For the most part, I get by as a New Jersey resident without Northeast nostalgia making me too homesick. However, that all changes once baseball season starts going.
I’m a big Phillies fan, and living up in Mets/Yankees region isn’t simple. I get dirty looks whenever I wear my Roy Halladay shirt or when co-workers pass my cubicle and see my Phillies posters hanging up.
Making it worse, I have to pay extra money to watch or listen to a Phillies game up there (via an MLB TV package or something similar) and feel like I can barely appreciate the team for which I profess to be a “die-hard fan.” That doesn’t seem very die-hard to me.
What I miss most is the socialization aspect of enjoying a game with people who share the same interests. What can make rooting for professional sports so enjoyable is that it is mostly (you’ll get your occasional Philadelphia resident who is a Cowboys fan – Boo!) a regional-based and community-based activity. Everybody around you is wearing a Phillies hat or an Eagles jersey, or there are Flyers decals on the bumper of the car in front of you.
Of course, as can be assumed, that all disappears when you move farther away, especially when you mosey your way into another team’s territory. I can occasionally catch the Phillies on TV when they’re playing the Mets or if the games happen to be playing on ESPN or another national network. However, you don’t have the same community feel you would get from hanging out at a friend’s house in the Northeast or heading to a local bar.
I know being a fan of Philadelphia sports teams isn’t Northeast-specific (heck, it isn’t even specific to the city). In fact, I believe one of my roommates – a South Philly native – feels much the same way I do; I came home one day while the Flyers were in the playoffs to see him sitting alone on our couch wearing his Flyers jersey and foam puck cap.
But, in my mind, nothing can beat the feeling of hanging out with friends in the Northeast as the Phillies win the World Series. I was lucky enough to be in the area and with friends when they won Game 5 of the 2008 World Series and remember all sorts of positive emotions welling up inside of me.
I shudder to think how I would have felt if I had to watch my team win up in Mets/Yankees territory.
Missing the Northeast is a column written by Stephen Wilson, a former Northeast resident who moved to New Jersey for work. You can read his column monthly on NEast Philly.