Friday, December 18, 2009

The Philadelphia Story: How I wore a Yankee hat in Philly - and lived to tell about it

Who makes a better Philly cheesesteak - Pat's or Geno's? Who do Phillies fans hate more - Yankee fans or Met fans? And can you wear a Yankee hat in Philadelphia and stay safe? I tried to discover the answers to these and other questions by visiting the city this week.

I live only 90 miles away from Philly, yet I hadn't visited the town in decades. But the Yankees playing the Phillies piqued my interest in the city - it actually looked like a fun place. Besides, as I noted last month, I wanted to do a Yankee victory tour, with me reenacting the Rocky steps scene. So, I decided to go check out the town, and I brought my pal Squawker Jon along as my partner in crime.

To my blogging friend's dismay, I insisted on wearing a Yankee hat or a Yankee winter cap around Philadelphia for most of the trip. (Squawker Jon hid his Mets fandom and went incognito.) I wasn't sure what reaction I would get, but I hoped that I would merely get good-natured ribbing. I figured Phillies fans just don't have the same hatred for Yankee fans that they do for, say, Met fans. And I was correct.

Plenty of people noticed the hat, but nobody booed, cursed or threw snowballs at me, although one guy teased me to throw the hat out. Another fan seemed genuinely interested in asking what I thought of Philly, asking me how I liked visiting the city of the National League champions. For the most part, there was grudging respect for the Yankees - and with me for the Phillies - as opposed to the New York/Boston hatred. Also talked with several Phillies fans about our common enemy - the Mets (although actually, calling the Mets the enemy is like saying the nail is the enemy of the hammer!)

But the best reaction came from a Philadelphia police officer at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. I made Squawker Jon take pictures of me as I ran up the steps like Rocky, and hoisted my arms in triumph at the top of the steps. The cop, who was there with other police officers doing some training exercise where fellow cops rode bikes down the steps (looked pretty scary to us!) took in the scene, and told me this: "Parading around in a New York Yankees cap at the Philadelphia Art Museum? That's illegal!" Fortunately, he said it in a joking manner - and made his fellow cops (and us!) laugh as well. That quote might have been the highlight of the trip!

We also saw some of the usual sights, like the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, as well as some other less-known treasures. For example, we absolutely loved the Reading Terminal Market, a combination farmers' market/high-end butcher/seafood store/unique shops/food court. There's really nothing quite like it in New York. We also liked just walking around and seeing what's what around town.

At the end of the trip, we decided to weigh in on the great cheesesteak debate. Here's the story - rival restaurants Pat's and Geno's - across the street from each other at 9th Street and Passyunk Avenue in South Philly - both claim to be the go-to cheesesteak place. Jon and I figured we would argue about this, as we argue on pretty much everything else. We split a cheesesteak at each place (both with Cheez Whiz and onions, or Wit' Whiz, as I think it's called.) Then we made our votes.

But, for once, Squawker Jon and I did not argue. We both agreed that Geno's was the clear winner. The city of brotherly love brought us on the same side for once!

All in all, it was a great trip. The streets of Philadelphia were a lot of fun. And I have a sneaking suspicion the Yanks will be back there for next year's World Series.

Coming tomorrow - my thoughts on the state of the Yankees! But in the meantime, tell us what you think.


Anonymous said...

Here's a secret from a Philly native...only tourists, presidential candidates, and clueless transplants to Philly eat at Pat's or Geno's. They SUCK! You gotta go to John's Roast Pork (yes, that's right - a pork place has the best cheesesteak). Read this link for more than you ever wanted to know about the best cheesesteak places in Philly - maybe when you come to town next fall to watch our Phils get revenge, you can try a better cheesesteak;) p.s. thanks for being a classy Yankees fan and writing a cool article

Anonymous said...

...I forgot to mention that besides making a mediocre cheesesteak, Geno's is also racist against anyone who doesn't speak Englishl. They shouldn't be promoted at all

Bob Libkind said...

Fugedabout cheesesteaks. Eat a roast pork with aged provolone and greens (usually broccoli rabe, but sometimes spinach). The best are:

Tommy DiNic's in the Reading Terminal Market.

John's Roast Pork.

Tony Luke's on Oregon Avenue under I-95 (just a few blocks from John's).

Jon Lewin said...

Bob, we DID have roast pork at Dinic's! We were in Reading Terminal Market at lunchtime and Dinic's was the only place with a long line - and they looked more like locals than tourists. So we split a roast pork with provolone and peppers and I thought it was better than either of the cheesesteaks. We also split crawfish etouffee at Beck's and had fried chicken at Delilah's the previous day.

Anonymous, thanks for the cheesesteak tips and the link. While I can't wait to go back to Reading Terminal Market, neither Pat's nor Geno's seemed worthy of a return trip, so it's good to hear that there are better choices.

Anonymous said...

I visited the day the Yankees clinched the world series wearing a Yankees jersey and a Yankees hat!

Uncle Mike said...

Only once have I ever worn a Yankee cap in Philly, and that was for an interleague game in 1999. Did I get harrassed? You bet. It was Veterans Stadium, which, for Phillies and Eagles games alike, was a viper's nest of vicious partisanship. The new ballpark is a pleasure by comparison. Phils fans like to call it the NL's answer to Fenway. No way: They'd have to get considerably more liquored up and much more profane.

You know, like Flyers fans. I've worn my Devils jersey and cap to the This Year's Bank Takeover Center, and gotten harrassed, but when it's over, and the Mulberry Street Marauders have beaten the Broad Street Bozos, what can they say besides "Your team sucks"? Actually, since the Prudential Center is also on a Broad Street...

Geno's is okay, but Pat's is amazing. But you gotta memorize your order (in my case, always "Mushroom-Whiz-Wit") before you get up there and have the money out. Like on the Soup Nazi episode of "Seinfeld." But it's worth it.

All the great places to eat in Philadelphia, it makes me wonder why Rocky never became a super-duper-heavyweight.

Fast facts with which you can amaze your friends: The Philadelphia Museum of Art has the same number of steps as the Lincoln Memorial. Exactly 100. But I haven't run up the "Rocky Steps" in 20 years. At my age, I ain't tryin' that again -- even if Stallone did.

Search This Blog