NEW YORK - Gotham sports fans always take delight in the way we writhe in agony when their teams vanquish ours in gut-wrenching fashion. No one derives more pleasure from reminding Bostonians of the defeats that have become epithets: The Bucky Dent Game; The Aaron Boone Game. And, of course, The Greatest Upset in Super Bowl History.
As Sunday’s rematch approaches, fans here are enjoying the recollection of our torment four years ago, when the New York Giants scuttled the Patriots’ perfect season. And they are predicting more Mass. misery at the hands of Eli Manning and company in Super Bowl XLVI.
On a recent rainy morning in Midtown Manhattan, Francisco Mejias, 32, an ironworker, wore a Giants sweater, a Giants tattoo, and a giant smile as he recalled 2008 and the way it crushed the Patriots fans he knew.
“They were devastated,’’ Mejias said, and his grin grew. “And it’s going to be a repeat.’’
That mood has dominated Big Blue Nation.
“Yeah, that Super Bowl was so sweet; glad to hear it still eats at the Pats fan base,’’ read one post on a popular Giants message board. “In the end, the Giants will rip your heart out again.’’
“We all embrace your hatred and your obvious fear of the Giants,’’ read another.
The Giants and Patriots have never been the inveterate rivals the Red Sox and Yankees are. No Sox fan worth his autographed Carl Yastrzemski jersey can forget the bloop home run by the Pinstripes’ Dent that ended the 1978 season for Boston. Any Sox fan who remembers the 11th-inning home run that ended Boston’s championship hopes in 2003 still shakes with rage at the mention of Yankee third baseman Aaron Boone.
The Giants and the Patriots, on the other hand, play in different conferences and rarely meet in the regular season. Not only that, many New Englanders have relatives whose support for the Giants dates back to when they were the only NFL team in the region. The New York Jets, division rivals, have a much more natural enmity with the Pats.
But Super Bowl XLII - the night of the improbable catch that downgraded 19-0 to an ugly 18-1 - gave New York fans a whole new way to torture us.
“We’re still talking about the last Super Bowl,’’ said Malik Radule, 16, who said he became a Giants fan that day. “The Giants are taking it again this time.’’
No one is suggesting that Bostonians are above such bravado. Yankee ears still redden when Sox fans bring up the 2004 American League Championship Series. And as much as New Yorkers like taunting us, they always save a little hatred for their own kind. That has created niches of support for the Pats.
“Giants fans are obnoxious,’’ said Joe Menendez, 47, manager of a building in Midtown that houses a sporting goods store teeming with Giants hats, jerseys and T-shirts. “It would give me pleasure to see the Patriots hang 70 points on the Giants.’’
But he acknowledged being in the minority. “There’s such a strong dislike of Boston,’’ said Menendez, who roots for the Chicago Bears. “People are licking their chops to get their hands on the Patriots.’’
Or, in some cases, to get their hands on Patriots fans.
Rob Sandrib, 49, a carpenter enjoying a noon respite at a pub near Penn Station, was asked how he would respond to a trash-talking Pats rooter. “Knock you on your [seat] and throw you out in the street,’’ Sandrib bellowed. “Go back home.’’
Does the gracious Giants fan even exist? Bob Baker, 55, of Brooklyn seemed to be that man. He was a fan when the Giants were so bad that someone flew a plane over the team’s stadium during a game, trailing a banner that read “15 years of lousy football - we’ve had enough.’’ Surely, such a loyal rooter as Baker would rise above the fray if the Giants won.
“I’d say: ‘Good job, you got to the finals. It’s an honorable win for the Giants to beat that organization in the Super Bowl,’ ’’ Baker said.
“No,’’ Baker said. “I just know I’m being interviewed by a Boston paper.’’