Welcome to part four of a five-part feature on The 25 Worst Fans in Sports!
We’re in the homestretch and things have a decidedly west coast slant this time around. Coincidence or east coast biasâ€¦? You decide!
Oh, and to answer what is fast becoming the most frequently asked question from this feature: no, pro wrestling fans will not appear at #1 or any place else on this list. There’s a real team and real fans in the number one position (not that I’m implying anything against wrestling, Widro!)
Again, thanks to everyone for their feedback. Keep the emails, IMs and forum discussions coming.
Here are the first fifteen inductees to the list of bad fans:
25.) San Francisco 49ers
24.) Toronto Raptors
23.) American Olympic Viewers
22.) New York Islanders
21.) Florida Marlins
20.) Anna Kournikova/Maria Sharapova
19.) Sacramento Kings
18.) Oscar De La Hoya
17.) New York Yankees
16.) University of Connecticut Women’s Basketball
15.) San Diego Chargers
14.) Philadelphia Eagles
13.) Atlanta Braves
12.) Nebraska Cornhuskers
11.) Televised Poker
We continue our countdown to number one withâ€¦
#10-Arizona Diamondbacks Fans
Anyone remember when fans of expansion teams had to suffer before they could celebrate?
The 1962 Mets lost 120 games and seven years later were unlikely world champions. The D’Backs came into being in 1998 and three seasons later they were hanging off of the elephantine ears of Luis Gonzales as his bloop hit beat the Bronx Bombers in the 2001 World Series.
Never mind that the aforementioned Mets team was mostly built from within, while Arizona was a collection of millionaire mercenaries torn from other teams who’d tired of shelling out so many zeroes for their services. Diamondback fans didn’t care. And, who can think of a more worthy former retirement community to reward with a Game 7 win in front of the world?
Have you ever been to a game at Bank One Ballpark?
It’s library quiet on any evening that doesn’t involve an opponent with appeal to the transplants who populate greater Phoenix (Cubs, Yankees, etc.) And, if actual baseball ain’t enough to hold ’em over until the next 4-12 Cardinals season, let’s build a pool! Hey, that’s kitschy or quirky or…oh, what is the wordâ€¦”contrive-y”, perhaps?
There are about a dozen teams who hold spring training in Arizona and pack in the fans on the allure of the sport at its purest. Diamondback fans need a ginormous restaurant and strip mall built around a ballpark and public pool. It’s like pro sports meet Palm Springs.
All they need is nine holes spread across all of the team’s backtracking over Wally Backman.
#9-Anaheim Mighty Ducks Fans
A surefire way to piss off your patrons is to inject any adult athletic endeavor with 20 cc’s of kiddie marketing. When the Ducks came into being in 1992, they turned the nuclear families in and around the O.C. into instant hockey fans.
Now, these aren’t the same hockey fans who live and die by the sport, with a fierce loyalty handed down to them from generation to generation. These are the “minivan fans” who were won over by the words “Starring Emilio Estevez”. Think “soccer moms on ice” and you’ve pretty much placed their entire fan base.
These people weren’t drawn to (ugh) “The Pond” to see phenom Paul Kariyaâ€¦not when team mascot Wild Wing leaps through rings of fire in between periods! And, it’s not much of a stretch to blame these suburban herds for the dumbing down of the NHL, either. Remember Fox’s ill-conceived concept of “the glowing puck”? Well, don’t you know that casual fans couldn’t keep up with the action?! This is Anaheim for God’s sake, not Edmonton!
Bottom line is that this was a team built on the primary premise to move merchandise. And the inherent affluence of Anaheim’s mommies and daddies turned the sport right over to their privileged kids. Consequently, these little bastards, with their “Quack Attack” t-shirts and accompanying cartoons took the National Hockey League from “great” to “play date”.
In the spring of 2003, the Ducks made a magical run to the Stanley Cup Finals. They defeated Dallas, Minnesota and defending champs, Detroit, before falling in the Finals to New Jersey. The following year, to the collective shrug of their fanbase, the team threatened to relocate. Just so you know, the Ducks have pledged to stay in town (after their sale to Henry Samueli earlier this year), while real hockey towns remain empty on Hockey Night.
So, seriously, f*** you, Emilio!
#8-Sports Talk Radio Fans
Jim Romeâ€¦Mike & The Mad Dogâ€¦Sanford & Son.
Who are the listeners who stay on hold for over an hour, just to get 10 seconds to ask about an unconfirmed injury to Todd Heap? Or to talk about a meaningless 6-3 game in May between the Mets and Pirates? Or to talk about anything relating to the regular season of the NBA?
