Where's the hate?
I have an idea, but I'm nervous about sharing it. I don't want to be branded a hate-monger, like Fred Phelps or Glenn Beck. Love is a better thing to be associated with; it's one of the reasons that the Beatles ("All You Need Is Love") are a greater band than the Stones (Their Satanic Majesties Request). That being said, I think Portland sports fans should get their hate on. And who should we hate? The answer is easy and plausible: we should hate Manchester, New Hampshire.
Rivalries are a cornerstone of sports. Whether it's Texas/Oklahoma, Harvard/Yale, Dodgers/Giants, Springfield/Shelbyville, or the gold standard of Red Sox/Yankees, having a dreaded archenemy is the glue that holds teams, towns, states, and schools together. Where would Batman be without the Joker, or Michigan without Ohio State? Knowing who your enemy is helps you understand who you are, plus, in sports, it's fun. That's why we should hate Manchester. Familiarity breeds contempt, and not only is Manchester close, but their teams are division rivals to ours. We play them all the time. The Sea Dogs battle the New Hampshire Fisher Cats (dumb name) in the Eastern League's Northern Division, and the Pirates skate against the Manchester Monarchs (like the pretty butterflies; dumb name) in the Atlantic Division of the American Hockey League.
Really, I don't know why I had to think of this. It should have happened on its own. Don't we hate Manchester already? I do. That town blows. I hate their airport, which is always trying to outmuscle ours. I hate how their Verizon Wireless Arena, which opened in 2001, gets better concerts than our Civic Center (Bowie played there in 2004), and, according to friends of mine, better wrestlers when WWE visits. When is the last time Bowie played our building? Never.
Maybe their arena makes me jealous, one of the seven deadly sins, but don't think that Manchester isn't jealous of us. The always popular Sea Dogs became even more beloved upon affiliating with the Red Sox a few seasons ago, but those affiliations change, and when ours is up for renewal, don't think Manchester won't try to lure the Red Sox away. Currently, the Fisher Cats are in the Toronto Blue Jays' minor-league system, but their baseball brain trust knows that putting a Red Sox patch on their uniform would put fannies in their seats, just like it did for the Sea Dogs. Manchester tried to get the Maine Red Claws (dumb name), our new NBA D-League team, and when the chance arises, they'll try to get our Major League affiliate, too. Manchester is sneaky like that. They cannot be trusted.
How do we get started? Maybe with a Sea Dogs/Fisher Cat bench-clear at Hadlock on May 19, when the teams meet for the first time in 2009. Or maybe our mayors should fight. Jill Duson could kick Frank Guinta's (dumb name) ass, Thunderdome-style. Two mayors enter, one mayor leaves. Maybe we should taunt Manchester because, as school kids know, words hurt. A couple of weeks back, when the Pirates ended the Monarchs' season by handing them a 5-4 loss in front of 8000 Manchester fans, as everyone filed out, crushed and disappointed, I would have shouted, Yeah, you got a much nicer arena. It has more seats. It's newer. The bathrooms are nicer. David Bowie played here and he's never played in our building, which is a turd, but you know what our building does have? Starting next week, it has playoff hockey, so suck it!