On Being a Die-Hard Fan of a Pathetic Sports Franchise

Why have I been cursed with the Panthers? WHY?!?!?!?!? (Screen shot from http://youtu.be/NTSbNNoG7hU)

Why have I been cursed with the Panthers? WHY?!?!?!?!? (Screen shot from http://youtu.be/NTSbNNoG7hU)

If you’re a true sports fan, you know there’s really no choice about what teams you like. As with your family, you’re simply born into what sports team(s) you will root for for as long as you live. As Bill Simmons explained a few years back, there are very few legitimate reasons that you could become a fan of a team that does not hail from the city or region you were born in.

I was born in South Florida. There are many, many great things about South Florida, just as there are some truly terrible things about it. Most of the time, I like it here just fine. As a sports fan, though, things have kind of sucked lately. The sports teams I have been destined to follow, namely the Florida Miami Marlins, Miami Dolphins and Florida Panthers, are pretty much the worst.

In my lifetime, I have seen two World Series victories courtesy of the Florida Marlins and three NBA championships thanks to Pat Riley AKA GANGSTER, DON, PIMP, GODFATHER (seriously, thanks Pat). If you’re looking for something negative about the Heat, you should probably look somewhere else. Although they took me to the brink of insanity last season and have been dismal at times, I have no complaints about the Heat. I can’t even complain about when they were terrible because it was all part of Riley’s plan to get LeBron and Bosh to join Wade and form the most enjoyable team of my lifetime. Without the Heat, I would have taken up gardening long ago.

All in all, the Heat’s success and the Marlins two fluke championships are pretty good for someone that’s only 24 and more than fans of some cities have seen in their lifetimes (sorry, Cleveland). I really shouldn’t complain. But I will.

Because, if I’m being honest, the Marlins suck. Aside from those two random years, they’ve perpetually been one of the worst teams in baseball. As if being consistently terrible wasn’t enough, the Marlins also made what might prove to be the dumbest trade in baseball history.

On December 5, 2007, the Marlins traded MIGUEL CABRERA and Dontrelle Willis to the Detroit Tigers for Cameron Maybin, Andrew Miller, Mike Rabelo, and some other minor leaguers that I won’t waste your time by mentioning. Just take a minute to read that again. Yeah, that’s right. The Marlins traded the best player of his generation in Cabrera, a possible top-5 all-time player, for a couple decent players who, oh yeah, aren’t even on the Marlins anymore. And to put the cherry on top of that crap sundae, the Marlins have a maniacal art dealer running their baseball operations.

Due to all of this, the day that the Marlins season ends is one one of the happiest days in the whole year for me. I value it more than my birthday. The only problem with the end of the Marlins season though, is that it means the Dolphins season has just started.

Now I love the Dolphins, but they suck worse than the Marlins. The Marlins have at least fluked their way into two World Series victories. Sure, the Fins have had some good times, but I don’t remember them. I was born long after the undefeated season and I was only 10 when Marino retired.

But man, I sure remember the post-Marino years. The Fins have only made it to the playoffs three times since number 13 hung ’em up. Our best quarterback in 13 years has been Chad Pennington. The best player over that period was, arguably, Ricky Williams, who quit football and went to live in a tent in Australia because Dave Wannstedt ran him into the ground. To make things worse, the Dolphins have been the worst kind of terrible since Marino: just bad enough to miss the playoffs and just good enough to keep from getting a high draft pick. And the one time we did get a first overall pick we took Jake Long instead of Matt Ryan.

At least, though, there is hope with the Dolphins. Ryan Tannehill looks like he might be the real deal and we have an owner willing to spend some serious cash to make this team good again. That might not be enough, but, hey, it’s a start. As god-awful as the Dolphins and Marlins have been, however, doesn’t come close to the pathetic display that the Panthers have put on these past 20 years. And this has pained me the most.

Bring us hope Tannehill. (Screen shot from http://youtu.be/Lukw8UmfKtw)

Bring us hope Tannehill. (Screen shot from http://youtu.be/Lukw8UmfKtw)

Out of all of these losers, the Panthers are my favorite. They always have been and always will be. I’ve loved hockey since seeing my first game and since that fateful day the Cats have been my squad. If I could see any one of my teams win a championship, I’d pick the Panthers to win the Stanley Cup without even thinking about it. I want to see it so bad, in fact, that I’d return both World Series and all three NBA Championships if it meant the Cats could raise the Cup just once. But I’m not kidding myself. It’s never going to happen.

In comparison, the Panthers stunning ineptitude at putting together anything resembling a competitive hockey team makes the Marlins and Dolphins look like MacArthur genius grant recipients. They’ve whiffed on so many draft picks and made so many insanely bad trades that I’m getting sick just thinking about it. Quick! someone pass me a bucket … thanks … sorry I got some of that on your shoes. In 19 years (this is their 20th), they’ve only made the playoffs four times and only made it out of the first round once. And this is in a league where over half the teams make the playoffs!

And it would be one thing if the Panthers were just terrible, but as a hockey fan in South Florida things get much worse. Not only do the Panthers NEVER get any national media coverage (and deservedly so), but they don’t get any local coverage, either. There’s nothing on talk radio, barely anything in the newspaper, and bartenders give you a weird look if you ask to put the game on. The market down here barely knows the Panthers exist.

Fans from other cities, when they aren’t making jokes about how terrible Florida is, constantly call for the team to be moved to Quebec. Surely, they think, Panthers fans can’t be TRUE fans; they probably don’t even know what icing is. And it doesn’t matter that all of that is wrong because it’s what the general perception is so you’re forced to read about it any time the Panthers happen to be brought up, which is usually because something terrible — like Richard Zednik’s injury — happened. It has all added up to make the worst sports experience of my life. And yet every season they pull me back in! It is, after all, my destiny.

So to all you fans of pathetic sports teams out there, I understand your pain. I get it Jacksonville Jaguar fans you guys are brutal. Yes, Atlanta Hawks fans, I know the frustration that comes with consistent mediocrity. Cubs fans, I too know of the despair that sets in when all hope is lost. And, Cleveland … well … er … Cleveland. I’m sorry, but to you poor souls I can offer neither comfort nor empathy. I can’t imagine what it’s been like to be a fan in Cleveland. There is no hope for you.

I hear bird watching is nice.


CharlieCharlie Crespo (@Little_Utopia) is the editor-in-chief of Little Utopia.

Previously from Charlie Crespo:
Viral Video of the Week: BatDad Begins
Thank You For Not Governing!
Viral Video of the Week: Fly Like an Eagle
The Rise of Ryan Tannehill
Upcoming Changes to Little Utopia

One response to “On Being a Die-Hard Fan of a Pathetic Sports Franchise

  1. Poor Panthers. In the words of Dan Le Batard “Welcome to another decade of irrelevance”. Which is more than I can say for Cleveland unless LeBron goes home, or starts playing hockey

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