Hey Philly, You Suck!

Part of the reason being a sports fan is so great is that it gives you unlimited opportunity to rip on your friends from other cities. When the Jets traded for Tim Tebow, the first thing I did was make sure to harass my buddy Jimmy, a Jets fan, by every means of electronic communication possible. (Though, really, that’s what he gets for Tebowing in his tux at his wedding last year, while Tebow was still in Denver. Thank god the rabbi didn’t see it.) Likewise, I’ve got a friend from Philadelphia, who every time a Philly fan does one of those things Philly fans do (vomiting, battery throwing, booing injured players), I make sure to send an email reminding him how boorish his people are.

The key here is that nobody actually takes any of this that seriously. It’s sports. It’s fun. Giving your friends crap is fun. Sure feathers get ruffled, but we’re all OK in the end. So after the Celtics beat the 76ers in Game 5 of their second-round playoff series Monday night, I should have loved it when Kevin Garnett called Philadelphia fans “fair-weather.” Instead, I rolled my eyes and said, oh boy, here we go. Not surprisingly, people have overreacted, and this whole thing has become a mini-controversy. One Philadelphia Inquirer writer named John Mitchell went over the top by responding that “fair-weathered beats bigoted everyday,” a reference to Boston’s racist past and the recent Joel Ward incident. Look, I understand that we’re going to be criticized for Boston’s racist reputation. Call it penitence for past sins. We’re not perfect, but we’re a thousand times better than we used to be, and we’re still making progress.

But Mitchell crossed the line from legitimate ribbing to maliciousness. What made his post particularly moronic — aside from the childishness of his “I know you are but what am I” premise — is how he implies that, if the Celtics fail to win the title, the city of Boston is going to viciously turn on Garnett, apparently because he’s black. He writes, “So my advice to you, KG, is that you’re better off winning this series, the next one and then the next. Because if you let those stalwart fans down, who knows what they’ll unleash on you. We do know what they are capable of.”

I checked the stats, and in the four seasons Kevin Garnett has completed so far here in Boston, the Celtics have only won one title. And yet, we haven’t had a single race riot against him. In fact, he remains one of the city’s most beloved athletes. Shocking, I know.

In any case, this is the type of stupidity that ensues when people go overboard taking offense to barbs against their city. We were guilty of it a couple months ago when Jonathan Papelbon declared Philly fans more knowledgeable about baseball than Red Sox fans. People flipped out a bit too much, taking Papelbon’s shot more personally than they needed to.

So please, Boston and Philadelphia sports fans, chill out a little so we can keep giving each other crap without going over the line. As a Bostonian, I want nothing more to rip on those scrapple-brained Santa-snipers to the south, and I’m quite sure that my friends in Philadelphia would like to keep trying to find something bad to say about us (a much harder task, since we’re pretty great). But it’s no fun if everyone is going to go nuclear about it every time.

We don’t even have to like each other. We just have to take each other’s insults in stride. So, in that spirit, I’ll say that I believe Philadelphia fans are emotionally underdeveloped neanderthals — the types who’d boo their mothers on Mother’s Day. Philly fans, I look forward to any comebacks. I think we’re all mature enough to take it.