Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Who's Better: New York Or Philadelphia?

Last night, in Philadelphia, the Mets did what the conventional "wisdom" says they should have done more than once in 3 tries at home the week before: Beat the Phillies. The score was 5-2.

But the Flyers lost a Playoff game, at home, 6-1 to the Washington Capitals. The game contained a typical "Broad Street Bullies" cheap-shot hit, and a fan riot, throwing glow-in-the-dark giveaway wristbands onto the ice.

On August 2, 2013, Thrillist published an article on why Philadelphia is better than New York. Except for the ones about the cost of living and cheesesteaks being better than pushcart hot dogs, their reasons were stupid. That doesn't mean Philly isn't better, it just means that, if you want to suggest that, you'd better come up with better reasons.

(By the way, that "fictional boxer," Philly's Rocky Balboa? He's played by Sylvester Stallone, who's from New York.)

On October 27, 2009, as the Yankees prepared to play the Phillies in the World Series, nj.com published an article comparing the cities, using weird categories like "Notorious Highways," "Iconic Statues," shameful parades (St. Patrick's Day vs. the Mummers), "Fictitious Badasses" (Batman is from the fictional Gotham City, not the real Gotham, a.k.a. New York, and Rocky has the edge because he wasn't rich and loaded with gadgets when he took down Apollo Creed) and "Iconic Eatery."

It said the only thing both sides can agree on is "City Punching Bag": "At least I don't live in Jersey." Well, fuck both o' youse on dat one.

So let's compare the things that truly matter, shall we?

Baseball. Philadelphia has the Phillies. Hard-luck team, currently bad, but with a great ballpark. New York has the Yankees... but it also has the Mets. Advantage: Neither.

Football. Philadelphia has the Eagles, who haven't won a title in 55 years. New York has the Jets, who haven't won a title in 47 years, but also the Giants, who've won 4 titles in that time. 

Neither city gets any further with college ball: Each has an Ivy League school, while Philly also has Division I-A Temple, but that doesn't help much. No, New York, never mind State pride: Because of the distance, you can't count Syracuse; no, Philly, for the same reason, you can't count Penn State. 

Advantage: New York.

Basketball. New York has the Knicks and the Nets, who haven't won a title in 43 and 40 years, respectively (and the Nets' titles were in the ABA, not the NBA. New York also has St. John's, but they've been irrelevant for almost 30 years. 

Philadelphia has the 76ers, and before that the Warriors, so that's 4 titles between them, but the last was 33 years ago. Philadelphia also has the Big 5, and Villanova just won the National Championship, while they, Temple and St. Joseph's have all been pretty good the last few years. Advantage: Philadelphia.

Hockey. Philadelphia has the Flyers. Their 6-1 home capitulation, and their fans' horrid behavior, during their Playoff loss last night aside, the Flyers are nearly always relevant, but they haven't won the Stanley Cup in 41 years. 

New York has the Rangers and the Islanders; the former hasn't won the Cup in 22 years, and only once in 76 years; the latter hasn't won in 33 years. No, you can't count the Devils. Advantage: None, really.

Media. New York has the Times, the Daily News, the Post, Newsday, Eyewitness News, NY1 and WFAN. Philadelphia has their own tabloid named the Daily News, plus the Inquirer, Action News and WIP-FM. Advantage: Philadelphia, even if you count Howard Eskin.

(Personal note: All jokes aside, Howard is a nice guy.)

Mayors. New York has Bill de Blasio, who is better than the fascist Rudy Giuliani and the corporatist Mike Bloomberg, but has proven that intelligence doesn't preclude cluelessness, and having a heart doesn't mean you don't also have a tin ear. 

Philadelphia has Jim Kenney, who, at least, has had some luck in reforming city politics. Advantage: Philadelphia.

Transportation. Philadelphia has a subway, PATCO, and SEPTA Regional Rail and buses. New York has a subway, buses, PATH, Metro-North and the Long Island Rail Road. (New Jersey Transit goes to both cities, but is not really a part of either.) While Philly still uses tokens instead of those easily damageable (and frequently unreadable) MetroCards, I can never get those little token packets open. 

