Once loyalty withers …


(The story you are about to hear is true.  Only the names of the guilty have been changed.)


Philadelphia sport fans are generally religious when it comes to their teams.  They will wear their emotions and allegiances proudly on their sleeve and wallow for weeks when hopes for a championship dissolve into disappointment.

They also travel well, whether that means staying loyal to their hometown teams when forced to relocate to other regions of the country or the simple prospect of traveling to other sports cities to support the Philly teams on the road.  If you happened to watch any of the Philadelphia Flyers games this past weekend, you no doubt noticed the numbers of Philly faithful – both winter snowbirds and permanent transplants – taking the opportunity to see the hometown boys taking on the local Florida competition.

Of course, such is not always the case.  And from time-to-time, former Philadelphia sports fans fall for the allure of a local team or the no muss, no fuss ease of jumping on the nearest bandwagon.

Sometimes you can see The Leap coming for months …

Thus, there was no real surprise recently when several familiar faces, long-time Philly residents who had relocated to points South, appeared on Facebook wearing the colors and whooping it up for the NFL successes of the local football team, the Baltimore Ravens.


Bennie A, renown for picking the British as his “AFC homeland”!

To protect their identity, we will simply refer to them here as Benedict and Arnold.

You could sense a change in the familiar sports attitudes emanating from a mid-sized metropolitan area in Maryland a few years ago, when idle chitchat during a family gathering took a turn towards the off-season prospects of the Purple and Gold.  No big deal at the time, as Benedict’s brother – also once a Philly sports fan – had morphed into a Ravens fan after years of Maryland living.

We took note when the aforementioned Bennie received a brand new Ravens jersey as a gift recently, the name Suggs prominently stitched on the back.  And as chance might have it, Bene’s brother has a well-appointed Baltimore Ravens man-cave in his home just a few doors down from Bennie and Arnie’s version of West Point (historical point of reference; see Arnold, Benedict).

You could almost HEAR the colors changing!

So of course, a week or so ago we were treated to assorted Facebook posts showing the midst of their Raven-esque AFC Championship game festivities and the hullabaloo the resulted when the Baltimore team won and landed a berth in the Superbowl.

Not being able to remain silent any longer, I challenged Arnold on where their loyalties lie.  The Answer?

“They are our ‘AFC team’!”

uh huh …

Now, I try not to be cynical.

(OK … I don’t try very hard; but I try a little.)

So immediately, I imagine all sorts of possible scenarios that play into my somewhat difficult-to-resist cynicism.

Majestic Eagle ...??

Majestic Eagle …??

Would this phenomena occur in The Natural World, if say the ravens, notorious scavengers, unable to actively hunt to sustain themselves, were 4-12 in road-kill contests; but the eagles, proud and superior hunters, were 11-5 in superbly executed trout fishing attempts?  Would fans of The Natural World be tempted into dumping the majestic eagles for road-killed squirrel-eating ravens, if success continued to favor the predator that serves as the National Emblem?

(Pardon me, I mean would they be inclined to supplement their loyalty with the raven as their designated “carrion-eating bird”?)

Back in the Sports World, I imagine I have missed many an opportunity over the years to adopt my own “AFC team”; thereby feeling free to enjoy the success and championship seasons of the cross-state Pittsburgh Steelers.  After all, I could find no guidance on geographical limits to bandwagon jumping!

What if  Bennie and Arnie decided they needed an additional American League baseball team?  Actually , I’m surprised that hasn’t happened yet, since the Baltimore Orioles are just as geographically convenient, and they enjoyed a 14-games-over-.500 playoff season in 2012!

.... or this sorry excuse for a bird?

…. or this sorry excuse for a bird?

I just HOPE they aren’t holding out for another season before deciding they need an alternate NL East team, since the Nationals must look mighty tempting to anyone tired of waiting for the Phillies’ to work through their current rough stretch!

That would be the real dagger in the back of Philadelphia Sports Loyalty to which Bennie and Arnie still profess to cling.  But once The Seal is broken, all kinds of contamination is possible!

They could insist on having another NHL team (Washington Capitals) or another NFC East team (Redskins)!

But of course, the BIG QUESTION is this …

What happens when their original home town Philadelphia Eagles and their “AFC team”, Baltimore Ravens face-off?  That might be a sticky enough situation during the regular season, with that Ravens man-cave right down the street and all those Ravens lovers in such close proximity.  But even worse …

What would happen if the Eagles and Ravens faced off in a Superbowl somewhere down the road?!?  My doubts fester to a boil as I consider the possibilities.

I envision scenes of frequent bathroom visits to switch between the colors of one team or the other based on the state of the scoreboard!

Then it hit me!

The Answer to their conflicting emotions in such a situation … and a nice little niche market to be exploited by some enterprising merchandiser.  Reversible football jerseys!

A jersey that would show the colors and emblems of one team that could be easily turned inside-out at the drop of a hat – or a change in the scoreboard – to show the colors and emblems of another!

And we will call them … Front Runners!

Hurricane Chronicles

Monday, August 22 – Looks like we might get Hurricane Irene sometime this weekend.  I enjoy watching the “meteorologists” on TV trying to make sense of early storm computer projections.  But it’s kinda difficult to feel threatened by a storm that’s projected to track somewhere between Aruba and Idaho. 

Tuesday, August 23 – Wonderful!  An earthquake in central Virginia gets the whole mid-Atlantic region in an uproar.  My Left Coast family members snicker at the Chicken Little easterners.  Meanwhile, the “meteorologists” have integrated a new way of looking at the This-Thing-Could-Go-Anywhere computer models.  They are now described collectively as a “Cone of Uncertainty“!  I’ll say … Now Hurricane Irene could come ashore somewhere between Cape Canaveral, FL and Greenland! 

