When people around Boston start mocking the rest of the sports world by saying "the Patriots have the biggest title drought in town!", it's only a matter of time before people who have the misfortune of being from somewhere other than New England get a bit angry.
"A bit angry" might be a slight understatement in describing Philadelphia Inquirer columnist John Gonzalez, who is not from Boston and is very, very upset about that fact.
The headline of this story highlighted a few colorful words that Gonzalez uses to describe Boston sports fans, but narrowing the list to just three was a tall task.
"They've gotten out of control, these Boston fans," he wrote. "Whatever humility Bostonians had was long ago traded for some of those giant 'We're No. 1' foam fingers and a slew of omnipresent smug smiles."
That wasn't enough, though, as Gonzalez had to start using polysyllabic words which required most of us to grab a dictionary and do some old-fashioned book learning.
"The people in Boston have become obnoxious, arrogant, condescending. And those are just my friends up there," he said. "The rest are worse, an openly supercilious lot who never hesitate to tell you exactly how good they have it."
Super silly? Come on, that's a low blow, man. We take things seriously around here.
"Their gloating is insufferable," he continues, adding that Boston is "overrun with smarmy, self-satisfied fans." For this, he blames the media, which has fed "saccharine platitudes" to the fans for years. Again with the fancy words? We're sports fans, not rocket scientists here.
Indeed, the Patriots have won three Super Bowls since 2001, and yes, the Red Sox have won two World Series … and the Celtics have won a title (their 17th, which is, by the way, a lot) … and even the Bruins are getting in on the fun. Hell, if you really wanted to, you could throw in a couple of national championships in ice hockey for Boston College and another for Boston University in the past four years. Even the Boston Militia, the well-known, highly publicized women's tackle football team that plays its games in Somerville, capped off an undefeated, championship season last year. (They dominated, too, beating their playoff opponents by a combined score of 93-13. Take that, New York.)
Yes, it's indisputable fact that Boston has been a breeding ground for winners since the turn of the century, and the media was wrong to record that on front pages and radio airwaves. The day after the Bruins won the Stanley Cup, the headlines should have been, "Boston hadn't won a Cup in 39 years, and the fans shouldn't be happy about that." City of Champions? Seems like we're overlooking that 2002 Patriots season, aren't we?
Now, the opinion of Gonzalez shouldn't be dismissed all that easily. Quite the contrary. If anyone can be deemed an expert on obnoxious fans, it would be someone working in Philadelphia, the land of the D batteries and J.D. Drew. A place where a courtroom was built within the walls of the football stadium, to help deal with all the non-obnoxious fans in Philly. A glowing land of sports purity, where the hometown fans still cheer for Hall of Famers, even if they play for the other team. Granted, that's only when said player is Michael Irvin, lying motionless on the turf, as paramedics bring a stretcher onto the field, but facts are facts. They cheered.
Yes, perhaps fans of Boston sports should not read the Inquirer column and get upset. Instead, they should write Mr. Gonzalez a thank you letter.
Thank you for the lesson on grace. It was awfully nice of you to help us out. You shouldn't have.
No really, you shouldn't have.
No doubt, as thousands of Red Sox fans filter into Citizens Bank Park this week, they will all be met by more folks like you, folks who are so willing to drop what they're doing in order to help us become better people.
In all seriousness, getting ripped as "obnoxious" or "arrogant" or "supersomethingious" comes with winning. It happened to Cowboys fans in the '90s. Yankees fans, too. It's different in Boston, though, because few cities have seen all four of their teams win so many championships in such a short time. (Still fewer have seen that plus a women's tackle football championship.)
Ask any fan in Boston if he'd rather stop watching rolling rallies through the city or just have to continue to deal with some petty complaints about his attitude. A little newspaper column down in Philly? 'Tis but a minor speed bump on the victory tour that is known as being a Boston sports fan in the 21st century.
It's been a fun ride, and there's not a soul who should ever apologize for enjoying it.