By Tim Baffoe-
(CBS) Tell me on the spot to rank my favorite films or list in order my relatives that are worthy of tasering from least to most, and I’ll hate you for it. Ranking the artistic is something I’ve long loathed because it requires you to essentially say one piece of art is inferior to another—which on a list of “greatests” can feel plain wrong—and in the end nobody agrees with your choices, and more family need to be tasered and what have you.
But as the fine Will Leitch put it earlier this week, “Lists are perfect for the end of the year because they have a certain finality, they feel relevant and they’re so much easier than writing an actual essay, with a beginning and an end and transitions and all that laborious unpleasantness.” Leitch Johnson is right. He’s also wrong because coming up with an actual list—who or what goes on it, who or what is omitted, round number or random number, etc.—can be a serious pain. Luckily sports aren’t as artistic, unless you’re into figure skating or rhythmic gymnastics, in which case you need to stay the hell away from me because no sport should rely solely on subjective judging. They also demand lists—stat graphics, TV shows dedicated to them, monolithic websites fueled by them. Sports are inundated with lists.
So why not another? There was a lot of massive fecality in Chicago sports in 2012, both on and off the field. Here I try to encapsulate it all, a damn near impossible task, but then again, I’m used to the impossible. I give you the 10 worst things about Chicago sports in 2012. Bask in the suck.
10. The critical hypocrisy of NIU making the Orange Bowl: it infamously began with ESPN lamenting its ratings taking a hit and Kirk Herbstreit acting like the dbag antagonist in a romantic comedy. The same Kirk Herbstreit who thinks the power of the underdog applies to the championship game but not other major bowls, I guess. And on a network that butters its bread with glorifying the little guy and force feeding viewers feel-good trite. ESPN certainly hasn’t been the only critic of NIU’s trip to Miami, but in a sports culture that too often champions heartwarming—something I usually don’t buy into—I don’t get why NIU doing nothing wrong whatsoever and being selected by the rules of a system in place gets poo-pooed.
9. Bears players vs. fan criticism: this makes the list because it’s just so utterly stupid on both sides. Brian Urlacher spoke the truth in that athletes overall don’t care what fans think despite what PR machines try to make fans believe. A fan wants to think his or her opinion matters to these superhumans playing a game, but it doesn’t. One of the worst parts of any celebrity’s life is having to endure people walking up to him/her and telling them “What you should do is…” and “I didn’t like when you…” Lance Briggs was wrong in that Chicago fans boo more than others. The words of both Bear greats got the base fans in a lather. “I can boo all I want! I pay your salary! I wear your jersey because I have a subconscious need to play pretend to suppress my lack of feeling of self-worth!” Yes, fans can boo and criticize. Yes, players can show their distaste for that. Yes, I can think both sides accomplish nothing in this tug of dumbass.
8. The Cubs: yes, I understand these are the growing pains of the Epstein/Hoyer rebuilding project. Yes, I have faith in the guys in charge. Yes, I knew before the 2012 season started that the Cubs would be really, truly, fantastically bad. That doesn’t mean I have to like it. Being a Cub fan is like being raised by awful vegan parents and watching your normal friends enjoy the awesomeness of chewing animal flesh and every damn friggin’ year having your parents say “Next year we’ll consider letting you eat meat.” Except now it’s “Okay, we know you’ve been jerked around all your life, but we promise you can have meat three years from now if you’ll just be patient.”
7. Alshon Jeffries: THAT’S NOT HIS NAME, YOU UNBELIEVABLY STUPID PEOPLE. WHY IS IT SO DIFFICULT TO NOT PLURALIZE THIS MAN’S LAST NAME AND NOT SOUND LIKE YOU TAKE A TWO-BY-FOUR TO THE SKULL ON A DAILY BASIS? IT’S NOT SOMETHING EASTERN EUROPEAN THAT I COULD FORGIVE FOR BEING UNORTHODOX TO IGNORANT AMERICAN TONGUES, SO WHY IS THIS SO HARD? “JEFFERY.” SAY IT. SAY IT AGAIN. NO “S.” I HATE YOU PEOPLE.
6. White Sox attendance: I’ve chalked it up to cheapness. Many fans themselves come up with excuses about various inconveniences—commuting from suburbs, falsely accusing the area surrounding U.S. Cellular Field of being full of dangerous brown people, etc. Bottom line—an organization that tries really hard to please its fans, both with the experience of attending a Major League Baseball game and the on-field product itself should not consistently see such attendance figures. It’s shameful, and it really sucks for Sox fans who really do make a concerted effort to support the team to get lumped into a label of a mediocre fanbase. I’m someone who hates to see something good go unappreciated—I’ll chastise you for not seeing a certain movie or not reading a certain book. I’ll do the same for not showing up for a good baseball team. Sox fans are not the fanbase they are often stereotyped to be—I know too many great Sox fans for it to be otherwise. It would be nice if more proved that, though.
