No, no, Nanette, it's not really those nattering New Yorkers we despise.

Nor those hidebound Bostonians, either.

It's ourselves, stupid.

We're Philadelphia sports fans. We hate us more than them.


Well, for a start, 25 years - that's 100 seasons - of title-less anger, frustration, hurt, and civic jealousy can generate a lot of self-loathing.

We fool ourselves into believing we vent all that animosity in those big, bellowing boos that are our collective (name-)calling cards or in all the mean-spirited griping that is the coin of the "rip it" realm on talk radio WIP (We're Insufferable Philadelphians).

It doesn't.

Instead, most of it gets internalized, all that ill-will bubbling in there with the pretzels, the hoagies, the Krimpets, with the repressed pain and the depressed egos, with the pride and the passion.

It's an ideal recipe for negativity, most of which we think we're directing at our players, at our coaches and managers, at our teams.

We're wrong.

It's really aimed at ourselves.

In the sporting droughts that have descended on this city as routinely as bad news, we got darn good at being self-harming pessimists. Our 16-ounce, $6.50 beer cup is perpetually half-empty. And if it's not, we'll spill it on you.

We've become internationally famous for our bad attitudes - which at least is better than being internationally famous for our bad teams.

We boo for show, and we hide our woe.

I still blame 1964.

Oh, we had our share of sporting naysayers before that. Think of Pete Adelis, perhaps the ultimate Philly fan, the large, leather-lunged loudmouth who was a noisy fixture at Shibe Park.

But the Phillies' unthinkable collapse institutionalized our disillusionment, permanently diminished an entire city's expectations. Blind optimism became impossible. Disaster, no matter how late in the game, how late in the season, was inevitable.

And if the trauma of 1964 wasn't enough to make us dislike ourselves intensely, we later got hit by "We Owe You One" and "Black Friday," by "Pay to Play" and Move, by a shrinking population and a growing debt, by Joe Carter and Howard Eskin.

That's not to say there weren't wonderful respites - most notably the seasons that preceded all those memorable Broad Street parades in the shining decade from 1974 to 1983.

But eventually things reverted to form. And we began to dislike ourselves again.

Tug McGraw, the late Phillies reliever and a twinkle-eyed philosopher, who was there for one of those parades in October 1980, summed it up as well as anyone ever has.

"I know how the city feels," McGraw said. "It's like a man shows up out of nowhere and he tells you, 'Here, I've got a magic carpet, and I'm going to give you a ride on it. C'mon, get on and we'll soar away.'

"And the people get on and right away that man yanks that carpet right out from under them. And this keeps happening, and pretty soon the people are afraid to believe. They're afraid to get on that magic carpet ride."

To like our teams and our cities, no matter what happens, we've got to like ourselves.

That's no small feat in Philly.

Here, it's easier to think we're always doomed.

And so it's easy to hate New York's swaggering smugness.

Easy to hate Boston's recent successes.

Easier still to hate ourselves.

Contact staff writer Frank Fitzpatrick at 215-854-5068 of