Friday, January 7, 2011

A Playoff Toast to Fans of Philadelphia Sports

By: C.G. Morelli

Hello, my name is C.G., and I’m a Philadelphia sports addict.  I don’t know when this obsession began because I can’t remember life without it.  Maybe it was something I learned at an early age.  Maybe I have some kind of rare genetic defect.  It’s hard to say, really.  Heck, there could have been something strange in the water I drank as a kid.  Come to think of it, though, I didn’t actually drink much water when I was a kid because I was too busy gulping down a different kind of liquid.  We called it wooder.

I know, I know…you might say wooder is just another pronunciation of the word “water,” some kind of regional dialect or something.  But I know better.  There’s much more to it than that.  All you have to do is pour yourself a glass and you’ll see the difference.  There’s something a little upsetting about a hearty gulp of luke-warm tap wooder.  At first taste, it may seem similar to the garden variety water people drink all across this great nation, and probably even around the world; but I’ve been exposed to the Schuykill River’s bounty my whole life.  And let me tell you, if you’ve had the same experiences as me then you know that wooder is by no means water.  It’s not even close. 

I dare you to sip its sweet nectar at some point in your life so you can taste the acrid heaviness of rusty pipe mingling with the stale tang of supplemental fluoride.  I’ve borne witness to many an outsider who, after taking a manly swig of wooder, could do nothing but spit it up like a baby who’d just been force-fed a jar of strained peas.  But, for those of us who have been gulping it down by the glassful since we were babies, the taste cannot be matched anywhere on Earth.

You really can’t underestimate the importance of wooder.  It’s what we all have in common, isn’t it?  It’s the source; the thing that makes us the anomaly that we are to those poor souls who have only had the chance to drink plain water.  Take me, for example. I’ve been an imbiber of wooder for more than thirty years, and I’ve swallowed enough of that slimy substance to experience its effects first hand.  If you were to follow me around for a while, I’m sure you’d pick up at least a few of my…uhhh…quirks.  After being in my presence for any prolonged period of time, you may notice an unusual amount of pride welling up inside me for a broken-down city.  Or, you may witness a hard-nosed (some would say unhealthy) exuberance for all sporting events that involve Philly or its people in any way.  You may even see, in me and in those of my kind, a lack of what people who drink ordinary water would call a “positive outlook.” 

Blame it on the wooder, I say, because it runs through your veins, burrowing deeply within, infecting the blood and marking you an imbiber for life. If you don’t believe me, a simple pin can prove my theory.  Go ahead and give yourself the slightest prick of the skin so that a few drops of blood trickle onto the tip of the pin.  If you drink ordinary, run-of-the-mill water, then you can expect to see a couple of boring, deep red blobs, none different than the ones you’ve seen throughout your life.  But, if you’ve been drinking wooder all along, you’ll notice something quite different, something that corresponds with the four seasons.  The four seasons in Philly, that is: Baseball, Basketball, Hockey, and Football. 

In the musty, humid months of Philadelphian summer, I can prick my skin to produce a few drops of bright red blood.  In the damp months of late spring, as large clusters of burgundy buds begin to form on the graying branches of the deciduous trees, the blood squeezed from my veins oozes a distinct orange; sometimes I can get a few red, white, and blue drops in a very lucky year. 

Of course, when the summer winds down and the final weekends along the Jersey Shore have been spent, the blood that runs through my veins is a deep, midnight green.  And there is no blood more hungry, more envious of the champion than that which spills the color of the turf at the Linc. Sadly, sheer desire has not translated into ultimate victory.

Our flagship franchise has remained unfulfilled; disillusioned and annoyed by years of empty hoping and stale wait-till-next-year promises.  Outsiders often stare in our direction and wonder, “Hey, buddy, why the brash attitude?” or “Where’d ya get the chip, pal?”  I just return their glare each time with a look that says, “It’s the wooder, kid.  There’s somethin’ in the wooder.”  It’s just who we are and what we know.  It’s what makes the football culture in this great city something special.  Championships or not, ten losses or 10,000 losses, it simply doesn’t matter.

So, if you want to brand me as some kind of addict, then go right ahead.  I’ll keep standing up here with my glass of wooder, admitting to all of you that I can’t possibly do without my teams or my fair city.  Call me a chump, call me weak...whatever.  Because even though I stand up here by myself, I know I’m by no means alone.  Here’s to you Philly, old pal.  I toast to you in advance…with a great big glass of wooder.

Go Birds. This year will be different.

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