TAMPA —We're being called out.
Some dude from something called NJ Advance Media called out me and a few of my Tampa Bay Times colleagues for having the nerve to pick the Lightning to beat the Devils in this first-round playoff series.
He called us "cheerleaders" and "homers." In the media world, them's fighting words.
See, this happens every year. Two teams play each other in the playoffs and someone from one city has to make fun of the other city. That's been going on since Ben Franklin told King George, "Thou shutteth thou yap."
Anyway, the piece in NJ Advance had the typical line about how we goobers in Florida don't know anything about hockey. How we wear flip-flops. How we just learned the recipe to make ice.
To which I say: That's it? That's all you got? That's the best you can come up with? Flip-flops and ice making?
This is "Florida" for crying out loud! If you can't come up with a half-dozen burns in 60 seconds, you must live in a cave. Or New Jersey, apparently.
If ever there is a gold mine for crazy, Florida is the place. Our politicians are crazy. Our citizens are crazy. Heck, our animals are crazy. You ever see that fight between the horse and the alligator? Google it, then tell me where else but Florida would something like this take place.
Look at some of our headlines:
Florida Man Accused of Hurling His Glass Eye at ER Doctor, Nurse
Golf Cart Chop Shop Pops Up in the Villages
And my personal favorite:
Florida Man, Once Arrested for Fighting Drag Queen with a Tiki Torch While Dressed like a KKK Member, Now Running for Mayor.
You have that at your disposal and the best you can come up is that we wear flip-flops? I'm not even sure where the insult is there. Yeah, I wear flip-flops. Sometimes I wear a bathing suit, too. And sunglasses. If I feel particularly daring, I might even put some sunscreen on my nose.
Do better than the tired and clichéd insults. Put some elbow grease into it, man.
I can think of like 45 Bucs jokes in like two minutes. Hulk Hogan? He's our most famous celebrity. If you can't do something with that, you're not even trying.
And the Rays! My goodness, there's the Rays. And their stadium. And their attendance. That's shooting stingrays in a barrel stuff.
But, no, we get poked at for being in a place where it doesn't snow in April.
That's like us making fun of New Jersey and talking about interstate exits, the Sopranos, Jersey Shore and Bon Jovi.
It's too easy.
Now, as far as picking the Lightning, I won't speak for my colleagues, but I'm glad I got called out because maybe, finally, all the Lightning fans who think I hate the team might finally cut me a break.
I don't want the Lightning to win. I don't want them to lose. I don't want the Lightning to do anything other than play the games. I just happen to think the Lightning will win this series.
One other part of the NJ Advance story that was off. The story said, "You would have thought it would be hard to find a homer in Florida after Giancarlo Stanton was traded to the Yankees."
Well, Stanton played for the Marlins, not the Rays. Besides, seeing as how half of Tampa Bay is made up of Yankees fans, the state of Florida did the Yankees a favor.
So, New Jersey: you're welcome. That gives you guys a baseball team that will beat up on Tampa Bay all season long.
Just like the Tampa Bay hockey team will beat up your hockey team in the next week.
Contact Tom Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @tomwjones.