Friday, June 10, 2011

Jonah Keri Should Never Write About Hockey Ever Again

I am pretty sure Jonah Keri knows little about hockey. If he does, the article he wrote for GQ today does not show it. In fact, in bashing Boston Bruins fans, he shows an utter ignorance of the sport, the culture of the sport, and an ignorance on what makes a good piece of writing, something I figured a guy who wrote a book might actually know how to do. Here is an FJM-style of take down of his article. His words are in italics, my commentary is in the normal font you see on this site.

First off the headline: The Boston Bruins vs. The World. Why everyone - yes, everyone - outside of Boston is rooting against the Bruins in this year's Stanley Cup Finals. And why the city deserves nothing less.

The crowd at TD Garden had spent the night in a state of frothy delirium, singing, chanting, double-fisting. Down 2-0 in the series, their Bruins had potted 12 goals in the ensuing two games. Two bloody massacres, filling Boston with the kind of braggadocio it'd been missing for a solid 10 minutes. Back from the brink of elimination and now just two games short of their goal, Bruins fans had a new battle cry:


Yes. The same battle cry that has infiltrated Edmonton, Los Angeles, Binghamton, Vancouver, Vancouver, and Vancouver. But no, those "braggadocio" Bruins fans are alone in chanting "WE WANT THE CUP!" before any Cup has been win. Keep believing that, Jonah. You are only one paragraph one and you already have a gross mischaracterization. It does not take a rocket scientist to conclude that more will be coming up.

Of course you want the Cup. Everyone wants the Cup.

Did I mention they want the Cup in Vancouver? Because they want the Cup in Vancouver.

They want it in Buffalo, where snake-bitten fans have seen their dreams crushed for decades. They want it in Minneapolis and St. Paul, where two different franchises have struggled in vain to get close. They want it in Winnipeg, 15 years after the Jets left town, months before a new, nameless team takes the ice.

So what makes Boston chanting it any different?

They want it in Buffalo, where snake-bitten fans have seen their dreams crushed for decades. They want it in Minneapolis and St. Paul, where two different franchises have struggled in vain to get close. They want it in Winnipeg, 15 years after the Jets left town, months before a new, nameless team takes the ice.

Still not explaining why Boston is any different.......

But you, Bruins fans? No one wants you to have it.

Yeah! You hear that, Bruins fans? Not a single person in America wants you to win the Stanley Cup! Nobody! Hell, even people in Siberia are rooting for Vancouver. You sure showed them, Jonah!

Psssst, Jonah, if you are going to make broad assertions like that, you might want to actually survey a few people, just to be sure. Because, you know, not everyone thinks like you.

Oh sure, there are plenty of perfectly good reasons to jump on the Bruins bandwagon. This is an anonymous, lunch pail-carrying team. Only one Bruin cracked 30 goals this season, and he's a gritty two-way player from Vancouver who goes by Looch. One of their best players is a 21-year NHL veteran, also from B.C., still going strong at 43. Boston's goalie was a 217th overall draft pick, toiled for years in the minors and in Europe, didn't become a starter until age 31, and six years later might be the best netminder on the planet.

This series should have reinforced pro-Bruins sentiment. Vancouver's Alex Burrows biting Patrice Bergeron's fingers was a punk move, one that would have been handled with a flurry of right hooks to the head if this were 30 years ago and the game hadn't turned away from fighting. Maxim Lapierre's Game 2 taunt, where he stuck his fingers in Bergeron's face and dared him to bite back, wasn't much better.

And there's The Hit. Five minutes into Game 3, Aaron Rome lined up Nathan Horton, watched him get rid of the puck, took three strides, dipped his shoulder, leapt for the head, and blew him up. However you felt about the hit, you had to feel for Horton, laid out on the ice, his teammates and 17,565 spectators looking on in horror, medics fumbling with a stretcher, trying to stabilize the big Ontarian before the frantic ride to Mass General.

The Bruins responded with eight goals in the final two periods. After the game, they placed The Jacket—an old Bruins warmup awarded to a player who made a special contribution to that night's victory—in Horton's locker. The last player to receive The Jacket was also Horton, after his game-winning goal in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals. This was Win One for the Gipper stuff, the 1970 Willis Reed-inspired Knicks crossed with the '93 Islanders rallying after Dale Hunter cheapshotted Pierre Turgeon's shoulder into oblivion.

So even though these Bruins are a great emotional story comparable to legends and the Canucks are a bunch of no good dirty goons, you should totally root for the Canucks just because their fans are horrible for no explanation you ever gave!

And you know what? We're still not rooting for you.

Awwwww, but that comparison you made to the Gipper really inspired me. It moved me to tears. I think I want Boston to win now.

No one in Canada wants you to win, of course. Not when a Canadian team might bring the Cup back home for the first time in 18 years.Jonah does realize a segment of the Canadian population is very anti-Canuck right now, right? Oh look what I just did. I backed up something I said with an article from a popular Canadian media source. What a novel concept that is.

But U.S. hockey fans aren't behind you either. There's none of that (slightly weird) national pride here. Flyers fans hate Boston. Rangers fans hate Boston. Casual hockey fans in Boise or Mobile are, at best, indifferent about Boston.

This Flyers fans hates Boston. This Flyers fans hate the Boston Bruins. This Flyers fan also hates crappy writing consisting entirely of generalizations, mischaracterizations, and half truths, and a bitterness that I will get to later. An example of this crappy writing, this article by Jonah Keri I am tearing apart.

