For this story, we might as well start at the beginning or, in this case, two beginnings.
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart is my favorite show on television and, in fact, one of my favorite things in general, along with the Philadelphia Phillies, the Phanatic and the tough but fair managing style of Ryne Sandberg.
So torn might have been the best word to describe my feelings when Stewart opened not one but two shows “attacking” Phillies’ icons Sandberg and the Phanatic, calling the best mascot in baseball a “Jim Henson reject” and saying Sandberg’s stomach had been so corrupted by Philly Cheesesteaks that he could not appreciate a Citi Field Shake Shack burger.
The reason the subject made the show in the first place was because Sandberg—and the Mets’ Lucas Duda—claimed that he got sick on a Shake Shack burger.
For some reason, a lot of Philadelphia fans were offended. They should not have been because it is not called “comedic license” for nothing. New York Mets’ fan Stewart has a license to say funny stuff, even funny stuff he doesn’t really believe in, because he’s a comedian. Stewart’s rant against Philadelphia, the city, Sandberg, the manager and even Philadelphia cream cheese was knowingly insincere and Stewart was laughing all the way through it. The first night he attacked the Phanatic and Sandberg and, on the following show, he opened with an apology that was even more funny than the last one. Watching him, you really get the feeling part of him admires the Phanatic, Philadelphia–his wife is from the area–and Sandberg.
The fact that Philadelphia, the Phillies and the Phanatic made the opening only says Stewart is paying attention and imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, even if it comes at the expense of a few knowingly insincere insults.