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DelVal Candidates Are Rooting For The Hometown Teams

Even in the closing days of a frenzied election campaign, the Phillies and the Eagles still have a hold on our attention — including the candidates who are focused on getting their voters to the polls next Tuesday. Nevertheless, the candidates are still taking time to follow the Phillies, who split the first two games of the World Series with the Houston Astros, as well as the undefeated Eagles.

The Phillies resumed action on Tuesday night (and crushed the Astros beneath a hail of homers 7-0) while the Eagles take the field on Thursday, ironically, in Houston.

Politicians of both parties have long understood the political upside to connecting with the region’s rabid sports fans. Beyond that, many of them are fans themselves.

Democratic Congresswoman Chrissy Houlahan is seeking her third term in the Sixth District, which encompasses almost all of Chester County and a portion of Berks County including the city of Reading. She and her Republican challenger Guy Ciarrocchi may differ on the issues, but both are following the fortunes of our local sports franchises.

“Southeastern Pennsylvania has a different energy when our teams are rolling like this,” Houlahan said. “(Husband) Bart and I are all in for the Phillies, the Birds, and all of our city’s sports teams—we can’t wait to ring the bell at our home games on baseball’s biggest stage and watch the Eagles’ undefeated season continue.”

Ciarrocchi recalled his first experiences watching the Phillies growing up.

“I saw my first game with my dad at Connie Mack Stadium,” he said. “I saw the Phils win it all in 1980 and lose in 1983, both times with my dad.  I saw Game Four (in the 2008 World Series) with my oldest kids. I hope the “sports gods” don’t ask me if I would trade a congressional loss for a World Series win.”

Republican Christian Nascimento is challenging Democratic incumbent Madeleine Dean in the Fourth District in Montgomery County. Amidst the pressures and obligations of a campaign, he remains an avid sports fan.

“Like just about everyone in the region, I have been following and cheering on both the Phillies and the Eagles through this amazing run,” he said. “It’s nothing short of inspirational to see the Phillies get to the World Series at the same time that the Eagles are on an undefeated streak. It’s been a thrill to see both teams perform so well, and with so much class. These are the types of moments that make you so optimistic for the future.”

Democrat Ashley Ehasz is looking to unseat Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Bucks/Montgomery).

“Following the Eagles and Phillies during the campaign trail has been exciting, to say the least,” she said. Both teams have shown their resilience and established that we cannot count them out, proving that hard work and dedication can enact real change.

“Just like here in Pennsylvania’s 1st District, the Eagles, the Phillies, and our campaign to unseat Brian Fitzpatrick has shown how underdogs have teeth, and the time for change is now.”


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WOELFEL: At a Divisive Moment, Phillies’ Victories Bring Fans Together

The Phillies are getting ready for the World Series, and fans in the Philadelphia area are getting ready right along with them.

There is a tangible buzz in the air as Friday’s opening game against the Houston Astros draws near, a sense that people are using the Series as a chance to reach out to and connect with one another.

Kennett Square resident Steve Difuria sees a difference in the atmosphere.

“I believe it helps the economy,” he said. “People seem a little happier.”

Part of the reason for the uptake in enthusiasm is the Phillies playing in the World Series is such a rare occurrence. This year marks only their eighth appearance in the Fall Classic since the team was formed in 1883. They won just two of them: in 1980 and again in 2009. By contrast, the New York Yankees have played in the World Series 40 times and won 27 of them,

In New York, a World Series appearance is expected each season (and almost happened again this year). Not so in Philadelphia.

If the Series goes the maximum seven games, they will be played over nine days (Friday-Saturday, Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday, Friday-Saturday).

Coincidentally, the Eagles have games scheduled on Sunday and next Thursday which are the Series’ scheduled off days.

Lansdale native Bridget Algeo sees the upcoming stretch as the Nine Days of Christmas for Philadelphia sports fans.

“An early Christmas, hopefully,” she said.

Algeo says the passion of area sports fans is fueled by the region’s rich and multifaceted sporting history.

“I think it is a combination of a history of great Philly sports figures ranging from players to coaches to broadcasters who are very likable and personable,” she said. “As well as shared experiences with family and friends around the living room TV or at the stadium. There’s also a mutual affection between the teams and the fans, and it’s super unifying and energizing.”

Lee Winter grew up in Horsham but now calls Swansea, Ill. home. Nearly 900 miles from here, he’s still excited about the Phillies

“I’m happy all the way out in Illinois,” he says.  “Go Phillies.”

The nature of baseball contributes to this kind of emotional outpouring. For all the enthusiasm that justifiably accompanied the Eagles’ victory in the Super Bowl five years ago, it was one game.

The World Series theoretically could last a week or more, giving fans, whether they are longtime baseball enthusiasts or newcomers to the sport, an abundance of opportunities to analyze the results, to interact, to trade opinions and argue about them, and to share their own experiences as fans, experiences that may span decades.

For much of the 20th century, baseball was America’s most popular sport. That’s not the case today, for a variety of reasons.

The World Series was first played in 1903 For many years, it was traditional for the entire country to be fixated on the Series.  The games were played in the daytime then.

Fans would gather outside a telegraph office as updates were posted on a blackboard. Later on, they would hold a transistor radio to their ear or take an extended lunch break to slip into a bar or restaurant and catch a few innings on TV while younger fans counted the minutes until school let out so they could get home and watch themselves.

In today’s world, that unbridled passion will largely be confined to the two cities involved. And certainly, that passion will be on display in the Philadelphia area. The next time you’re out on the street, count the number of people wearing Phillies caps or other Phillies merchandise. It’s likely substantially more than was the case just a few weeks ago.

The Phillies’ success has provided a point of conversation, a way of bringing people together, across generations and political divides. That is something that should be appreciated, particularly in today’s times when America is seemingly more divided than ever.

A day or two ago I was in the checkout line at the grocery store. The gentleman ahead of me, who looked to be in his 70s, was wearing a Phillies cap and chatting with the cashier, who was in his 20s. In short order, the three of us were talking baseball and considering the Phillies’ chances in the World Series.

We weren’t young or old, Republicans or Democrats, just three guys talking baseball. At the end of the conversation, the cashier summed it up.

“This is what’s great about sports,” he said. “It brings people together.”

How right he is.

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