You know what everyone really hates? When Boston fans complain about The Drought. The Bruins haven't won a Stanley Cup since 1972. Old-timers get weepy for Orr and Esposito and Bucyk, wish for one more Cup before they die.

So I guess all those people in Boston who were hockey fans first count for nothing then, eh? I think most people who read my work regularly know this, but the first team I ever fell in love with was the Flyers. While I have no recollections of the actual teams themselves, I recall watching Flyers games with my parents as far back as the early 1990s, right around the time I was in pre-school. Who is to say people like me do not exist in Boston that want a Bruins Stanley Cup more than another Celtics championship, another Red Sox championship, and/or another Patriots championship?

Sure, Boston was once a suffering sports town. Injuries derailed Larry Bird's career, and Lenny Bias' tragic death sent the Celtics into mediocrity for nearly two decades. The mismanaged Red Sox ran out a series of bloated, overpaid veterans, only to see the rest of the division—Toronto, Baltimore, and the hated Yankees—stomp all over them. Curse or not, 86 years without a title would wound any sports fan. The Patriots? They just sucked. So yeah, those were tough times for Boston sports fans.

So Boston was once a suffering sports town now on the rise? Isn't this yet another reason to root for the Bruins? So far, Jonah Keri has given us numerous reasons to root for the Bruins and no reason to root against the Bruins.

Now? You sound like the douchebag who bitches that, after the three-bedroom in Tribeca, the place in the Hamptons, the kids' boarding school, the annual trips to Paris and Aruba, the four cars, and two alimonies, you've barely got enough left for that third bottle of Dom at Per Se.

Okay, reason number 1 to root against Boston: Their fans are whiny! Forget about how likable Jonah Keri says this team is, root against them because of the whiny fans! YEAH!

You will note the complete lack of quotes, statistics, or personal experiences backing up Keri's assertions.

The vast, vast, vast majority of Bruins fans are also Sox fans, C's fans, and Pats fans. The Celtics won the city's most recent title, in 2008. If the Bruins win the Cup this year, the Boston pro sports team with the longest championship drought will be the Patriots, who won the Super Bowl in...2004.

Has he been to Boston? Does he know this for sure? A vast majority of Flyers fans are not Sixers fans. Who is to say the same is not the same for some teams in Boston. I have never been to Boston. I have never experienced the Boston sports culture personally for myself. I will not jump to generalizations like Jonah Keri in defending them. If Keri has been to Boston and has experiences backing up what he says, then now would be a good place to insert them. Points like this need supporting details. Let's see what Keri offers up.

Meanwhile, the Canucks have existed for 41 years and haven't won jack. Vancouver had an NBA team once. They were run into the ground by an incompetent stooge, then shipped off to Memphis. Nope. Nothing. He just draws up sympathy for a team he already indirectly characterized as dirty and evil.

We hope Nathan Horton makes a full recovery. We feel for the 12 Bruins fans who've shunned the city's other franchises and waited nearly 40 years for their shot.

I think that first sentence is the first place where I agree with Keri. We all hope Nathan Horton can make a full recovery. Wait, Keri counted fans? What about Bruins fans that ignore football and basketball and only watches baseball? Is Boston really only 12 hockey fans and everyone else is a 4-sport sports fan? Really? You see how lofty it is. Also, it is not like diehard Boston fans who have been fans for 20+ years of their lives of all 4 sports teams actually made had in any say in what happened. Lament the bandwagoners all you want, but Boston has a lot of suffering sports fans that are celebrating a plethora of good sports fortune for the first time in their lives over the past decade. It's not their doing.

I'm just gonna throw this out there, illustrating how the mainstream media is able to dictate narratives even if it goes against what is happening. The popular notion is that Boston wins everything this decade. Well, it just so happens that at the conclusion of the latest full MLB, NFL, NHL, and NBA season, only one city can say that all four of their teams made the playoffs. As shocking as it may be, that city is not Boston.

That city is Philadelphia.

But Philadelphia is the hateable city with crappy teams and the world's worst drunks. At least according to most people in the media. Perhaps even to Jonah Keri. I can't wait to tear apart his future article on Philadelphia sports fans.

The rest of you? Prepare yourselves for heartbreak. Until the day after Vancouver wins the Cup, when you can watch your first-place Red Sox try to break Boston's Three-Year Curse.

So the Bruins will lose because of the success of the Celtics, Red Sox, and Patriots? That makes no sense. And who has ever said anything about the Red Sox being cursed again?

So in summation, here are Keri's reasons for rooting against the Boston Bruins and why everyone outside of Boston is rooting for the Canucks.

1). The Celtics, Patriots, and Red Sox have all had a lot of recent success.
2). Boston fans whine about the Bruins not winning anything since 1970.

Blown away yet? In Keri's mind, everyone is rooting against the Bruins for reasons that have no actual bearing on the Bruins themselves. Hell, Keri even paints the Bruins themselves as victims worthy of support in his article.

Keri claims his article is tongue-in-cheek. I say that even for a tongue-in-check article, there are mischaracterizations and generalizations that have nothing to do with Boston and Bruins fans (example: all Canada rooting for the Canucks). I searched and searched for an explanation on why Keri could possibly be writing such an article about Bruins fans. After rigorous searching of his Twitter feed, I found the answer.

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