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Angry and Whiney New York Fans Becoming Intolerable



By Mike Silva ~ April 26th, 2011. Filed under: Mike Silva.

A non baseball article by Mike Vaccaro got me thinking today. The NY Post scribe wrote a piece about Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni, and this quote stood out to me:

An aftermath like this rarely leaves any gray. And the fact is, D’Antoni isn’t a terribly popular coach right now, certainly not with the clientele of Knicks fans who yesterday began their 38th straight offseason without a championship, their 11th straight without a playoff series win, their 10th without even one lousy win in a postseason game. They sounded fed up leaving the Garden on Sunday, more embittered as the reality of a sweep sank in yesterday.

“At these prices,” wrote one angry e-mailer, whose venom practically scorched my inbox, “you have to be extra accountable. If that sounds unfair, sorry. So are my season ticket prices.”

I don’t want to make this about the Knicks, but after ten years of futility they won 42 games, made the playoffs, and gave their fans a week of postseason basketball. Is it an acceptable season when you look at the context of what the game is about? No. It is, however, a great stepping stone for bigger and better things. Honestly, what did New York fans expect from a group that was put together less than two months ago? Did they see one of their best players hobbling around the court with a bad back? This kind of attitude makes it hard for me to continue to like the New York sports fan. Maybe the criticism and hate spewed by the rest of the country has been justified all these years.

Yankees felt a need this offseason to hand out a bad contract to Rafael Soriano. Three years and $15 million for a second closer who historically gets hurt. Many reports stated Hal Steinbrenner wasn’t about to have an offseason go by without a major free agent move. The theory was it’s the Yankees, they charge outrageous prices, and their fans deserve at least one top shelf free agent- even if it comes at an unreasonable rate.

Look across town at the Mets. The Wilpons fire Omar Minaya and Jerry Manuel. They spend three plus million dollars on a front office that includes three of the brighter minds in the game in Sandy Alderson, J.P. Ricciardi, and Paul DePodesta. After not realizing results in the first 18 games the airwaves light up with complaining. They want to trade two of the best offensive players in the franchise’s history. They complain about another player, Carlos Beltran, who came to this team in 2004 when no one else wanted to play here. Beltran is the same player that helped lead them to a division title in 2006, and within a game of the playoffs in ‘07 to ’08. Without him the last six years look vastly different. You could argue he might be the best all around positional player in team history. One caller to WFAN stated last week that New York fans are “more smarter” (sic) than your average MLB general manager. I wish that was a joke, but it’s not.

I haven’t even gotten to our football and hockey teams. The Giants won a Super Bowl in 2008, but Tom Coughlin is “on the clock” after back to back disappointing finishes. Eli Manning’s heroics in that same Super Bowl is yesterday’s news. He also has felt the wrath of the fans. I am sure Rex Ryan and the Jets are next if they fail to get past the AFC Championship Game this season. If there is a season. As for hockey, the Rangers are the Rangers, and no one really cares about the Islanders so I am not sure they even apply to this equation.

New York fans are increasingly becoming whiney and annoying. They complain about the prices of season tickets, but MSG wasn’t exactly a ghost town the last ten years of futility. These are probably the same people who pay $3,000 a month to live in a closet facing a brick wall so they can tell everyone they reside outside Central Park. That’s value, but watching a team grow from the innocent climb to a championship contender isn’t worth the price of admission. These are the same fans that will throw David Wright and Jose Reyes under the bus, demand they trade them for hot shot prospects, and then pine for Reyes/Wright when said rookie doesn’t cut it the first 50 at bats.

Maybe this town doesn’t appreciate what it has until it’s gone. The nineties Knicks were a frustrating bunch. Blowing big games, falling short on many occasions, but today each and every one of them is beloved. The Bobby Valentine Mets are criticized roundly, but those 2000 pennant winners always will have a place in the hearts of the fans. Don Mattingly never won anything during his time with the Yankees, but is there a more popular Yankee, outside of Derek Jeter, the last 30 years. Phil Simms was hated at times during his playing career, but everyone loves him now.

