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Mike Wise Reconsiders Flyers Fans

In exchange for providing me with a recap of yesterday's EITM-Mystics hoops game, I promised Mike Wise I'd provide him with a forum for some extra thoughts on the Flyers and their fans. His controversial Game 3 column about both of the above prompted 354 comments and untold e-mails. Here's what he wanted to say, which he also posted as a comment:

A few readers have called me out for not taking on some of the Caps fans after their unruly Game 7 behavior. All I have to say, a day after reviewing videotape and hearing from people who actually saw it, is: you're exactly right for calling me out.

I had my head buried in my laptop on deadline the moment things got ugly. Like many other reporters writing or heading downstairs to the locker room (a 10-minute process involving a slow elevator and a long walk across the arena), I didn't see it and neither did any of my colleagues that night. [Except me, apparently - ed.] Here's Tarik El-Bashir's article from yesterday detailing what happened. [And here's my take - ed.]

If I had to do it over again, I would have included a couple of paragraphs. Something like this:

"After all the over-the-top, satirical labels thrown at the Flyers and their fans last week by, well, me, it turns out a handful of Washington's despicable fans better fit the frothing-hockey stereotype.

Some Caps fans tossed pizza boxes and plastic bottles, some filled with beer, onto the ice and at least one Flyer player was hit in the shoulder. After a Flyer fan wearing a Primeau jersey detailed how inhumanely he was treated at the Verizon Center for Game 5, all I have to say is, small time, Washington, very small time."

That should have been included in any column given some of the behavior after Game 7.

As for the column last week, well, I'm half-flattered and half-disturbed by the response it received.

Flattered because no one sends me 200 e-mails about my work, unless I've called Roger Clemens a fraud or written about the misadventures of my dog. (I'll try and get to every one that doesn't start, "Up yours, Wise" or threaten bodily arm. Promise.)

Disturbed because a lot of people couldn't discern from satire and reality. A number of female fans wrote to tell me neither they nor their children had ever worked security for Megadeth -- and they were serious about this. Others believed I actually wanted Gary Bettman to throw the series because I had inquired whether Tim Donaghy could skate.

People, it's sports. I know you're serious about your teams, but when I get an e-mail saying, "You made us sound angry and violent that's why I'm going to bust you up in the parking lot tonight"...I mean, if you take it that far the shoe fits, right?

Look, it was a very good seven games, the best playoff hockey has to offer. And for those of you who didn't quite get that I was knocking the Caps for being soft in that column, well, the Flyers taught Ovie and the Ice Capettes in those first few games what playoff hockey was about. It wasn't until the Caps started attacking and checking in Game 4 that the series became a series.

But let's leave it that, a great series. Not an opportunity for a couple idiot fans -- and I'm talking Caps fans at the end of Game 7 -- to ruin it for everyone.

And as far as any perceived beef I have with Philly, I don't know what to say. I will read my words one way. You will read them another. And still someone else with read them another way.

I have seen some of the best in sports in Philly. The video of late crooner Kate Smith intoning, "From the Mountains..." and hearing 20,000 people explode, well, that gave me goosebumps like I haven't felt at an event since Cathy Freeman, an Aboriginal women, won the 400-meter gold medal before 100,000 people in Sydney eight years ago.

I have seen some of the worst too -- hulking men, a dozen of them, throwing haymakers, knocking people unconscious, blood all over, kids screaming in their father's arms during a brawl less than 20 yards from the court in the middle of the stands at the NBA finals in 2001. It was the ugliest thing I'd seen at a sporting event since 20 gang members jumped a kid at a high school football game I was covering in Sacramento. It was racial, violent and some of the perpetrators walked right past security, out of the arena, untouched.

Now, that's a handful of Philly fans. Like the yahoos in D.C. the other night, they don't represent what is truly a 24-7, great sports town. (I know an envious D.C. media guy who called in to WIP radio on his way back to Washington, which has no one taking calls about a local team at 2 a.m.)

Finally, anyone who took shots at my hockey knowledge, that's fair game. I'm still learning.

Thanks for writing in. Even if I don't agree with it, it means something you took the time.

And can someone please put the Rocky statue back on TOP of the Art Museum steps? It's not right off to the side -- no cultured, worldly Philadelphian should stand for that.

By Dan Steinberg  |  April 25, 2008; 11:53 AM ET
Categories:  Caps  
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Next: Frank Deford's Diagnosis of D.C. Fans

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