Back we go into the Bill Simmons archive, where we rescue Simmons's AOL Digital Cities work from the internet aether. Today's long-lost column: "The 20 Most Annoying Sports Fans Alive," originally published June 4, 1999.
We start with the caveat that the word annoying "includes qualities like 'being obnoxious,' 'being arrogant,' 'being whiny,' 'being indifferent,' and 'jumping on the bandwagon.'" In other words, all sports fans everywhere. On to the rankings!
20. Green Bay fans
19. NY Giants fans
Giants fans love to call their team "the New York FOOTBALL Giants." They think that makes them cool. I think it speaks for itself.
18. Notre Dame football fans
17. Bay Area football fans
16. Knicks fans
Knick fans thought Patrick Ewing was a superstar. They thought John Starks was good. They thought the Knicks would've beaten the Bulls in 1993 if Charles Smith hadn't gotten stuffed 19 straight times in the last minute of Game Five. They willingly allow self-serving ego-tripper Spike Lee to represent them at games. They actually think the 1985 NBA lottery WASN'T rigged; they actually think Jeff Van Gundy is a better coach than Phil Jackson; and they actually think their current team is better off in the Indiana series with Chris Dudley and without Ewing.
Worst of all, they actually call Madison Square Garden "The Garden."
15. Hartford fans
14. Colorado fans (not including the Broncos)
13. NFC fans
12. Celtics fans
Honestly, I can't believe how much Celtics fans have changed over the years. In the old days, the crowd possessed an instinctive collective sense on how to affect games — they always rallied the team when it needed a boost; they always knew the difference between a Standing O and a "Cheering throughout an entire timeout because the team was just that freaking great" Standing O"; and they harrassed opposing players like nobody else in the country (remember how the Garden crowd singlehandedly removed Ralph Sampson from Game 6 of the '86 Finals?).
Now? The stands are filled with three types of people:
—1. Businessmen asking questions like "Where's Dee Brown? Did we trade him or something?"
—2. People spending four quarters giggling at the Crunch & Munch Guy and trying to get on the Jumbotron during timeouts.
—3. Ted Sarandis-types beaming because the team is floundering, which means they can grumble about Cyber Twan.
As amazing as this sounds, the Celtics were actually at a disadvantage at home this season. Here was a young team playing an aborted 50-game season — with four new players in the rotation, no less — and people were treating them like they were only as good as their last jumper. Young teams feed off energy, positive and negative, and the Fleet Center just seemed to drain these guys over the course of the season. Make no mistake about it — the damage was done. After seeing the way the fans treated Antoine, do you really think Ron Mercer and Paul Pierce want to spend the rest of their careers here in front of a bunch of fair-weather fans?
11. Chicago fans
10. English soccer fans
9. Red Sox fans
[F]ortunately, there are enough "good" Sox fans to keep this group out of the Top Three. It should also be noted that we've seen some horrible things over the years — we're the "sports fan" equivalent of war victims and cancer survivors. I mean, how can any Red Sox fan look at the sport of baseball with an unjaundiced eye? Our team went 68 years without a championship before 1986, then we came within one pitch of winning the World Series for THIRTEEN STRAIGHT &%#%@* PITCHES... and we couldn't get the last out!!!! You couldn't make that up if you tried.
So we have an excuse. We really do.
With that said, I hate being associated with the majority of Red Sox fans and their "sky is falling" approach, led by cult leaders Peter Gammons, Dan Shaughnessy, Butch From The Cape, Steve Buckley, Stephen King, Ken Burns, and everyone else who secretly roots for the Red Sox to continue losing because it makes for a good storyline or because they simply enjoy being unhappy. Most Sox fans imagine a time when the Sox finally win the whole damned thing... and they can't imagine what they'd do with themselves.
8. Lakers fans
Say what you want about Celtics fans — at least we stick around for the fourth quarters of games.
Lakers fans are just ridiculous. They showed up right around the time Magic Johnson and "Showtime" showed up in Hollywood... then they disappeared right about the time Magic Johnson and "Showtime" left Hollywood. They showed up again three years ago when Shaq came to town... now you can almost hear them creeping towards the backdoor in the bandwagon again.
7. NY Rangers fans
Rangers fans reside in that Yankees/Giants fans gene pool, but they never really bothered me until the year after they won the Stanley Cup — in 1994 — when they bitched about their team's inevitable troubles in the "year-after" season (the Rangers ended up missing the playoffs). Man, how can you bitch about anything in the season following a Stanley Cup, especially when you haven't won for 54 years? Doesn't your team get at least a five-year grace period after that?
****Note to reader: If the Red Sox ever won the World Series, they could go 2-798 over the next 5 years and I wouldn't care.
6. Oriole/Redskins fans
5. Cowboys fans
4. Yankees fans
Here's your typical Yankees fan: His name is Vinny, Bobby, or Paulie; he's 5-foot-9; he has black hair and a black mustache that hasn't quite grown in yet and makes him look like a cross between Phil McConkey and BabaBooey; his girlfriend looks like Paula Jones and chews Jolly Ranchers with her mouth open; he just failed the fireman's test in his local borough for the tenth time last week; he has at least three Yankee jerseys and makes his girlfriend wear one of them at all times; he wears sweatpants to bars; the greatest moment of his life was when Reggie Jackson hit the three homers in the '77 World Series; he thinks Thurman Munson, Ron Guidry AND Don Mattingly should be in the Hall of Fame; and he plays softball and yells at the umpires during games.
3. Mets fans
Let's be honest: They were exceedingly arrogant about the whole '86 World Series thing and still are, to this very day. I hate them and I want them all to die. Seriously. If you're a Mets fan and you're reading this, please know that I've hoped for your imminent death on a number of occasions... preferably at the hands of a chainsaw or a pick-axe. May you all end up in "Oz" in the same prison cell as Beecher.
2. Philly fans
1. Atlanta fans
Atlanta fans are in a class by themselves. They bring everything to the table here:
* No history whatsoever. None. Zero.
* If you looked up the definition of a "bandwagon fan" in the dictionary, you'd get a picture of a Braves fan doing the Tomahawk Chop. Did they even draw 5,000 fans per game before 1990?
* They stole two of their three teams from other cities.
* They're getting an NHL expansion franchise next year despite the fact that their NBA team — the Hawks — failed to fill half the building in any of their home playoff games last month. That's almost unfathomable.
* They spawned the "Dirty Bird," which goes down with the Ickey Shuffle, Chris Berman's nicknames, rapping athletes, Three-Ball, the Jumbotron, the Wave, the Tomahawk Chop, the "Na na na na na na HEY!" song, and Ahmad Rashad as the ten worst sports developments of the past two decades.
Need I say more?