Monday, February 04, 2008

Class Dismissed

"...why are fans of New England teams so reviled?" a commenter at twoglasses asks. I posted a long-ass answer that I'll reprise here, but really boils down to three words...

Because they're dicks.

Seriously? It IS because they're dicks, but it's a more complex story than that. Fans in New England no longer no their place, and it's due to success. they've become the equivalent of the "ugly American."

I grew up in Connecticut—among the Sox-Yanks border wars. My dad was a Red Sox fan (but, ironically a Giants fan), and I was actually taught how to score a baseball game by my grandmother of all people. My grandfather was actually featured on local television after the 2004 World Series as one of those fans who never thought they'd live to see the Sox win again.

Because of that background, I think I'm a bit more old-school than typical fans these days. A little less emotional, a little more reserved. Particularly in trying to be somewhat gracious in victory—at least NOT being a complete prick.

I always thought Fenway Park contained the superior fan. I went to school in NY and lived for years in NYC and that conclusion was borne out of years of experience. Yankee fans in Boston were treated to more or less good-natured ribbing, while Sox fans in NY should fear for their safety (or at least their laundry).

As the Yankees latest dynasty took shape, that dynamic changed. Sox fans became bitter. Ugly. While in NY, perhaps watered down by bandwagon-jumpers, Yankee fans seemed to be able to relax, rise above. I suppose that's easy(ier) when you win every freaking year. But I could sit in box seats, upper deck, wherever in the Bronx wearing a visitors cap or jersey and it seemed to be no big deal.

To be clear, I fucking HATED Yankee fans when I lived in NY, and much of that city's phony embrace of the team drove me nuts.

Meanwhile, in Boston, it was different. After losing the ALCS in 2003 in the Aaron Boone game, I was positively despondent. I didn't know if I could ever watch again. I caused me to reassess. How important is this shit? But to other fans, it was like losing to Bush in 2004. Anger and hate built. Boiled over. Winning the World Series in 2004 was a fantastic, cathartic moment in my life. Much of the country seemed along for the ride, it was great. But too many fans in New England (Boston particularly) reacted with a classless, jeering "in your face!" attitude.

Celebrate? Sure. Talk shit to and about the team that has handed you your ass repeatedly throughout history ? Not so much. Not for eternity anyway. But that's what they did. And I find it ugly. So, apparently, does everybody else.

As for the Pats, this was just happening on an exponential level, because the success was that much greater. Unlike my hereditary Sox fandom, my affection for the Pats was entirely self-installed. And for years it sucked. That gave me perspective. I was there on the way up—freezing my ass off on a fucking metal bench as plucky Bledsoe-led teams vanquished dragons... Each year going a little bit further... For Brady's emergence...

But as Bill Simmons observed, the "fun kid" Tom Brady has been replaced by a Belichicked android—a perfect fucking emotionless Terminator on the field, who removed suspense from games, and off-field, a guy who gets chicks pregnant and leaves for the next supermodel—in short, a douche. The kind of guy who deserves disdain, and if he were not a good-looking white guy, would probably get some. I find it hard to get behind that guy. He's not a lunchpail quarterback like Steve Grogan, or even Bledsoe (by comparison) or a likable character like Big Ben or Romo—he's a pretty boy fashion model. He's probably even a Republican.

Doing the salary cap league with the guys at twoglasses this season was another eye-opener. The Pats are in many ways like fantasy team to me now. No longer human. And as this "perfect" season wore on I tired of the hype.

But the assholes in Boston reveled in it.

So it is that the Patriots have become the team that New England fans always liked to hate—the dynasty, the favorite. And the New England fans were graceless in that role because they are not accustomed to it. And when something like yesterday happens, the schadenfreude is like a damn tsunami for the rest of the country.


steves said...

Brady claims to be an independent, but also admits listening to the audio book of Clinton's biography.

angie said...

Michigan fan weighing in here (remember Brady is an alum). Supposedly, he and Bridget broke up and THEN she found out she was pregnant. He had been with for 3 it's not like he babe hops. Just have to stick up for him. Believe me, if I thought he was a total scum bag about his treatment of women, I would not defend him (UM QB or not).

Mike said...

Good post, Furious. Especially the '03/'04 Sox part.