Wednesday, August 24 – Spent the whole morning listening to the office’s Earthquake Ernie going on and on and on about convergent plates, thrust faults, and liquefaction.  Note to self: Avoid engineers following dynamic earth events!

Hey, nice dress, Cecily Tynan!  Not so suddenly now, the Cone of We-Don’t-Have-a-Clue is much more concise.  East coast all the way!  Earthquakes, smurfquakes … All those Left Coasters would just slide into the Pacific if they had to endure one of these storms!  You can sense an impending Bread and Milk Panic.  When will they smarten up and start building cows and bread factories in snowless, earthquake-less, and hurricane-free locales?!?    

Thursday, August 25 – Geez, this thing is looking like a huge storm!  Better sit down and get my Storm Supply List organized … flashlights – Got ’em, batteries – ditto, adult beverages – check, animal crackers? Yes!, milk & bread???  OH MY GOD, WE DON’T HAVE ENOUGH MILK AND BREAD!!!!! 

Friday, August 26 – Drag myself into work after getting to bed at 2 am.  Spent four hours last night combing every store in a 10-mile radius for milk and bread.  All I could find was three packages of pita pockets and a half-gallon of goat’s milk!  But at least I know, we will survive!!  Then I spent the whole morning at work listening to Hurricane Harry going on and on and on about wind forces and water dynamics.  Note to self: Just avoid engineers!

Found out my sister, Joanne – who was working in D.C. when the trembler hit Tuesday – was supposed to head to North Carolina’s Outer Banks this weekend.  Asked her if she was going to Tripoli next week.  If you are, I have this engineer …

Get home; cut the grass (You prepare for a hurricane your way; I’ll do it mine!); clear the home environment of potential missiles; and – what the heck?!? – It’s already raining!!  Rush to the store for more pita milk and goats pockets.

Saturday. August 27 – Well, it’s here.  Spent most of Friday night squinting at CNN, The Weather Station, Action News, and Cecily’s dress trying to pick up every subtle shuck and jive of Irene’s eye from the doppler and radar images.  Why?  I haven’t a clue!  Concerns abound for sis’ family already bearing the heaviest brunt of the storm and friends living in low-lying areas near creeks and streams.       

Aside from that, Mother Nature is awesome.  The power and fury are both anxiety and wonder-inducing.  Spent part of the day painting closets in one of the bedrooms – a good day for that!  Decided to try to stay up all night to watch the storm.  Tornado warnings send my son, Brian into a frenzy of impending doom and a profusion of survival tips.  I make it to 4 am before heading to bed.  Seeing nothing other than wind and rain gets boring after a few hours.

Sunday, August 28 – All over here, save for occasional showers and fits of high winds.  No dramatic damage anywhere.  The worst effects are more insidious from accumulating water.  One of our windows leaked upstairs.  We were lucky.  Several neighbors were dealing with inches of water in basements; and the section of housing behind us was without power until Monday afternoon.  And even with that our area was much luckier than others.     

Until next time …


(I hereby pledge – despite this blog’s name – to keep the lawn references to an absolute minimum.  Having said that, I think “Roots” best describes a discussion of where one comes from … a sort of “from the ground up” perspective.  Apologies to Alex Haley!)

Product of lower-middle-to-middle class, blue-collar Irish-American parentage … More American than Irish in a time when most adults in my version of the ’60s and ’70s more readily identified themselves with their hyphenated semi-European ethnicity.  Fact is, they were probably the last generation that relied so heavily on hyphenated Americanism to describe who they were.  But back then in Philly, it was still easy to identify sections of the city as having been at one time predominantly German, Polish, Italian, etc.

Dad was a World War II vet and worked in a steel processing plant – not in one of those huge, imposing steel mills that dotted much of Pennsylvania, making steel from raw ores.  It was more a facility processing steel into finished industrial products (wire, sheet metal, washers, fasteners, etc.).  He worked very hard in a dirty, sweaty environment.  But despite working in a union shop, it often seemed he could barely keep our financial heads above water.  He was a strongly committed and active Roman Catholic, insisting on maintaining his tithe to The Church even when he had trouble making ends meet.  Dad had his faults, but being anything other than a good father wasn’t one of them. 

Mom was a mom, and solely a mom.  Nothing other than wife and homemaker was necessary in describing her.  She stayed at home.  She never held outside employment.  Didn’t have much of an outside life period.  Never even drove a car.  Relied on Dad for everything.  It was remarkable in a way you NEVER see today.  But in the end, it was extremely limiting to her sense of self outside the family.  I never really appreciated what she gave up until Dad passed away, and she was left with no way to do anything for herself.  But as a mom, she was always there.  We always had that presence in the house.  And I honestly can’t recall more than a day here or there when she wasn’t there for us.  It was a sacrifice that’s impossible for me to adequately put to words.

Both Mom and Dad came from HUGE families … the Irish-Catholic way!  It mattered not which side of the family was involved; extended family gatherings were incredibly loud and crowded affairs.  To a kid it was both intimidating and wondrous. Who were all these people?!?

Of course, my parents were also products of The Great Depression (These stories alone could shape a few posts here!) and World War II, which had to be extremely difficult circumstances for large families.  So I often wonder whether that was why – despite their standing as “good Irish-Catholics” – there was only me, my brother Patrick, and my sister Joanne.  But I sure do remember many references to “the rhythm method”!

There is so much more I could go into here … some other time perhaps.  But going only this far, serves my purposes for the moment.