A A B A. LETS GO fl YERS. This is the proper way to do the Let’s go Flyers chant. Yet for years now, the fans at the Wells Fargo Center have been doing it all wrong. They have been doing it in that sing song way the Rangers and Islanders do their chants. Which is LETS go FL yers. Every time I hear it done this way, it makes my blood boil. The way the chant was done before was very distinctive and seperated us from everyone else. Now, we just do it like the rest of the country does theirs.
One might ask, “Is how the Let’s Go Flyers chant is done at Well Fargo Center that big a deal?” On the surface, maybe not. But to me, it’s more than just a chant. It’s a part of our identity as a fan base. It’s an identity we are starting to lose in my opinion.
The Let’s Go Flyers chant isn’t the only sign that we are losing our identify as a fan base. We used to have our own unique way of doimg things that distinguished ourselves from other fan bases. Now we have gone so far as to steal traditions from other teams. And I have several examples of this to back me up.
One: Throwing the home run balls hit by the opposition back out on to the field of play. This is not a Philadelphia tradition. It’s a tradition that has been practiced by the Chicago Cubs’ fans for years and years. For as long as I can remember and I’ve been watching baseball for 37 years. Never did you see a fan at the Vet throw a home run ball hit by the opposition back on to the field. I don’t know who decided to try and make this a Philadelphia tradition once Citizens Bank Park opened, but I’m not impressed. All they did was steal another city’s tradotion. No originality at all.
Two: The rally towels. Rally towels are a gimmick. Philadelphia is not gimmick kind of town. There is nothing intimidating about waving a bunch white towels in the air. It doesn’t add to the noise level in the stadium. If anything it takes away from it. Instead of clapping your hands and yeling and screaming, your waving towels in the air. It might look good on TV but since when have we worried about such things in Philadelphia? It does nothing to add to our home field advantage. It actually takes away from it.
One of the best example of how intimidating Philadelphia fans can be is what happened to Burt Hooten of the Los Angelas Dodgers in the 1977 NLCS. It was an extremely raucous crowd. No rally towels, no styrofoam noisemakers, just 65,000 raucous fans who were excited to watch playoff baseball. Hooten started to get wild and the fams started to feed off of this. With every pitch that missed the strile zone, Veterans Stadium became louder and louder. Former Dodger second baseman Davey Lopes once gave an interview about that game. He said during a mound conference where Dodger manager Tommy Lasorda came out to try and calm Hooten down, the noise level was so great in Veterans Stadium that he couldn’t hear a word Lasorda was saying even though they were only two feet away from each other. Hooten was so rattled by the Veterans Stadium crowd that he walked the bases loaded and walked in a run.
Where has that gone? There are a couple of isolated instances where this has happened. The Brett Myers at bat in the 2008 playoffs against the Milwaukee Brewers being one of them. But these moments are becoming too few and far between. Philadelphia used to be a place visiting teams used dread coming to. When teams would come into the Spectrum to play the Flyers they were said to come down with the “Philadelphia Flu”. Nobdy liked coming in to the Vet to play the Eagles either.
So is it a matter of all our teams moving in to new buildings and that has made us become soft as a fan base? Not necessarily. I went to Game 5 of the 2000 Flyers/Penguins Conference semifinals at the Wachovia Center. It was the game following Keith Primeau‘s goal in the fifth OT. I’ll never forget walking through the glass doors of the Wachovia Center a half hour before game time and the noise was defeaning. The building was in an absolute frenzy from start to finish. Everyone rremembers the Sixers run to the finals in 2001. Wachovia was as loud as any building in the NBA.
I think it comes down to the fact that the blue collar fans are being priced out and the Johnny Come Lately white collar crowd is taking over. I was at Game 6 of the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals. I was only four rows down from being in the very last row of the building. The Cheap Seats. As play was going on, not during a stoppage of play but as it was going on the two guys in front of me were talking about the stock market. I was baffled. Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals and these two guys are talking shop. Unacceptable. They paid for their tickets and can do whatever they want. But that is a perfect example of how we are not the passionate fan base we used to be.