The patience level in this town has reached an absurd level. It’s forcing teams to sign free agents just to show “they are doing something.” It’s creating unreasonable expectations that don’t match the reality of sports. Player’s efforts are questioned daily, even though it’s impossible to measure such a thing. If you aren’t drawing blood or in pain they feel you are not doing enough. Not everything comes down to guts and grit. You can’t always will yourself to success. Just because you lose doesn’t mean you don’t care, or haven’t put in the effort. Sometimes the other team is better. Sometimes it’s not your time yet. Sometimes it just plain bad luck. The nature of sports is that you will fail exceedingly more than you succeed. It actually mirrors life. The frustration that leads to the ultimate goal is probably the fun part of watching a team. It makes the championship that much more special. Kind of like any other big accomplishment in life.

Perhaps the recent run of Yankees success has created this monster. Maybe it’s the ignorant talk radio rants that supposedly produce ratings. Maybe this is a town that is underpaid, overworked, and just plain angry. Whatever it is, they need a sports intervention. It’s becoming hard to like such a whiney and inpatient fan base.

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Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

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11 Responses to Angry and Whiney New York Fans Becoming Intolerable

  1. 86mets

    Mike, while your post is accurate, could it not also describe fans in other cities? Take Boston for example and the putrid start the best team on paper got off to. Fans there were calling for Theo Epstein and Terry Franconas’ heads on a platter because they “don’t know” what they’re doing. Or Philadelphia where those class acts boo Santa Claus and little kids. How about Los Angeles where some alleged Dodgers fans beat a Giants fan into a coma on Opening Day. Or how about those lovely drunks in Chicago who pour beer on opposing outfielders over the ivy at Wrigley Field.

    The point I’m trying to make is that every team, every city has it’s share of malcontents, bullies, and whiners. It’s not just NY and it’s in every sport. Are Yankee fans spoiled? Absolutely. Are Mets fans (myself included) a bit bi-polar on a game by game basis? Sure. Although I cannot attend Major League games because I don’t live anywhere near a big league city, I can understand fans frustrations when they have to shell out hundreds of hard earned dollars to see ONE game. I think they have a right to grumble once in a while. Bottom line here is that New York fans really are no worse than any other city. But because it’s New York, there is far more attention given to their particular (and sometimes peculiar) behavior.

  2. Stu B

    This is nothing new. To paraphrase a comment I posted in response to your piece about the Mets 4-9 start and lousy attendance:

    I remember well that during the team’s longest period of sustained success, when it finished first or second every year from 1984 to 1990, there was constant bellyaching when they weren’t in first place about how they should trade this guy or that guy and fire Davey Johnson. I used to argue with people at Shea about how good it was to have a team that contended every year, but that wasn’t good enough for some folks! But I suspect it’s like that with fans of other teams as well – basically, people are never completely happy.

  3. Joe R.

    Just want to say: Great post.

  4. Barbella

    Mike,

    I’m growing impatient with your writing. Another year, and no Pulitzer Prize in sight?!

    I guess that’s, because it’s absurd of you to compare the Mets fan base to the one caller on WFAN. We are ‘more smarter’ than that, and deserve ‘more better.’

    Fire the Wilpons, and give yourself two weeks in the penalty box while you’er at it!

    G’beshe?,

  5. actor212

    You’re sorta fulla it.

    Absent the Yankees, and I’ll get to them in a minute, and the Giants, NYC has not had a champion since the Rangers in 1994. That’s almost twenty years!

    The Jets haven’t been to, much less won, the Super Bowl in 42 years. The Mets last won the Series in 1986. The Knicks…well, I had hair.

    That would all be fine and dandy if the owners did two things:

    1) Put a competitive team on the playing surface year in and year out, and

    2) Didn’t hold the city hostage every ten years or so for tax breaks, which they promptly turn around and default on anyway.

    The Knicks and Rangers are both owned by Cablevision, as examples. They pump enormous amounts of money to free agents that nominally should improve the team…*koffkoffJAROMIRJAGRMARIONGABORIKkoffkoff* at the price of developing young talent.

    Many of whom are on teams still playing for trophies tonight. Some of whom become top flight talent in the league.

    Cablevision puts out a team that will make a profit. They don’t really care about the results, so long as a) the Garden remains at capacity (mostly because of corporate suites and tax deductible season tickets) and b) the TV ratings remain high, which is a testament to the loyalty of the long-suffering regular fan who can’t get a ticket to a game anyway and doesn’t want to watch Dancing With The Stars.

