Jake Tapper split his childhood between Queen Village and Merion, providing the CNN host with essential DNA of a Philadelphia sports fan even as he works and lives in Washington.

He has an email chain with fellow expatriates to talk about the city’s sports scene and their love of Wawa. He misses cheesesteaks — D.C. doesn’t understand the importance of the roll, Tapper said — and pizza on South Street.

Tapper is not shy about his love of Philadelphia. But how optimistic is he right now about his teams’ chances?

“It’s tough asking a Philadelphia fan if they’re optimistic,” Tapper said Tuesday on Inquirer Live. “Because it’s not in our nature to be optimistic. I actually went to the Super Bowl when the Eagles won, and I was terrified until it was over. I was convinced [Tom] Brady was going to score on that last drive.”

Tapper, who hosts The Lead on CNN, spoke with The Inquirer’s Ellen Gray about his new historical novel, The Devil May Dance, which explores the dark side of Hollywood during the Rat Pack era. After chatting, Gray peppered Tapper about his Philly fandom.

He said the Phillies, who entered Tuesday two games below .500, would have to get a winning record before he could build any optimism. He thinks the 76ers are exciting and can win their series against the Atlanta Hawks but said it was “demoralizing” earlier this season when he saw Steph Curry play in person and score 49 points against them.

“I’m a huge fan of the Sixers and Joel Embiid and all the rest. That was kind of depressing. He’s just so good,” Tapper said of Curry.

Tapper said he can’t believe how few Eagles are still on the roster from the team he watched win the Super Bowl three years ago in Minneapolis. He would have stuck with Nick Foles over Carson Wentz and still misses Malcolm Jenkins, who was hired last summer to be a commentator for CNN.

“It’s kind of depressing to see so many of the players I loved just not there anymore,” Tapper said. “How do we not have either of those quarterbacks? That’s my only question.”

“It’s tough asking a Philadelphia fan if they’re optimistic [about the Phillies]. Because it’s not in our nature to be optimistic.”

Jake Tapper, on being a Philadelphia sports fan

Tapper is the only Philadelphia fan in his household. His wife grew up in Missouri and follows Kansas City teams. His children are indifferent about sports, and he said his son will root for the winner when they go to games. Tapper grew up a few miles from Veterans Stadium, but he said being a Philadelphia fan “is not a transitive property.”

So he keeps his fandom going with an email chain with a small group of other D.C. journalists and political insiders. The conversation has to stick to sports and Wawa. No political discussion is allowed. And since it’s a group of Philadelphia fans, optimism is limited.

“It’s great,” Tapper said. “The email chain has been going on so long and nobody has replaced the subject line so it’s just like ‘Re: re: re: re: re:’ in the hundreds by now. It’s kind of lonely. You seek out fellow Philadelphia fans.”