Like any minor league baseball team, the Phillies’ Triple A affiliate Lehigh Valley IronPigs go through roughly fifty or sixty alternative uniforms throughout a season. This year, it was announced fairly early that one of those donned by the ‘Pigs this season would feature their big club city’s most iconic delicacy.
A surprisingly well-acted promotion tells us the switch’s origin: That we exist as part of a multi-verse, and in one of the worlds, the Phillies’ Triple A team is called the “Cheesesteaks” and also Philadelphia has apparently pushed north through the Pennsylvania wild and annexed territory as far as Allentown, which is now under the rule of its empire.
They have been looking forward to this for a long time. It’s pretty clear there’s a whole plan in place being executed right before our very eyes.
Fans were asked to vote on whether they were “wit” or “witout,” which would determine the hat the team would wear on the field during the game. “Wit or witout” is a Philadelphia colloquialism that separates the fine, upstanding cheesesteak consumers who don’t pollute their meal with a toxic vegetable, and the animals who wait in line to ruin their steak by sprinkling the rankest bounty our planet produces on top of their 3 a.m. feeding.
The IronPigs have made up their own rules on the matter.
“‘Wit’ makes you the fun one.”
“‘Witout’ does not equal boring. It pays homage to the tradition.”
It’s not clear how well this reflects the philosophy of the cheesesteak’s origins. Those of us who were raised in the Philadelphia region know the story quite well; that Ben Franklin came up with the concept after stealing it from the husband of a woman with whom he was having an open affair, dubbed it a “Franklin Meat Cake,” and then whistled on down the road to his next innovation. Taking advantage of the natural grease pits gurgling just below the surface of Philadelphia’s city streets, modern restaurateurs tap into the near limitless resource every day to serve Franklin’s creation at varying levels of quality. At least that’s what the grizzled, unlicensed instructors of our one-room school houses taught us.
Regardless, here we are.
The 32-38 Cheesesteaks are in fourth place of the International League’s competitive North division, and feature the likes of prospects J.P. Crawford, Nick Williams, Jake Thompson, Ben Lively, and Zach Eflin, whom we all briefly thought was about to replace Adam Morgan days ago (he wasn’t). Their thoughts on the matter likely range from “What?” to “Oh, another one of these things? God.”