Off The Record: Card fans see 'red' over column

March 22, 2004|HERB BROCK

There are the seven-year locusts. There are the 17-year cicadas. Now there is the three-year Card baiter.

You're familiar with the locust thing. According to anicent lore, every seven years a swarm of locusts descends upon farm fields, devours every crop and leaves famine in its wake. The cicadas do pretty much the same thing but every 17 years.

The Card baiter is not an insect but apparently just as destructive. He is a certain alleged columnist from Danville who, every three years, descends upon on fans of the University of Louisville basketball team, spits venomous anti-U of L copy on them and leaves anger in his wake.

The Card baiter would be me. I'm not quite in the same league as locusts since they have been doing their evil thing for thousands of years and I have done mine only twice - once in March 2001 when former University of Kentucky men's basketball coach Rick Pitino became the coach at U of L and again a couple of weeks ago when I observed his three-year anniversary with the Cardinals.


Just like my March 2001 column, the one two weeks ago, headlined "Lousyville morphs into Rickyville," had Card fans seeing red.

The 2001 column drew more than 100 e-mails, faxes, letters and calls. Many of them were lengthy evaluations of my heritage, intelligence and sexual habits and orientation. My favorite "compliment" was short and sweet (to U of L fans): "Herb, you are quite the ass."

The 2004 column so far has drawn about half the number of responses but all were just as flattering. Many of them also were long, well-written, and, in lots of cases, rational critiques of my ranting as well as my family tree, IQ and personal habits. Like last time, my favorite response, though, also was a concise "compliment": "You're a piece of garbage."

The 2001 invasion of the Card-baiter essentially was an attack not so much on Pitino but on the U of L fans and the Louisville media. Strip away the venomous verbiage and my two basic points were:

A. - While some UK fans went overboard with their "Rick Pitino is Benedict Arnold" allegation of treachery, all of Big Blue Nation should not have been ridiculed by Planet Red and the Louisville media for their largely understandable reactions to Pitino going to archrival U of L; and B. - A double standard was applied by said planet and media because, while they thought it was worth noting that UK fans believed Pitino had gone from a saint to Satan, it wasn't worth noting that he had gone from Satan to a saint in the eyes of U of L fans, who used to despise him with as much hatred as they now worship him with so much adulation.

The 2004 version of the invasion of the Card-baiter essentially repeated the points made three years earlier, underscoring them with my contention that Pitino actually is regarded by U of L fans and Louisville media much more highly and they have elevated him to a much higher status than he was as an icon of Big Blue Nation. He has gone from a saint to a god.

I then added some seasoning to the venom by trashing the city of Louisville, saying its overinflated ego was a great match for Pitino's and recalling proof of that assertion based on a trip I made to the River City as a college student in the middle of the last century.

Memo to Card fans: I admit the recent column was a bit of a rambling, hyperbolic harrangue. It was more tongue-in-cheek than true-feelings-from-the-heart. And, as it turns out, to Card fans at least the column was less tongue-in-cheek and more foot-in-mouth.

Thus, I accept the criticisms and respect the critics - with one exception.

In the recent column I referred to a time more than three decades ago when I and some friends from Georgetown College were taunted by U of L fans at a Georgetown-U of L game in Louisville. I said that I found it interesting that these allegedly urbane, sophisticated, big-city guys who were calling us hicks actually were the ones who spoke in double negatives, were missing several of their teeth and were generally fitting the neanderthal stereotype they were trying to pin on us.

Well, a few e-mailers inferred from my account of the episode that the U of L fans were African-Americans and that I must be a racist for mocking them. The U of L fans happened to be all white - I didn't think it mattered what their race was and didn't mention it - and that makes the critics of that part of the column all wet - and perhaps racist themselves for assuming that the ignorant taunters were black.

However, let me close this column in the spirit of fairness by offering a sampling, through excerpts, of the understandable vitriol in response to my "incomprehensible" venom:

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