As a GRITS (that's Girl Raised In The South, obviously), sometimes it's hard living up here in cloudy, cold Philadelphia. Philadelphians are not usually mean, but they are certainly loud and blunt. It is indeed not always sunny; but — with the exception of summer months — nearly always windy and misty. Not every restaurant serves Southern or Southern-fusion something (fried chicken tacos, Thai shrimp and grits etc.), a fact especially noticeable since Chick-fil-A fled campus. Sure, life moves faster and people use public transportation, but the vast difference between Yankee Doodle Philadelphia and Sweet Home Atlanta has never been so apparent as the day last week I wore my Braves t-shirt to Citizens Bank Park.

I was told once by a middle-aged man with mustard on his face sitting next to me in Wrigley Field that Atlanta fans were “the worst.” Fair-weather, definitely. Filling a whole stadium, even during post-season, gets difficult when you win the NL East 10 years in a row and are based smack dab in the middle of football country. But the worst fans? No. Atlanta fans don’t harass fans from opposing teams. They don’t pour beer on them. They don’t make misogynist comments about female non-Phillies fans’ appearance. Entire sections don’t stand up and leer at them.

I understand passion for sports. Really, I do. I grew up in a family so obsessed with Southern college football that it makes Thanksgiving (also known as rivalry weekend) a heated affair. I also have friends that live and die with the Braves. But never, never in their life would they continuously offend a fan of the opposing team to the point where the live game is utterly unenjoyable. Fans of opposing teams that have the balls to show up at Philadelphia sporting events in the wrong colors should be respected for the love that they, too, have for whatever sport they’ve chosen to come watch. Passion is passion.

Why the baseball rant? We’ve profiled Phils insider General Council Richard Strouse for our cover story (see page 10). We also have the normal gamut of content — a loosy juicy Gutter (facing page), the Smoke’s bouncers are Ego of the Week (see page 7) and Music has proffered four of their fantasy American Idol judging teams (we love you too baby, Ms. Lois, on page 13). Talk about that good ol’ Southern-style hospitality.

‘til next week, SB