That Bootleg Guy's 25 Worst Fans in Sports: Part 1 of 5

Welcome to part one of a five-part feature on The 25 Worst Fans in Sports!

You might remember me from such Inside Pulse sports specials as The Hall of Fame 100 and, well, not much else. But, that piece was one of the most well-received contributions that I’ve ever made to IP and I’ve thought long and hard about how to piss away all the goodwill and engaging emails n’ IMs that the HOF 100 wrought.

What you’ll be reading over the next five days, is the opinion of one rabid sports fan on which teams and athletes have the absolute worst bottom-feeding fans around. Perhaps these are fans of a team who are living too long on past glory that may as well be ancient history. Maybe they’re just plain ignorant of the sport. They could be overbearing and obnoxious, or maybe it’s their indifference that’s annoying.

Whatever qualifies them, you can be sure of two things: One, they deserve to be here and two, you and one of your teams and/or favorite athletes will be seen here, at least once, over the rest of the week.

Sounds like fun? You bet it does, because this is the list you won’t see Summer Sanders or Stuart Scott count down. So, settle in for the next several days and enjoy the ride.

I won’t lie to you”¦this is gonna hurt. We begin our countdown to number one with”¦

#25-San Francisco 49ers Fans

If there are still any fans remaining who support NFL all-time also-rans like the Cincinnati Bengals or the Arizona Cardinals, let the Niners be an abject lesson in how a team’s on-field success can corrupt an entire fanbase.

The unquestioned “Team of the ’80s” was a 2-14 outfit in 1979 before a young Joe Montana finally wrestled away the starting QB job from”¦oh, this can’t be right”¦Steve DeBerg?! Well, now I know how Marty McFly from Back to the Future felt when he discovered that Mr. Strickland was still slapping around slackers back in 1955.

Anyways, Montana teamed with Bill Walsh’s “West Coast Offense” and a dynasty was born. Did you know that the 49ers won Super Bowls XVI, XIX, XXIII, XXIV and XXIX? Well, if you give a San Franciscan six seconds, he’ll tell you himself. Never mind that their last title was 10 years ago, they’ll still hold up five fat fingers to your face, showing off their invisible championship rings that they were not awarded.

These days, the only thing 49er fans have left to say is “at least we’re not the Raiders”. But, with a disgraced former owner in Eddie DeBartolo and, wait for it”¦a 2-14 record in 2004, being the Raiders might be a step up.

#24-Toronto Raptors Fans

Anyone know what the exchange rate for ignorance is? The Association awarded the city of Toronto an NBA expansion franchise back in the early ’90s. You might remember that this was at the height of the city’s only non-hockey heroics in history. Y’see, the Toronto Blue Jays won a World Series or two and Raghib “Rocket” Ismail was lighting up the five feet and under league known as the CFL.

The city’s hard-on for the hardwood was exposed almost immediately at the 1995 NBA Draft. GM Isiah Thomas took his perceived mini-me in Damon Stoudamire, while the simple-minded Skydome crowd (where the draft was being held) booed the selection in favor of phenom-cum-flop Ed O’Bannon. Stoudamire would go on to win Rookie of the Year in ’95.

Once the NBA’s version of new car smell began to stink to high hell, the fans resorted to sitting on their hands. Charmin-soft Marcus Camby fit the face of this franchise and its fans perfectly for the four or five games he actually showed up in during the late ’90s.

But, by then, Vince Carter had brought his bland brand of style over substance into Ontario. “Hey, he can dunk!” And, just like that, the fans were actually into the team for the first time. It had come to this: the fans’ focus wasn’t so much about wins, as it was racing home to see Carter’s windmill, blindfolded bring-down-the-funk dunks on ESPN TSN.

And, in other news, Raptors lose 115-79.

#23-American Olympic Viewers

As much as I hate those “back in my day” bastards who get all weepy at sepia-toned flashbacks of their romanticized past, I’ve gotta say I miss the days when the Olympics were only on once every four years. Winter”¦Summer”¦done, see you in ’92.

But, ever since 1994, we’ve had to endure these little two years breaks between seeing Bob Costas behind a desk, next to a fireplace (Winter Olympics) or Bob Costas behind a desk overanalyzing a qualifying heat in the 200M race (Summer Olympics).

