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This Week in Disrespect: This was no broken windshield

February 22, 2013

It’s been a while since we had a frank, public discussion about disrespect. Maybe some of you out there figured we’d gotten past the whole “disrespect” angle. Perhaps there were a few ne’er-do-wells who would rather not face the ugly, brutal reality that the Lowell River Hawks are under a fierce and unrelenting siege from a bevy of malcontents. Does that accurately describe your view? Well, that’s disrespectful, and it has been noted in our archives; not at all where you want to be.

Submitted for your approval:

During the spring of 1954, the State of Washington experienced one of the most bizarre cases of collective delusion ever reported. Residents in the neighborhood of Bellingham reported to police that several dozen windshields were suddenly dinged and pitted. While the police attributed the damage to vandals with BB guns, the reports escalated quickly. Soon the reports reached nearby towns, and within a week there were cases being reported in the City of Seattle. The local newspapers began to run the story, and suddenly the police were besieged with phone calls from city residents claiming their windshields had also been damaged. On April 15 there had been over 3,000 complaints made to the police. A police official went on the record and was quoted as saying that the pitting incidents were “5 percent vandalism and 95 percent public hysteria.” By April 17 the reports stopped altogether.

During the incident, there were numerous theories discussed as to why exactly the windshields were being damaged. Some believed it to be the work of cosmic rays. Others argued that the United States Navy’s new million-watt transmitter was causing oscillation in the glass. And of course there were several different paranormal considerations, including “gremlins.”

A group delusion can be a powerful phenomenon. What makes a large number of normal people believe something so irrational with such zeal, and without first looking at rational explanations?  Psychologists continue to study these events, which occur today amidst our 24-hour new cycle and iPhones. But if these researchers truly want to hit the motherlode of all delusions, then they should pack up and move to Amherst.

Last week was supremely satisfying for Lowell fans. Once again, the ‘Hawks pummeled the pathetic Minutemen in what has become a predictable (yet entertaining) annual season sweep. We personally think it can be a selling point for new recruits. Out at a local restaurant, the captains can tell the River Hawks of the future about playing in a packed Tsongas Center, about putting that gorgeous blue sweater on for the first time, and about the annual trip to the woodshed on which Lowell takes Amherst on every season.

We’ll forgive Amherst fans if they don’t feel the same way. After all, it must be hard to be something so horrible. First your coach decides he’s finished. Second, you have to go to page seven of your list of candidates before you find someone desperate and/or gullible enough to “fill Toot’s shoes.” Lastly, and this cannot be stated with enough emphasis, your program has been a piping hot bucket of garbage water since the day you darkened Hockey East’s doorstep in 1994.

It’s true. Let’s look at some numbers.

Finishes:
3rd: 1
4th: 1
6th: 3
7th: 1
8th: 9
9th: 3

Mean: 7.2
Mode: 8
Median: 8

The numbers don’t lie; Amherst is awful.

Now, to give the above information some further context, consider:

  1. Amherst’s third-place finish (and coincidentally their only trip to the Hockey East title game) came after Lowell was forced to forfeit games because of noted blockhead Paul Falco, whom we haven’t ruled out as being a plant from the UMass Board of Trustees.
  2. Amherst has placed ahead of Lowell just five times in their Hockey East history. That’s five times in what will, come March, be 19 seasons.
  3. Going back to the 1998-99 season, Lowell has won the Alumni Cup 10 times to Amherst’s 4. (The 2003-04 Alumni Cup was won by Lowell and given to Amherst because of forfeits. Lowell won on the ice.)

Presented with this information, we feel safe to assume that the average, competent, non-brain damaged individual would conclude that Lowell is indeed better than Amherst.

Point of Order: Amherst would like to disagree.

After Lowell forced them to go out into the thicket and cut their own switch, the Amherst fans took to their various forms of social media to encourage and cultivate this delusion that grips them so. On the UMassHoops.com message board, the internet’s answer to Mos Eisley Spaceport, “78” wrote:

We just should not be worse than Merrimack and Lowell on an annual basis, but the last three years, that has clearly been the case.

The last three years, yes. Considering that Amherst has been worse than Lowell for a vast majority of its years in Hockey East, his claim puzzles us a bit.