    I give the Mets credit, and fault at the same time: the Wilpons have tried to provide a winner. They’ve developed young talent (Wright, Reyes, Thole, Pagan, F-Mart, Pelfrey) and signed free agents who could actually help a little.

    Towards the end of the Minaya years, they stopped doing that, throwing good money after bad at folks like K-Rod, Billy Wagner, Luis Castillo and to a degree Johann Santana (perenially injured).

    And even the Jets are showing signs of life.

    But absent the Yankees, who will throw good money after bad because they can, and the Giants, who along with the Jets made good on their threats to the city and abandoned us, only offering to come back under extornist terms, this city is starving for quality sports.

    That’s not the fans fault.

  6. Cedrick

    I find this article hilarious.

    I am from Montreal, a city so entrenched in just the same mentality that we actually managed to run our baseball team out of town. after every loss by the Canadiens, half the town calls every radio show in town to say that we should trade half the team and crucify the other half. we bitch that the prices are too high and yet the Bell Center has been sold out EVERY game since 2004… and still we have the nerve to say we’re the best fans in the world

    Take solace New York, you’re just like everybody else

  7. Stu B

    @actor212: Most of your post is right on – I couldn’t have better expressed it. But the Giants and Jets didn’t abandon NYC, they play in the Metro NY SMSA, and their stadium is easily reached from the city.

  8. Michael Maggi

    Mike,

    I wanted to discuss and get yours and the other readers of this site’s opinion on another topic. One that I feel would fit right in with this article as the fans’ patience will surely be tested over the next 3+ years and that topic is Derek Jeter. Obviously he is signed for the next 2 1/2 years with an additional year as a player option.

    Should Jeter hit, say .235-.245 this year with 3-5 HRs and 30-35 RBIs, what do you think happens over the course of his contract? I find it heard to believe he would pull a “Gil Meche” and retire at any point during this contract as he would be leaving a large amount of money on the table. However, sticking around could result in some forced humility in being bumped down to # 9 in the batting order and perhaps even pulling his career batting average below .300, a result that happened to Mickey Mantle because he hung around a year or two too long and he said he regretted later.

    Iconic players are important to a team, not only because of what they give you during their careers, but also post-career in terms of autograph signings, community events, Old Timer’s Day, fantasy camps, Stadium events, etc. But, IMO, you cannot sacrifice winning for a player’s ego. If Jeter is truly done after this year, someone (Casey Close preferrably, also Minka and his parents) need to convince him to retire on top, rather than become the 1968 version of Mickey Mantle or the 1973 Mets version of Willie Mays.

  9. Mike Silva

    Michael

    I will address my thoughts in a morning column

  10. Yes I have one

    barbarella, buy the team and fire them yourself. they own it, moron. just like you own the shoes you stand in when you run the slushy machine.

  11. John

    I have said this before but the teams and players are partially (maybe completely) at fault due to the pricing of their product.
    Sports have a very important place in people’s lives. It is an escape from the problems of life, people’s entertainment and a link to their childhood. In many cases it is a bond between kids and their parents. So people have a strong emotional tie. Irrational really but it is there.
    Now that ticket prices are insane, there is another dynamic. The average person has to sacrifice to pay for these tickets so it ups the psychological stakes. Instead of paying a buck for an upper deck seat a dad has to pay a big percentage of his pay to take his family to the ballpark. So when players earning huge dollars don’t perform, or owners put a bad product on the field, fans feel an even greater disappointment than we did when we were kids. They feel taken advantage of. They wrongly feel they they have the right to verbally abuse the players, throw things from the stands and pelt the players with beer. Or in the extreme case, beat an opposing fan senseless as happened in LA.
    I have not been to a MLB game in almost 20 years simply because of the price. I could pay the price but I chose not to since I don’t think the value is there.
    Eventually, more and more fans will be forced to stay away because of economics. In the mean time unfortunately I think the anger will continue to boil to the surface. Eventually the teams will have to rethink their business model and things will return to the way they were in the 60′s. Or the framework will collapse. Either way I think it will be a ugly transition.

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