Here's an underreported aspect to the 38-31 victory by the Eagles over the Giants -- it continues a four-year trend of New York teams failing spectacularly against Philadelphia counterparts in order to ruin my life.
Some people may see this as ludicrously self-centered. For one thing, I don't really care what they think. For another, the evidence is indisputable.
I've been a New York fan for my entire life -- Mets, Knicks, Giants -- but I was raised in Cherry Hill, NJ, well south of the line that runs across the center of New Jersey separating Phillies country from Mets/Yankees country. Growing up, I always thought of that line as where you couldn't get Sportschannel New York on your cable system.
I was so far south that a ride to Veterans Stadium was just 20 minutes away, door-to-seat. But I was raised by a Brooklyn Dodgers-turned-New York Mets fan, so it became a badge of honor to wear blue to Phillies-Mets games in the summer, and Giants-Eagles games in the winter.
Naturally, though, it means friends I grew up with rooted for the Philly teams. And really, that worked out just fine. Sure, there were tough years, like 1993 -- when the Mets finished 59-103, while the Phillies won the National League pennant. That produced an awkward situation, incidentally, while babysitting, I allowed a Phillies fan to stay up past his bedtime to see the conclusion to Game 6, then sincerely tried to comfort the crying child while laughing.
But things stayed relatively even, New York slightly ahead, which makes sense. After all, Philly is a large market, New York the largest. That's how it should be. The Mets made the playoffs a few times, the Phillies once. The Knicks kept Patrick Ewing for many years after the Sixers traded Charles Barkley, and had a couple of Eastern Conference titles to show for it. The Giants won a Super Bowl, and won an NFC title a decade later.
No one dominated. My friends got to relive the time we all watched Todd Hundley try to play left field, and I enjoyed reflecting out loud about how much had happened since 1983 -- the last time a Philly team won a title in any major sport.
In fact, and this is where the "It's my fault" part comes in, I had a long discussion with one friend who stayed in Philly late in 2006, talking longingly about what a Mets-Phillies pennant race could ignite. Incredibly, while Giants-Eagles has burned for decades, the two baseball rivals didn't mean much to each other just a few years ago, mostly because the only two times they finished 1-2 in the NL East, the Mets held a double-digit lead.
Can you imagine, I asked my friend, what kind of rivalry could exist between the Mets and the Phillies, geographically far closer than the Red Sox and Yankees?
Well, I don't need to imagine anymore. So, thanks?
Obviously, I pictured it happening differently. Say, the Phillies win one, the Mets win one, rather than the Phillies winning their final eight contests of the season against the Mets and erasing a seven-game lead with 17 to play, then doing the same thing in 2008 to a 3.5-game lead, winning a World Series, then another NL pennant for good measure in 2009 and a division title in 2010, while adding a pair of aces to a pitching staff that far outpaces that of the Mets.
This hasn't been fun.
And while that's been true for Mets fans all over -- as a group, we are subjected to Phillies fans in some aspect of our lives, usually due to aggressive hiring policies aimed at ex-convicts -- for me, the pain has been constant. Five different people sent me picture messages on my phone throughout the Philadelphia victory parade. Five. And not single photos, either. Batches of them.
What was my comeback, really? "Oh yeah? Well someday, the Mets won't be as injured!" Lately, I can tout the wisdom of Sandy Alderson's approach...while they can tout Cliff Lee as a number three starter. So the tide hasn't exactly turned yet, though green sprouts are visible.
So to see the Giants emulate this approach is...disconcerting. While yesterday's loss was the most excruciating of them all recently, it is worth noting that the result itself has become the norm -- the Giants have lost six straight to Philadelphia. The Eagles ended New York's 2006 and 2008 seasons in the playoffs, scored a combined 85 points against New York in two 2009 games, and, well, you know what happened this past Sunday.
There's no reason that the Giants should be consistently beaten by the Eagles. The Phillies have been far better run than the Mets over this time, but the Giants have as much or more talent than the Eagles, and certainly a better game day coach. There's really only one plausible explanation -- I've done something to anger the sports gods.
I see now that I should have seen that January 7, 2007 game at Lincoln Financial Field as the changing of the guard. Just a few months earlier, I'd seen Philadelphia's version of this most recent loss -- a 24-7 fourth quarter lead ceded to the Giants in a 30-24 loss. Just one day later, I'd witness the Mets clinch the NL East. Life was good. Philly was just another town.
But when that David Akers field goal doomed the Giants at the start of 2007, four years of unfettered misery followed, Philadelphia triumphing over New York. And lest you think the Yankees winning the World Series in 2009 mitigates it at all, I'd ask you how you'd feel if your wife, having left you for your worst enemy, then left him for someone you also hate.
But the Giants are not eliminated yet -- indeed, with a strong showing against Green Bay, they could get their chance at revenge in just a few weeks. Let the new year ring in a new era between my favorite teams and the teams supported by friends I've kept around despite their inexplicable allegiance to a football team that thinks one can "Fly...fly on the road to victory", as if anyone can fly on a road.
For the sake of my sanity and my inbox, order must be restored. I beg of you, Giants, end this four-year reign of madness.