Train stations? 30th Street Station is magnificent, Jefferson Station is kitschy, Suburban Station is depressing; Grand Central Terminal is majestic, Penn Station is barely functional. Bus stations? Say what you want about Port Authority, but Philly's Greyhound Terminal is way too small for a city its size. 

Advantage: New York, although Philly's is pretty good. Especially if you don't count New Jersey Transit.

Food. In Philadelphia, you can find a good expensive meal and a good cheap meal without much trouble, but a lot of places close early. In New York, there are places that are open late, or even all night, but whether expensive or cheap, taste will be a crapshoot. (Save your jokes.) Plus, for the moment, the closest Wawa stores to New York are in Hackensack and Kearny. Advantage: Philadelphia.

Ridiculously Long Outdoor Line for Food. New York has the original Shake Shack stand in Madison Square Park. Philadelphia has Pat's Steaks in the Italian Market area. Advantage: Philadelphia. The line is about as long, but the food is more satisfying, and cheaper.

Cost of Living. No contest. Advantage: Philadelphia.

Taxis. Cost aside, I have never had a problem in a Philly cab, regardless of the driver's country of origin. New York? Fuhgeddaboutit: Half the drivers will get you killed, and half don't freakin' understand English, and don't get me started on how poorly they speak it. Worse, there are some drivers who are in each half. Advantage: Philadelphia.

Traffic. Yeah, the Schuylkill Expressway is bad. It's not as bad as New York's roads. Advantage: Philadelphia.

Architecture. New York's is more majestic, while Philadelphia's is funkier. Advantage: Neither.

Culture. Philly has the Kimmel Center right in Center City, and the museums in a walkable stretch from Old City to the Ben Franklin Parkway. In New York, ya gotta get on the subway to get to Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, or the major museums. Advantage: Philadelphia.

Great Neighborhoods. New York has Greenwich Village, SoHo, the Upper West Side; Brooklyn Heights and Bay Ridge in Brooklyn; Woodside, Forest Hills and Corona in Queens; and Belmont in The Bronx. 

Philadelphia has Old City, Queen Village, South Street, the Italian Market, University City and Manayunk. 

New York has Williamsburg, Brooklyn; Philly doesn't have an equivalent -- so those facts cancel each other out. Close, but... Advantage: New York.

Beaches. In New York, you can get on the subway and be on the boardwalk of Coney Island in Brooklyn or the Rockaways in Queens in an hour. Or you can take the subway to a bus and be at City Island in The Bronx in an hour and a half. You don't even have to leave The City. 

Whereas it takes 2 hours to get from Center City Philadelphia to Atlantic City, by bus or train. And it still takes less time to get from Midtown to the Long Island beaches, even the Hamptons, than it does to get from Philly to Cape May or Rehoboth Beach. You can reach those almost as easily from New York. Advantage: New York.

Strangely-Dressed Guy In the Center of Town. Philadelphia has a statue of William Penn atop City Hall. New York has the Naked Cowboy (he actually wears a speedo, and a cowboy hat and boots and a guitar) on the street in Times Square. Advantage: Philadelphia.

Strangely-Dressed Guy During Christmas Season. New Yorkers cheer a man in a Santa Claus suit at the end of every Thanksgiving Day Parade. Philadelphians famously booed and threw things at a man in a Santa Claus suit during a Christmas-themed halftime show of an Eagles game in 1968 -- and they remain proud of this fact. I guess they figured, "Hell, we're only a short drive from Pennsylvania coal country, we might as well earn it." Advantage: New York.

And finally...

Jerseys. No, I don't mean sports team shirts. New York has North Jersey, which includes Hoboken, Hackensack, Bloomfield, Morristown, and Linden away from the oil refinery... but also includes Paterson, Nutley, Mendham and the Linden oil refinery. 

Philadelphia has South Jersey, which includes Haddonfield, Woodbury, Mount Holly, Mullica Hill, Glassboro, and those beach towns I mentioned... but also includes Camden, Bridgeton, Marlton, and some places that really do embrace the fact that they're south of the Mason-Dixon Line. Advantage: Neither.

CONCLUSION: There's a lot to love about Philadelphia. It may be possible that I'm choosing New York only for the proximity and the greater familiarity... and the Yankees. Factor that in, and this may well be a virtual tie.

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