By Andy Lindberg
I’ve always been a keen observer on how fans interact with their own teams. Philadelphia Eagles fans are belligerent and Phillies fans puke on children, New York Yankees fans don’t understand what happens if the team doesn’t make the playoffs, but Chicago Cubs fans don’t understand what happens if the Cubs do make the playoffs, and Pittsburgh Pirate fans like to feign sadness, but are secretly stoked their beer prices are among the lowest in professional sports.
Boston fans hate and hate stupidly without information and thinking.
I’m no prince, I’ve hated moronically before on my teams and I’m more than a little ashamed. You can hear it on the phone calls to local radio stations, begging for releases and trades of players that have annoyed them the previous evening. Fans begging for the next hot prospect or rookie to be given a shot when that prospect or rookie is nowhere near ready. Fans living in the land of “what if?”
I have been raised a cynic. I am inherently designed to assume the worst. The New England Patriots and Boston Red Sox squads of the ‘90’s taught me that. Sox have the bases loaded with no outs? Strand city. Pats are inside the five, second and goal, down by four? Sack lunch, followed by a fumble at the one. Many confuse this for hate. No, it’s not hate. Active hating requires much more vehement anger and effort. Being a cynic is just sitting back in acceptance until proven correct or, to my excitement, proven wrong. I’m not calling for the running back that fumbled to be drawn and quartered. Even Barry Sanders fumbled. In fact, he did it 41 times. How are we to judge what is best for our teams without looking at a collective body of work?
Over the first decade of this millennium, I have slowly emerged from the cynical ashes and have emerged, for better or worse, as cautiously optimistic. That is, I am just optimistic enough for it to aggravate me when one of my teams loses, but not optimistic enough for it to warrant hitting a bottle.
In the past decade I have seem my Patriots win three Super Bowl Championships, The Red Sox win two World Series titles, and the Alabama Crimson Tide run through the toughest conference in college football to win a National Championship. I have also watched the Boston Celtics win an NBA title, even though the NBA is a joke and their disgusting attempts to get LeBron James and Kobe Bryant to play each other in an NBA Finals disturbs me as a casual viewer.
See? That’s some NBA hate for you right there, in case you were wondering where the emergence to hatred begins.
But what is the point of actively throwing hate at your own teams? It makes no sense. I understand the Bruins have poor puck control, and that half the time J.D. Drew swings and misses like Nancy Drew, but as a group of Boston fans, we’re too quick to hate. We seem to forget Drew’s $14million grand slam and the fact that he’s been remarkably similar to Trot Nixon, the man he replaced, in only half the time of Nixon’s tenure in Boston. I understand it’s the paycheck that galls us as fans, but we’re not writing the checks, ownership is. If you want to whine about how it’s your money that goes to these overpaid jock-scratchers, don’t go to the games.
I understand Tyler Seguin didn’t do what you wanted, but he’s a 19-year-old kid in his first year in professional hockey. Throwing hate at him or Claude Julien doesn’t change the fact that working Seguin the way he was worked during the first year was probably best for the kid’s future in Black and Gold.
The one player who received more hate than any other player I can recall is former New England Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe. Patriot fans gave Bledsoe a raw deal. Without Bledsoe, there would be no New England Patriot franchise. Literally, the Pats were on the verge of complete relocation if the team didn’t improve. That pressure rested on the shoulders of Bledsoe, drafted by the team after a [2-14] campaign. Bledsoe responded, leading his team to a Super Bowl in 1996 only to see his star running back Curtis Martin get signed to the Jets and lose his head coach in the process.
After the emergence of Tom Brady in 2001, the Patriots were flying high and had to play the Steelers in the AFC championship game. Brady went down. So Bledsoe, relegated to backup, came in and immediately tossed a touchdown pass to David Patten in the back of the end zone for a 14-3 halftime lead. It was the only passing TD of the game and Bledsoe threw for 102 yards in relief. Without Bledsoe coming in, the Patriots probably don’t win the game and the face of the franchise could have been altered to this day.
Boston fans, look at the big picture. Before you throw hate around look at logical options. The stud is not always available and in most cases, makes no sense to pursue them. Instant gratification is not applicable more often than not.
Most importantly, you make the good fans of Boston who live and die with their teams and support them wholly look like douches. I don’t like being given a bad name, and other real fans don’t either.
So don’t hate, appreciate.
And there’s nothing wrong with hating on the other team. Common knowledge.