5. “We”: until it is eradicated from fan conversations about teams, I will continue to fight against this. When discussing your favorite team, stop… using… “we.” Maybe I just noticed it more this year because of Chicago’s overall sports futility and was thus far more easily annoyed, but there seemed to be a spike in fans nonchalantly giving themselves contracts with the pro teams around here in 2012. “We need ta getta better leadoff guy.” No, “we” don’t because you work in accounting for company that sells colostomy bags. “We gotta stop trowing innerceptions.” No, “we” need to stop watching The Big Bang Theory to feel smart. And smart is the issue here. Referring to a team as “we” when you don’t get a paycheck from the owner or championship ring when they hand them out makes you sound very idiotic. Now, if you will concede that you are an idiot when using that pronoun, I will have no problem with you using it, e.g. “I am an idiot, and I believe we are rushing Derrick Rose back too quick.” I can agree with we on that.
4. The Bears being defined after every game by that game: after every win during the 7-1 period of 2012, fans had Super Bowl dreams. Hey, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t very excited, too. Then after every subsequent loss trades, cuts, and firings absolutely had to be made. And if the Bears beat the Detroit Lions on Sunday, fans will begin to formulate placebos of how to beat the playoff opponent that just likely won’t come true. What the Bears are is a team capable of a 7-1 streak and a 1-5 streak, which is a slightly-above-average team. They’re not great, but they’re not awful. And they’re very much not whatever happened in the previous game.
3. Blackhawks locked out: you don’t have to be a hockey fan to appreciate how terrible it is that an entire league has been shut down for this long. Sports are a business, as much as most of us hate to acknowledge that, but it shouldn’t be like this. The sheer heinous crap of it all can no longer even be discussed in new ways. There just needs to be hockey, if for nothing more that I kind of miss the hockey vs. basketball stupid argument that might have made this list had the Blackhawks played games these past few months.
2. Derrick Rose injury: the single worst in-game thing to happen to Chicago sports in 2012. Far and away. I was in the Dominican Republic when it happened and got text messages immediately from people who knew I was out of the country and whom I told I was shutting off my cell phone (I lied). Of all the 2012 Chicago teams, the Bulls in the spring were probably the best, and that ACL tear also tore the collective heart from all of our chests. Not only did it bring an abrupt end to the good vibes for the present, it took a nice dump on the future, too, since Rose would have to miss part of the next season (which hasn’t sunk this season’s team, a testament to the great coaching of Tom Thibodeau), and who knows how his game will be impacted. You know those theological conversations people have about why God would make disease or war? Anterior cruciate ligaments need to be added to those.
1. Fan interaction on social media: I can avoid going to card shows or car dealership promotions featuring an athlete. Those are places where very sad adults congregate to ask for other adults to write on a hat or jersey because these people have very sad lives or are trying to sell those autographed hats and jerseys to other adults with sad lives. What I have a much more difficult time avoiding because of my place here is those same pathetic people doing the internet equivalent of asking for autographs—asking for a retweet on Twitter. And, boy, does Chicago have some these shallow people. I wish athletes wouldn’t encourage this stuff by actually granting the weak wishes, but I guess they look at it as a good deed rather than furthering bad fan behavior. “Hey, can you click a button because I kissed your ass on the Internet to validate my sorry existence for a few minutes before I go back to not liking myself and finding other ways to get the Internet to replace for me what real life can’t?” Am I a bad guy for hating to read that garbage? No. And stop implying you want an athlete’s approval by tweeting pictures of you or your kid wearing a jersey or holding up a sign, the “Oh, I’m going to try to get retweeted without blatantly asking for it.” No, we see what you’re doing. You’re awful people.
I sincerely hope 2013 brings all of us who love Chicago sports much better. And I hope all of us—yes, me as well—strive to be better fans next year in the process.
Tim Baffoe attended the University of Iowa and Governors State University and began blogging at The Score after winning the 2011 Pepsi Max Score Search. He enjoys writing things about stuff, but not so much stuff about things. When not writing for 670TheScore.com, Tim corrupts America’s youth as a high school English teacher and provides a great service to his South Side community delivering pizzas (please tip him and his colleagues well). You can follow Tim’s inappropriate brain droppings on Twitter @Ten_Foot_Midget , but please don’t follow him in real life. He grew up in Chicago’s Beverly To read more of Tim’s blogs click here.