The Philadelphia Phillies have a chance to repeat as world champions of baseball. Last night's 10-4 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers launched the local favorites into the World Series for the second year in a row, and the first time since the New York Yankees advanced in 2000-2001.
And, while the team repeated its magnificent season of a year ago, it's a tribute to their fans that the Phillies followers didn't repeat their performance of last October.
Following last year's World Series win over Tampa Bay, fans in South Philadelphia toppled a traffic pole and set off illegal fireworks. In the city's downtown, a luggage store was looted, some small fires were set and planters and taxicabs were damaged. It wasn't a very dignified way to celebrate the pennant clinching victory.
But this year was different. Although hundreds of Phillies fans streamed out of restaurants, bars and apartment buildings in downtown Philadelphia early this morning to celebrate their team's second straight trip to the World Series, and revelers honked car horns and set off fireworks in other parts of the city, the mood was less chaotic, and more of a celebration
The atmosphere was one of excitement downtown, but the raucous crowd of about 1,000 gathered on Broad Street remained under control as a dozen mounted police and dozens of officers in riot gear lined the street, making only scattered arrests and confiscating alcohol.
It seems Phillies' fans have learned to celebrate with the same class their team has shown while performing on the field.
Just to be on the safe side, the city took extra precautions this year, going so far as to grease utility and light poles to dissuade would-be climbers. A police department spokesperson said shortly before 2 a.m. today that police were reporting no major problems with crowds in the city. The city also removed expensive new solar-powered trash cans from downtown sidewalks, and Mayor Michael Nutter urged fans to celebrate responsibly. The city asked some bars to serve drinks in plastic cups instead of glass.
Cities are judged by the way they celebrate historic victories by their hometown teams. How many times have we seen in the past, looting and fires, and fighting and drunken incidents that often mar such milestones as the one that took place in Philadelphia last night? In some instances there have also been severe injuries and even deaths due to the out-of-control revelry.
But this year Philadelphia will be judged in two ways – first, for their team, an offensive juggernaut built on power and speed.
And second, their fans will be judged by the class in which they celebrated.
One fan said it will be like Christmas if the Phillies repeat as world champions. Last night and early this morning the fans already gave the city a huge gift – by celebrating responsibly and safely. Lets hope that trend continues.