And, in America, the infatuation with these events is unexplainable. Let me see if I’ve got this straight: we’re supposed to root for the rice cakes-and-cold water Keebler Elves who spend 20 hours a day practicing on the pummel horse, but root against the malevolent millionaires from the same country, who happen to play on a basketball court?

America was all aghast over the felonious French figure skating judge in 2002, but quick to call for Paul Hamm to keep his ill-gotten gold medal two years later. Hypocrisy has never been more hilarious. And, I’m sure it’s “Olympic Spirit” that keeps our eyes transfixed on Jennie Finch.

Who does she play for again and when do Amanda Beard and Misty May come to bat?

#22-New York Islanders Fans

For those of you who don’t know, the NHL really never wanted the Islanders. The World Hockey League was planning to put a team in the Nassau Coliseum, so the NHL beat ’em to the punch just to spite them. And, whaddaya know”¦spite, apparently, makes might as the Islanders won four consecutive Stanley Cups from 1980 through 1983.

Ah, but Bryan Trottier and Mike Bossy went bye-bye by the end of the decade, leaving fans with a D.O.A. dynasty and an inherent inferiority complex. Well, how would you describe fans of the last team to win four straight titles in any of the “Big Four” sports, who still couldn’t escape the cacophonous chants of “Let’s Go Rangers!”

You’d think the team’s historic run would be enough to quell the jealousy that Islander fans felt for New York’s true number one hockey team (I mean, they were there first”¦) But, instead, they burned up the talk radio lines until Islander management unearthed the now-calcified Al Arbour to coach them again in 1993. Hopes were high among the faithful after Arbour took ’em to the Wales Conference Finals, but a funny thing happened on the way back to respectability.

1994″¦Mark Messier”¦a championship 50 years in the making”¦for The New York Rangers. Still, “That Bootleg Guy” is also “That Benevolent Guy”, so here’s a chant for Islander fans to use to eternity: “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia”¦!” Remember, there’s nothing wrong with being number two”¦except when it’s in your own town.

#21-Florida Marlins Fans

In June of 1991, Major League Baseball awarded an expansion team in Miami. After the 1992 season, the Marlins cobbled together their roster through a draft of unprotected players from other teams, including Jillian Barberie’s husband and then-unknowns like Carl Everett and Trevor Hoffman.

By the time 86-year-old Opening Day starter Charlie Hough beat the Dodgers in front of 42,000+ at Joe Robbie Stadium, it appeared a love affair was formed. But, the fans didn’t seem to understand the rules of an expansion team. At the end of ’93, the Fish finished out of the cellar, five games ahead of the the mess that were the Mets. The “half-full” fans saw this as “progress”, while everyone saw that they still finished 33 games out of first and lost 98 games.

No matter”¦and when the Colorado Rockies (who joined the Marlins as an expansion team in ’93) made the playoffs in just their third year of existence”¦well, the tens of thousands in teal tackle twill felt equally”¦entitled. Florida fans called for the head of manager Rene Lachemann, who was fired in 1996, then were handed former Pirates manager Jim Leyland on a silver platter prior to the ’97 season.

Moises Alou, Bobby Bonilla and pitcher Alex Fernandez weren’t far behind.

This was a team made strictly to satisfy a fickle fanbase and win now. And, with the help of Eric Gregg’s 52-inch waistband wide strike zone in the NLCS, the Marlins went on to the World Series and won it. The fans had their wish bought and paid for and were then shocked that ownership had to settle up with Satan the following year.

The talent was sold off, while the “fans” swore the team off. Until 2003, when the Marlins won the World Series again behind sell-outs of 60,000 fans throughout the postseason who “always believed”. Sellouts, indeed.

Honorable Mention (Monday): Throughout the week, I’ll be posting one of the five teams/athletes who didn’t make the Top 25. Visit the Inside Pulse Fan Forums to see today’s inclusion and continue the discussion on The Worst Fans in Sports.

Aaron Cameron writes The Friday Music News Bootleg in Music every”¦uh, Friday and is a senior contributing writer emeritus for IP Sports”¦occasionally. AOL n’ Yahoo IM address: ajcameron13