 I am stunned when I see several players from a team like Lowell or Vermont already drafted by the NHL, yet UMass has none I believe at this time. I just do not understand how programs like Merrimack and Lowell for 2 are in much better shape than we are. It makes no sense to me. We should be able to out-recruit those programs and we should be on an even par with Vermont and maybe even Northeastern.

Why so surprised? In what possible way is Amherst a more attractive destination for recruits than Lowell? A city with, you know, things to do versus a cowtown populated with drunken fratboy nobodies? Updated hockey arena with a thriving fanbase, or decrepit tomb sprinkled with the worst people of all: Amherst fans? A team that wins, routinely and consistently, or a team that, you know, loses to the team that win? You’re right, that is a tough decision. But in terms of being on par with Vermont and Northeastern… you’re much closer to your talent level now. Which falls somewhere between low to none. Amherst has had just three seasons of .500 hockey ever, from 1994 through on to today. Northeastern has done it four times. Providence eight. Lowell and Vermont nine each.

“Meff” chimes in with his enthralling two cents:

As hockey fans I guess we all need to decide if we want to see the Lowell’s and UConn’s of Hockey East leave us in the dust and settle for somewhere between 10th and 12th going forward or if we want to be fighting for home ice.

Unnecessary apostrophe use aside, it seems as though Lowell is now being compared to UConn as being somehow beneath Amherst. Please excuse us while we spit out the bile that just rushed into our mouths. We don’t feel it necessary to even begin addressing how incorrect, foolhardy, wrong, dumb, inaccurate, bizarre, troubling, upsetting,

As you can see, these delusions are powerful psychological manifestations. They would have to be to hijack the thinking of a functioning human being with the intelligence to operate a computer and lead him to thoughts this warped. Amherst, which was just swept by Lowell. Amherst, which just lost at home to last-place Northeastern.  That Amherst, right there, is suddenly going to be fighting for home ice because of the positive thoughts of some strap-hanging, lunch-bucket know-nothing hockey fans. And Lowell, nationally ranked Lowell, and 6-0 vs. Amherst the past two seasons Lowell is on par with UConn. OK, just making sure.

Of course, the disrespect was not merely confined to a self-congratulatory message board for people dumb enough to think Amherst is “changing the direction of Hockey East,” whatever that means. The cretinous quarter-musings also spilled over onto Twitter, where various Amherst fans wept into their disgusting jerseys about how the school’s athletic department doesn’t give the program enough to succeed.

As an aside: We don’t know what more they could want than the significantly higher level of funding Lowell receives from its athletic department. If you want a new weight room, well why not start raising the money for it as Norm Bazin did? Oh, and Lowell went out and fixed its bad ice problems a few years back in the exact same way. As to having just one zamboni, well, right, Amherst an embarrassment to the league, and sometimes there’s just no helping that. Blaming institutional indifference is one thing, and it’s all well and good (and deserved, given the results the team gets annually for the investment), but there has to be a point where you just say, “Oh maybe this is the result of an awful coach doing little to nothing to actually improve the program in a meaningful way over the last decade.” But no, Cahoon was railroaded by The System too, we’re sure. If Lowell can succeed on its relative shoestring of a budget, Amherst can too, and it’s not McCutcheon’s fault that it’s not. You’d think Jon Quick has new-zamboni money in his couch cushions. Give him a call and have him check.

Anyway, Twitter. The morons at Fight Mass dubbed Lowell a “garbage” team, which seems unreasonable given that it’s, you know, not one. Their reasoning for this is that Lowell lost twice to Maine this season. Yeah, that’s not a good look for the River Hawks, but uh, it doesn’t look much better on Boston College, currently second in the league. So perhaps that’s not the greatest comparison to be drawing for a team that’s dropped a pair to Northeastern. Just saying.

And while noted crybaby Dick Baker did his best to keep his flood of tears from short-circuiting his laptop (which we’re sure was purchased in 1998), the disrespect in the Springfield Republican was still there. Once again, his recap of a 6-3 loss, which itself followed an 8-2 loss, focused not on the chasm of quality between these two teams, but rather that Amherst spent most of that game having their brains go haywire any time Lowell crossed the offensive blue line.

“The Minutemen failed to comprehend what was going on with the Lowell offense,” Baker wrote, clueless as ever, “and dropped an important Hockey East contest 6-3 before 3,124 at the Mullins Center.”

