But I've also managed to follow two sports teams that have some of the most hated/polarizing athletes in their given leagues (the Penguins with Sidney Crosby and the New York Giants with Eli Manning). Hating Manning always made a little more sense to me: his Elmer Fudd accent, refusal to play in San Diego and the tides of nepotism all made him an easy target.
The hatred of Crosby is an interesting little dichotomy. On one hand, he's the ultimate Pepsi Challenge; I'm completely convinced that if he was some guy who wore a blank jersey, his high-effort and unselfish playing style would make hockey snobs swoon. Yet much like our nation's preference of Coca-Cola, the key really is in packaging. Hockey fans live with an inferiority complex: our game is fast, exciting and violent ... all the elements of what football should be ... but most of America could give a shit. So when one guy gets as much attention as Crosby receives, it's natural that many fans react to Crosby like he's pushing them into a locker while wearing a letter jacket. Or calling them "Darrrsh!"
I get it. Seriously, I really do. I'd probably hate him if I wasn't a Penguins fan. I think.
But as a fan of both the Giants and Penguins for as long as I've followed either sport, I am "stuck" with Eli and "Cindy." Even if those two teams saw a marathon of 0-22 drubbings to the Carolina Panthers and seasons with Dick Tarnstrom as their scoring leader, I would have been there through it all.
There are plenty of places to read gloating/ecstatic Penguins fans. So I'll try to spare you as much as possible.
The only other thing I'll offer is this: the fact that the Penguins beat the Red Wings makes it much sweeter. And not because of the tired Hossa storyline (although that did make me laugh). No, it was sweeter because the Red Wings are the greatest sports franchise on the face of the earth. Up and down their roster and all throughout their organization, there is nothing but competence. As I pointed out to a friend, it's one thing to win a championship by beating the Seattle Seahawks or some Cinderella team. But being a true juggernaut? That's special.
OK, that's my paragraph of annoyance. (One question, though: how am I supposed to feel about Marc Andre Fleury and Jordan Staal now? Not sure I can be objective about those two ever again.)
We should have big events for: the NHL draft, Free Agency, the release of NHL '10/NHL 2K10, Fantasy Hockey drafts and the opening of the 09-10 season. So keep us in your minds, hearts and Google Reader subscription lists.