The word “fan” comes from the word “fanatic” and there’s very little good about the definition in there:
a person with an extreme and uncritical enthusiasm or zeal, as in religion or politics.
Or sports, as the case may be.
Last week, I wrote about the idiot who threw a banana at Wayne Simmonds, an action viewed as racist or stupid or both. The guy, Chris Moorhouse, has been arrested andhas pleaded to absolute stupidity, noting that the banana was merely a fruit of convenience.
This week, I finally got the chance to see“Catching Hell” the ESPN documentary on Steve Bartman and the 2003 Chicago Cubs. Bartman’s infamous grab at a foul ball became the focal point of fans’ scorn and rage, as the Cubs booted away yet another chance at breaking the Curse of the Billy Goat.
I was working that night in 2003 and managed to see just a brief glimpse of what had happened. In reviewing our coverage years later, Bartman wasn’t but a footnote. The headline instead read “Crazy 8s,” playing on the idea that the eighth inning was a mess in which the Marlins scored eight runs.
In watching this documentary, I finally figured out what made people so nuts: It was the uncontrollable urge to be fans. It was the sense that because it was “their” team and “their” World Series on the line, it was fine for them to cast out the pariah who cost them everything.
The documentary never talks to Bartman, which I think was a good thing. I hope he’s found peace and quiet somewhere safe and that this movie finally lays to rest the obsession with him. I doubt it, as people didn’t forgive Bill Buckner until the Red Sox won the World Series. As an interesting side note, when those “loveable losers” from Boston missed the playoffs this year after winning not one but TWO World Series rings in eight years, the push is on to fire manager Terry Francona. This is the same guy who could have become governor of any of the six New England states after 2004 or 2007.
Fans can be fickle.
They can also be brutal, firing off their salvo of anger at anyone with the temerity to speak ill of their team. I’ve been a victim of this when it came to the Tribe and their run at the post season. Bobby Valentine, whom the Indians had passed over for manager, was doing color commentary on a Tigers/Tribe game on ESPN when he noted the Tribe wasn’t good enough to make the playoffs. At this point, people were healthy, the pitching was great and the team had a couple game lead in the division. I was cursing and muttering and changing channels. I went so far as to mute the game, although that didn’t last long. Still, that was the privacy of my own home.
Bills fans have a different way of approaching their bile: it’s called Voicemail.
Jennifer Gish of the Albany Times Union wrote about the Bills’ 2-0 start in a way that wasn’t “Go, Bills, GO!”and found herself on the back end of some ugliness. As a fan (not of the Bills), I can understand why fans would be pissed off by Gish’s column. It’s written in a mocking tone, it tells the fans to “keep it real” and it essentially pokes the bear.
Do I think she was unfair in telling the fans the 2-0 start is probably fool’s gold? No.
Do I think she approached in a smart or well-written way? No.
Did she deserve what came next? Hell no.
The fans posted her picture everywhere and made debating her sexuality, her “square jaw and pig-faced nose” and her “moustache” a trending topic in Bills land. They then took to the phone lines to rip the holy shit out of her. As you can imagine, being a woman in sports isn’t easy, but these fans felt it necessary to give her a gentle reminder of that:
So how does it feel to be both a woman and so wrong about football? I guess those two go hand in hand.
F*** yourself ya stupid C***, Go Bills!
seen some photos of you and you are as ugly as your story about we bills fans. we may lose, we may win but you will still be ugly either way.
YOU SUCK DONKEY D***! That’s why females shouldn’t be allowed to write articles about sports. You better not write a good article about the Bills now because then everyone will know that you really just a dumb, bandwagon slut.
I am a well educated, compassionate, thoughtful, and caring man. I still am after reading your article, but my response will not be erudite or clever; that I promise you.
Simply put, f*** you you stupid, arrogant, thoughtless b****, and stick all of your snide Bills comments up your a** …
Well great prediction! Maybe your article will help get women like you removed from sports media. You are incompetent and really offered no unique points that haven’t already been beaten to death in the past ten years in your tirade against the bills. Glad they could prove a hack borderline blogger like you wrong.
Maybe you should stay in the kitchen next time.
Nothing like the “class” of a fan. Of course these came via voicemail, which unlike email can’t be easily tracked back to these proud, strong men who call themselves fans.
As for me, I plan to lock myself in my basement Saturday. The Badgers play Nebraska and the Brewers kick off the series against Arizona for a shot at the NLCS. I might get radiation burns from my TV by the time all is said and done.
And yes, I will curse and scream and wail. I might also cheer and cry if things go well.
Emotion is part of being a fan. It’s just hard when those emotions are the wrong ones.