Sports

Chris Christie, Who Is Still Governor of New Jersey: "Phillies Suck"

"They're from Philadelphia, they're an awful team, they're an angry, bitter fanbase," the former Presidential candidate told a panel of, uh, suited men on SNY.
February 16, 2017, 5:00pm

You follow current events, and so you know that we are existing in a place far beyond "never." We are beyond everything, we are someplace we'd never really even bothered dreaming about. We are certainly in a place where the idea of eternal impossibility does not exist. There is nothing that could not happen, there is no outcome that can be relied upon with absolute certainty either to occur or not to occur. We soak in this, we push through it on the way to work and sort through it every day. And so while it is tempting to say that Chris Christie's career as a politician is over—after he was blown off the stage by a larger and louder specimen of authoritarian bullfrog in the Republican Presidential primaries, after he spent the rest of the campaign orbiting that conqueror like a dour satellite of humiliation, after a record 77 percent of New Jersey voters said they disapproved of his performance in the job he still somehow has as governor—it also feels risky.

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So here is a safer thing to say about Chris Christie: his next act is more likely to involve issuing brash and over-certain opinions about sports on radio or television than another successful run for elected office. This is not just because only 19 percent of New Jersey voters approved of the job he is doing as of December of last year, although most political analysts would likely consider that sub-optimal. It's more because Christie, in the sort of working retirement that he's made of his last years as New Jersey's governor, has seemed a lot more interested in holding forth on sports than he has on, say, getting rid of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The ease with which Christie has taken to that work, in his work as a substitute co-host on WFAN's "Boomer and Carton" morning show, or in a queasy on-air flirt-session with Mike Francesa, or in his appearances on SNY on Thursday, suggests that maybe he should have been doing this all along.

About those SNY appearances. In one, Christie discusses his lifelong Mets fandom and is polished and even a little charming in the way of someone who has spent a lot of time telling the same stories to ballrooms full of balding boosters and partisans. In the other, a tongue-in-cheek segment called "Let's Overreact," Christie responds to the Philadelphia Phillies' accidentally poignant appropriation of "Ya Gotta Believe," the rallying cry of Mets icon Tug McGraw, who later went on to become Phillies icon Tug McGraw. It sparked one of those stagy Twitter skirmishes between the Phillies' and Mets' team accounts earlier this week; it is not really the sort of thing that anyone cares about very much. But when he got the prompt to overreact, Christie turned on the wind machine with, again, the polish of someone who has 10,000 hours of practice at belittling public school teachers from behind a podium.

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"The Phillies suck," Christie barks, with a tone of breathy disbelieving faux-umbrage that is perfectly sports radio and which does little to conceal his delight. "Let's just start with that, OK? They're from Philadelphia, they're an awful team, they're an angry, bitter fanbase. And it's not safe for civilized people to go to Citizens Bank Park if they want to cheer for the other team. You gotta believe what? You gotta believe we're awful people." It went over pretty well.

There's a little bit of accidental Buster Bluth-y overage to Christie's rampage, and a faint waft of displaced and long-stewed catharsis, but, again, the guy is not bad at this. That's not to say he's exactly good, but this is not really a good thing that he's doing. It's just that he's doing it well.

"You guys are going to be ducking cheesesteaks for the rest of your careers," a panelist says to Christie and former Mets beat writer Andy Martino, after both have finished kicking around the Phillies and their fans.

"Already am, buddy," Christie says. "Already am. Don't worry about it." Here on the page, those words look like they have some pathos in them. Out loud, it's pure, rancid sports radio gold. After every slapstick debasement, self-inflicted and otherwise, Chris Christie might have found his level, and his calling. Or, anyway, I'd never rule it out.

UPDATE: The Philadelphia Phillies have seen the segment, and have responded on Twitter:

We love our fans and appreciate their unwavering support as we 'bridge' to a bright future!

— Phillies (@Phillies)February 16, 2017

More proof that no one generates traffic quite like Governor Chris Christie.