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Phillies fan celebrate the Phillies winning a spot in the 2009 World Series. Credit: Alex Remnick

When College senior Andy Katz headed to Blarney’s for the World Series opener last Wednesday night, the bartender initially refused to serve him — Katz was a Yankees intruder among die-hard Phillies fans.

But it was all in good spirit, part of a lighthearted rivalry that seems to have taken over campus.

And while this New York versus Philadelphia tension is partly a product of the large number of students hailing from the tri-state area, it has always been a point of contention at Penn. The conflict has come to a head over the past few days, especially with the ultimate city showdown on the diamond the past three days.

The ongoing Phillies-Yankees series was not the only matchup firing up New Yorkers and Philadelphians alike over the weekend: on Sunday the Eagles tackled the Giants here in the city, while the Sixers headed out of town Saturday to play the Knicks.

The division — and tension — was palpable, as a motley assortment of competing jerseys popped up around campus.

But while the Eagles and Sixers prevailed over the weekend, things look a little less bright for the Phillies. The team dropped its third series game in a row Sunday, allowing the Yankees a 3-1 lead.

They closed in on the Bronx Bombers last night with an 8-6 victory at Citizens Bank Park, but with a one-game lead the Yankees still hold a huge advantage as the series heads back to New York for Game 6 (and Game 7 if necessary).

This cushion, explained Katz, has made the past few days a little more manageable.

“Philly kids are really passionate about their teams,” he said. “If the Yankees were down, I’m sure I’d get a lot more heat about the series.”

Instead, the most strife he has gotten was from the incident at Blarney’s, as well as a handful of snide comments regarding a pair of Yankees pajama pants he wore to class one day last week.

One Phillies fan, College junior Vikra Visch, agreed that a noticeable rivalry has developed on campus.

He described many of his friends who were torn over the current rivalry, with some New Yorkers feeling alienated by the local Phillies pride.

“But it’s really just a fun rivalry,” Visch joked, “Mostly people giving each other a hard time for rep-ing their team’s gear.”

Wharton senior Ryan Taras, however, feels a little differently about the divide.

“I usually hate people who wear Yankees stuff around campus — but especially now more than ever.”

Taras describes the Yankees as a “bandwagon” team for those who move to the city and promptly claim to be fans.

But when it comes to Phillies fans, he describes that many were loyal even before last year’s World Series win — and even through past painful losing seasons.

Such loyalties are clearly emerging on campus. The number of students wearing 2008 Phillies World Champions tee-shirts and embroidered hats has skyrocketed. Similarly, more pin-striped Yankees gear has popped up around campus — although not as overwhelmingly as the Phillies gear.

“They’re the defending champs so obviously they have that added arrogance,” said Katz, before noting that any pre-existing rivalry has only been exacerbated by the fact that the teams are playing for the title.

“Plus,” he added with a laugh, “everyone loves to hate the Yankees.”

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