Who or what do you loathe, and how have your expressed that in 2011?
A simple prompt that the author suggested be taken lightly, so as to step back from the sometimes serious, introspective nature of Reverb11 in general. This means I could possibly answer this in a million ways, but I will narrow it down and indeed have some fun with this.
I loathe the fandom of three specific sports teams, as much as I loathe the teams themselves. The teams are the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Dallas Cowboys, and the New York Yankees.
Notice I say the fandom, and not the fans themselves, though I hate a good share of them as well. But I have friends who cheer for some of these teams, so I won't single out individual people for hate. But the overall concept of fandom for these various packs of assholes? Fair game.
Let's start with "Steeler Nation". I'm not sure what exactly illicits the hatred from within me. The lard-ass bum of a quarterback with questionable sexual proclivities? That ever present shampoo shiller Troy Polamalu with his obnoxious horse mane hairdo? Those ubiquitous rags that are too ugly to use even as emergency toilet paper and yet are treated like Holy Relics? The borderline mass delirium among them which causes them to believe that the Steelers are somehow the only team ever called for penalties, when they actually get away with more penalties than any other team in American history? The endless shifting of responsibility when they get their asses kicked (bad calls, Troy was out)? The Deschapelle Coup of claiming to be better than the world when they win with a backup quarterback, but being the first to blame the back up quarterback if they lose? The insistence, regardless of how they perform in the post season that they are the best franchise in the history of football?
Oh yeah, it's all of those.
I am a Baltimore Ravens fan, and so I find all of it particularly loathsome. Yet if you know football you know you don't have to root for Baltimore in order to hate the Steelers. Because the Steelers are worthy of hate. A hate they claim to welcome and love, but whine and bitch about. They complain incessantly the minute anybody expresses even the slightest bit of contempt or criticism of their team, their plays, their front office, Mike Tomlin, Heinz Field, or anything remotely connected to any of the above. For a team that loves to be hated, they sure do a lot of bitching when the trash talk comes their way.
I expressed this loathing this year by talking up on Facebook how Baltimore swept them this season. I may in the future express this by buying a terrible towel to use as that cloth everyone needs to tie around a slightly leaky pipe somewhere in the house.
Now let's talk about the Dallas Cowboys. A team I hated before I even watched football, because growing up in Maryland, you have to hate the Cowboys. It started with the idea that they are Washington's arch rivals, even though I don't pay much attention to the Redskins anymore. But the arrogance of the franchise, even when their record is dismal, keeps the hate alive.
There have been billionaires more arrogant, unpleasant, and weasel-like than Jerry Jones...but not many. The man acts like the world owes him another Super Bowl. An arrogance that carries over into the team's unsubstantiated and vilified nickname "America's Team". Few things that are American bare any resemblance to anything so Texan as the Dallas Cowboys.
Making it worse is the fact that the largest population outside of Dallas of jackasses rooting for the Cowboys can be found in Washington, D.C. and surrounding areas. Natives of this geographical location. Meaning of course that 90% of "authentic" Cowboys sports bars nestled into the suburbs of Silver Spring, Maryland and other such places consist purely of people that chose a football team specifically for the purpose of giving the middle finger to everyone around them. They didn't come from Dallas, have nobody in Dallas, and no plans to move anywhere near Dallas. They root for the Cowboys because more than they love football they love to cause trouble, get into bar fights, and scream at the top of their longs, "I'm independent, rugged, and individualistic! I root for Dem Cowboys even in the shadow of FedEx field and I am proud of it!"
Kind of like the guy with the really loud motorcycle that blasts through small towns rattling windows is proud of his "masculinity". No compensation being made there. I expressed this loathing this year by giving the New York Giants a standing ovation when they blocked Dallas' final field goal in week 14, handing them a much deserved loss.
Finally, we have the Bronx Bastards, I mean, the Bronx Bombers. The New York Yankees. I loathe everything about them, and I don't even watch baseball.
