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.