Let’s ignore the fact that Amherst spent precisely 80 seconds of that game not-trailing, and just focus on the fact that we’re talking about a team that gave up 14 goals to Lowell in 120 minutes on home ice. At some point that has to stop being a function of Amherst losing the plot defensively and more its just being awful defensively, right? Logically, bad teams give up that many goals, not good teams that just have six straight periods worth of brain farts in their own building. Lowell is by any measure a good team this season. Amherst is not. It’s a pretty simply concept.

The excuse-making did not stop there, however.

With the long holiday weekend, there were a limited number of students on hand. And one wonders, while never acceptable as an excuse, if with one of those 7,000 crowds, the Minutemen do come back to tie it.

First of all, we are not of the belief that an additional 3,900 fans being in the building magically equate to three goals going up on the board in the home team’s favor. Certainly not when the home team does all in its power to be generous hosts and gift Lowell more quality chances than most other teams in Hockey East have done this season combined. Second, Amherst draws an average of 4,228 people in home games this season. For league games, that number creeps up ever-so-marginally to 4,416. Both are lower than Lowell’s totals by between roughly 900 and 1,100. Third, let’s count the number of games for which Amherst drew 7,000 fans: It was three. BC, BU and BU. Part of that circles back to the idea of Amherst’s delusions that they are in some way on a level with these two Boston-based schools (ludicrous for so many reasons it’s not worth counting them) as well as the fact that those teams generally travel very well and are draws in a way that Amherst, or even UNH, Lowell or Maine, cannot hope to be under reasonable circumstances these days. And if you don’t think Lowell is a draw in general, please take note of the fact that it is currently third in the league in home attendance, for both conference games (5,517) and the overall schedule (5,144). This is a ludicrous, laughable stance for Baker to take, which history tells us is why he took it.

But then, we went to Lowell and actually have functioning brains and see things in this league and with regard to these two teams in particular with a oracle-like clarity, which is not the case for, say, Amherst’s coach.

After his team got swept for the second straight season (and sure, he wasn’t the responsible party last year), he was asked what, exactly, Lowell presents that troubles the Minutemen so, John Micheletto replied thusly:

“[T]hey play hard,” he said. “We know what to expect from them. It’s about trying to meet their aggressiveness and get the puck to the big guys and take advantage of our size and skill and obviously that just hasn’t worked.”

The implication that Lowell doesn’t have the size or skill that Amherst does is of course ludicrous. We will concede, as we have in the past, that the top line for the Minutemen is very skilled and consequently very dangerous. But then again, extraordinarily unlucky people have drowned in a few inches of water, so there’s that to consider as well. Amherst’s depth is and always has been its issue. It can attract the occasional very good player or three. It cannot, historically, attract them en masse. We’ve said before that Lowell has four second lines, all of which are capable of controlling play against more or less everyone. It also has one of the best shutdown top defensive pairings in the league. That’s a recipe for disaster for teams like Amherst who have between two and four actual good players.

The idea that Lowell’s mere hard work is the reason it’s rumbled to six straight wins against the woebegone Minutemen is a bad joke. You don’t get outscored 18-5 on home ice over two seasons because the other team showed up and you stayed in the dressing room. You don’t get outscored 30-11 overall. You don’t allow fewer than four goals in just one of those games. Saying that kind of lopsided result is a consequence of mucking and grinding, rather than getting beat on every square inch of ice is absolute literal crazy talk. We can’t imagine how these pitiful sniglets were breathed with a straight face.

Honestly, though, we just feel bad bringing the unkempt world of Amherst fanboy belief to your attention in so great a volume, so we’ll stop there. Suffice it to say, however, that there’s plenty more where that came from. If you’re so inclined, feel free to peruse what we’re sure is wonderful firsthand source material for a terrific research paper on the mentally ill and delusions of grandeur. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Jim permalink
    February 22, 2013 9:35 am

    LOL Terrific post

  2. Bob permalink
    February 22, 2013 1:03 pm

    I liked this one from the UMassHoops.com message board.

    “UMass-Lowell cares about this series. UMass honestly doesn’t give a damn about it.”

    I guess Amherst hasn’t figured out these are league games and they count in the standings.

    • RHHB permalink
      February 22, 2013 2:11 pm

      You can tell they don’t care because of how it causes them to have an existential crisis every time they lose to Lowell, which is often.

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