Philadelphia Fans; Lidge & Vick Present Chance For Change In Perception

Matt ShervingtonCorrespondent IIAugust 16, 2009

PHILADELPHIA - AUGUST 15:  Michael Vick #7 looks down during a workout at the NovaCare Complex on August 15, 2009 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Len Redkoles/Getty Images)

Today I took a nap and upon waking up from my nap I walked over to the computer to check my Facebook. While doing so I found numerous status updates pertaining to Brad Lidge and his newest blown save opportunity and how, as a result, numerous individuals were expressing their dislike and hatred towards Lidge.

Now I wont pretend to be an expert in the field of baseball, I mean I have only attended two games in my lifetime – the last two Phillies regular season closers courtesy of my father-in-law – but this struck me as the perfect opportunity to talk about Philadelphia sports or rather the fans of these sports.

It is no secret that outside of Philadelphia the fans of the Eagles, Flyers and Phillies are seen in a negative light by other fan bases and various sports journalists. The infamous J.D. Drew, Santa Claus and Michael Irvin incidents are usually brought to immediate attention as defining moments when the Philadelphia fanbase is brought into any conversation.

Though this is a generalization of all Philadelphia sports fans it is something that they will have to deal with because this is the picture provided by those select few thousands who aren’t capable of controlling themselves. However, this aforementioned Brad Lidge incident, as well as the recent signing of Michael Vick to the Eagles, provided the perfect opportunity for the Philadelphia fanbase to begin changing its perceptions. How so you might be asking?

Well it’s quite simple actually and it begins with embracing Brad Lidge. As Phillies' shortstop Jimmy Rollins stated last season, the perception by many is that Philadelphia sports fans are front runners that are quick to lambaste their teams, and in the case of this article their players, when they under-perform and this is already occurring with Brad Lidge. This is despite the fact that Lidge was a beloved hero in Philadelphia just last year when he had a perfect season in terms of save opportunities including the post-season.

Are we going to quickly forget how Lidge helped carry the Phillies to a World Championship at a time in which Philadelphia was dying for one just because he has struggled this season?

Is that not doing exactly what Philly fans are often accused of?

This is why I propose that Philadelphia fans begin changing the perception with this opportunity to stay on the Brad Lidge bandwagon. It’s not as if demeaning him is going to help the situation. Lets be honest for a moment; should not anything short of actually costing the Phillies a chance to repeat, which Lidge hasn’t done yet, be not strong enough to take away bringing a championship to Philadelphia? However, as stated earlier, embracing Lidge is just the first opportunity presented to Philadelphians this year but the second one is more hypothetical.

If you’ve ever read anything I’ve written than you know that my sport of choice is football and being a resident of Philadelphia I’ve seen more than my fair share of Eagles games. I can also say that the fanbase is critical and passionate, sometimes to the point at which it seems they are, in fact, “frontrunners”. However, the signing of Michael Vick presents them with an opportunity to change this as well.

It is no secret that Eagles fans have, unfortunately, been critical of Donovan McNabb since day one. If you are of the minority that hasn’t, then I apologize for the generalization, but again… perceptions. There are Eagles fans that seem to forget that McNabb has lead the birds to five NFC Championship Games and one Super Bowl. While they haven’t won the big game with McNabb at the helm yet, those are credentials to be proud of not to mourn over.

Despite this there are fans that have wanted to start the “Kevin Kolb era” at the first sign of McNabb trouble and you can bet a significant portion of those individuals will be ready to start the “Michael Vick era” at the first sign of trouble this year. This is where Eagles fans can do their part to change the perception of the fanbase. When trouble comes around do not start the “We want Vick” chants as that is what most national journalists and opposing fanbases have already predicted to happen.

What would amplify the situation is the fact that Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie and head coach Andy Reid have made it abundantly clear that this year is a year for the fans. Rather than taking their atypical approach of drafting in the trenches the Eagles front office has made moves to impress the fans by drafting highly rated skill position players over the past two seasons and investing in McNabb via his raise.

So what have we “learned” today? We’ve “learned” that change takes time and the first steps in this gradual process can occur this year.

Phillies fans should take Brad Lidge’s recent setbacks as a chance to prove their loyalty to the team and to rid themselves of the frontrunner perception due to the recent championship. Meanwhile, with the front office making moves to help the team and, create a team which fans will like it, opens the door for Philadelphia Eagles fans to do their part by being grateful for these moves and removing the belief that they’re ungrateful in regards to the team’s recent success. Additionally, with the Vick situation now on deck Eagles fans can do their part by not inciting chants at the first sign of trouble to show appreciation, consistency and faith in the team and players.

I know a lot of Philadelphia fans, and I know that they’re better than the stereotypical generalization that follows them around. The next six months present the other ones with a chance to join the ranks of those others and to finally have their fanbase respected for its passion and intelligence rather than because other’s fear coming to “The Linc” or Citizen’s Bank Park. If you are one of the aforementioned “other” fans than please head the words of this article.