PHILADELPHIA—The 2009 World Series between the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Yankees has been dubbed by some the "Turnpike Series" in acknowledgment of the mere 90 miles that separates the two cities.
When it comes to fan loyalty, the two sides couldn't be further apart. And the trash talk along this portion of Amtrak's Northeast Corridor reflects that intensity.
"Gotham Trembles: The Frillies are coming to town!" screamed the headline on Tuesday's New York Post, that brilliant turn of phrase accompanied by a doctored photo of Phillies center fielder Shane Victorino inexplicably with a skirt and women's legs.
In another example of sidesplitting wordplay, The New York Post referred to the City of Brotherly Love as "Silly-delphia," while sports radio and bloggers have pulled out the old saws about Philadelphia Eagles fans booing Santa Claus (it was the 1960s, get over it already).
Then there are the chants of "Who's your daddy?" directed at Phillies pitcher Pedro Martinez, mocking the then-Yankee's famous quip calling that team "my daddy" in 2004.
Even the Phillie Phanatic mascot has been derided by the Post as a "pear-shaped, Astroturf-skinned, megaphone-nosed Muppet reject." The Yankees have no mascot.
"Silly-delphia? Give me a break. Just stupid," said South Philadelphian Joe Esposito at a downtown rally Friday. "They're scared, that's what all that dumb stuff is about."
"For people who can't even fill their own stadium during the World Series, I don't see why they're making a fuss at all," added his friend, Eric Gallagher. "Did you see all the empty seats in Yankee Stadium? That's how much they care about baseball."
Philly's newspapers seem to be avoiding those oh-so clever headlines of their tabloid compatriots in New York, but they're still getting in their licks. The Philadelphia Daily News dismissed New York's victory Thursday night, tying the series 1-1, with the headline "Yanks Avert Sweep" on Friday's cover.
On the Philadelphia side of the battle lines, Yankees fans are accused of being either blase, fair-weather fans or displaying an undeserving sense of entitlement. The team itself is disparaged as having lots of money but no heart, an "evil empire" with a staggering $200 million-plus payroll and tainted by allegations of steroid abuse.
Daily News cartoonist Signe Wilkinson answered the Victorino-in-a-skirt mash-up with a rendering of two Yankees doing a "pas de dough," their tiny tutus made of greenbacks and gem-encrusted hypodermic needles dangling from their necks.
A cartoon in The Philadelphia Inquirer summed up the difference between the teams in the minds of Philadelphians: the Phillies, represented by a well-worn favorite baseball cap, compared to a Darth Vader mask with the Yankees logo.
There was nowhere near the level of vitriol in Philadelphia during last year's World Series contest against Tampa Bay, other than fans taunting Rays third baseman Evan Longoria by calling him "Eva," after the "Desperate Housewives" bombshell with the same last name.
"There are people in this town who probably don't even remember who the Phils beat last year in the World Series," said Phillies fan Monica Schultz. "But the Yankees, well, how can you not hate them? They just make it so easy."