Did these people actually aspire to someday be “background noise”?
Make no mistakeâ€¦and this can be said without a hint of hyperboleâ€¦the explosion of sports talk radio is the real reason why the world hates America. And, the fact that you people keep calling in with your warmed-over and unoriginal opinions (sorry, unoriginal “takes”) keeps these AM radio armchair athletes on the air.
This is the “information age”, y’know. There are real-time updates and analysis anywhere you want to look on the internet. But, you mean to tell me that your week isn’t complete until Smooth Jimmy Apollo tells you to take USC and the points against Podunk U? And what, exactly, has sports radio really wrought? Middle-aged white guys who like to talk Black and equally aged bruthas live to SHOUT SMACK~!
Meanwhile, all of these obnoxious, in-your-face personalities have created an entire culture of copycats who call in to spout jargon and gibberish that only the listeners and hosts can comprehend. So, the next time one of you is lamenting the presence of TV’s Stephen A. Smith or Stuart Scott on ESPN, just remember that you’re just like them: sports fans who love to talk about the games.
Except they’re famous and get paid to do it and you’re not and you’re still on hold with Romey.
#7-Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Fans
In October 2002, the Angels defeated the Giants to win their first World Championship. After 40 years of fan anonymity, in a county that claimed to bleed Dodger blue when they were fielding winning teams, suddenlyâ€¦everyone was an Angels fan.
Never mind that these people have no appreciation for the history of “their” team, since, for them, life began three years ago. Go to a game at Angels Stadium. You’ll see 43,000 people who are there “to be seen”, cell phones in tow. During their run in ’02, you might remember that their fans were handed “thunder stix” to pound together in effort to create artificial fan noiseâ€¦the equivalent of “canned heat” in the world of sports entertainment.
The scoreboards literally begs for fans to “make some noise” when anyone else who’s ever been to the ballpark doesn’t need to be needled to do so. And, then there’s the Rally Monkey. This disease-carrying critter is another holdover from 2002 and pops up on the Tyranno-Vision from time to time to lift the fans when their team is behind.
Yes, it takes an entirely different species to get Angel fans into the game by the bottom of the ninth inning.
Of course, that’s assuming that they haven’t sold their game tickets, first. The next time your team is playing the Halos, try’n catch the telecast. While their Stadium has been selling out for three straight seasons, you’ll have no trouble finding thousands of “season tickets” on any and every auction site, where opposing fans snap ’em up, thus creating islands of sensibility amongst the Angel Stadium crowd’s red sea of idiocy.
#6-Tiger Woods Fans
Rooting for Tiger Woods is like rooting for Superman. It’s been nearly 10 years since his professional debut at the Greater Milwaukee Open in August 1996 and his effect on the sport of golf will be felt far after his playing days are over.
Now, while there are some who believe that Woods’ influence on the supposed increase in young and minority golfers is overblown, there is still at least one group who continues to cream their khakis with Woods’ every swing. These middle-aged, middle-management types clog each others cubicles on Friday afternoon, fawning over first round action n’ updates from the internet.
Now, I’m not condoning violence in the workplace, but anyone who can obtain a grenade or two could do wonders for their next performance review. And, if you miss ’em on Friday, never fearâ€¦they’ll all be gaggled around the coffee maker on Monday morning to analyze Woods’ weekend performance, en masse.
C’monâ€¦Tiger has legendary talent in a game that’s famously frustrating, but what’s to cheer for here? He turns 30 this year, so the whole precocious phenom angle is played out. Woods, himself, put the kibosh on that “Black man in a white man’s sport” thing when he made up a race to distance himself from his heritage.
Hell, the guy never loses or goes through slumps. He just happens to play in a few tournaments that someone else wins. His Pied Piper power over his followers was never more evident than when Woods teamed with his ubiquitous shoe sponsor to create Nike Golf. Never mind that most reputable golfers and golfing publications panned the product line as a flawed, rush-to-market money grabâ€¦just one look at Woods’ mixed mug as the product’s spokesperson and initial orders were off-the-charts.
That is, before a world of weekend duffers took these anti-Titleists to their tee times, only to discover that their Nike clubs were flawed and rushed toâ€¦well, you know. Enough Superman. Isn’t there a second or third tier superhero in this sport that we should be getting behind?
I’m thinking the golf version of Aquaman or The Atom.
Honorable Mention (Thursday): 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 everyâ€¦uh, Friday and is a senior contributing writer emeritus for IP Sportsâ€¦occasionally. AOL n’ Yahoo IM address: ajcameron13