The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Thursday, February 05, 2004  

They Tied

I would have preferred to begin this post by telling you that at noon today great strides were made in Philadelphia, the cradle of liberty, in the pursuit thereof -- liberty meaning, in this case, the ability to sit peacefully, not harassed and not terrorized, in an already disgracefully vandalized city park -- but I can’t. It was merely a Whiffle-ball game, and the way it was organized, probably with an eye toward the average age of the participants, there wasn’t a whole lot of running going on, let alone striding.

And no, there wasn’t a large crowd of spectators on hand, this being the most inside of inside base Whiffle ball, but it was a lot of fun.

At issue: the ongoing controversy over skateboarding in John F. Kennedy Plaza, also known as LOVE Park, discussed here Tuesday and last week.

While at the game I met, among others, both Noel Weyrich of Philadelphia magazine, he who instigated, or inspired, or launched, or sparked, or whatever, the entire event, as well as Ronnie Polaneczky, the Philadelphia Daily News columnist with whom Rittenhouse in the past has, in her tactful and gracious phrasing, “exchanged words.”

I spoke briefly with Larry Platt, editor of Philadelphia, and renewed my acquaintance with Frank “Sorta Slugger” Burgos, the punk who heads the editorial pages of the Daily News.

I didn’t play. Having swapped e-mail with Weyrich beforehand, I figured I was just being held in reserve. Regardless, and fortunately, Philadelphia magazine, on whose side of this controversy, at least as expressed by Weyrich, I stand, was amply, ably, and enthusiastically represented.

The magazine’s staff was undaunted by rumors the Philadelphia skateboarding community (also known, to some of us, as the “street rats”) was planning to show up en masse (though they of course didn’t -- can’t, as in aren’t able to -- use that term), in support of the newspapers, a pair of very fine dailies, a broadsheet and a tabloid, that but a fraction of said rats have ever read in their lives.

My staying on the sidelines was just as well for everyone involved, because the way the “field” was laid out on the “pavement” [Translation: sidewalk.] on North Broad Street there wasn’t room for me in my usual outfield position, that being one with which you might not be familiar, namely, far right field.

Remember back in school when you were playing softball and they sent the worst baseball player over to right field? Yeah, I was that guy. Except in my case, when I went to the customary right-fielder position, I found there was already someone there. Okay, what’s up with that?

“Move back,” they would tell me. “Farther back,” they added. “Keep going!” Already humiliated, I then heard: “Yeah, that’s it. Only more. Farther back! Okay, that’s about right. But don’t do anything without asking first.”

Don’t worry, I’m not bitter. (But if you think you’re cheating off me on tomorrow’s Latin quiz you’ve got another coming, pal.)

At today’s game there was no obvious police presence, nor did Philadelphia Newspapers Inc., the Knight-Ridder Inc. subsidiary that publishes both the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Daily News, send out the goon squad, which, I heard from someone at the game, is a function KRI has farmed out to Pinkerton’s, a real P.R. disaster in Pennsylvania, if you catch my drift.

Still, once in a while I looked up and I would swear I saw some muckety mucks glaring at all of us from the upper reaches of the ivory tower. (What do I care? I don’t work there, either at the papers or the magazine. Why not? Uh, gee, well, um, I don’t know.)

After a spirited string of innings, and to Polaneczky’s great surprise, no beer whatsoever, the game, between the Daily News and Philadelphia, ended in a low-scoring, very gentlepersonly, 1-1 tie.

And do you know what? That’s so very Philadelphia.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |