Saturday, February 16, 2008

It's been a while since I've had a Festivus post, by which I mean since I've aired several grievances without benefit of a common theme. But so much has been going on lately that I want to say a little bit about. For instance, I find myself amused by the memory of the voice of Boston sports, even though he lives in LA.

Bill Simmons in yet another mailbag column answered a reader from NY who wrote in to ask:

Can you clarify something for us New Yorkers? The cocky attitude that New England fans carried about the perfect Patriots was suddenly turned into classy responses of "you beat us fair and square," with very few comments like "I hope New York burns in hell." I expected more of the latter. Was your "classiness" just a facade, and have Boston fans exposed themselves as thin once things go south? Or is this more of an Eddie Murphy in "Trading Places" thing where you are a KARATE MAN and get bruised on the inside and don't show your weaknesses? What gives?

Simmons' response reads:

You have to remember, Patriots fans were constantly bristling during the 2001, 2003 and 2004 seasons when opposing players and fans played the "they had no business winning that game," and "maybe they were the winning team, but they weren't the best team" cards. Hence, the "nobody respects us!" angle that was pushed ad nauseum by Patriots players and fans alike. As crazy as this sounds, we believed that 60-minute football games should be used to determine who had the best team, not what "could" have happened or what "should" have happened. (Sorry, everyone from Pittsburgh, St. Louis and Indy.) So when the Giants outplayed the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII, we admitted as much -- we've seen good defense and good coaching topple too many "talented" teams to call that game a fluke.

Also, it's easy to forget this after what happened from 2002 to 2007, but Boston fans are REALLY good at losing heart-wrenching games. We've had tons of practice. It was like Madonna dropping the British accent and the classy mom routine and turning into a slut again. You fall right back into it.

I find that tremendously funny. It seems to me that the Patriots were a seven point favorite when they played Carolina. It also seems to me that the only reason the Panthers managed to play their way to the point where the mighty Pats needed a Vinatieri field goal to win the game was an absolutely awful second half performance by Tom Brady. Even though it is very nearly a Federal offense to question Tom on any aspect of his performance, I still remember him turning the ball over a few times when it could have killed that team.

And then there is the game against the Eagles. The Patriots were also seven point favorites in that game. And they squeaked by on another Vinatieri field goal in part because Donovan McNabb couldn't keep his lunch down for the two minute drill at the end of the game. But as for no one expecting the Pats to win that game, I seem to remember the team had a 19 game win streak stretching from 2003-2004. I don't think they were sneaking up on teams at any point in that run.

But far be it for me to suggest that a man can't remember things in his own fashion in what still passes for a free country. Some Boston fans reacted with a stunning display of class because the epic upset in Arizona was so shocking, it even stopped the instinct to bully that resides at the core of the average Boston fan. And the facility to remember things in a way that never really happened is also one of the key attributes of the citizens of Red Sox and Patriots Nation.

Let's not forget that Red Sox fans have made a life of claiming their fathers, grandfathers and ancestors of remoter degrees were loyal, devoted Red Sox fans to the death. And yet the stadium was less than one-third full when Ted Williams played his final game. And I'm sure 2/3 of that generation of Red Sox fans would gladly have shivved the Splendid Splinter with a sharpened toothbrush to steal his medals and the fillings from his teeth.

I also want to talk a little about the tragedy at Northern Illinois this week. This is another symptom of a fundamental problem with our society. And it's not the fact that guns can be purchased in stores. It's a much deeper problem. After all, guns have been available to Americans since the first settlers landed here from Europe. Twenty years ago, just as many guns were available to just as many people and there wasn't even a waiting period or a Brady Bill.

But this isn't a defense of the gun lobby. It wouldn't bother me terribly if the nation made guns illegal. What I do fear, however, is the knee jerk reaction and a government that overreacts to specific events without addressing their underlying causes. This cat went into an auditorium and killed five people because he was a d-bag with serious emotional problems. So why don't we address the system that creates d-bags with serious emotional problems?

For the last 20 years, some geniuses decided that we had to tell every child that he or she or it is special. Every one who participated in any activity had to be given an award whether they earned it or not. The idea behind this is that self-esteem, self-respect, self-worth or whatever you call it can be instilled, inculcated or imposed from on high. That's not the case, it has to be earned. It's a painful process, and one filled with risks with very little reward. But unless a person experiences it, they have nothing.

No one ever seemed to ask a very simple question - what happens to these kids who never had to develop their own sense of self worth when they leave the relatively safe haven of elementary school and enter the real world? The real world, from middle school on is a harsh place. The real world doesn't give a damn how special you think you are or have been told you are. The real world is an awful, heartless, cold place. And we ought to raise and educate children that can deal with it.

Things just get worse, too. For thousands and thousands of years, the human being evolved into an animal that needs a community. And in the last 15 years, it's become easier, thanks to computers and social networking sites, to make friends in Berlin than it is to have friends in your hometown. I exchanged more words so far today with my college roommate over facebook than I did with my own roommate in my apartment. And people wonder why our society has so many inexplicable problems.

And since this latest tragedy is almost sure to bring Michael Moore out of hiding, I want to throw him in as a random thing I hate. I hate Michael Moore, not because I don't share his politics. God knows, I don't, but I have a lot of close personal friends whose politics I do not share. I hate him because he's a whining, carping fraud.

For instance, in his recent film about the state of health care in this country, Michael Moore spent how much money to whine about the fact that the Federal government doesn't spend enough money to provide universal health care to every American? It seems to me that he could have put that money to better effect paying for health insurance for needy families. Not only that, but he could have done more good and earned himself better PR with normal Americans (as opposed to people like me who would hate him anyway, or the people whose hearts and minds he's already won). But that's just me.

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