Daniel Rubin: Red Sox and Phillies: What a bunch of winners

I hadn't found myself sitting on my hands at Citizens Bank Park since the last time I watched the Phillies play the Red Sox.

That was midseason 2008, although it feels like a century ago. Bostonians arrived then as two-time champs. Philadelphians were still losers. I felt like relinquishing my citizenship in Red Sox Nation.

The Boston bandwagon stayed in full throat, shouting down the locals with their "Let's go, Red Sox" chants and candy-colored caps. Their hubris was not easy to sit through, even if you happened to have grown up in Massachusetts and rooted for the Sawks since the days of Dick Stuart, a.k.a. Dr. Strangeglove.

My loyalties have divided pretty neatly since I moved here in 1988, though one never forgets a first love. My wife seems less conflicted, showing up Tuesday night in a Phillies jersey bearing that rogue Jayson Werth's name and number. Between us sat one of our sons - the one more likely to name his kids Cliff and Lee, boys or girls.

And surrounding us Tuesday night, the sea of red was squarely on the Phillies' side, the hometown nine savoring their 167th straight sellout - 180th if you count postseason, and why wouldn't you?

It's amazing what winning does.

A lot has been written, in these pages, too, about the wretched Boston bandwagoneers, those wicked pissa wags from Entitlement Town. So arrogant, so annoying, so winning.

One moment from the first game of this telling series stood out. Sixth inning, Cliff Lee's no-hitter ended with a Marco Scutaro liner into left, and the delegation from Red Sox Nation suddenly stirred to life.

The cheering lasted roughly a millisecond before the Phillies fans roared their appreciation for the beloved pitcher's mastery.

I thought I was at Wimbledon, not our savage place, which Bostonians still conjure when things aren't going their way. On WEEI's Dennis and Callahan Morning Show Wednesday, I heard Michael Barkann from Comcast SportsNet being interviewed about the Philly psyche.

The sports jocks delighted in bringing up the Usual Suspects, like Philly fans' booing Santa. (He was a lousy Santa - drunk and unbearded, Barkann replied, defending municipal honor.) Or the time Philly fans threw batteries at J.D. Drew. (Hurt and weak-hitting, he's no more popular in Boston these days.)

I don't feel the hate. What I saw over the last couple of days was a meeting of like tribes from different nations, formerly long-suffering fans who honor those who make the most of their talents and hoot those who don't.

By being world-class for 31/2 years now, the Phillies fans have marked their own territory. And if you've watched away games this season, you've see familiar swaths of color in places like Miller Park in Milwaukee and Nationals Park in Washington.

Suddenly it's Phillies Nation that travels far and wide, scooping up tickets where the fan bases are shallow.

A lot like Red Sox Nation.

At the ballpark, I saw lots of fans wearing Red Sox uniforms, traveling not in packs but side by side with Phillies fans. Stephen Peltier of Utah expected that his 3-year-old son, Ben, might be in for some razzing Tuesday by showing up in a tiny Red Sox uniform.

"I'm seeing a pattern," the father said, passing through the gates in time for batting practice. "Looks like every Red Sox fan has brought a Phillies fan. For protection."

Out in the parking lots, the oddly harmonious sightings continued.

About 4 p.m. Tom Struts, a bartender from Northeast Philadelphia, was quaffing a cool one in a red wool jersey that bore Ted Williams' name and No. 9 on the back.

His pals wore Phillies jerseys. Stuts has spent 20 years here but grew up in Maine. No one gives him grief, he said - not even for his red stockings - because who would criticize Williams, a war hero and a legendary hitter?

There's no real rivalry to see here, not yet. Just two great teams that hope to play each other when the frost is on the pumpkin and everything is on the line.


Contact Daniel Rubin at 215-854-5917 or drubin@phillynews.com.