Monday, April 21, 2008

Bill Simmons, and damned if I'm not gonna get on a soapbox.

I've had a hard time finding hate in my heart for Bill Simmons. It might be because I'm a Red Sox fan, but I've never found his shtick as vile as a lot of other people. I don't deny that he talks ad nauseam about Boston teams; it's just that that's his deal. He's not a national writer. He's a lame, local writer on a national site. You know what you're likely to get from him every week--just don't read it.

Allllllllll that said...today's column is horrible. He is openly and proudly declaring his bandwagon fan status, which I don't hate in and of itself. The bothersome part is that he tries to pass it off as a protest, and he just comes off as stupid. Here we go:

It starts with a sob story about how growing up a Brooooooooons fan was tough, what with Les Habs toying with them year-in, year-out. Then this:

So that's what I grew up with: The Canadiens beating the Bruins. We were the nail and they were the hammer. Nothing ever changed. When I graduated college and realized I had spent two solid decades of my life rooting for a franchise that cared about making a profit more than winning a Stanley Cup, that's the only way I was able to dump the Canadiens from my life -- by not following the sport as diligently. Once the Devils unveiled their hideous zone trap and Gary Bettman tried to turn a blue-collar sport into "NBA 2.0," it was an easy decision to cut the cord entirely. The Bruins would always be like family to me, but I wasn't interested in following them again until the team was sold. Honestly, I didn't feel like I was missing much.


Uh-huh. Also, the Bruins won 2 playoff series and 3 division titles between 1992 and this year. That didn't factor in at all? I mean, yeah, the Devils play "boring" hockey. The thing is, that's the fucking Devils. You were explaining why you got bored of the Bruins. The one valid reason he gives is that he wanted the team to be sold. My general impression is that Jeremy Jacobs is a terrible owner, and this sorta backs that up. So as a weird sort of protest against a bad owner, I guess ignoring the team miiiiiiiiiiight be valid. The thing is, the damn team hasn't been sold. It's still Jacobs running the show. The difference this year is, um, playoff success. Witness:

and even though I couldn't have named five Bruins, I found myself flicking over to Versus for Game 1 just because I enjoyed seeing the uniforms so much...But it wasn't until Game 3 that I found myself getting hooked -- not for the excitement of the games as much as the ignominy of Montreal fans infiltrating Whatever-The-Hell-The-Garden-Is-Called-Now and cheering on the visiting Habs.


Uhhhhhhh-huh. Also, that was the first game of the series the Bruins won. I repeat, That didn't factor in at all?

It was an exceptionally well-played game, and when you remember that five of the best Bruins are 22 or younger, it seemed like the team was coming together.

Wait. You...you can't name 5 guys on the team, I thought. But you know their ages?

At some point during all of this, I found myself getting attached to one of the young Bruins -- Milan Lucic, a 19-year-old winger out of the Cam Neely mold who skates around with one of those threatening, wild-eyed "You looking at me? Did you just look at me? DON'T F------ LOOK AT ME!" glares.

Oh I see. You're making the world's easiest comparison, made by probably 130000000 people before you, to try to reinforce the fact that "hey guys, I really did like them once, for real!" and you're trying to get in touch with the current team to not appear like an uninformed ass. But it's not working. Bill, we get it. You didn't like the team when they were bad. You like them now that they appear to be good. Leave it at that.


Quick story: Only a few months ago, an L.A. friend e-mailed a couple of us asking if we wanted to hit the Bruins-Kings game with him that night. Apparently, he had fantastic seats right on the boards. I remember e-mailing him back and joking that the seats could have been on the Bruins' bench and I wouldn't have gone. They were dead to me. They were. Flash-forward to the moment right after Game 6 ended -- I called my father and he answered the phone, "I knew it, you're back on the bandwagon!" Needless to say, he's one of the few who never really left. We babbled excitedly about the game for a few minutes, talked some hockey and hung up, just like old times.

Oh. Well, at least he seems self-aware.