Yankee fans also have a touch of the Steeler Nation, Love/Hate relationship with being hated. They claim they love the insults but can't ever keep their mouths shut about them. They strut about claiming they do their talking on the field, but fans wouldn't shut up about defending their team if the ghost of Babe Ruth himself showed up and told them to put a sock in it.
They thrive on how much other teams hate them, but anything I have written here in this column would get me murdered in New York, and will probably illicit nasty comments here on the blog. That's because try as they may to be "too talented to care", nothing gets up a Yankee fan's ass quicker than simply saying something like, "Piss on the Yankees." If violence doesn't ensue, a loud, bloated, rambling, borderline incoherent defense of all things that have ever or will ever come out of New York City will follow. (As though the totality of New York itself is encapsulated best, and exclusively by one of two baseball teams within its borders.)
I actually stopped being friends with a guy who turned the fact that I hate the Yankees into the fact that I wouldn't have to if I ever knew what it was like to take pride in where I lived. That only those from New York City can know what it is to love a city immersed in culture, history, and some of the greatest parades in all of the post-World War II era. And of course, better than all of that, they have the Yankees.
I'd pay money to be present when such people tell citizens of Boston they have no idea what it is like to love a city, and embrace its history and culture. Let them then tell people in Chicago. In Los Angeles. Or any number of I don't know, hundreds of cities anywhere on earth. Yankee fans, you love your city and your ball team. This makes you somehow unique in the world? You haven't even been World Champions in two years, and you claim superiority over not only all other teams, but all other cities? If your team is that great and you love to be insulted so much, why not convert some of that energy into explaining the choke for which your team has been so famous the last few years? Sounds like some people are a little insecure.
Especially when we go back further than two years ago. Yankee fans are the biggest legacy whores in the history of professional sports. No matter how often you watch Jeter choke the team right out of the post-season, I have to hear some New Yorker spew off about how many times the Yankees have won the world series lifetime. How nobody has won more titles than they have all together. How yeah, they may be watching this year, (and last year's) World Series on TV, but how many times has any other team won five championships in a row? Zing!
My response? How many times have the Yankees achieved such a feat since Ike left the White House? Answer: zero. More than half of the Yankees who were part of that dynasty are now dead. How long do you get to claim any kind of team superiority on the backs of men who were in their prime before color television was available? If you want to play that card, on behalf of Maryland, I claim the Orioles superior, because when they were a minor league team, they had on their roster none other than Babe Ruth.
But I will cut you some slack, Yankee Nation. Tell me about the last time your team just went back to back as World Series victors. What's that? You say that last happened when the Y2K bug was a news story?
All that matters to most people is what the team did this year. And if you are anything but a Yankee or Ranger fan, you congratulate the Cardinals this year for winning one of the biggest come back World Series victories in history. If you are a Yankee fan, you stand there the minute the Yankees are eliminated from contention, accuse the world of being intimidated by your team's non-existent swagger, and count off on your fingers:
"Hey, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, Roger Maris, Reggie Jackson..."
When they finish listing 20 minutes later they will say something tot he effect of; "They will be remembered for all time. Who the Cards got ? Nobody will be talking about them in 50 years."
Yeah, and nobody will be listening to you trying to win today's argument by talking up the 1950 ALCS. Fuget about it. Your team not only has choked more than once in recent years, but is filled with some of the most unpleasant athletes in all of baseball.
I of course only hate them because they win, right Yankee fans? Even though I don't hate the 2011 World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals anymore than I hate the 2010 World Series Champion San Francisco Giants. I don't hate teams because they win. I hate them because they are staffed with jerks who console themselves after their teams latest choke job by trying to convince each other that legacy, name, and "swagger" are more important to anybody than winning the whole thing. They're not, and never will be.
I expressed this loathing earlier this year by, as I said, deleting a colleague right off of my Facebook, after it would seem he had to focus on a jealousy within me that simply wasn't there. He invented it to have something to attack me with, because defending the New York Yankees of this generation was, it would seem, too difficult a task.
So there you have it. Some things I loathe and how I expressed same in 2011. The author was right; I did have fun with that.