I attended last night’s Pens/Flyers Game 4 in Philly wearing my slightly conspicuous blue Malkin jersey, and to my incredible astonishment, the fans in Philadelphia did not treat my presence with gracious, accepting silence, or by not literally punching me multiple times. Here’s a quick rundown of the the things said (and done) to me over the course of the evening, and the approximate number of times each one occurred:
Walking to the Stadium:
- 25 “Penguins SUUUUCK!!!”
- 12 “FAAAAG!”
- 4 “That thing better not say Crosby!”
- 3 “Crosby SUCKS!!!” [despite visible #71]
- 3 “Go back to Pittsburgh!”
- 2 “That’s right, you cover that shit up with your jacket!” [because I was wearing a jacket to cover up my jersey, not just, you know, to have a jacket on]
In The Bathroom:
- “I hope you’re sittin’ in the 100 Section where they’re civilized or you’re in big trouble…”
- “Gonna be a long night, Malkin!” [He was right]
- “Powder blue, are you kidding me??” [It's sure no bright orange with taped-on pee-wee looking nameplates]
In My Seat:
- Another 12 “FAG!!!”s
- Person carrying garbage up the aisle ‘accidentally’ drops used napkins into my lap.
- Twice, separate children carrying plush penguins hanging in effigy hang the penguin in my face for ten seconds while I’m sitting.
- COUNTLESS ref booing, ref complaints after plays, booing for calls, booing for non-calls, and talks about refs being biased for Crosby, even though Crosby wasn’t involved in any of the penalty calls, the Flyers ended up with 8 power plays, and if Crosby EVER dove like Mike Knuble dove on the Hal Gill BS interference call, the city of Philly would still be booing so hard, they’d eventually erect a flaming statue of the word “BOO” on top of the Wachovia Center.
- More “FAG”s, though my mind had more or less drowned the word out by this point.
- “Hey Malkin, just wondering – what does dick taste like?” [My Answer: "Like the second round of the playoffs"]
- Right after the Flyers’ first goal, six middle fingers were in my face literally within seconds, making me wonder just how long they’d been cocked and ready to go (people were really that pre-occupied with my location?)
- 2 fake high-fives in my direction [though they came after the middle fingers, so it was kind of a step in reverse insult-wise]
After the Empty Netter:
- A dude exiting up the aisle punched me right in the stomach. Yep – punched. Not dangerously or with an intent to injure, but definitely not jokingly either, just a regular, straight-up, punch to the center of my Penguin-logoed gut. Though in his defense, I was clapping loudly and yelling “Two years in a row!!!” so I probably deserved to be literally punched in the gut by a stranger.
- Another dude exiting up the aisle punched me in the arm. Much lighter than the first one, but I think his arm was tired from finger-giving.
- 2 separate “Do not say ONE WORD”s with gesturing.
- “Where’s someone from Pittsburgh? Show me someone from Pittsburgh.” [Not directed at me, but nearby]
So, in short, it was a pretty awesome night. And in defense of the home fans, after the game two Flyer dudes sitting near me both said something to the effect of “Did that guy just hit you? I’m sorry man, that’s totally uncalled for,” which counted for some redemption. I also have to admit, the tv timeout with 5:30 left in the third was the absolute loudest I have ever heard a building, ever, in any sport — I’ve never been to a postseason NFL game, but Wachovia unquestionably topped even the loudest Pens’ home playoff games, Steeler games, or college games I’ve ever attended, and it was legitimately impressive. Although in terms of taunting, my favorite insult still came at MSG one year ago, when the Pens were celebrating a goal against the Rangers and a fan yelled at me “Look how happy they are – they’re the only five guys in Pittsburgh with jobs!”
As for the game itself, I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that I don’t expect Fleury to make 45 ridiculous saves every single night for the remainder of the playoffs; I’m just not sure how far I see the Pens going with their newfound strategy of complete defensive zone retardation and power play that continues to prove you wrong for believing it can’t possibly get worse. Though, hey, it worked in this round.
I just hope they can regroup Thursday and finish this thing off as soon as possible, so we can BREAK OUT THE DICKS! WOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!