I grew up in a home that maintained unwavering allegiance to each of Philadelphia’s four major sports teams. When my parents moved to South Jersey from upstate New York in the mid-seventies, they slowly abandoned previous loyalties to teams like the Yankees in baseball and the Browns in football (hey, Jim Brown is an alum of Syracuse, and apparently those alliances run deep. Right, Afino?) And what a time to move to Philly, eh? In order to welcome my parents to the city, the Flyers decided to win back-to-back Cups in a blue-collar style befitting the the fanbase. This is the last time the city enjoyed back-to-back championships, and the Orange and Black have waved proudly in my dad’s den ever since.
My mom, like many moms, is a sports fan by association. She can’t help that primetime television is eschewed in favor of a meaningless intra-division Flyers-Isles game in late October. Her sports background is irrelevant; she married an avid sports fan, and even worse, she gave birth to a son who may like sports even more than the patriarch. Sure, you may have counterattacked by having a girl, but the men of the house turned her, too. Rumor has it she wore her Chase Utley jersey to teach the first-graders back in my hometown today. (She’s a hopeful soul.) Fortunately for my family, my mom isn’t adverse to being a spectator; in recent years, she’s become as much of a die-hard Philly fan as the rest of us.
Unfortunately for Scott Gomez, that means my mom hates your freakin’ guts.
Every rival has a villain, and it’s easy for the casual fan to direct all their anger towards that villain. For Flyers fans over the past decade, the targets have been easily identifiable. Konstantinov in Detroit. Kasparitis in Pittsburgh. Barnaby in Buffalo. Stevens in New Jersey. Hell, even Brad Richards became quietly hated in our town as he managed to score a point every time he touched the damn puck in the ’04 playoffs. But none of these names mean anything to my mom, who catches glimpses of hockey as my dad flips channels. Her fury is reserved for one man, and one man alone. Yep, former New Jersey Devils center-man Scott Gomez.
First, let me dispel the conventional wisdom from the get-go: this isn’t a race thing. It may be true that Scott Gomez is the first player in the NHL of Mexican descent. But my mom’s cool with Mexicans. If anything, she hates Alaskans. Gomez was born in Anchorage, so that might be the reason for her strong loathing of an above-average offensive player. No. Wait a minute. She used to make us turn off the Flyers game when Northern Exposure was on. So maybe she doesn’t hate Alaskans after all. Maybe she hates Alexicans.
It could be the name. Think about it – Gomez. Gomez is just one of those names that villains have. Want to know if your last name is a name of villainy? Answer these two simple questions:
- Does your name sound good if Superintendent Chalmers were to say it loudly in frustration?
- Can you imagine someone saying your name whilst shaking their fist towards the heavens?
Needless to say, Scott Gomez can answer yes on both counts.
But ultimately, I think the reason my mom hates you so much, Scott Gomez, is the fact that you simply are wearing the wrong colored jersey. You happen to play for the one time that frustrated the Flyers throughout the nineties, and because of the whole name thing, you’ve become the focal point for matriarchal ire in our household. But, hey, it’s just a jersey, and you were a free agent this past summer. WIth one flick of the wrist, you could sign away the eyes of my mom boring a hole in the back of your scalp. So where did you pick to go, Scotty my boy? San Jose? Montreal?
NEW YORK RANGERS???
You, sir, are a lost cause.