Baseball likes to pretend its appeal is pastoral and heart-warming and all about apple pie, summer days and playing catch with dad in the cornfield. In truth a lot of what baseball and its fans like to concentrate on is venomous, petty and making other people angry.
Pushing buttons of other fans and reveling in their misery is an essential part of baseball fandom today.
More people know Bill Buckner’s name or Steve Bartman’s than can name who won those infamous games. Rooting against the Yankees is an American tradition. The rest of the country seems to be tired of the Red Sox and their fans.
Yankee fan Michael Pacholek forwarded to me the sure-fire ways to anger Red Sox, Yankee and Met fans. I decided to take it to the next step.
Every single fan base can be predictably angered in a sentence. It could be a misconception that frustrates fans. It could be a fact they try to deny. Or it could be a shortcoming they cannot avoid, but wish people would stop bringing up.
I could be nice and not list which button to push for the fans of every single team. But I am not nice. I am a baseball fan.
“The Diamondbacks are a dirty team who hit players on purpose.”
Say that and watch them pull out charts showing how many times other pitchers pitch inside. Sit back and grin knowing they are trying to convince themselves and not you.
“The Braves are the Buffalo Bills/Susan Lucci of baseball.”
Watch the Braves fans say, “At least we won!” and “14 Division Titles in a row is the greatest achievement ever” and repeat it. When they pause, just ask, “Remember Mark Wohlers pitching to Jim Leyritz?” and then avoid the Tomahawk coming your way.
“Cal Ripken was a selfish player.”
Insulting Cal Ripken is the most dangerous thing to do in Baltimore short of getting Omar mad at you. Try it anyway. If you are feeling even more adventurous, imply he was on PEDs.
BOSTON RED SOX
“PED’s invalidate the three championships.”
Oooooh you can get Boston fans pissed this way. There is no way Red Sox Nation will have the greatest moments of their collective lives erased by some pesky details about the pee of Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz. “We will NOT go back to 1918!”
“You guys are happy being losers.”
The whole image of Cub fans being content with a nice effort from the team while getting trashed in the bleachers may have had validity in the 1980s and 1990s. But the close call of 2003 and the disappointment of 2008 have raised a sense of urgency in Wrigleyville. Keep in mind they always had company in their misery. But the Red Sox have won 3 times since Bartman, and the White Sox and their fans have 2005. More than a century of losing is more than any beer can cure.
CHICAGO WHITE SOX
“I thought all Chicago fans were Cub fans.”
Say that to a die hard White Sox fan. Not even winning the 2005 World Series removed the chip on their soldier about the White Sox lack of attention in the city.
“Pete Rose was the biggest disgrace in baseball history.”
That one will really land. Go ahead and try to explain why betting on games is bad, even to win, and that the Reds could have won the Division in 1986, 1987 and 1988 if Pete wasn’t betting. You will get fans yelling about steroids, Pete’s stats and a lot of other unrelated topics while their faces will be redder than anything on their uniforms.
“Your logo is racist.”
The best part of this one is that no matter which opinion an Indians fan would have on this matter, it won’t be subtle. Either it will be embarrassment for the incredibly un-PC image, or they will say “IT HONORS THEM!” while getting their face so red, you’ll wonder if they have war paint on.
“You can’t count the offensive numbers Coors Field.”
Deep down, Rockies fans must know that all offensive numbers in Denver need to be taken with a grain of salt. But say that out loud and they will bring up humidor and Troy Tulowitzi’s stats on the road faster than a Dante Bichette homer leaves the yard.
“Mike Trout deserved those MVPs.”
Oh, I am sure there are a few Tiger fans who understand the great value of Mike Trout. But for most, let’s just say you are insulting Miggy’s Triple Crown. And that won’t fly in Motown.
“Bagwell and Biggio were juicers.”
Bagwell seems like a more likely suspect but, man! Don’t bring it up around any Astros fans anytime soon. Yeah, there were no positive tests… just a couple of guys hanging out with Ken Caminiti and showing great endurance during the steroid era.
KANSAS CITY ROYALS
“You didn’t REALLY win the 1985 World Series.”
If there was instant replay in 1985, you know and I know that Jorge Orta would have been called out. That 9th inning of game 6 of the 1985 World Series would have played out a lot differently. Chances are they lose to St. Louis. And the only thing keeping the Royals from being a Championship-free franchise and never winning a title for George Brett or Mr. Kaufmann was a blown call that would overturned today. Royals fans know it, even if they can’t admit it.
LOS ANGELES ANGELS OF ANAHEIM
“It’s the Los Angeles California Angels of Anaheim in Orange County
in the United States on Earth!”
The Angels have the stupidest name in baseball. Their fans know it. And they have heard about it for the past 10 seasons. You know how a tall person rolls their eyes when someone mockingly asks, “How is the weather up there?” or, “Why don’t you play basketball?” That’s the Angels fan base when you refer to that stupid name.
LOS ANGELES DODGERS
“You all just show up late and leave early.”
Just say that to a die hard fan wearing a Fernando or Garvey or Koufax jersey, and you will get a lecture about the 110 and 5 freeways and the off-ramps leading into Chavez Ravine. Just kindly nod and remind them of all the cars seen leaving the parking lot during Kirk Gibson’s homer.
“Tell me about Jeffrey Loria.”
The odd thing about Loria is they have actually won a World Series under his ownership. But any goodwill with the fans was crushed, smashed and put into the foundation of the taxpayer-swindled stadium as he cut payroll.
“Ryan Braun is a cheater and a jerk.”
