If there's a reason to end interleague play, this is it. The next few days figure to test our collective patience and sanity. Brace yourself: Boston fans are coming.

The Phillies will begin a three-game series with the Red Sox on Tuesday. Over the course of the season, the Fightin's do all sorts of promotional giveaways, everything from hats to bobbleheads. This would be a good time for a different kind of freebie: maybe noise-canceling headphones or, if those aren't enough and more drastic measures are needed, surplus World War II-era cyanide pills. One bite and the suffering will be over.

They've gotten out of control, these Boston fans. They've mutated. There was a time when they took a perverse pride in their suffering, when they romanticized their lack of sports luck. Then the Pats won and the Sox won and the Celtics won and, more recently, the Bruins won. Whatever humility Bostonians had was long ago traded for some of those giant "We're No. 1" foam fingers and a slew of omnipresent smug smiles.

The people in Boston have become obnoxious, arrogant, condescending. And those are just my friends up there. The rest are worse, an openly supercilious lot who never hesitate to tell you exactly how good they have it. Pride, as Marsellus Wallace said, will mess with you.

Boston has always been a great beer town - try Bukowski Tavern or Sunset Grill if you venture up that way - but the favorite intoxicant these days is victory. The city is hammer drunk on titles. Since 2002, the Patriots have won three championships, the Sox have captured two, while the Celtics and Bruins claimed one each. As a result, the fans there have become the sports equivalent of the mouthy businessman who gets loaded at the bar and won't shut up about how much money he's made and how much better his life is than yours. He drones on and on about his summer house and his expensive cars and his cushy Rich & Famous lifestyle while you order up another happy-hour discount brew and thumb the already well-worn want ads. The Karmic bartender needs to cut them off. Their gloating is insufferable.

"Since he was born, I've been to every parade with my son," Michael Kairevich III told the Boston Globe after the Bruins beat the Vancouver Canucks. According to the story, the dad and the boy even have a special parade route spot in front of the Four Seasons Hotel. They go there after each title. It's sickening.

There's a whole generation of mini-monsters just like that running around up there, figuring it's their birthright to stand outside some fancy hotel every year and get showered with more confetti. You can almost hear the little prepubescent elitists squawking.

Aftah wahtin three lawng yee-ahs, the drought is ovah. We have anothah championship. Hawkey is bahhhck in Bawston.

The older fans are just as bad. After the Bruins won the Stanley Cup, I asked my buddy Flan, who lives up there, whether people were rioting in Central Square - a particularly lawless area of Cambridge where Flan and I once watched two hobos fight in the middle of Massachusetts Avenue. (True story.)

"Nope," Flan said. "We act like we've been there before."

I'm seriously considering rescinding his wedding invitation.

But I suppose it isn't entirely Boston's fault that it's overrun with smarmy, self-satisfied fans. The media have happily fed the town's ego for years and continue to overstuff it at every opportunity. A quick review of the latest saccharine platitudes served to Boston reveals a menu sure to make the heads there grow fatter still.

Let's see, there was the "No one can beat the Red Sox" declaration on SportsCenter last week, along with the requisite "City of Champions" headline employed by the Boston Globe and Montreal Gazette following the Bruins title. WEEI.com - the online arm of the main sports-talk radio station in Boston - went with a navel-gazing piece, "Why we win," while every outlet from Boston magazine to ESPN.com to the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle ran stories billing the city as "Title Town."

It won't be long now until Boston adopts Jay-Z's "Already Home" as its official anthem. But really the fact is, we not in the same bracket/Not in the same league, don't shoot at the same baskets.

In the interim, Boston Globe and SportsIllustrated.com columnist Dan Shaughnessy - a man who's written about Boston sports for decades - summed up the vomit-inducing situation perfectly in the first sentence of a recent piece. The story appeared under the obligatory headline you might expect: "Being a sports fan in Boston has become an embarrassment of riches."

"The rest of the country," Shaughnessy wrote, "must be sick of us in Boston."

Pass the Pepto.