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Review of Phillies fan Chip Scarinzi's book: "Diehards"
by Scott Butler 8/20/16

Diehards Chip Scarinzi

Think back to where you were when pinch-runner Fernando Perez of the Tampa Bay Rays stole second base in Game 5 of the 2008 World Series to put the tying run in scoring position with one out.

The Phillies had a comfortable 3-1 series lead on the Rays, but if you were like me, you were anything but comfortable at that moment. I was certain Lidge would blow his first save of the season and the Phillies would lose the first of three straight games, wasting the chance for their second championship in team history and the first in my lifetime.

Just a game? Ha!

Somehow it felt like my entire existence would be defined by what occurred in the waning moments of that game. Of course, two batters later, Lidge threw an 0-2 slider under the bat of Eric Hinske and the Phillies were World Champs. But, oh boy, if they somehow lost that series...

Chip Scarinzi, a “lifelong, diehard Philadelphia Phillies fan,” remembers those feelings of indescribable anguish as they are at the root of his book, “Diehards: Why Fans Care So Much About Sports"

"Why do diehards invest so fully in sports teams and players when that commitment, love and adoration is seldom reciprocated – if ever?"

Chip explores the most passionate of fans with insight from experts in fields like anthropology, sociology, and psychology, essentially creating a psychological portrayal of the diehard fan. He dissects the brains of diehards, investigates their place in society, and examines some of the health implications.

Analyzing the fan psyche is intriguing and essential to the story, but the heart and soul of "Diehards" is the cast of characters Chip meets along the way. Their personal stories are the lifeblood of this book.

Chip introduces us to superfan Will MacNeil. "If he's not sitting in the right field bleachers - section 149, row 27 (actual first row), seat 7 - he's on the road to one Bay Area park or another."

We get to know "Banjo Man" and meet Father Jim Greanias, who helps explain the connection between religious faith and fanaticism.

We also learn about the long forgotten St. Louis Browns, who finished in first place just once in their 52-year history and never won a championship.

We also pay a visit to "Baseball Heaven" in St. Louis.

And then there is Chip's own unlikely story of fanaticism, a story which opens with him in the stands as an Athletics fan during a gut-wrenching game 4 against the Tigers in the 2012 American League Division Series.

His story is unlikely because he grew up a Phillies fan.

"I cried when Joe Carter ended the Phillies miracle run at the World Series with a series-clinching homerun" in 1993 and "would finally experience that moment of glory myself, 15 years later, but from afar in a small one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco."

It was there, as a transplanted Phillies fan, that Chip formed his second allegiance to the Oakland Athletics and brought his fanaticism to his new American League team on the west coast.

"Diehards" is an easy read that is as informative as it is enjoyable and entertaining. As Josh Pahigian writes in the foreword, "Reading this book will bring you closer to being able to put to words the feelings in your own heart for the team(s) you love."

So, next time you go berserk when the Phillies blow a ninth inning lead or walk-off in style at CBP, you will understand a little better the science behind your craziness and perhaps realize that your craziness is not so crazy after all.

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