There are lots of jerks and cheaters in baseball. Why should people care so much about Ryan Braun? Why should people try to discount the 2011 Division Series win because Braun used PEDs? That was the only Brewers post season series victory since the 1982 ALCS. Who is to say there weren’t Diamondbacks using PEDs? OK, Braun crowed too much and threw some people under the bus while lying. Brewers fans don’t have a lot of history to cheer about! (On the other hand, there is no denying he is a cheater and a jerk.)
“Joe Mauer should try to hit more homers.”
This is great to get fans mad because it cuts both ways. Minnesota’s favorite son stuck around instead of going to the Red Sox and the Yankees, and now he is a first baseman with no power eating up the payroll. Some fans want him to try and jack balls out and earn his money. Others want him to remain a good pure hitter and not change. Either way, you will test the whole “Minnesota nice” thing.
NEW YORK METS
“Fred Wilpon… discuss.”
To understand how hated Fred Wilpon is by the Mets fan base, just do this simple exercise. Imagine Donald Sterling, and replace his sex scandal with getting swindled by Bernie Madoff, and you have a good idea why burning him in effigy is a daily event in Flushing.
NEW YORK YANKEES
“You just buy all your championships.”
Before you finish your sentence, Yankee fans will remind you that Jeter, Posada, Pettitte, Rivera, Bernie et al were home grown. Then they will preface every other sentence wit,h “27 rings” and, “You are jealous” and then rattle off all the players they expect the Yankees to sign in the next few years.
“It is a bunch of nobodies on that team!”
The A’s currently have the best record in baseball, will no doubt make the playoffs for the third straight season and probably make it 3 division titles in as many seasons. They have more All Stars than any team in baseball. And yet people still talk about them like they are a rag tag bunch of anonymous misfits managed by Morris Buttermaker and whose playoff run is a million to one shot. Maybe it will take 4 straight division titles for anyone to notice.
“You boo Santa and vomit on little girls.”
Every team has fans who are drunken jerks (even in San Diego.) But it always seems dopey in Philadelphia. Phillies fans resent that label and refuse to be painted with the same brush as the biggest slobs. But inevitably something stupid will happen at a game in Philadelphia and the reputation will look justified.
“Francisco Cabrera -“
You might not even be able to finish saying that particular third string catcher’s name before you get clobbered or at best given a stern look. The whole, “They haven’t had a winning season since Francisco Cabrera” narrative is over. But until they get to the World Series, his shadow will loom over the franchise… and every Pirate fan knows it.
SAN DIEGO PADRES
“Trevor Hoffman was overrated.”
Hoffman was one of the most beloved Padres of all time, which shows you what a different market San Diego is than other baseball towns. Hoffman lost big games in the 1996 and 1998 postseason and almost single-handedly kept them out of the 2007 postseason with a pair of blown saved. But hey, as long as he piled up regular season saves that nobody remembers, then go ahead and love him.
SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
“Remember Dusty Baker?”
Just say his name and watch Giants fans react like they just bit a lemon. The Giants had some of their most successful San Francisco seasons under Baker. And yet his managerial style seemed to age the entire Bay Area. When he let his son run on the field in the 2002 World Series, it wasn’t even the 4th dumbest thing Dusty did that October. And no, two World Series titles this decade haven’t let Dusty off the hook.
“They spent a lot of time making sure the Safeco Experience is great.”
For too long the Mariners seemed more concerned with making the experience at Safeco a great one than putting a quality product on the field. Yeah, the seats are great, the views ideal and the food is awesome. Griffey, Edgar, Big Unit, A-Rod and Ichiro have come and gone without a World Series appearance. Time is ticking on Felix. A World Series experience would be even better!
ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
“You are the best fans in baseball.”
You know the kid in class who keeps getting praised by the teacher sometimes gets resentment from the other students? You know the office mate who the boss always praises starts to get on everyone’s nerves? That’s kind of what is happening to Cardinal fans now. This title has led to an inevitable backlash, and some on the internet go out of their way to point out the BAD Cardinals fans. This won’t end well.
TAMPA BAY RAYS
“What is up with your attendance?”
Man, the few real Rays fans that exist get really sensitive out of their horrific attendance. They will counter with their local TV ratings and how hard it is to get to the Trop and all other other stats. And none of those will wipe away the facts that their attendance, including postseason, is pathetic.
“Wait, you were one strike away twice in the same GAME?”
Not to mention one very poorly timed Nelson Cruz leap from winning the 2011 World Series title. That would have been nice. It won’t take much to get under a Rangers fan’s skin. Drop these two bombs and run. (Oh, and here’s a bonus – keep referring to their location as “Dallas” and watch what happens.)
TORONTO BLUE JAYS
“It is tough to win in that Division.”
At one point, playing in the AL East was an act of futility for teams not playing in New York or Boston. So the narrative went that only the Yankees and Red Sox could afford to get the players to win and the other teams were there as punching bags. And the Blue Jays had some winning squads in the late 1990s and early 2000’s but couldn’t make the playoffs since the divisions expanded. But then the Rays ended that talk in 2008. Since 2012, the Blue Jays are the only AL East team to not play in October. And if the Royals make it this year, they will have the longest postseason drought in the game. Don’t remind Blue Jays fans.
“They should never have benched Stephen Strasburg in 2012.”
The best chance the Nationals have ever had to bring a World Series to Washington, and they decided to play innings limits with Strasburg? Either Nats fans will grumble, “We know, we know” or they will scream that the bullpen blew the series! And then ask, “So, you want Strasburg to throw his arm out?”
So there you have it! Go out to the world and make a baseball fan angry. It is part of your duty as a fan!
Paul Sullivan is a Sports Contributor for The Scoop. Follow him on Twitter and check out his podcast at @SullyBaseball.