I want to talk about Boston sports fans, but first, here's a crazy stat about lottery winners, pulled from ThinkProgress:
"Those who win may not be much better off, however. The National Endowment for Financial Education estimates that as much as 70 percent of those who land sudden windfalls lose the money within several years. Lottery winnings have led some to drugs, bankruptcy, and family fractures."
It turns out that becoming very rich overnight, without any experience, can be really bad for someone from modest circumstances, since they have no idea how to manage that much money and tend to go hog wild until it's all gone.
This is how I, a native New Yorker, feel about the sports fans of Boston. They spent decades developing their identity as a group of loyal losers, even going so far as to claim they were cursed (this despite having the most successful NBA franchise of all time). Their martyrdom was very obnoxious, and the fact that no group of American fans can come close to matching Bostonians for provincial self-regard—and yes, that includes SEC football fans and everyone from Philadelphia—made it even worse. But there was a silver lining—you could always console yourself with the fact that they kept losing, sometimes in hilarious and heartbreaking ways.
Then Boston won the sports lottery. Bill Belichick, the unsmiling face of true evil, clawed his way up from the bowels of hell to become head coach of the Patriots in 2000, and just two years later, his team won the first of five Super Bowls (and counting). Then the Red Sox, who actually did seem sort of cursed, won two World Series titles. Then the Celtics won. Then, in 2011, even the f'ing Bruins won. In the span of a decade, Boston went from the symbol of sports futility to a four-sport Title Town. Worse, the poster boys for all their great teams were questionable human beings, from Tom Brady to Curt Schilling to Josh Beckett to Kevin Garnett to...well, I don't know any hockey players, but I'm sure someone on the Bruins sucked. And the fans, flush with success, stopped believing they were cursed and started believing that God had anointed them as his own special indigo children.
And let me tell you, the new way is so much worse. If a group of fans are hellbent on believing they're unique snowflakes, it's far better when that uniqueness stems from sucking all the time. Give these people a little swagger, and suddenly they become three hundred percent more insufferable. Like the aforementioned lottery winners, they go too big, too fast, and the success sends them into a spiral of arrogance and bluster. Even when you know they're headed for a crash, since the good times always end, it's still annoying to see a $500,000 yacht anchored on their front lawn.
From the perspective of a New York fan, this has been pure misery. The only solace comes when a righteous hero humbles the hell out of a Boston team, and in the first two games of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals, LeBron James delivered a dose of humility that was so thorough, so emphatic, and so badass, that I'm declaring him honorary mayor-king of New York City. With a consummate MVP performance in Game 1, and an utter thrashing in Game 2, James went into the heart of darkness and gutted an entire city in the most humiliating way imaginable.
So what if the Celtics rallied to improbably win Game 3? I'm still projecting a quick, painful exit that will ruin their whole season. Despite earning the No. 1-seed and reaching the Conference Finals, nobody will remember the Celtics for anything but getting cruelly butchered by LeBron. Which means that until he strikes the final blow in Game 5, I can pretend it's the old days and revel in the city's shame. Thank you, King James.
Best Own of an NFL QB by a Teen
The teacher of a high school sports literature class in Iowa happened to be a huge Aaron Rodgers fan. She told her students that if they could get Rodgers to retweet them, the final would be canceled. One kid got the job done:
But wait a second—look closely at the kid's name.
We know he's a junior or senior, meaning that when he was born, Peyton Manning was about 24 years old and already a star QB for the Colts. Around 1999, when he was presumably born, Peyton wasn't a super popular name, clocking in at 234th (according to some site that I'm choosing to treat as gospel). Is it not reasonable to assume that if a kid born in Iowa was named Peyton, he was named after Peyton Manning?
I say yes! And if my theory is correct, then Aaron Rodgers was just tricked into doing the online bidding of a kid named after one of his main rivals. That's a classic own.
The Dream Team Most Likely to Never, Ever Fail
Warning: I am a tennis nerd. I fell in love with the sport two years ago, and have not stopped playing since. Unless it's raining, I play every day. It ruined golf for me—I haven't picked up the clubs in a year, because tennis occupies me so completely. I have become the kind of person who watches crappy early round matches of minor tournaments on the Tennis Channel. I'm a junkie.
I don't expect you to be as excited as I am that Novak Djokovic chose Andre Agassi as his next coach. But man, am I excited! That's such a perfect, awesome pair, and there's no way they can fail. If you haven't read Agassi's Open, let me recommend it as one of the best sports memoirs ever written, by one of the most introspective players. And let me also recommend it for the parts where he teamed up with his own coach, Brad Gilbert, who is by far the most intelligent human being to ever swing a racket, and whose own book, Winning Ugly, is a bible for ever rec player in America.
All I'm saying is that with Agassi's brains and perspective, along with everything he learned from Gilbert, it's a miracle nobody has enlisted him yet. Djokovic just made a really good decision.
The Week's Closest Brush with Immortality
This goes to Mike Trout, the best baseball player of our generation, who was nearly walked with the bases loaded against the New York Mets. Terry Collins, the Mets manager, considered it very seriously before changing his mind. In baseball, there is no greater sign of respect and fear than walking a dude with the bases loaded. You are telling him that you are so afraid of his prowess with a bat that you will actually concede a run, with absolutely no benefit, simply because you think he would do far worse if you actually pitched to him. It's like walking up to the school bully and asking to be punched in the face, because you think maybe it will appease him and save you from greater damage. It's also very rare—it's happened only six times in MLB history, and only twice since the end of WW2, to Barry Bonds and Josh Hamilton. When a team makes that move, they are essentially telling the player he is a baseball god.
And Mike Trout came so very, very close. For now, he'll have to settle for being a demigod.
The Olympics that Will Never Stop Being Embarrassing
Question: Are you shocked that an Olympics where the electricity and plumbing didn't work in the athlete's village, where the water in the swimming pool turned green, where mutilated body parts washed up on the volleyball beach, and where they destroyed a nature preserve to build an unnecessary golf course...are you surprised that the bronze medals from these Olympics are showing "rust" and "black spots"? The Brazilian mint had to fix about 130 of them, but if I were the athletes in question, I'd just buy my own, because the chance that whatever Rio sends back is either radioactive or made from gluing together asbestos and hypodermic needles is just too high to risk.