In conclusion...I don't really care about "bandwagon" fans. As a fairly long-time Sox fan (sorry to reference them twice) at school in Boston, I've seen a ridiculous influx of new fans, especially following last year. And, in all honesty, not a single one of their pink-hatted, Papelbon-jigging, Ellsbury-lusting appearances on the "bandwagon" has precluded me from liking a Sox win. Nor are "bandwagon" people somehow less deserving of being happy about a win (though I do think fans who deal with shitty lows probably end up happier when their team wins). They actually might be more rational than "true" fans, because they only get the ups. So no, I don't really mind that Bill Simmons is hopping back on the B's train. But:

a)He tries to come off as informed, and ends up sounding like me talking about Premiership soccer/football (this guy Ronaldo...he seems pretty good!).
b)He tries to justify his previous lack-of-caring by saying he was protesting until the team was sold...but the team wasn't sold, and yet he cares again. He's lying.
c)He seems like the type of guy who would sneer at someone for writing this same column about the Celtics or Red Sox. Admittedly, this is complete and total guessing on my part. But I don't think I'm completely being unfair.

For these reasons, the article sucks shit.

Update: In bold like it's crucial late-breaking news or something. I already put this in the comments, but whatever. Anyway, I was feeling sorta bad about point c) at the end there--what with it being all speculative and all--until Master Doubt-Queller djmmm reminded me of Simmons' "rules for being a true real born-and-bred chest-thumping sports fan" column thing. And sho'nuf:

Also, you can't start rooting for a team, back off when they're in a down cycle, then renew the relationship once the team starts winning again. All those Cowboys fans who jumped off the bandwagon in the late-'80s, jumped back on during the Emmitt/Aikman Era, then jumped back off in the late-'90s ... you know who you are. You shouldn't even be allowed out in public.

(There's nothing worse than a Bandwagon Jumper. If sports were a prison and sports fans made up all the prisoners, the Bandwagon Jumpers would be like the child molesters -- everyone else would pick on them, take turns beating them up and force them to toss more salads than Emeril Lagasse.)

Well, Bill, if you want to make that connection...your readership's collective asshole ain't gonna lick itself.

Ugh, one last update: Same good fan article thing, Bill says this:

Once you choose a team, you're stuck with that team for the rest of your life ... unless one of the following conditions applies:
...
The owner of your favorite team treated his fans so egregiously over the years that you couldn't take it anymore -- you would rather not follow them at all then support a franchise with this owner in charge. Just for the record, I reached this point with the Boston Bruins about six years ago. When it happens, you have two options: You can either renounce that team and pick someone else, or you can pretend they're dead, like you're a grieving widow. That's what I do. I'm an NHL widow. I don't even want to date another team.

So to his credit (I guess?), he'd voiced the owner-complaint thing earlier, which as I said seems sorta valid. The issue still is, though, that the team hasn't been sold; he's a "widow" only as long as the team sucks.

Anyway, this is by far enough of this business.

6 comments:

Archie Micklewhite said...

The only time bandwagon fans pissed me off was when a random fellow collegian castigated me for "Not supporting the local team" during the Sox World Series run.

She's...she's from New Jersey.

Djmmm said...

Hasn't Simmons ripped bandwagon fans himself in a number of his silly ass "Rules" columns?

Chris W said...

If you're bored by a team's failure you have an obligation to be bored by their success.

Hence I will always half-heartedly and half-heartedly only root for the Bulls and Blackhawks, even if they mount a cinderella story championship run

Archie Micklewhite said...

Black...hawks?

Chris, I believe you'll find Chicago's hockey team is called the Wolves.

Passive Voice said...

I didn't know we could link in the comments! Yowza!

And Djmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm, I hope you're right, because I felt I was sort of reaching on that last point.

Passive Voice said...

Niiiiiiiiiiiiiice:

"Also, you can't start rooting for a team, back off when they're in a down cycle, then renew the relationship once the team starts winning again. All those Cowboys fans who jumped off the bandwagon in the late-'80s, jumped back on during the Emmitt/Aikman Era, then jumped back off in the late-'90s ... you know who you are. You shouldn't even be allowed out in public.

(There's nothing worse than a Bandwagon Jumper. If sports were a prison and sports fans made up all the prisoners, the Bandwagon Jumpers would be like the child molesters -- everyone else would pick on them, take turns beating them up and force them to toss more salads than Emeril Lagasse.)"


http://proxy.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=simmons/020227

I feel better now. It's a shitty column for three solid reasons now.