One of the most painful things about being a Mets fan the past couple of years has been the amount of joy Phillies fans have experienced.
As if the collapses of 2007 and 2008 and the injury meltdown of 2009 weren't bad enough, Mets fans have had to face the fact of delirious Phillies fans, enjoying a run of three straight division titles, two straight pennants and a World Series title.
This compounds the agony because it comes with smug taunting. And even in the absence of taunting, there's the gnawing knowledge that the smugness is there, just 100 or so miles down the highway.
But events of the past few days should give Mets fans something about which to smile. For even now, in the peak of their team's glory, Phillies fans are exposing themselves as stupid, drunken morons anyone would be crazy to envy.
To recap: On Monday night, a little less than a month after a Phillies fan was arrested for cursing at and intentionally vomiting on a child in the stands at Citizens Bank Park, a different Phillies fan ran onto the field during a game. This incident got a great deal of national attention because stadium security used a Taser to subdue the young man.
Now, to most rational people, the Taser would be a deterrent. But not to Phillies fans. Inconceivably, on the very next night, a different Phillies fan ran onto the field as Cole Hamels was warming up to pitch the ninth inning. No Taser this time, but the fan was caught and ejected from the ballpark, and Tuesday Moron's antics came with the added bonus of possibly having affected the game in a negative way for his team. Hamels, who was three outs from a shutout at the time, gave up the tying run and sent the game into extra innings.
The Phillies ended up winning, but it would have served their fans right if they hadn't. People who act this way don't deserve a winning team. They don't deserve three straight division titles and two straight pennants and a World Series championship. And at times like these, when the team manages to rise above the societal dregs who claim to support it, those who loathe that team's success can take some comfort in seeing its fans exposed as idiots.
Now come the obligatory disclaimers, of course. I do believe that there are plenty of Phillies fans who aren't stupid or arrogant or drunk or low-class enough to vomit on a child because that child's parents asked them to stop cursing. I do believe that many, many Phillies fans are not idiotic enough to run onto the field the very next night after somebody got Tasered for doing it. My own mother is a Phillies fan, as are several other members of my family whom I love very much. So I am not sitting here saying all Phillies fans are like this.
The problems are far too many are like this and the Phillies' fan base is dominated by the kind of fans who treat these people as hilarious heroes. People who take pride in being labeled loud, snarling, booing jerks.
Philadelphia is a gritty, angry town with an inferiority complex obvious to anyone who spends as much as one day in it. And the town's anger comes out in the behavior of its sports fans, be they baseball, football, basketball or hockey fans.
Boston is an unpleasant place to watch a game as a fan. So is Oakland, Calif., for some reason. And New York, you're not always a prize either. But in none of these places do we consistently find the over-the-top, out-of-control idiocy we see in the people who go to these events in Philadelphia. The ones who booed Santa Claus, who cheered Michael Irvin's injury as he lay on the field, who booed and hated such layabouts as Mike Schmidt and Donovan McNabb for years as years as they helped their teams to winning season after winning season.
The easy counterargument to all of this is that a few idiots make the rest of the fan base look bad, but I don't buy it. I think the Philly fan base just has more idiots, and as a result the people who make up that fan base have to wear it, and look in the mirror and do some self-assessment.
Right now, Philadelphia is ground zero for the kind of fan behavior that athletes and coaches and league commissioners fear will someday escalate out of control and cause a serious violent incident.
Personally, I'd rather lose with a modicum of class and dignity than win and be exposed as a pack of fools. Phillies fans, as we've seen so far this young baseball season, seem perfectly content doing the latter.