife and I love living in Colorado. When we were thinking about leaving Virginia, Denver was the first and only option on our list. I’ve lived in a lot of different states and never thought I would find a place where I could see myself living and dying, but I think I finally have.

FACT 3: After a trip to Seattle this spring, I wrote an extensive love letter to Denver and immediately bought a Rockies hat after the trip as a peace offering to the city for my dalliances.

FACT 4: My favorite football player of all time is safety Brian Dawkins and even he followed me out to Denver this year (and I even swallowed my pride and bought my wife a Dawkins' Broncos jersey as a wedding present).

FACT 5: After he led me to my first fantasy football championship a couple of years ago, My Wife (Girlfriend at the time) bought a Brandon Marshall jersey. The first as such in my collection that was not from a Philadelphia sports team.

And if all of that is still not good enough, here’s what life for Denver sports fans has been like since my presence has been in the city this year: the Nuggets went to the Western Conference Finals, the Rockies turned their season around and made the playoffs, the Broncos are off to a very surprising 5-0 start (hopefully 6-0 after tonight) and the Avalanche are off to a blazing start after a disappointing season last year.

You’re welcome, Denver.

The Bull and I went to a bunch of Rockies games this summer, my Wife and I were at Invesco last week rooting on the Broncos in their overtime win against New England, and I even locked down a 10 game pack of Nuggets tickets for their upcoming season (I love pro basketball); so we really are trying to be good residents and get ourselves immersed in the local sports culture.

That said, my worst fears were realized last week as the Phillies faced the Rockies in the first round of baseball’s playoffs.

Really baseball gods?


It was a stressful week for me and it all started at the beginning of the series when a local mechanic called me out for wearing a Phillies t-shirt while I was getting my oil changed. That led into the first two games of the series, which of course had to be scheduled as day games, when I, of course, had to be at work with my co-workers, who are of course Rockies fans.

Tempering my excitement for the Phillies win in Game 1 was almost as much fun as living through their excitement when the Rockies won Game 2.

You have to understand that I come from a small town in Virginia that doesn’t have its own professional sports team, so you can always feel free to root for whoever you want. I know Denver has a lot of out-of-towners living here now, but the Tidewater area is made up of mostly military families, so NO ONE is actually from there.

If you walk into a local sports bar on a Sunday afternoon in Norfolk, you would see a NFL bouillabaisse of Redskins, Cowboys, Steelers, and Dolphins jerseys and apparel.

So, it’s taking me some time to get used to everyone out here supporting the sports teams from just one city.

To be perfectly honest though, I kind of like it.

As I mentioned last week, too much of my own self-worth comes from the success of the Philly teams that I follow – and that’s just how it works in Philly. They live and die on every pitch, every pass, every slapshot, and ever three pointer.

I love that intensity; but at least for me, it gets exhausting.

Denver fans seems passionate, knowledgeable, and completely into every game, but they also seem to have this strange ability to enjoy the games as well.

A concept foreign to me.

After the Phillies clinched on Monday, I was expecting a lot of cold shoulders at work on Tuesday, but people actually stopped by my desk to congratulate me.

A concept completely foreign to me.

Maybe that’s what I need in my life right now: a solid example of fanaticism yet fun in regards to the teams we follow and the games we watch.

Just another reason why I’m happy to living here.

A couple of days ago, my buddy Gray asked me if we stay here and have kids, would I let them choose to be Denver fans instead of rooting for Philly teams.

Of course I would let a child choose!

I would let them choose between being a Philly fan or having a roof over their head and food on their plate.

Let’s not get crazy.


Robbie said...

"so NO ONE is actually from there."

I think your buddy Gray would object to that!

Anonymous said...

Point of Contention:

While looking at the U.S. Census data estimates for 2008, I draw objection to the statement that:

"You have to understand that I come from a small town in Virginia that doesn’t have its own professional sports team, so you can always feel free to root for whoever you want."

Yes, your “small town” does not have a professional sports team behind which it can rally – though not for lack of effort on the part of some individuals and businesses. And yes, Denver boasts a population of 598,707 people compared to the measly 220,111 that Chesapeake, VA boasts. However, when you compare your “small town” numbers to the actual city in which you now live - 43,767 - Chesapeake is a booming Metropolis. Of course, when you add the populations of the Southside, the Metro Area in which Chesapeake resides, you are faced with the truth that your home town packs in 1,070,956 into its region.

Yes, we here back in your home town are immensely proud of you and what you are accomplishing out west; however we do feel slightly dismissed and misrepresented as a one-stop-light type of town by your unyielding attempts to win the hearts of a new community. Some of us grow up and stay in this town - loving it despite minor and major flaws.

All that to say, be careful of the adjectives you use to describe your roots: if you kill off your roots, the rest of you is doomed to die.

Colin Castelow

Just Being Josh said...

Let me correct myself:

Of the 4,563 people I met in 15 years living in Tidewater, two of them were actually from there.


Never meant to be a slight on the town or the people back East. Proud to be from Chesapeake.

More a comment on the sports community there than anything else.

Anonymous said...

Understood the heart of the piece, but felt I had to provide some perspective with regards to numbers.

We love you, Josh!


Just Being Josh said...

Always good to hear from you sir...

Love ya buddy!